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Day after day, it stares up at you, challenging you in ways you never thought possible, begging for originality: the lunchbox! This week we bring you ideas to change things up with some healthy options that kids love including contributions from two other foodie moms..Tamra Davis and Joni from Joni's in Montauk.
Turkey Wrap Bites (Recipes from goop)
By simply cutting the wrap into bite-sized pieces, you can add a little excitement to something ordinary. Obviously you can suit the filling to your child’s ever-changing taste buds. Some fun alternatives include mozzarella with sun-dried tomatoes, tuna salad with arugula, chicken salad, etc.
For each sandwich:
1 large whole wheat flour tortilla
2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 or 3 slices roasted turkey
a few thin slices of red onion
Lay the tortilla on your work surface and spread evenly with the cream cheese. Shingle the turkey slices and scatter over the onion. Roll tightly and cut into small rounds.
A healthy twist on the most classic of classics.
For each sandwich:
2 slices sprouted-grain bread, or your favorite healthy bread, toasted if you like
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons of your favorite fruit-sweetened jam
Spread the bread with the almond butter and the jam. Cut into squares or triangles.
Homemade Vegetable Sushi
A great way to use leftover cooked rice and sneak some extra vegetables into your kid’s diet—not to mention a great way to get rid of those extra soy sauce packages that always seem to accumulate in the kitchen drawer.
For two rolls:
2 sheets of toasted nori seaweed
½ cup of cooked short-grain brown rice
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
6 spears of cooked and cooled asparagus (and/or strips of cucumber, carrot, cooked mushrooms, etc.)
Lay a piece of plastic wrap down on your work surface and put one sheet nori on top. Mix the rice with the agave and vinegar and put half of the mixture on the nori in an even line about an inch from the bottom. Evenly lay 3 spears of asparagus (or whatever vegetable you’re using) on the rice. Starting from the bottom, roll the nori around the rice, using the plastic wrap to help you get the roll tight. Using a very sharp knife, cut the sushi roll into bite-sized pieces.
Beet and Walnut Dip
We borrowed this recipe from Spain: A Culinary Road Trip. Pack it in a small tupperware and send it off to school with a bunch of pita slices or a ziploc full of vegetable sticks. Its bright color and taste livens up the task of getting those vegetables in.
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 pound beets, trimmed, boiled or roasted, peeled, and cut into large chunks
1/4 extra virgin cup olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
coarse salt to taste
In a food processor, coarsely chop the walnuts. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse the machine on and off until everything is blended together but still retains a bit of texture.
French Onion Dip
A really simple recipe that tastes as good as the original from-the-box version without any of the weird stuff. Serve with vegetables or whole grain crackers (or at your next adult dinner party with potato chips and cocktails…) Send your kids to school with a small tupperware full of dip and a ziploc full of a variety of cut-up vegetables of your choice like carrots, celery, green beans and broccoli. It’s a fun recipe that they enjoy reassembling at school, choosing which vegetable stick to dip next. The veggies go down like a charm.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons Veganaise or your favorite mayonnaise
big pinch coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely minced chives
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a small skillet. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally for 4 or 5 minutes to get them going. Turn the heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring here and there, or until totally collapsed and sweet and a fraction of their original size. Remove the onions from the heat and let them cool. Mix them together with the remaining ingredients and get dipping.
Pesto Pasta with Peas
Great at room temperature. Kids don’t even realize that the pasta is whole grain when it’s tossed with yummy pesto.
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup cooked peas (frozen ones are more than okay)
3 cups cooked brown rice pasta or whole wheat pasta
Pulse the pine nuts in a blender or food processor until minced. Add the garlic, basil and olive oil and pulse until the mixture is nicely pureed. Remove to a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix as much of the pesto as you like with the peas and pasta.
Snacks and Drinks
Stick a Knudsen’s Organic Apple or Lemonade juicebox in the freezer the night before for school and by lunch time it’s a refreshing drink that has also kept the lunchbox cool. In the UK, I send Innocent smoothies which do the same trick.
For a nutritious afternoon snack, I love YoKids Squeezers from Stonyfield for my kids. Our favorite squeezy yogurt snacks in the UK are Yoplait Frubes which help hold them over until the end of the day.
Homemade Granola Bars
Completely healthy and totally easy. A great breakfast or after-school snack too.
a pinch each fine salt, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground ginger
1 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped (or any combination of roughly chopped dried fruit and/or nuts)
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup high quality maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup (a great substitute for corn syrup, available at lundberg.com
1.Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 8” square baking pan with parchment paper, letting a bit of excess paper hang over the sides.
2.Grind 1/3 cup of the oats in a food processor until powdery. Add them to a large mixing bowl with the remaining oats, the salt and spices, flax seeds, and apricots. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients and then stir them into the dry ingredients.
3.Put the mixture in the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 1/2 hour, or until evenly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Remove to a cutting board (the parchment paper will act as a sort-of sling, making this very easy). Cut into individual granola bars
From Tamra Davis
A fellow working-mommy and home foodie, Tamra Davis has a cooking show and cookbook from which she shared her own family’s lunch-time favorites. Check out her website for more great tips and recipes: http://www.tamradaviscookingshow.com
From Joni Brosnan
Joni, whose namesake restaurant is a Montauk hotspot with healthy meals and snacks and plenty of home-baked sweets, recommends super simple food for kids – boiled eggs and edamame being among her no-fuss favorites. Below are some of her greatest school-time hits:
You can put this combo together in a sealable sippy cup or cup-size tupperware. Make sure it’s transparent so that your kids can see the layers of yogurt, fruit and granola and enjoy slicing through them with a spoon.
Sliced Fruit – Strawberries, Bananas, Blueberries or whatever your kids enjoy!
Assemble in 3 equal layers starting with yogurt, followed by granola, and then sliced fruit.
Mix the following
2 c. Rolled Oats
1 c. Pecans
1 c. Walnuts
1 c. Shredded Coconut
½ c. Sunflower Seeds
½ c. Flax Seeds
1 c. Cranberries
½ c. Maple Syrup
1 Tbs. Vanilla
Mix and bake at 350°F – 45 minutes until brown and crunchy. Check periodically.
Wild on Chicken
My son Liam loves eating this as-is or in a 7 grain sandwich with mixed greens.
4 Boneless Skinless (3lbs) Free Range Chicken Breast
1 ½ c. Mayonnaise
2 c. Red Grape Halves
3 Tbs. Fresh Tarragon
½ Lemon, Juiced (good for 2 days)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Toasted Pecans (optional)
To poach chicken breasts, put in stock pot, cover with water and add 2 onions, bay leaves, parsley, cloves, salt & pepper. Bring to boil and poach 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from water and cool before making salad. Cut into bite size pieces, combine and serve.
Tuna salad lasts 5 days and is great on black bread or 7 grain with mixed greens and tomato slices. This is another recipe that’s great alone too, and is easy to pack in a small sealable container and send off to school.
1 lb Tuna
1 small Red Onion
¾ c. Chopped Celery
¼ c. Chopped Dill
2 c. Mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tbs. White Vinegar
Boil water with salt, ½ onion – add tuna (cut 1/2" thick slices, no skin). Cook 20 to 25 minutes until tuna is cooked through. Once cooled, tear the tuna into small pieces and mix with the remaining ingredients.
Joni’s 9 S. Edison St. Montauk, NY 11954 (631) 668-3663