Lunch Box Goodies
Do you often get the munchies at work or on a long road trip? Do your kids sometimes ask for a couple of bucks so they can buy a candy bar at school?
You can avoid fattening fast food snacks or vending machine fare by packing a lunch container with homemade tasty goodies.
Loaded with protein and fiber, trail mix has enough fuel to minimize that mid-afternoon hunger, until dinnertime. Dried fruits and chocolate chips can also make it a kid favorite.
In a large bowl or plastic bag, combine three cups of *granola with 1 cup of raisins, 1 cup of rice cereal, ½ cup of dried cranberries, and a half cup of dried apricots.
A half cup of chocolate chips is optional. Toss or stir to mix.
You can store the mixture in an airtight container for up to a month.
*see last week’s article on breakfasts Inspiration for a sample recipe
This Mediterranean health food can appeal to young and old. Pack a helping with carrot sticks, celery or pita chips.
Combine a 19 ounce can of rinsed and drained chickpeas with ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice, ¼ cup of tahini and ¼ cup of water.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and one finely minced clove of garlic.
Pour mixture into blender or food processor.
Process until moderately or finely pureed.
You can also dress up hummus with additional ingredients, such as roasted red peppers, or chopped sweet onions. I’ve even blended it up with avocado.
Sweet Potato Chips
Who doesn’t love indulging in chips once in a while? In this case, it’s nothing to feel guilty, because sweet potatoes are filled with fiber and antioxidants.
Heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray.
Wash 4-6 potatoes. Cut them into thin slices, and place in large bowl.
Pour a tablespoon of oil onto the palms of your hands. Gently rub oil onto the sweet-potato slices, tossing to combine.
Sprinkle with a tablespoon each of sugar and cinnamon, tossing in bowl to coat evenly.
Place the potato slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Turn chips over and bake until slightly crisp, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a plate; cool for a few minutes beyond filling your lunch box.
Growing up, my mom served her homemade applesauce on just about everything: cheese crepes, ice cream, potato pancakes, meat dishes and even on toast (with peanut butter). It’s a sentimental favorite, but also a truly delicious treat.
First, peel, core and slice a half dozen apples (or up to 8 apples if they are small). Then pour in a cup of apple juice. Next, squeeze in the juice of a lemon. For color and flavor, add in a half cup of brown sugar. I have also substituted maple syrup. Next, add a couple teaspoons of cinnamon. The more adventurous may also add a half teaspoon of nutmeg. Now, stir the concoction over medium heat for a couple minutes, then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes
After slightly cooled, mash the apple mixture with a potato masher until you reach a desired consistency. You might also want to puree it up in a blender, if you like a smoother texture, just ensure it is properly cooled.
Do you have an office potluck coming up? Homemade salsa is always a hit, especially when it is served on a pretty platter surrounded by baked or regular tortilla chips.
Combine 2 cups of chopped tomatoes with a quarter cup each of red and onions. Transfer to a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons of canned green chilies, ¼ cup of lime juice, and a dash each of cilantro, garlic, cumin. Pulse the processor until the mixture is combined, yet remains chunky. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
I like dressing up my salsas with favorite foods. Try adding sliced avocado or strawberries. Corn is another popular item. My friend likes tossing in cubed cantaloupe – unconventional, but it actually adds a refreshing, sweet flavor. Here again you should experiment - see what works for you and what doesn’t.
Popcorn is a perennial go-to snack. Try dressing it up in all sorts of ways. My kids love theirs with crushed peanuts and mini marshmallows. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Heat 6 tablespoons of butter or margarine with 2/3 cup sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until the seeds are toasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon each sugar and salt; toss with 16 cups hot popcorn.
Toss 16 cups hot popcorn with 6 tablespoons melted butter or margarine, 1/4 cup each chopped fresh parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt.
Have you tried chia seeds? I hadn’t heard about them until a couple of years ago. But now I’m hooked. I enjoy their nutty flavor, and they pair well with so many things. Like flax seeds, chia seeds are also very high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
This pudding can be thrown together in just a couple of minutes:
Whisk 3 cups of regular or almond milk with ¾ cup of chia seeds. Add 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes then whisk again to avoid clumping. Cover and chill the mixture for several hours, or overnight. Stir well in your lunch container before eating. I like to add a variety of toppings, such as granola and blueberries, or sliced bananas and cinnamon. Get creative!