September 20, 2000Greetings friends,
Summer is over and kids are going back to school. In my community, they post the menus for school lunches on a local cable channel. Many times what the school system considers "a well-balanced meal" frightens and appalls me. Most of the selections are fried, high in fat, sugar, and salt, and very few fresh fruits or vegetables are offered. I also recently heard a statistic that stated, "one third of all the vegetables in a typical school lunch are either potato chips or french fries," both of which are fried! Most of the schools also tempt students with vending machines full of soda, candy, cookies, and chips. No wonder more and more Americans are overweight since poor eating habits are encouraged at such an early age.
Many schools only offer a few selections to their students. So as you can imagine the vegan offerings are limited when it comes to what may be provided by the school at lunchtime. Packing your child's lunch is one way to encourage and hopefully ensure that they eat healthy at school. This installment of recipes offers some suggestions for homemade, healthy, vegan versions of what is typically offered in schools to kids for lunch. I also threw in a few recipes for vegan substitutes of some familiar commercially made products. When it is homemade, it is made with love. After all, you are what you eat, and kids deserve only the very best! Enjoy! As always, be good to one another, and remember... eat your veggies!
3/4 cup almonds
In a non-stick skillet, place the almonds, and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer the almonds to a food processor or blender, add a little of the oil, and process to form a smooth paste. Transfer the almond butter to a glass bowl. Fill the cavities of the celery with the almond butter and press the raisins and nuts into the almond butter. Wrap the stuffed celery with waxed paper or plastic cling film, or place in an airtight container. Serve 1 whole stalk of celery per person.
*Variation - fill the celery cavities instead with the White Bean and Roasted Vegetable Spread (see recipe below) and top with shredded carrots.
Yield: 4 servings
3 T. apple cider vinegar
In a small bowl, place the vinegar, soy mayonnaise, maple syrup, and brown mustard; whisk well to combine, and set aside. In a non-stick skillet, place the sunflower seeds; cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant, remove them from the pan, and set aside. In a large bowl, place the shredded carrot, jicama, red cabbage, and currants, and toss well to combine. Add the reserved dressing and sunflower seeds, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss gently to thoroughly coat the vegetables with the dressing. Cover and chill for 1-2 hours to allow the flavors to blend. Toss salad again before placing in individual airtight containers with lids for transport.
*Variation - you can substitute raisins for the currants and other nuts for the sunflower seeds.
Yield: 4 Cups
2/3 cup peanuts
In a food processor or blender, place the peanuts, and pulse a few times to finely chop. Remove 4 T. of the chopped peanuts and set aside. Process the remaining peanuts with a little of the safflower oil to form a thick paste. Break 2 of the bananas into 2-inch pieces, add them along with 1 t. of lemon juice to the food processor, and process until smooth and creamy. Transfer the mixture to a glass bowl. Thinly slice the remaining banana and, with your fingers, coat the slices with the remaining lemon juice to prevent discoloration. To assemble the sandwiches: place 4 slices of bread on a cutting board, evenly divide the banana-peanut butter spread between the 4 slices of bread, sprinkle the reserved peanuts evenly over the spread, then evenly divide and layer the slices of banana. Top with remaining slices of bread. For ease in eating, cut each sandwich in half and wrap in waxed paper or plastic cling film, or place in an airtight container.
*Variation - raisins or granola can also be used as a layer in this sandwich.
Yield: 4 sandwiches
1 red pepper, destemmed, deseeded, and quartered lengthwise
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the pepper and onion in rows on the foil. Broil the vegetables for 5-7 minutes or until slightly charred, and remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Flip over the vegetables, add the cloves of garlic to the cookie sheet, return the cookie sheet to the oven, and broil an additional 5-7 minutes to slightly char the other side. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly and then gently remove the skin from the peppers. In a food processor or blender, place the roasted vegetables, white beans, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and process until smooth. Add the parsley and process for an additional 30 seconds to thoroughly incorporate it. Transfer the mixture to a glass bowl. Use as a spread on crackers, bread, or sandwiches, or serve with raw vegetables.
Yield: 2 Cups
4 - 8-inch flour tortillas, choice of white, whole wheat, or flavored
Place the tortillas flat on a cutting board; place a 1/3 cups of the spread on each tortilla, and spread within 1-inch of its edges. Place 1 lettuce leaf in the center of each tortilla so that a little of it hangs out the top edge. For each tortilla: on top of the lettuce place 3 slices of tomato, 3 T. shredded zucchini, 3 T. shredded summer squash, 3 T. shredded carrot, and in rows, 6 slices of cucumber. Fold the bottom of the tortilla up to the center of the tortilla, then fold in each side, one overlapping the other to enclose the vegetables, and secure the wrap with a toothpick. Wrap the veggie wraps in aluminum foil, waxed paper, or plastic cling film, or place in an airtight container.
*Variation - substitute any of the suggested vegetables for some of your other favorite vegetables, such as shredded beets, shredded sweet potatoes, shredded or sliced radishes, chopped vegetables, fresh sprouts of vegetables or beans, etc.
Yield: 4 veggie wraps
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
In a large bowl, place the flour and drizzle in the oil. Using your fingers, work the two together until it forms a crumbly mixture. In a small bowl, place the remaining ingredients, and whisk well to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, mix well, and with your hands form it into a ball of dough. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Divide the dough in half. Roll out one half of the dough thinly, cut eighteen 5-inch circles, and set them aside. Gather up the scraps, add the scraps to the remaining half of dough, roll out the dough thinly, and cut eighteen 6-inch circles. Fill the 6-inch circles of dough with up to 1/3 cups of desired filling. Wet the edges of the circles of dough with water, place the 5-inch circles of dough on top of the filling, press down around the edges of the dough to seal, and then crimp the edges with a fork. Use a spatula to carefully transfer the filled turnovers to 2 non-stick cookie sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve the turnovers hot or cold. Allow them to cool completely on racks before wrapping them individually in aluminum foil to preserve freshness. They can also be frozen in airtight containers after baking for later use.
Yield: Dough for Eighteen 6-inch turnovers
3/4 cup onion, finely diced
In a non-stick skillet, saute the onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, zucchini, and garlic, and saute an additional 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add the fresh herbs, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper, and stir well to combine. Taste, adjust seasonings as needed, and set aside to cool. Prepare the dough for the turnovers (see above recipe). Then cut the 5-inch and 6-inch circles of dough as described in the turnover pastry dough recipe. On each of the prepared 6-inch circles of dough, place 1/3 cups of the vegetable filling. Wet the edges of the circles of dough with water, place the 5-inch circles of dough on top of the filling, press down around the edges of the dough to seal, and crimp the edges with a fork. Use a spatula to carefully transfer the turnovers to a non-stick cookie sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve the turnovers hot or cold. Allow them to cool completely on a rack before wrapping them individually in aluminum foil to preserve freshness. They can also be frozen in an airtight container after baking for later use.
*Variation - other vegetables may be used in the turnovers such as, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, greens, beans, etc.
Yield: Nine 6-inch turnovers
1 2/3 cups blueberries
In a small bowl, place the blueberries, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and ginger, and toss gently to combine. Prepare the dough for the turnovers (see above recipe). Then cut the 5-inch and 6-inch circles of dough as described in the turnover pastry dough recipe. On each of the prepared 6-inch circles of dough, place 3 T. of the blueberry filling. Wet the edges of the circles of dough with water, place the 5-inch circles of dough on top of the filling, press down around the edges of the dough to seal, and crimp the edges with a fork. Use a spatula to carefully transfer the turnovers to a non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve the turnovers hot or cold. Allow them to cool completely on a rack before wrapping them individually in aluminum foil to preserve freshness. They can also be frozen in an airtight container after baking for later use.
*Variation - other fruits and flavorings can be substituted for the blueberries such as, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, plums, apples, cherries, or vanilla, almond, maple, or mint as flavorings etc.
Yield: Nine 6-inch turnovers
3 cups rolled oats
In a non-stick, 9x13-inch pan, place the oats and bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes to toast to a golden brown. Transfer the oats to a large bowl, add the cereal and raisins, and toss well to combine. In a blender or food processor, place the dates and water; allow to sit 5 minutes, and then process for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Transfer the pureed dates to a saucepan and add the apple juice concentrate, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extract. Pour the date mixture over the oat mixture and toss well to combine. Pour the mixture into the same pan used to toast the oats, and place a piece of waxed paper on top of the mixture. Use a can on top of the waxed paper to roll out the mixture evenly, and compress it firmly. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned. It will seem soft but will harden as it cools. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes, cut into 24 bars, and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Wrap them individually in aluminum foil, waxed paper, or plastic cling film, or store in an airtight container.
*Variation - substitute a mixture of dried fruits, nuts, or vegan chocolate chips for the raisins in the recipe.
Yield: 24 bars
1/3 cup water
In a small saucepan, stir together the water and agar-agar flakes, and place over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook while stirring constantly for 5-10 minutes or until the agar-agar is thoroughly dissolved. Place the grape juice in a glass bowl, add the agar-agar mixture, and whisk well to combine. Place in the refrigerator, chill for 30 minutes or until partially set; gently fold in the grapes, and chill for several additional hours or until totally gelled. Serve in small individual glass dishes, or transfer to small individual airtight containers for transport.
*Variation - try substituting other types of fruit juice or sliced fruit, such as berries, cherries, apples, or pears. Citrus fruits and pineapple sometimes react differently with the agar-agar so trying mixing them with other types of fruit for proper gelling.
2 cups soy milk
In a double boiler, place the soy milk, sugar, cocoa powder, and cornstarch, and whisk well to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, while stirring constantly, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer the pudding to a glass bowl, small individual glass bowls, or to small individual airtight containers. Allow the pudding to chill several hours before serving. The pudding can be topped with a tofu whipped topping, sliced fresh fruit, or nuts if desired.
*Variation - to make a fruit flavored pudding, prepare the pudding in the same manner as above but omit the cocoa powder. Stir in 1 cup of sliced fruit and add more sugar if needed to adjust the sweetness of the pudding. Other flavorings may also be used, such as almond, lemon, mint, or maple.
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