Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lunch Made A Bit Easier

My kids pack their own lunches for school every day, and they have been doing so for the last 5 years. Initially it started from my own frustration over how crazy I was feeling in the mornings trying to send them off with a good breakfast in their bellies, get lunches made and everyone out the door on time with all the necessary books/homework/sports gear etc... needed for the day. So I threw my hands up and surrendered. I will be honest here and tell you all how very hard it was for me at first to let go of the micro-managing and directing as to what the girls should be packing and get past my own hang ups regarding packaged and prepared foods. I knew simplicity would be the key to success with my two, so yes I started buying baby carrots, individual yogurts, juice boxes, and Amy's frozen burritos (one per kid per week). My standing request is that they make sure to pack a good protein source and two fresh foods (one of which needs to be of the veggie sort). How that looks to each of them is very different. My oldest is really about no frills and convenience so she packs an apple every day along with either baby carrots or sliced cucumbers (snap peas if we have any), and leftovers which have been packed up the night before during dinner cleanup. My youngest needs more protein so she prefers to have cubed up smoked salmon or rolls of sliced turkey (she will on occasion also take leftovers), a double serving of any of the following - cut up red peppers, cucumbers, carrots, snap peas or tomatoes and some sort of nut and dried fruit combo. On occasion one or both of the girls will make a sandwich but it is definetly not a go-to for either of them. I chalk that up to the nature of my gluten free cooking, bread has all but fallen off their radar. Last year, seeing that packaged leftovers were trending high I started making some planned leftovers for their lunches like curried chicken salad, fried rice heavy on the meat and veg, and once in a while pesto pasta salad with peas and mozzarella cheese. Recently my oldest came home from an overnight with a friend and was raving about this new food she'd had there - tabouli. That sounded like the perfect opportunity to sneak some variety into the lunch rotation to me. So, true to my nature I took the idea and put my own twist on this traditional dish, starting with making it gluten free. I cooked up a bit of quinoa (a food I have yet to be successful getting my family to embrace) and tossed it with ribbons of kale, sliced kalamata olives, chopped tomatoes, slivered almonds, feta cubes and dressed it with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I am sure a bit of red onion would be great in this too but with the plan being to send it for lunches I figured I'd do all involved a favor and leave those out. This is a quick dish to whip up that will keep anyone happily in grab-and-go lunches for the week. So if you have the heart to step out of the beautiful sunshine today offers, I strongly suggest making up a big bowl for this, I promise you will be so glad you did come tomorrow. My next hope is to get the girls thinking this way and to work on making up a big batch of this themselves for the week. Baby steps...

No comments: