The transition is upon us. The children are finishing summer vacation and going back to school. Soon, the wondrous joys of autumn will prevail with visions of multi-colored leaves. We outfit the kids in their favorite fall fashions, stuff school supplies into brand new backpacks and ship them off to school.
Off to school means out of the house for at least a majority of the day. Enjoy some peace and quiet and steal a moment to yourself with a steaming cup of coffee. Sounds great, right? Perhaps you forgot the daily chore of packing of school lunches. Reality hits you in the face, but fear not; it can be done without too much trouble. With a little imagination and planning it can be made easier. When my daughter was still in school, I picked two or three sandwich ideas, one versatile soup, and some healthy on hand snacks and learned to switch them up. Some of my favorite ideas included using favorite meal leftovers combined with a crisp salad. For the elementary years, I often used cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes for my daughter’s PB and J sandwiches. To finish it off throw in some homemade cookies in with a little note full of love and they will look forward to lunch break, knowing they are on your mind.
Check out the blog photos for different sandwich ideas. I have included a soup recipe my next-door neighbor Myra gave me (yes, her name is also my name which we enjoy – it perplexes a lot of people) and a healthy cookie recipe. You will see lists of possible snack choices that are exciting, included as well. Just think, only 10 more months until until the next summer break!
Fruits and Vegetables
Edamame with soy sauce
Cherry tomatoes and cucumbers with ranch dip
Raw snap peas with hummus
Apple slices with caramel
Pineapple, papaya, mangoes and kiwi
Blueberries, strawberries, peaches with yogurt
Dried nuts, trail mix, fruit leathers (note peanut allergies)
Try pinwheel combinations, whole-wheat pitas and wraps, panini’s, whole-wheat buns and subs. The list is unlimited with a variety of cold cuts, spreads and jellies to combine with fruits, cheeses and vegetables.
Easy Versatile Tomato Soup
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion diced
2 cloves garlic crushed
1- 28 oz. can Roma tomatoes diced with juices
½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
4 cups chicken stock
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. lime juice
Heat the olive oil in a medium stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender about 2 minutes. Add the roma tomatoes with juice, the chicken stock, cumin and the Italian seasoning then simmer 20 minutes. Add the redpepper flakes and the lime juice and simmer another 5 minutes.
Now you have the soup base prepared and it will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
You can add a variety of items to the soup base such as:
Cooked chicken cubed, shrimp, pasta
Carrots, green beans, spinach, kale.
Red and green peppers, avocado diced.
Garnish with cilantro, basil, monterey jack cheese, cheddar cheese, and corn or tortilla chips.
These are a handful of suggestions I am sure you can add more to the list, it is also a great way to use leftovers that work well with the soup base.
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Cookies
2½ sticks unsalted butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. molasses
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 large eggs
4 cups all purpose whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups large flake oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup rice puffs
½ cup chopped dried apricots
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup chopped dark chocolate
½ tsp. sea salt or cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Place the butter, both sugars and the molasses in the bowl of an electric mixer, then beat with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat another minute. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
In a separate bowl combine the whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, then add slowly to the egg mixture beating well after each addition. Add the oatmeal flakes, rice puffs and coconut and combine well, the dough will be thick so push it down with a spatula.
Add the apricots, cranberries, pecans and chocolate and beat to incorporate through out the dough.
Scoop out balls about 3 ounces in size, roll into balls and place few inches apart on the cookie sheet and flatten the balls slightly with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle with the sea salt or cinnamon if desired.
At this point you can also freeze some of the balls on a cookie sheet and then store in an airtight container to bake off at a later date. You can also add a variety of different items to the basic dough recipe that you may prefer.
If baking now, bake in the oven for 16 minutes turning the pans at the half way baking point.
Cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and store in an airtight container.