When I was a kid (a few years ago), a brown-bag school lunch was a deli ham, bologna or PB&J sandwich, usually with a bag of chips and a Tastykake Chocolate Kreamie for dessert.
With all the nutrition information that became available since then, today’s moms and dads are challenged to make school lunches that are healthy, creative and delicious.
The following are two of my favorite recipes from British chef Jamie Oliver. I modified them slightly for the U.S. I have fond memories of watching “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” on TV with my daughter, Carolyn, a few years ago. We would giggle as real-life lunch ladies cringed in fear when Oliver marched into a different U.S. school cafeteria each season to announce that they were doing it all wrong, and he would fix it.
And, of course, he did.
CHICKEN NOODLE SALAD
½ cup vermicelli rice noodles
½ cup cooked chicken breast
½ cup snow peas
1 small carrot
½ small red bell pepper
½ Little Gem lettuce or romaine hearts
2 tsp. mixed seeds
½ tsp. honey
Low-salt soy sauce
Sesame oil or extra virgin olive oil
1. In a bowl, cover the noodles with boiling water and leave for 10 minutes to re-hydrate.
2. Shred the chicken and slice the snow peas, then place in a lidded plastic container.
3. Trim the carrot, peel into ribbons using a speed-peeler, then add to the container.
4. De-seed and slice or chop the pepper, trim and shred the lettuce, then add to the container.
5. Refresh the noodles under cold running water, then drain really well and add to the container.
6. Sprinkle over the seeds and secure the lid.
7. Squeeze the lime juice into a small lidded pot, add the honey, soy sauce and ½ a teaspoon of oil, then pop the lid on.
8. To serve, pour the dressing over the salad and mix together.
HEALTHY NACHOS WITH HUMMUS AND SALSA
4 soft corn tortilla shells
1/8 cup cheddar cheese
½ tsp. smoked paprika
1 (3 1/3-cup) tin of chickpeas
1 tsp. tahini or peanut butter
extra virgin olive oil
1 spring onion
a few sprigs of fresh coriander
2 ripe tomatoes
1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
2. Cut the tortillas into wedges and arrange in one layer over two large baking trays, then bake for 4 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven, carefully turn them all over, then finely grate over the cheddar and sprinkle with paprika.
Place back in the oven and bake 4 more minutes, or until golden and the cheese has melted, then remove from the oven and leave to cook completely.
5. To make the hummus, drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid.
6. Place the chickpeas into a blender with a splash of the reserved liquid, the lemon juice, tahini or peanut butter and 1 teaspoon of oil, then blitz until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides, if needed. Spoon into a small pot and pop the lid on.
7. To make the salsa, trim the spring onion and pick the coriander, then roughly chop together with the tomatoes.
8. Squeeze over the lime juice, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of oil and season with a tiny pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then keep chopping and mixing together until fairly fine.
9. Scrape into a small container and pop the lid on.
10. Once fully cooled, place the nachos in an air-tight plastic container until needed.
11. Serve the nachos with the hummus and salsa for dipping and dunking.
Teri Lyon is a mom, grandmom and freelance writer who lives in Glenburn Township with her cat.