Spooktacular Halloween Lunch

spooky apple mouths filled with cookie butter and roasted pumpkin seed teeth
Liliana and her Halloween lunch, 31 Oct 2013
Liliana and her Halloween lunch, 31 Oct 2013

Today I got to hang out with my little bun bun at lunch. This was my first time staying for lunch at kindergarten and it was actually less chaotic than I expected. I just loved being able to see Lily enjoy her Halloween lunch, which included a whole wheat English muffin mummy pizza.

mummy pizza with olive eyes
mummy pizza with olive eyes

She also got to eat some spooky, carnivorous apple slices.

spooky apple mouths filled with cookie butter and roasted pumpkin seed teeth
spooky apple mouths filled with cookie butter and roasted pumpkin seed teeth

She even used her Trader Joe’s Fruity O’s (an allegedly “healthy” alternative to Froot Loops) to make a cute little fruit monster.

cute fruit monster made with fruit cereal, persimmon slices and grapes
cute fruit monster made with fruit cereal, persimmon slices and grapes

Lunch with Lily was so festive and fun. Hope you can make some fruit monsters to celebrate a healthy and Spooktacular Halloween!

Tuna Salad on Pretzel Bread. Yep, Pretzel Bread.

lunch on 30 Oct 2013: tuna salad on pretzel bread with pizza Goldfish, lentil crunchy curls, grapes, persimmons and smokey almonds
lunch on 30 Oct 2013: tuna salad on pretzel bread with pizza Goldfish, lentil crunchy curls, grapes, persimmons and smokey almonds
lunch on 30 Oct 2013: tuna salad on pretzel bread with pizza Goldfish, lentil crunchy curls, grapes, persimmons and smokey almonds

Trader Joe’s pretzel bread is amazing. It tastes like a big, soft, ever so slightly sweet pretzel. Usually I buy pretzel bread as a snack for the kiddos. Pretzel bread + cheese + fruit = one satisfying kid snack. Today I decided to make a tuna salad sandwich on pretzel bread. Then all the lunch needed was some crunchies (potato lentil Crunchy Curls and pizza-flavored Goldfish) and some fruit (grapes and persimmons from the farmers market). The treat today is savory and saltilicious: smokey almonds.

Rich and Creamy No Sugar Added Peanut Butter Chocolate Chia Pudding: The Recipe

no sugar added rich and creamy chocolate peanut butter chia pudding
no sugar added rich and creamy chocolate peanut butter chia pudding
no sugar added rich and creamy chocolate peanut butter chia pudding

Do you have a hankering for something sweet, rich and creamy? Then try this super simple, naturally sweetened chia pudding.

No Sugar Added Peanut Butter Chocolate Chia Pudding

makes 2 large or 4 small portions

  • 1-1/4 cup milk of your choice (I used vanilla soy milk)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons carob powder
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 3 dates
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds

Combine all ingredients except chia seeds in a blender. Stir in the chia seeds and store in the fridge overnight, so the chia seeds can work their magic and thicken up the pudding. If you don’t have carob powder, you can use cocoa powder, but the pudding will not be as sweet.

Rich and Creamy No Sugar Added Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Pudding

lunch on 29 Oct 2013: chocolate peanut butter chia pudding, pizza bread bites, grapes, dried apple slice and half a mango mangosteen fruit bar
lunch on 29 Oct 2013: chocolate peanut butter chia pudding, pizza bread bites, grapes, dried apple slice and half a mango mangosteen fruit bar

Today’s lunch is full of goodies. The chocolate peanut butter chia pudding is rich and creamy, but contains no added sugar. Instead, it is sweetened with nature’s goodness: ripe bananas and crazy good medjool dates grown in the California desert outside of Palm Springs (that’s THE PLACE for dates). And, there’s even more sweetness in the lunch: grapes, a little piece of mango mangosteen fruit bar and a dried apple slice. For a savory side dish to balance out all the sweet, I made some pizza bread bites on whole wheat Tuscan Pane from Trader Joe’s.

Spanish Tortilla-Style Quesadilla

lunch on 28 Oct 2013: quesadilla with egg and roasted potatoes, fruit and veggies
lunch on 28 Oct 2013: quesadilla with egg and roasted potatoes, fruit and veggies

What to do with leftover roasted potatoes? Oh, I know: slice them up and put them in a quesadilla. Or, wait: slice the up, sauté them in a little olive oil, pour a scrambled egg and some shredded cheese on top, and then press a whole wheat tortilla into the egg. It’s a Spanish tortilla-style quesadilla. I have a feeling that the kiddos are going to love it, since they are crazy about quesadillas con huevos. Since the Spanish tortilla-style quesadilla is pretty heavy in the carb department, I decided to go with veggies and fruit for sides: carrots, celery sticks, grapes, and sliced persimmons.

What Happens at the End of the Week: Crazy Quesadillas

lunch on 25 Oct 2013: ham and potato quesadilla with sliced persimmons
lunch on 25 Oct 2013: ham and potato quesadilla with sliced persimmons
lunch on 25 Oct 2013: ham and tater tot quesadilla with sliced persimmons

Just what makes these quesadillas crazy? Well, I’ll tell you. They have ham, fancy manchego cheese and smashed tater tots inside. That’s what happens at the end of the week: you have things like broccoli soup and tater tots for dinner, and you end up with little bits of random stuff in the fridge. Now, let’s get one thing straight: tater tots are not healthy. Consumption of tater tots—even ironic gourmet artisanal sweet potato varieties—should be limited. That being said, I hate to see a good tater tot—or any food item, for that matter—go to waste. That’s why I smashed up five tater tots and put them inside some quesadillas. What else could I do with five tater tots? That’s also why there is half a bread stick in this lunch.

Ham and Cheese Sandwich and a Very Refreshing Watermelon Raspberry Chia Pudding

lunch on 24 Oct 2013: ham and cheese sandwich, watermelon raspberry chia pudding, and crunchy veggie snacks
lunch on 24 Oct 2013: ham and cheese sandwich, watermelon raspberry chia pudding, and crunchy veggie snacks

Both of the kiddos reported that people at school (a teacher and a parent volunteer) asked them about their pink chia pudding today. “Are those chia seeds?” Why, yes, they are, thank you very much. I like to refer to chia seeds as the superfood of the ancient Aztecs. Is this true? Who knows, but that’s what the packaging says. So, back to the pink chia pudding. Last night I made watermelon soup for dessert using a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks: They Draw and Cook. My daughter loves to look at They Draw and Cook and she had been nagging me since Saturday—when I bought a watermelon at the farmers market—to make watermelon soup, which also has raspberries in it for extra yum. I love fruit soups for dessert (they’re really just smoothies served in bowls), because they taste so healthy and refreshing. We had just enough watermelon soup leftover to make chia pudding for today’s lunches. I wasn’t sure about what to pack with watermelon raspberry chia pudding, so I went with a classic kid favorite: a ham and cheese sandwich. Then I threw some spinach on that sandwich, because that’s just how I roll.

Yummy Breakfasty Lunch: Pumpkin Bagel with Pumpkin Cream Cheese and Yogurt with Muesli, Applesauce and Honey

lunch on 23 Oct 2013: pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese, yogurt with muesli and applesauce, and veggies
lunch on 23 Oct 2013: pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese, yogurt with muesli and applesauce, and veggies
lunch on 23 Oct 2013: pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese, yogurt with muesli and applesauce, and veggies

I decided to go rather breakfasty with this lunch, because I had a bag of pumpkin bagels from Trader Joe’s sitting on the countertop. Have you have Trader Joe’s pumpkin bagels? Mmm, what a glorious carb—especially smeared with pumpkin cream cheese. You end up with these items in your house when you pass by a tester station at TJ’s with a hungry 5 year old. Thank goodness pumpkin bagels are seasonal. To go along with that delicious pumpkin bagel, I packed a little container of yogurt with applesauce, muesli and honey. This lunch took only a few minutes to make; I was able to whip it up in the morning before school. Just call me Supermom.

Another Fun Fried Egg Lunch: Quesadilla Con Huevos

lunch on 22 Oct 2013: quesadillas con huevos, persimmon slices, carrots, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and dried fruit
lunch on 22 Oct 2013: quesadillas con huevos, persimmon slices, carrots, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and dried fruit
lunch on 22 Oct 2013: quesadillas con huevos, persimmon slices, carrots, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and dried fruit

I am on a total fried egg kick this week. Yesterday, it was frittata, today it’s quesadillas con huevos or huevoquesadillas. The kiddos absolutely love quesadillas with eggs. The process in simple: heat up a cast iron pan, whisk up an egg, throw the egg in the pan, sprinkle cheese on top, place a tortilla on top and press it into the egg, fold it over and crisp up the tortilla. Instant yum.

For fruits and veggies today, I have put assorted dried and fresh items into the lunch box: sliced persimmons, sliced carrots, a date, and some dried blueberries. While picking up a few items for dinner at the grocery store yesterday, I encountered some seasonal Nestlé Toll House Halloween Morsels. Because we’re crazy for Halloween in our house, I just couldn’t resist that cute bag of chocolate and orange (colored, not flavored) chips. After dinner, I whipped up a batch of oatmeal coconut Halloween chip cookies. The kiddos will be pretty excited to have Halloween cookies for a treat today.

Fancy Frittata with Spinach and Tomatoes

lunch on 21 Oct 2013: fancy frittata, cheese and crackers, persimmon and orange slices
lunch on 21 Oct 2013: fancy frittata, cheese and crackers, persimmon and orange slices

This is one fancy frittata. I made it with two kid-favorite fancy cheeses: 1000 Day Gouda (amazing!) from Trader Joe’s and nice, salty crumbled feta. Because you can never have too much 1000 Day Gouda, I also included some sliced gouda with multigrain crackers in this lunch. Right now, we are in an orange fruit bonanza: oranges and persimmons are both in season, so we are feasting on all things orange (pumpkin, included). And in case you’re wondering, that sad little shriveled up guy in the treat compartment is actually a delicious dried apple slice.

Fancy Frittata
  • 3 eggs
  • handful of chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 400˚F. Warm a small (8 or 9-inch) cast iron pan over medium heat. While the pan is heating, whisk the eggs until well scrambled. Coat the hot pan with a thin film of olive oil. Sauté the spinach in the oil until wilted. Pour in the eggs and then sprinkle the cheese, tomatoes, and salt and pepper on top. When the eggs start to set around the edges, transfer the pan to the oven and cook until the egg is puffed and the top is golden brown (about 15–20 minutes). As the frittata cools, it will start to release from the sides of the pan. After a few minutes, you should be able to easily transfer the frittata to a cutting board. Slice up that fancy frittata and serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold in a lunchbox.

 

A Quesadilla Kind of Day

lunch on 18 October 2013: quesadilla with ham and salsa, carrot slaw, crunchy lentil curls, and pear slices
lunch on 18 October 2013: quesadilla with ham and salsa, carrot slaw, crunchy lentil curls, and pear slices

It’s a warm, sunny quesadilla kind of day here on California’s central coast. In the quesadillas: ham, cheese and a little salsa. On the side: carrot slaw with lime juice, olive oil and honey. For crunch: potato lentil Crunchy Curls from Trader Joe’s. For sweetness: half an anjou pear. For a special treat: one small dark chocolate peppermint pattie. Happy weekend!

Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Chocolate Chia Pudding

lunch on 17 October 2013: protein-packed chocolate chia pudding with a sunflower seed butter and jam sandwich
lunch on 17 October 2013: protein-packed chocolate chia pudding with a sunflower seed butter and jam sandwich

Today’s lunch has a nice big serving of protein-packed peanut butter chocolate chia pudding. It’s healthy! It’s vegan! It’s gluten free! Anyone can eat this pudding. Peanut allergies, you say. Just use sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter.

Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Chocolate Chia Pudding

makes 2 large or 4 small portions

  • 1-1/4 cup milk of your choice (I used vanilla soy milk)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (or sunflower seed butter)
  • 2 tablespoons carob powder
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake it up to blend. Store in the fridge overnight, so the chia seeds can thicken up the pudding. If you don’t have carob powder, you can substitute cocoa powder, but you may need to add a little more sweetener.