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.
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.
I made some granola to bring as a hostess gift over the weekend the kids gobbled up the little bit that was leftover. Keeping this in mind, I whipped up a batch yesterday to pack in their 32nd lunch. I mixed up some oats, quinoa flakes, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp protein powder, a few shakes of cinnamon, some grape seed oil, a bit of kosher salt and some dark maple syrup and baked it in the oven until it was golden. I mixed in some dried berries – cranberries, blueberries, cherries and goji berries – at the end and set it aside to cool. The kids walked in from playing outside, were delighted by the delicious smell and immediately had a bowl of warm granola with almond milk.
I picked up some silicone muffin cups over the weekend (and am kicking myself for throwing out a bunch of similar muffin cups about a year ago because I didn’t find them so effective for baking) and thought they would come in handy for this make-your-own granola parfait lunch. I scooped out about 1/3 cup of granola into a muffin cup for each of them and filled two others with some berries and fruit that they could (or not – one did not want fruit mixed in with her granola at all!) mix in with the greek yogurt I packed into the round container in their lunch boxes. Finally, and entirely for my peace of mind as a parent, I sliced up a little Persian cucumber and a yellow carrot. The yogurt and granola are pretty filling on their own so I am not sure they would be hungry for much more food but just in case they are, there are always veggies! Finally, the best treat in the world returned in this lunch – a few pieces of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate chunks that I usually use for baking but that turned out to be the best treat ever! I think these must have the same allure as the chocolate chips my mother always had on hand (and preferably not in our hands) for baking when I was little and of course, chocolate is delicious!
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!
The cedar planked salmon I made last night was not the hit I anticipated with my kids. One declared that it smelled too much like a sauna and the other one had been eating dumplings as quickly as she was folding them so did not eat much at all. They also got pet fish over the summer – betta fish, not salmons – and suddenly found themselves identifying with dinner differently than before. That being said, they like tuna salad and I had a piece of salmon sitting in the fridge that I figured I could whip up into sandwiches for lunch.
I mixed the salmon w a dollop of Greek yogurt, lemon juice, diced celery and finely diced green onion. Still uncertain about how the fish would appeal, I asked my daughter pick out a cookie cutter so that we could cut their sandwiches into fun shapes. With any luck this lunch was a success! The sandwiches were served up with a crunchy salad of radishes, celery, carrots and sprouts, a couple of crackers and a dip made w avocado, umeboshi paste, lime juice, rice wine vinegar and a bit of grapeseed oil. It is tangy and creamy and delicious. A mandarin, a handful of local Ontario grapes from Plan B Organic Farms and a few granola crackers round out lunch number 13!
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.
Pinwheel sandwiches always taste better than regular sandwiches so lunch today was tuna salad – made with greek yogurt, finely diced carrots and celery, lemon juice, salt and pepper – rolled up on whole wheat bread, hummous with some really delicious seaweed crackers, raw veggies and fruit. Added some granola crisps for a treat.
Our school is nut and sesame free which means that we cannot send commercial hummous to school because it contains sesame seeds. Hummous is quick and easy to make yourself so made up a batch w sunflower seed butter and a bit of pumpkin seed oil in place of the tahini. Not quite authentic but still very tasty!