Lunches for a Hungry Dancer

the feather headband making station at dance camp
lunch on 10 June 1014: quesadillas, grape tomatoes, carrots, blueberries and cherries
lunch on 10 June 1014: quesadillas, grape tomatoes, carrots, blueberries and cherries

Even though the school year is over, I had to stay in lunch-making mode last week for dance camp: three days of serious dance fun for little girls (and one boy!). I knew my little dancer would need lots of fuel during dance camp, so I packed lunches full of fresh fruits and veggies. On day 1, I went with quesadillas, carrots, grape tomatoes and some superfruits: blueberries and cherries.

lunch on 11 June 2013: yogurt with apricot jam and strawberries, tuna salad sandwich and grape tomatoes
lunch on 11 June 2013: yogurt with apricot jam and strawberries, tuna salad sandwich and grape tomatoes

On day 2, I made a yogurt bowl with homemade apricot jam and strawberries. I also packed little tuna salad sandwiches with grape tomatoes on the side.

lunch on 12 June 2014: black bean and cheese taquitos with pretzel and Parmesan Goldfish, and berries
lunch on 12 June 2014: black bean and cheese taquitos with pretzel and Parmesan Goldfish, and berries

For day 3, I made protein-packed black bean and cheese baked taquitos, which I served with carrot sticks, a medley of the little dancer’s favorite Goldfish, and strawberries and blueberries.

dress up at Dance Camp on Circus Day
dress up at Dance Camp on Circus Day

My sweet little dancer had a fantastic time at dance camp. I’m not going to lie: I was a little jealous that I didn’t get to go to dance camp!

the feather headband making station at dance camp
the feather headband making station at dance camp

Last day of the School Year Celebratory Lunch

end of 3rd grade
last day of school lunch: neighborhood fruit salad, sticky rice sweet energy bars, cheese and Goldfish
last day of school lunch: neighborhood fruit salad, sticky rice sweet energy bars, cheese and Goldfish

I can’t believe it’s finally here: the last day of the school year for the kiddos. It felt like I should do something special for lunch—perhaps something extra cute or elaborate. Hmm. That didn’t happen (my school year is still going and I have no energy left for elaborate lunches). However, I did do a little sticky rice culinary experiment last night. Behold: sticky rice sweet energy bars. Mmm, they are good! I can’t wait to get home to see how the kiddos liked them. I also made a neighborhood fruit salad: oranges from our trees, apricots from our generous neighbors across the street and figs from the house at the end of the block. Plus I threw in some farmers market pluots: it’s a locavore extravaganza. And then some decidedly non-local food: Goldfish and a cheese stick.

Sticky Rice Sweet Energy Bars
  • 1 cup sticky rice (I used Thai Sweet Glutinous rice)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon almond meal (you could use finely chopped nuts, but I was too lazy)
  • 1–2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • chocolate chips
  • peanut butter chips
  • sesame seeds

Cook the rice in a rice cooker. While the rice is still warm stir in all ingredients except the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and sesame seeds. After the rice mixture has cooled slightly, add in a small handful of chocolate and peanut butter chips. I was too impatient to let the rice cool, so my chips melted into the rice. No problem: the bars still turned out quite yummy. Press the rice into a small plastic or glass container and sprinkle the surface with sesame seeds. I just happened to have some fancy pants black sesame seeds, so I used these. Let the rice cool completely, then cut into bars. These bars are totally versatile: you could add dried fruit, different sweeteners, more nuts, etc. The sticky rice acts as a great binder and holds everything together.

end of 3rd grade
end of 3rd grade

Jello Love: Confetti Jello

confetti jello
confetti jello
confetti jello

I have a confession to make: I love Jello. I love how bright it is. And how jiggly. And how sweet. For an end of the year school celebration, you can’t beat Jello (nothing says celebration like Jello). This year I was a little pressed for time, so I didn’t do my usual rainbow Jello, which takes hours and lots of precision to prepare. Instead, I went with this fabulous confetti Jello (I’ve also seen it called stained glass Jello). It’s actually quite easy to prepare despite how complicated it looks.

Confetti Jello
  • four 3 oz. packages of Jello (whatever colors you want for the confetti)
  • 3 oz. package lemon Jello
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 packages Knox gelatin

Make the four colors of Jello using 1 cup of boiling water to 1 package of Jello. Chill in separate containers until set, then chop into small cubes. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan and arrange the chopped Jello pieces in it trying to mix up the colors evenly. In a separate bowl, sprinkle two envelopes of plain gelatin with 1/2 cup cold water. Once the gelatin has softened, add 1-1/2 cups boiling water and about a quarter package of lemon Jello. Stir in the can of sweetened condensed milk. At this point, taste the milk mixture and add more lemon Jello if you want a stronger lemony flavor. Let it cool and then pour it over the Jello cubes. Chill several hours or overnight. Cut into small cubes and serve while wearing a frilly apron.

Liliana loves her Jello
Liliana loves her Jello

Hurrah, it’s the last week of school! Hurray for fruit! Hurray for chia pudding!

lunch on 3 June 2014: strawberries and cream chia pudding, tuna salad with crackers, an apricot and a fig
lunch on 2 June 2014: tuna salad sandwich with peas and fruit salad
lunch on 2 June 2014: tuna salad sandwich with peas and fruit salad

The school year is really winding down now: the kiddos are in the final week. And the final week, of course, isn’t really school. It’s field day and parties and read-ins and such. We just have to get through it.

I’m sticking with lunches that are heavy on the fruit this week. On Monday, I made tuna salad sandwiches and a nice fruit salad loaded with strawberries and all manner of stone fruit.

lunch on 3 June 2014: strawberries and cream chia pudding, tuna salad with crackers, an apricot and a fig
lunch on 3 June 2014: strawberries and cream chia pudding, tuna salad with crackers, an apricot and a fig

Lunch today was a tin of decadent strawberries and cream chia pudding. It’s decadent, because—hold onto your horses—I made it with full fat coconut milk. Mmm, crazy delicious. I also packed the last of yesterday’s tuna salad with some Trader Joe’s Everything Crackers. Each lunch also contains a gorgeous apricot and a fresh fig (courtesy of my neighbor’s tree, which is packed with figs at the moment).

Decadent Strawberries and Cream Chia Pudding
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds

Combine all ingredients except chia seeds in a blender. Stir in chia seeds and let thicken in the fridge several hours or overnight. This pudding is thick and rich—perfect for dessert. But, if you throw caution to the wind, you can eat it for breakfast like I did today. Strawberries and cream chia pudding: breakfast of champions.