After the last two lunches with leftover grilled pork, it’s time for some vegetarian fare. Today’s sandwich is one of my favorites: tart apple slices with sunflower seed butter (I’d use regular peanut butter if I were making this for a home lunch). Apple season is now in full swing here. I got these gorgeous pink on the inside green on the outside apples (the name escapes me) at the farmers market. If I were to name them, I’d call them Blushing Tart apples. Also in this lunch are some pumpkin muffins leftover from yesterday’s preschool snack and lovely red fruit (watermelon and strawberries). The treat is a small helping of those addictive candy coated chocolate sunflower seeds from Trader Joe’s.
For today’s lunch, I made cutesy dolphin and heart sunflower butter blackberry jam sandwiches. Usually I’m not into cutesy cut-out things in lunches, because it takes too much effort. But, I saw this dolphin/heart sandwich cutter at Staples and I couldn’t resist. That being said, I may never use it again, because a little too much bread gets wasted with these cut outs. Maybe I’ll save it for special occasions—tea parties, birthdays and such. On the side is a cereal (Quaker Oat Squares and Wheat Chex) and Goldfish combo with a few chocolate chips sprinkled into the mix. Isn’t today’s fruit glorious? Nectarines and pluots from the farmers market. I keep thinking that stone fruit season is over, and it is except for a few lingering varieties. Candy coated chocolate sunflower seeds are in the treat tray.
Who doesn’t love a biscuit crust pizza? It’s got that special hint of sweetness and is especially good for kids who like a softer crust. Flatten some biscuit dough, put a little marinara sauce and cheese on top, cook at 375˚ish and take it out when the aroma in the kitchen reminds you that you put a mini biscuit pizza in the oven. Mmm, call it good.
In addition to that delicious little pizza morsel, we have grapes, blueberries, carrots and strawberry applesauce + greek yogurt with a sprinkling of granola. Yesterday’s lunch also had a little container of strawberry applesauce and greek yogurt but I didn’t mix it up. See how it looks different? I’m a master illusionist. In the treat tray: those crazy sesame seed Somersaults.
There were tons of grapes at the farmers market this weekend, so I stocked up on green and gorgeous dark purple varieties. They will be making an appearance in more lunches this week. The little container has plain greek yogurt with homemade strawberry applesauce. The strawberries I got this week were super sweet and ripe; I knew they wouldn’t last long. Sometimes really good fruit is ephemeral that way. So, I made an easy sauce: strawberries, cut up apple chunks (don’t bother to peel if organic or unwaxed), the juice of an orange and a little sugar. I let this simmer while giving the kids a bath last night. By the time they were finished, so was the sauce. I gave it a little blend with an immersion blender and let it cool while we read bedtime stories. Sunday night is for multi-tasking. This lunch also has a cheddar cheese biscuit left over from dinner, slices of this yummy baby swiss cheese from Trader Joe’s and real, honest to goodness baby carrots (farmers market).
My kids love “snack attack” lunches: lots of little finger food instead of something lunchy like a sandwich. In honor of Friday, I’ve made a finger food lunch: pub cheese with honey whole wheat pretzel twists and pretzel slims. Pub cheese is a bit dubious. It seems a little processed and has that unnatural orange color reminiscent of spray cheese. I keep meaning to find a recipe for pub cheese. I think it’s basically a cream cheese/cheddar cheese combo. I’ll work on that and report back. There are also some carrot and cucumber sticks for dipping. Fruit today is a mix of dry and fresh: farmers market grapes, dates and dried apricots (prunes for Iain). In the treat tray are candy coated chocolate sunflower seeds. Lunches/snacks like this are pretty easy to make if you keep a good supply of crackers/pretzels/pita chips, fruits and veggies on hand.
Today’s lunch features fabulous vegan chia pudding. Yes, the same chia seeds from the Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pet commercial. Chia seeds are some sort of superfood of the ancient Mayans and Aztecs—or, so the back of the package tells me. I understand that distance runners can use chia seeds to stay hydrated, because they soak up water/liquid in this crazy amazing way. Chia seeds are the new flax seeds. For reals.
This chia pudding contains the following:
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 2-1/2 cups almond milk
- 1-1/2 cups chopped strawberries
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
I put everything into my Vitamix (man oh man, do I love my Vitamix—yes, I’m one of those). Then you just put the blended up goodness into the fridge and it will thicken up after a few hours (I usually leave it all day or overnight). That’s it. You could also blend everything except the chia seeds and then stir in the seeds separately. The chia seeds will plump up and end up with a consistency similar to tapioca. Chia pudding is one of those things: you’ll either love it or hate it. It has a slightly gelatinous quality. If you love tapioca pudding, tapioca pearl tea and mochi, you’ll probably love chia pudding. If tapioca makes you gag, don’t bother trying. You can just sprinkle chia seeds on your granola to get a little ancient superfood power.
Besides the plant-powered pudding of awesomeness, we have a mini whole grain pancake with chocolate chips and berries (leftover from Sunday Pancake Morning and looking slightly singed in this picture—that’s what I get for reading the Sunday NY Times and cooking pancakes at the same time), and an ode to the end of stone fruit season (pluots and peaches from the farmers market). For a treat, Lily gets dried apricots and Iain gets a prune (both from the farmers market). I know what you’re thinking. A prune? For a treat? But, a good prune is nothing more than a good dried plum—mmm, concentrated sweetness.
Friday’s lunch always feels like a major accomplishment, because, well, we made it to Friday. Today’s festive Friday lunch is guacamole on whole wheat sandwich thins, pretzel thins + goldfish (there’s an unintentional “thin” theme going on here), and fruit (grapes, pluots and plums from the farmers market). Candy coated chocolate sunflower seeds are in the treat tray.
Cooking Tip: Guacamole is the easiest thing on earth if you have good, ripe avocados. Mash up an avocado with some salt. Done. If you want it to taste more exotic, mash up some chopped onions and cilantro with the salt. Then add the avocado. Or, forget the onion, it’s a pain to chop and makes you cry. Just add a garlic clove pressed through a garlic press. I never add lime juice to guacamole, unless I’m putting it in the kids’ lunches. In this case, I’ll squeeze a little lime juice into the mix to preserve the green color. Oh, yeah, sometimes I add a couple of grinds of black pepper. I’m crazy that way.
Ah, the things the Greeks have given us: the concept of classical proportions, reason, democracy, Homer, the Olympics. Moussaka. And, of course, Greek yogurt. Today’s main lunch item is Greek yogurt drizzled with local honey (farmers market). I’ve heard that a spoonful of local honey a day can help with allergies to pollen and such. Therefore, this lunch is part of Iain’s holistic allergy treatment. Lily just likes honey. I’ve also included a couple of whole wheat zucchini pineapple muffins from yesterday’s preschool snack, some pluots and berries (farmers market), and a date in the treat tray.
Today’s lunch is soy-licious. The main entree is a medley of cherry tomatoes (our garden), carrots (farmers market), edamame (Trader Joe’s frozen section), and teriyaki baked tofu cubes. The teriyaki tofu is from Trader Joe’s and comes pre-prepared, but I often make this by cutting a brick of extra firm tofu into four pieces and baking it in teriyaki sauce for about an hour (350˚ish). My kids love tofu—especially if it’s pan-fried or served in some yummy soy-based sauce. In the other compartments are: rice crackers + pretzel fish and blackberries + raspberries (farmers market). The treat is a rather decadent almond toffee dark chocolate drop.
Today, I was also in charge of Lily’s preschool class snack. Parents have to sign up for snack duty a couple of times per month. I usually try to bring some sort of whole grain baked item with fruit. We are also required to include a protein item in the snack. This time I made vegan zucchini pineapple whole wheat mini muffins. Man oh man, did these muffins turn out good. Sliced cheddar cheese and granny smith apples were also part of this snack. I try to prep and pack up everything for preschool snack the night before and slice/prep the fruit in the morning.
Cooking Tip: If you are looking to make vegan baked goods (because of allergies, health reasons, etc.), check out this vegan baking site. I’ve had really good luck with the recipes.
On today’s lunch menu: mini pizza margherita (basil from our garden, marinara sauce, and mozzarella on a wheat sandwich thin), sliced carrots, insanely delicious green plums, strawberries and grapes. All produce is from the farmers market. The treat: chocolate covered, candy coated sunflower seeds (Trader Joe’s).
The was a popular lunch: it was clean plate club for both Lily and Iain.
*Lunch tip: I make pizza-y/melty cheese things when I’m cleaning the dishes after dinner. Line a baking sheet with a small piece of foil, set oven to 400˚ and small melty things will usually be done in about 15 minutes.