Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Farmers Market Basics for the Back-to-School Lunchbox

By Audrey Hess

As our children head back to school many of us are thinking about packing healthy lunches-- or snacks for the car on the way to soccer practice, etc.   Fruits and vegetables are among the first things that probably come to everyone’s mind when considering what the market has to offer.  Look for kid-sized fruits (apples, plums, peaches).  Have the children help pick them out and help to wash them to have them ready-to-go. This time of year, melons abound, and a container of cubed melon makes a very refreshing snack!   Cherry tomatoes and cucumbers to slice (or eat whole) are among the more obvious veggie options (we’ll consider them veggies, although many a child will proudly share her/his knowledge that these are really fruits because they have seeds in them!)  Also think about veggies that you might steam and chill for convenient finger-food eating—green beans, broccoli, cabbage, or beets, for example.

The farmers market doesn’t stop there, however.  Look for breads with the highest proportion of whole grain flour available.  Sandwich possibilities are endless, but a few ideas are:  cheese/ tomato, peanut butter / apple slices, and hummus /cucumber.

Pesto Hummus Recipe:
2 cups garbanzo beans, drain but reserve liquid (about 1 can—or cook your own from dried)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1 big handful basil leaves

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process to desired smoothness.  Add some of reserved garbanzo liquid if needed for desired consistency.  You can also use a potato masher –but need to mince garlic and basil before adding them to the bowl.  Use this as a sandwich spread or veggie dip.

Another protein-rich idea is hard-boiled eggs, 
which your child may enjoy peeling 
at lunch or snack time, 
or when helping to pack the lunch.
A couple of logistical details to remember:

  • If packing something watery for a sandwich (such as tomato slices), leave them in a separate small container for your child to assemble just before eating to avoid soggy bread.

  • Include an ice pack to help keep perishable foods safe.

Happy and healthy back-to-school wishes!

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