Breakfast for lunch: made some granola this afternoon (intended for breakfast) and the girls asked to have it packed up for school lunch tomorrow. The granola is a mix of oats, quinoa flakes, hemp hearts, seeds, dried cherries, cacao nibs and spices. I have packed it with some coconut yogurt for one kid and will pack it with some Greek yogurt for the other. Added some fruit to mix in and some little cucumbers for crunch. Added a few chocolate buttons for a treat.
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!
My kids love granola and my big kid always orders granola parfaits when we are out. My little cannot eat dairy so she just eats it by the handful while standing in our pantry! Granola is so easy to make – I have posted the recipe I use here – and packed along with some greek yogurt and fruit makes for a terrific lunch. I have weaned my family off of sweetened yogurt (by not buying it – they adjusted) and started to buy plain greek yogurt to spoon into parfaits, to top apple crisps or to stir into spicy soups. When they want fruity yogurt, they just stir some fresh or even frozen fruit into the yogurt. It tastes so much better than the fruit flavoured stuff at the store and is better for them.
In this lunch, I packed my big kid a jar of mixed fruit, yogurt and a few teaspoons of honey. I packed the granola separately so that it stayed crispy and also packed a little cinnamon meringue that was a reject from a cake that I was baking, but that was definitely not rejected by my kids!! My little one had the same lunch, but I packed her a bottle of soy milk to pour over her granola which needless to say, she drank at recess and ate the granola plain just as she does at home!
One of my daughters loves to order granola parfaits whenever we are out for breakfast. I like them because she ends up eating some fruit, grains and protein all in one sitting and now that she is 10, she also sees the nutritional value in the right granola parfait. Granola is a cinch to make, it very inexpensive and is so much tastier than the stuff you can buy. By making it, you can also control the amount of sugar in the mix and make it a healthier breakfast (or lunch or snack…) option. I started off with a recipe from Mollie Katzen and removed the nuts to make it suitable for school and got rid of a bunch of the sugar. The end result is a crunchy, healthy and tasty granola. It does not taste like dessert, but has a lovely sweetness from the dried fruit that I mix in. Here’s the recipe:
Pre-heat the oven to 325F. In a large bowl mix the following together
3 cups of extra thick rolled oats
1 cup of quinoa flakes
1 cup of oat bran
1 cup of sunflower seeds
1 cup of hemp hearts
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp of fennel seeds (this is optional – I love these, but not everyone in my family likes fennel)
1/2 cup of neutral oil like grapeseed
1/2 cup of maple syrup or honey
Once everything is mixed together, spread it evenly on a parchment covered rimmed cookie sheet. I use a commercial sized cookie sheet for this so that the granola bakes more evenly. A commercial sheet is a great investment for roasting veggies or anything else you cook in the oven in large quantities. Bake the granola, stirring occasionally until it is golden brown. This takes about 45 minutes. Immediately mix in the following:
1 cup of pumpkin seeds
1 to 2 cups of dried fruit. I use whatever I have on hand but typically a mix of berries or stone fruit.
Wait for the mixture to cool and store in an airtight container.
For lunch, I packed a container of granola along with some plain greek yogurt that I drizzled with some honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I added a mix of berries and a gummy cat for a treat. This lunch box always comes back empty and takes about 90 second to pack once I have some granola on hand.
Yesterday was a wonderful but action packed day: we celebrated Rosh Hashana with our families over lunch and then again over dinner. By the time we got home we were all tired out (and full!) but I knew we had a busy day ahead of us. My girls are very fortunate to go to a school with terrific teachers who volunteer their time to run a huge assortment of teams. Today both kids had cross-country running practice at 745 which meant we needed to get up and out the door early and that they would probably be hungrier than usual. Our CSA box arrived while we were out and I spotted some apples and decided to whip up a batch of barley flour and buttermilk pancakes with some finely diced apple. We also got a bunch of adorable and sweet mini peppers and a bag of enormous sweet red grapes. All of this went into their planet box lunch boxes, a few whole wheat and flax pita chips that I picked up the last time we were at Trader Joes. Just before we walked out the door, I put a banana and some frozen mango and berries, a couple of scoops of hemp protein powder and some ice into the blender and whipped up a smoothie. I poured that into insulated bottles for them to have after running. Both kids are light breakfast eaters and have physically active days ahead of them – one has swimming and the other has phys ed – so wanted to be sure they could make it through the day happy, learning and having fun.
We are enjoying some amazing weather at the moment and think we are headed to the apple orchard tomorrow to pick some apples. Will have to start thinking about how to incorporate them into lunches in the weeks to come.
We were out for dinner tonight but tomorrow’s lunches still beckoned. We got some delicious beets and corn in our PlanB CSA box this week so as I was preparing some waffle batter, I charred a cob of corn and grated up one of the beets and passed each bowl along to my little daughter to mix up. She was delighted when the barley flour batter turned bright pink and despite her misgivings about beets, she enthusiastically gobbled up one of the waffles from our test run. The waffles as well as a shredded carrot, candy cane beet and sprout salad are served up with a lemon yogurt dip (greek yogurt, some lemon juice, lemon zest and some salt and pepper), some goldenberries and blackberries and a few mini gummy bear cubs.
My older daughter has an instagram account and is usually among the first to like my posts with images of her lunch. Today she thanked me for lunch and declared she that was so excited about the gummy bears. Hopefully she eats the rest too!
My kids are usually pretty easy going about eating what I send to school for them but I am always open to requests. Today, by request, we made up a batch of granola after school and then packed it up for lunch. The granola has a mix of oats, oat bran, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cocoa nibs, dried fruit and some hemp powder. It is delicious and highly addictive! I packed some granola along with a cup of plain Greek yogurt and some fresh berries so that the kids could construct little yogurt parfaits at lunch hour. I made up a quick and easy carrot salad with some mint and lemon juice for colour in their boxes and a few little bunny graham crackers.