Sunday night simple lunch for Monday: banana (because we had some very ripe bananas on the counter) blueberry and oatmeal waffles, maple syrup for dipping, freeze dried blueberries, rainbow carrots and some green grapes and green kiwi wedges.
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 very exciting thing happened on our flight home from Florida. No, we were not upgraded to the front of the plane or bumped to another flight in exchange for wads of cash (that has happened before – it was also very exciting). This was an entirely different experience – not only did we get an entire can of whatever we wanted to drink and as many snacks as we wanted (go Jet Blue but pretty amazing to see people actually take the flight attendants up on this!!) but we also had free WiFi for the duration of the flight! I thought hours of live TV was pretty terrific – especially since we gave up cable months ago and it is fun to binge watch food shows once in a while – but being able to surf and read for 3+ hours is a treat. This gave me a chance to catch up on reading (the binge watching fun wore off pretty quickly – the food network was showing a Guy Fieri marathon) some of my favourite food sites and I came across a bunch of different articles about how to cook all kinds of stuff in a waffle iron. People cooked waffles, obviously, but also grilled cheese sandwiches and even cinnamon rolls (not sure about this one – wouldn’t really be much of a roll). One of the ideas that stuck with me was waffling cooked rice and so I gave it a shot yesterday.
My kids love rice – especially the little one – but I am told that food that must be eaten with cutlery just slows them down at lunch so rather than even eating a few bites, they just won’t eating anything at all! Perplexing and frustrating because on the days when they have decided not to eat because of the challenges of using a fork, they come out of school starving and grouchy. Rice that they could pick up with their hands seemed like it had potential. I cooked a pot of sprouted brown rice and let it steam a bit in the pot (I just left the lid on the pot) so that it was a little bit sticky. I heated up my waffle iron and set the outside crispness to high (there is a dial on my waffle iron) and let it warm up. Once it was nice and hot, I brushed the iron with a bit of grapeseed oil and packed the cooked rice into the iron. I put far more rice in than I would put waffle batter since it needed to compress to stay together and because it was not going to rise like batter does. I ran the rice waffles through a couple of cooking cycles so that the outside was nice and crispy, browned and the whole thing held together. We pulled the first one off the iron and tested it and it was fantastic! The outside was crispy, but the interior was still soft and the nuttiness of the brown rice was intensified so that it was pretty flavourful. We devoured the rest of the waffle and I made another one for the girls’ lunches.
There is a terrific tofu maker in the city who sells his products at St Lawrence Market and also at the farmer’s markets and small supermarkets (although I spotted them at Whole Foods this week). He makes delicious smoked tofu strips – a lunchbox staple – as well as some great marinated tofu. I picked up a couple of packages of the tomato tofu thinking they would be good for an after school snack or for lunch. The package that I opened up for this lunch served both purposes – I packed some for lunch and they finished the balance while I made dinner. Along with the tofu and brown rice, I packed some roasted soy beans, some endives with segments of blood orange and a handful each of blueberries and pomegranates. For a treat, I packed a couple of chocolate non-pareils that we picked up on our way home at Trader Joes.
I love fall produce – squash, sweet potatoes, hearty leafy greens, pears and apples – and I decided to make a quick and easy curried squash and pear soup with the squash that was left from our CSA box and the pears that are always overlooked in the presence of apples. I peeled and diced the squash and tossed with halved pears with some olive oil and fresh sage. I spread it out on a cookie sheet and put into the oven to roast. Last week we had our family over for dinner and I whipped up some squash and apple waffles for the little kids for dinner. It is hard to get them to sit down for long when they are all together and just want to play, so waffles made with fruit, vegetables and other nourishing ingredients seemed perfect for getting some good food into them before they wandered off to dress up or spy on the adults!!
When I pulled the cookie sheet out of the oven, I had more roasted fruit and veg than I needed so decided to replicate the dinner waffles for lunch. I pureed all of the pear and squash in the food mill and set aside about 1 1/2 cups of the puree for the waffles. The balance was destined for the soup pot. I sautéed some celery, onions and carrots in a bit of olive oil until the onions were transparent. I added about a table spoon of curry powder and let it cook until it was fragrant and then added in the squash and pear puree and some water and salt. I carefully stirred in the puree and let it cook on low heat. After about 20 minutes, I checked the seasoning, added the juice of a lime and some salt and set it aside for dinner. We had it as is, but it would have been delicious with a drizzle of yogurt and some cilantro.
With the soup made, I got to the waffles. Since getting pet fish, the girls have largely stopped eating fish so I swapped out the eggs in the waffle recipe and substituted some ground flax seeds that I soaked in water so that they get a nice dose of omega 3 fatty acid. Besides this, I just used my usual recipe and at the end folded in the puree. I cooked them in the waffle iron and popped them into their lunch boxes. The waffles were served up with some sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, grapes and raspberries. The kids chose a juice sweetened jelly for a treat. A perfect lunch for a fall day!
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!