Amazingly Delicious Peanut Butter and Jelly Pudding

lunch on 31 Jan 2014: peanut butter and jelly pudding, graham crackers, apples and cheddar cheese
lunch on 31 Jan 2014: peanut butter and jelly pudding, graham crackers, apples and cheddar cheese

Behold my latest chia pudding concoction: a thick and rich protein-packed wallop of peanut butter and jelly love. It’s so good and super easy to make.

peanut butter and jelly pudding
peanut butter and jelly pudding
Amazingly Delicious Peanut Butter and Jelly Pudding
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • a couple of spoonfuls of jam

Blend all ingredients except the chia seeds. I used an immersion blender, but any type of blender will work. Stir in the chia seeds and store in the fridge overnight. Before serving, swirl in a spoonful of jam. Crazy yummy. If you like peanut butter and jelly, I recommend that you make this immediately. If you’re not a fan of chia seeds, don’t use them and omit the milk: the pudding will still be thick and delicious.

Cute Kabobs with Ham, Cheese, and Veggies

cute kabobs
lunch on 30 Jan 2014: ham, cheese and veggie kabobs, with pretzels, swiss cheese spread and apples
lunch on 30 Jan 2014: ham, cheese and veggie kabobs, with pretzels, swiss cheese spread and apples

Every once in a while I get motivated to make cute kabobs for lunch. Of course the kiddos love food on a stick: who doesn’t? In addition to the ham, cheddar, broccoli and pickle kabobs, the kids decided on an assortment of sides: baby carrots, whole wheat pretzels, Laughing Cow creamy swiss cheese spread and some apple slices. I feel like I should always have a little container of cute kabobs in the fridge ready for snacking. I’ll get right on that. Next week.

cute kabobs
cute kabobs

Fun Bite-Size Heathy Morsels: Spinach Pizza Roll-ups

lunch on 29 Jan 2014: spinach pizza roll-ups, celery, baby carrots, apple slices and Goldfish
lunch on 29 Jan 2014: spinach pizza roll-ups, celery, baby carrots, apple slices and Goldfish
lunch on 29 Jan 2014: spinach pizza roll-ups, celery, baby carrots, apple slices and Goldfish

All kids should eat spinach. Period. End of story. Spinach has so much goodness, and it’s especially tasty in little pizza roll-ups. I always get spinach at the farmers market: it’s more work than triple-washed, pre-packed bags of spinach (like, you have to triple wash it yourself), but it’s infinitely more delicious.

Fun Snack Food: Spinach Pizza Roll-ups
  • whole wheat tortillas
  • marinara sauce
  • mozzarella, fresh or shredded
  • baby spinach

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Spread some marinara sauce on a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and top with a nice pile of spinach leaves. Roll it up as tightly as possible and put on a baking sheet, seam side down. I always line my cheap-o restaurant supply baking sheets with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean up. Cook for about 15–20 minutes (or until the cheese had melted and the tortilla starts to brown), turning once. Let cool before slicing into bite-size pieces. Serve to kids whenever they are ravenous.

Banana Bread and Berry Yogurt Chia Pudding (with spinach!)

lunch on 28 Jan 2014: banana bread, apples, Parmesan Goldfish, berry yogurt chia pudding
lunch on 28 Jan 2014: banana bread, apples, Parmesan Goldfish, berry yogurt chia pudding
lunch on 28 Jan 2014: banana bread, apples, Parmesan Goldfish, berry yogurt chia pudding

First thing’s first: this particular batch of chia pudding is a really unattractive shade of grey (I’m glad Iain de-emphasized it by artfully putting in toward the back of the photo). That’s because I snuck a handful of spinach into the blender, along with some frozen bananas, frozen mixed berries, almond milk and plain yogurt. It tastes delicious, but looks a little gross—unlike that moist, buttered slice of fresh-baked banana bread, which is making me hungry just looking at it. There were a couple of sad looking, half black bananas on the counter yesterday and Iain pointed out that they were just right for banana bread. Okay, then. I can take a hint: banana bread baking was in order. Since this is a kid-packed lunch, the treat is fantastic: a jelly filled Hello Kitty marshmallow. I don’t even remember how a bag of jelly filled Hello Kitty marshmallows ended up in my cupboard, but I suspect it came from a shopping trip with Lily.

The Breakfast Tofu Quesadilla: Believe It or Not, It’s a Kid Favorite

lunch on 27 Jan 2014: breakfast tofu quesadilla with half a banana, a tangerine, and apple slices
lunch on 27 Jan 2014: breakfast tofu quesadilla with half a banana, a tangerine, and apple slices
lunch on 27 Jan 2014: breakfast tofu quesadilla with half a banana, a tangerine, and apple slices

We have a slight problem in our house: one person has an aversion to eggs (for the record: it’s not me, nor is it either of the kids). As a result, I have logged a lot of kitchen hours trying to perfect the tofu scramble. I know what you’re thinking: tofu scramble is some bland, crazy hippy s#*!. Well, it doesn’t have to be. You just need to aggressively season (chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, lots of pepper, and such) that big pan of tofu and veggies. I like to add chopped potatoes and black beans to the tofu scramble for the perfect breakfast burrito (which we often have for dinner). Leftover tofu filling is also great in quesadillas, as in today’s lunch. Iain helped me pack the lunches last night and he went for a nice combination of fruit to go with the quesadillas. My young photographer is still working the extreme close-ups:

crispy quesadilla, up close
crispy quesadilla, up close

A Yummy Lunch: It’s All in the Details

lunch on 24 Jan 2014
lunch on 24 Jan 2014
lunch on 24 Jan 2014

Once again, the kids were full participants in packing and documenting today’s lunch. Here’s what happens when you let a 8 year old loose with a camera:

egg salad on a whole wheat bun
egg salad on a whole wheat bun

The sandwich is documented.

Go-Go Squeeze: apple blueberry pomengranate
Go-Go Squeeze: apple blueberry pomengranate

The fancy Go-Go squeeze is documented.

dried apricots, prunes, apple slices and a tangerine
dried apricots, prunes, apple slices and a tangerine

Extreme close-up of the fruit.

a heart-shaped treat
a heart-shaped treat

And the treat, of course.

I think my food photographer has a great eye.

 

 

 

Kid-Packed and Photographed Lunch: Raspberry Yogurt, Juicy Fruit, Dried Apricots and Plenty of Cheese

lunch on 23 Jan 2014: yogurt with raspberry jam, fruit, and cheese-filled crackers with even more cheese
lunch on 23 Jan 2014: yogurt with raspberry jam, fruit, and cheese-filled crackers with even more cheese
lunch on 23 Jan 2014: yogurt with raspberry jam, fruit, and cheese-filled crackers with even more cheese

The kids are still in their “I want to help pack lunch” mode. Usually, they decide this after they are already snug in their beds. They wander out to the kitchen saying: “I wanna help.” It’s all a ploy to stay up late. Why do kids always want to stay up late? Most parents would be happy to go to bed at 8:30 if there weren’t lunches to make, dishes to clean, laundry to fold, bathrooms to clean, emails to answer, work to do, glasses of wine to consume, episodes of Breaking Bad to watch (for people like me who are always way behind) etc. I vaguely remember wanting to stay up late, but it’s a way distant memory.

As for lunch, the kids decided a nice tin of mom’s homemade yogurt swirled with raspberry jam would be just dandy. Then, they started getting into the kiwis. As I was peeling and chopping them, the kids were consuming them. Iain grabbed one and started eating it like an apple (skin and all—yuck!). Kiwi skin is not delicious. After the kiwis, it was decided we also needed to pack some tangerines. By this point, I just wanted them to go to bed. “How about some cheese crackers?” I’m not proud of those little processed nuggets of orange cheese, but sometimes you have to pick your battles. And, because cheese crackers don’t actually contain real cheese, we packed some slices of actual cheddar.

Veggielicious: Veggie Burger with Cheese, Baby Carrots, Celery, Hard Boiled Egg and Kiwi

lunch on 22 Jan 2014: veggie burger with cheese, hard boiled egg, kiwi, carrots and celery
lunch on 22 Jan 2014: veggie burger with cheese, hard boiled egg, kiwi, carrots and celery
lunch on 22 Jan 2014: veggie burger with cheese, hard boiled egg, kiwi, carrots and celery

Today’s lunch is a protein-packed, colorful extravaganza. Each kiddo got half a veggie burger (my favorite: Dr. Praeger’s California Veggie Burgers) with cheddar cheese and ketchup. I got ambitious after dinner last night and boiled a few eggs, which Lily helped me peel. The rest of lunch came from the farmers market (yummy kiwi, carrots and celery) and a cute little candy store in Cayucos (the Valentine’s Day mix, which includes some awesome pink candy corn!).

Cabazon, It’s Not Just an Outlet Mall: Fish Quesadillas

lunch on 21 Jan 2014: fish quesadillas with fruit and veggies
lunch on 21 Jan 2014: fish quesadillas with fruit and veggies

There is a wonderful gentleman who delivers packages to my department. He also fishes. Occasionally, he gives us a gorgeous package of fresh fish. Last week, it was four big fillets of cabazon. I thought Cabazon was just a premium outlet mall between Redlands and Palm Springs, but, apparently, it’s also a rather ugly looking, big mouthed fish that tastes quite delicious. We grilled the cabazon and used it to make some darn fine fish tacos. The leftover fish went into today’s quesadillas, along with some pinto beans and mild red salsa. Both Iain and Lily are fish fiends, so today was a clean plate club kind of day.

Old-fashioned + New School = Vegan Tapioca Pudding

lunch on 16 Jan 2014: vegan tapioca pudding with a sunflower seed butter and jam sandwich, and fruit
lunch on 16 Jan 2014: vegan tapioca pudding with a sunflower seed butter and jam sandwich, and fruit
lunch on 16 Jan 2014: vegan tapioca pudding with a sunflower seed butter and jam sandwich, and fruit

I recently saw a package of tapioca pearls at the grocery store. This got me thinking about tapioca pudding and how yummy it is and how I’ve never actually made tapioca pudding. Well, last night I remedied that with a nice batch of vegan tapioca pudding, which was surprisingly easy to make. Except for perhaps one thing: you have to remember to soak the tapioca pearls in water overnight (at least that’s what the internets told me). Other than the soaking business, tapioca pudding cooks up in about 15 minutes. The kiddos agreed that a sunflower seed butter and raspberry jam sandwich would be a nice accompaniment to their tapioca pudding. And, of course, I had to include lots of juicy fruit for fruit-loving Iain.

Vegan Tapioca Pudding

makes 4–6 portions

  • 1/2 cup tapioca pearls, soaked overnight in 2 cups of water
  • 3 cups non dairy milk of your choice (I used half vanilla soy milk and half almond milk.)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water
  • 1–2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • generous pinch of salt

Drain the tapioca pears. In a small saucepan, heat the tapioca, milk and sugar over medium heat. Watch the mixture closely and stir it pretty regularly, so that the milk doesn’t scorch and the tapioca pearls don’t clump together. Keep stirring until the tapioca pearls plump up and turn completely transparent (about 15 minutes). As the pudding is cooking, make a slurry by stirring the cornstarch and water together. Add the cornstarch slurry and vanilla extract to the pudding while it continues to simmer. The pudding can be served either warm or cold. It will continue to thicken slightly as it cools.

Kid-Assisted Lunch Packing = Cute Tuna Sandwiches

lunch on 15 Jan 2014: tuna sandwiches, honeydew melon, tangerine, meyer lemon slice and dried fruit
lunch on 15 Jan 2014: tuna sandwiches, honeydew melon, tangerine, meyer lemon slice and dried fruit
lunch on 15 Jan 2014: tuna sandwiches, honeydew melon, tangerine, meyer lemon slice and dried fruit

Last night, the kids helped me pack their lunches. They had all sorts of ideas about what they wanted, and cute dolphin sandwiches were at the top of the list. Lily started raiding the pantry and pulling out various containers of dried fruit. Prunes, apricots, dried blueberries and goji berries made their way into the lunches. There is also a single marshmallow and a peanut butter chip in the treat tray. Iain wanted me to cut up a honeydew melon that was sitting on the counter, because he’s really into “juicy stuff” these days. The tangerine is yet another juicy favorite. The kids also decided they each needed a slice of meyer lemon for lunch. Who am I to argue with my citrus-loving California kids?

Carrot Sofrito, Black Bean and Kale Quesadillas: Mmm, Mexican Comfort Food Done Healthy

carrot, black bean and kale quesadillas with fruit and veggies
carrot, black bean and kale quesadillas with fruit and veggies
carrot, black bean and kale quesadillas with fruit and veggies

The kiddos had some super healthy quesadillas today, which I made with carrot veggie filling left over from last night’s enchiladas. Last year I discovered an enchilada recipe in Food and Wine that featured carrot sofrito. Carrot so-what-o? Carrot sofrito is simple and delicious: finely chopped carrots are cooked low and slow with tomatoes, garlic and onion. Over the weekend, I pulled a bumper crop of carrots out of my mostly dead garden. I remembered the sofrito recipe and decided to give it a try in the crock pot. I added some cauliflower and mushrooms to the carrots for a little textural variety. In the last half hour, I threw in some canned black beans and kale, because I put kale in everything. This veggie concoction made for a delicious pan of enchiladas—well, actually, enchilada casserole, because I’m too lazy to roll those tricky little corn tortillas so I just make enchiladas like lasagne. Hey, whatever works. I can’t be too ambitious on a Monday.