Roasted Black Beans and the Healthy Lunch Challenge

You know that phase when kids start counting and then they delight in counting all the time? My son is there now and it's incredibly entertaining. He's super excited to count to 20 these days and, while he skips 17 every single time, it is amazing to hear him sing out his numbers. Though he doesn't truly understand quantity, addition or subtraction in the formal sense, he can see that ten grapes are more than 5 grapes, and if his big sister reaches over and takes one of his four strawberries he can count that he now only has three. Math and food are a thrilling combination. 

Our Healthy Lunch Challenge plan

Our Healthy Lunch Challenge plan

Enter Crunch a Color, the Healthy Eating Game. It's an award winning card game that families can play together to encourage nutritious eating. The cards have colors, food lists, cute drawings and point values and the person with the most points wins. But there's deeper learning here; avocado and green grapes are both green foods but avocado gets 10 points and green grapes get 5. That makes for interesting conversation. My kids love to compare and it's pretty neat to see my daughter helping out her little brother with the tally (after the whole "haha, I win" bit is done, of course).

When Jennifer Tyler Lee, Crunch a Color's creator, asked me to be part of the Healthy Lunch Challenge, I was thrilled. My daughter chose the lunch below that features three colors, a protein, a healthy grain and no processed foods. We planned it using LaLa Lunchbox so I was sure to have everything I needed on hand. 

This lunch features a delicious and healthy new food that we are crazy about chez moi: roasted black beans! YUM. My daughter calls it black bean popcorn thanks to its satisfying yet light crunch and practically begs for it on a daily basis. We packed this lunch together and snacked along the way. Aside from the roasting time for the beans, this took less than 10 minutes to prepare.

Check out this deliciously colorful and balanced lunch!

crunch a color.JPG

3 colors: Green celery, Orange carrots and Red raspberries
Protein: Black beans (two ways: roasted and pureed into an easy dip)
Healthy Grain: toast crust from whole wheat bread
We always pack lunch with water (5 points extra) bringing the total points to 55!


I used half of one can of black beans for roasting and the other half to make a black bean dip that was finished in three minutes. I cut carrots and celery for dipping and added the toast crust (affectionately called Toast Crust Dippers in my house) that I cut from the bread of my anti-crust son. My daughter grabbed and washed a handful of raspberries and voila! Lunch is complete! 

Here's how we made the roasted black beans:

black beans, ready for roasting! 

black beans, ready for roasting! 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Open one can of black beans. Rinse and dry them with a paper towel. Spread half of the can onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil and a scant sprinkle of salt. Roast in the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until crispy. 

Here's how we made the black bean dip:

Ingredients for black bean dip

Ingredients for black bean dip

We poured the other half of the beans into a bowl and then added: 
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* note: I initially intended to add fresh garlic but changed my mind at the last minute.  This dip can be made with either, depending on your penchant for garlic flavor. 

Using a stick blender, blend all of the ingredients until smooth.

Enjoy and happy lunching!