Another salad in a jar for my big kid – it looks pretty and pretty food is important to her and I am happy to indulge. My little one thinks this whole jar business is beyond silly and her lunch is essentially the same but packed (said with great emphasis and hand gesturing) FLAT. It is even nicer than yesterday so I have packed a sunny meal (from the bottom): blackberries, mint, strawberries, carrots, chèvre, quinoa and baby chard all dressed w a white balsamic vinaigrette. An entire healthy meal all bundled together in one container!!
The weather is unseasonably warm causing me to scrap my plan to make soup and stews this week and deciding instead to stick with lighter more summery food. I whipped up a quick batch of whole wheat and raspberry waffles for this lunch, packed some raw vegetables and then made a smoothie with a mix of vegetables, fruit and protein powder. We have had limited success with green smoothies – mostly because of the colour (it isn’t always appetizing) so if I am going to toss some veggies into the blender I stick to carrots and beets which are naturally on the sweet side and also masked by the fruit. I have a big bag of beets from our CSA delivery this week so decided to make a red smoothie with some frozen berries, a couple of beets, some hemp protein powder, cinnamon, a squeeze of honey a splash of water to help out the blender. A lovely summer meal, during the first week of November!
A couple of weeks ago we discovered that Gordon Ramsey’s daughter Matilda has her own cooking show on the BBC . She is a delightful 11 year old girl who, unlike her father, keeps her cool in the kitchen and shares all of kinds of healthy recipes that kids can make either on their own or with a bit of… Read more →
My kids have amazing teachers this year. They inspire them to learn, have created interesting and creative projects for them to work on and are doing all of this in the midst of challenging working conditions. On top of all of this, they are throwing Halloween parties for their classes but have asked that we send healthy food! None of the kids will be deprived of candy on Halloween and they do still have a full day of learning to tackle and so it makes sense to make the parties about fun with some healthy snacks. That being said, there will still be candy so lunch for the day before Halloween is on the light side.
I have made some brown rice sushi with some cucumber, carrots and avocado – this thrilled my kids to no end – and packed some edamame for protein for this lunch. I made a couple of apple monsters with pumpkin seed teeth and googly eyes left over from a cake decorating kit. I may or may not have told my kids that their teeth will look just like these monsters teeth if they don’t brush them after eating a mountain of candy. My 10 year old laughed it off, but the 7 year old looked worried!!
One of my kids came home upset from school the other day after another little girl in her class told her that her lunch was “not normal”. Although very confident in all other situations, she was overwhelmed and did eat her lunch at all. She came home so hungry, sobbed and then related what had happened and asked if she could just have something “normal”. We live in one of the most multicultural cities in the world so “normal” is a meaningless word but I also know that my kids are more adventurous eaters than some and I really just want them to eat a healthy balanced meal. A similar situation arose when my older daughter was in grade one so I wasn’t phased by this and we sat down and figured out what she would feel comfortable eating. I expected her to ask for pastas or a sandwich but she asked for dumplings and sushi!! I took a look in the fridge, (took a few steps to the right to shoot off an email to her teacher to chat with the kids about respect), and made some dumplings.
Dumplings are the greatest food and virtually every culture has their own version of them. What makes these vaguely Chinese dumplings amazing is that they are a vehicle for lots of vegetables and protein and allow you to use up the odds and ends that are in your fridge. I had a couple of carrots, some mushrooms, celery, tofu and some shallot in my fridge so roughly chopped them and sautéed them in a pan with some oil, ginger and garlic. After everything had cooked through I seasoned the veggies with some soy sauce – maybe a couple of teaspoons – and then tipped all of this into my food processor and pulsed it until it was uniformly and finely chopped. I gave it a quick taste and let set up an assembly line with my daughter for filling the dumplings.
I am not sure if it is her love of dumplings or little fingers, but she is a pro at dumpling folding (and dumpling filling eating while my back is turned). We set out the dumpling wrappers (I buy them in Chinatown and keep a couple packs on hand in my freezer) in a row, I scooped out the filling into each one, she painted the perimeter of the wrapper with some water and then folded up each bundle. I set up steaming basket and cooked them all – she ate a bunch and the rest went into my kids lunch boxes.
I packed some pomegranate airls, an orange disguised as a pumpkin and a will whip up a bottle of miso soup in the morning. Lunch packed and lunch drama resolved.
A full day of heavy rain is in the forecast for Toronto tomorrow so a warm bottle of soup is on menu for school. I made a pot of vegan curried butternut squash and pear soup for our dinner and will warm it up in the morning for the girls. Butternut squash soups are so delicious and so easy to make delicious. I sautéed some carrots, onions and celery in some olive oil and once the onions started to take on some colour, added some curry powder and cooked it until it was fragrant. I added a couple of litres of vegetable stock, a diced squash and half a dozen very ripe pears that I had roughly chopped. This simmered away for about 45 minutes until the squash was tender. I pulled out my immersion blender and pureed the soup until it was smooth. I gave it a quick taste, it needed some acidity so gave it a big squeeze of lime and it was ready for dinner. A perfect fall soup!
Back to lunch – I packed some little spinach, roasted corn (froze a bunch of it at the end of the summer) and egg frittatas for some protein. These are so fast and easy to make – just beat up some eggs (I used 3) and add some veggies (I used about 1 cup of vegetables in total, the spinach was previously frozen and I gave it a good squeeze to remove excess water). Pour the mixture into well greased (I cannot emphasize this enough!! I spent ages trying to clean off the baked on egg from my muffin pan) mini muffin cups – 1 got 6 muffin cups worth – and bake in a 400F oven for 10 mins or until the eggs are set. They will puff up and then sink down as they cool. Easy, economical and kid-friendly. I added some colourful fruit and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the dragonfruit was bright pink and not white!
During our summer road trip to Chicago we had a delicious dinner at Little Goat. Little Goat is a diner that appears to have been preserved from the 60s – I am not sure if this was a restored or recreated restaurant – but it reminded me in part of the old cafeteria at the airport in Toronto from the 1970s. Among the highlights of our meal was a bowl of tofu noodles in the most amazing dressing. I tried to replicate this dish for lunch (and for our dinner) here. A part of what made this so clever was that the noodles were made of tofu. I expected a bowl of noodles to arrive topped with tofu and it occurred to me after a few bites that the noodles were in fact made from tofu!
I picked up some sheets of tofu skin – thin sheets of tofu – in Chinatown and sliced them into long noodles. I boiled them in some salted water and then drained and set them aside. I tossed in some vegetables, including some carrots that I sliced using a vegetable peeler and made up a lime and umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum) dressing to drizzle over the top. The dressing comes from an Ottolenghi recipe for a slaw that was published in Plenty More and there was something in the dressing at Little Goat that reminded me of this one. It was not quite the same as the bowl of noodles that I had in Chicago but a close second.
I added in some fruit, a few rice crackers and a gummy scull to kick off the Halloween fun in our house!
Another school day, another salad in a jar! Today I packed my big kid a greek salad in a jar. She came across a jar salad like this one a couple of years ago and I was reluctant to send her to school with a glass jar but I think she is careful enough now to do this regularly. This one starts off with a layer of barley, topped with cucumbers, yogurt mixed with lemon and salt and pepper, carrots, tomatoes, sugar snap peas and most important to her – some crumbled feta and olives! Packed her a handful of pita chips and some fruit to round out this lunch.