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Lunch Box Archives | Elizabeth Borelli

Kung Pao Noodles

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

4-6 servings

Prep and cook time:  15 minutes

This delicious dish is so quick to make it actually takes less time than stopping for takeout, and you control what goes into it.  Typically a dish high in salt, sugar and fat, this version of Kung Pao Noodles is optimized for taste and nutrition without compromising the yum factor.

You can easily convert this kid-friendly, vegan recipe to a gluten-free version by just substituting rice or quinoa pasta for the whole wheat spaghetti listed below.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound package whole wheat (or your favorite) spagehetti noodles
  • ½ cup real peanut butter (no sugar or high fructose corn syrup added)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • ¼ cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  •  3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper sauce (Sriracha is our family favorite)
  • 2 cloves crushed or teaspoon powdered garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated or powdered ginger

Cook the pasta according to instructions on the package. While it’s cooking, wash your veggies, shred your carrots (no need to peel them first), and chop the green onions.

Measure peanut butter and add to a glass dish (you can use a 2 cup or larger glass measuring cup as your mixing bowl if you have one).

Add the remaining ingredients to the peanut butter and heat for 30 seconds in the microwave, until warm.

Mix the sauce until the consistency is smooth.

When the pasta is done, drain it and put it back into the cooking pot.  Add the shredded carrot and green onion to the pan and cover it for 2 minutes so the hot pasta slightly steams the veggies.

Finally, add the peanut butter sauce and toss with large serving forks to combletely combine.  Serve warm or cold, topped with chopped smoked tofu if you like.

 

Savory Harvest Veggie Bake

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

4 servings

Prep time:  20-30 minutes

Cook time:  45 minutes

This savory and satisfying alternative to your everyday meatloaf is not only simple to prepare, it’s loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins and too many other good things to list here.  Don’t make it for the health benefits though; it’s so delicious no one ever needs to know.

Savory Harvest Veggie Bake is essentially a heavy-duty blender or food processor recipe, which on the upside makes clean up a snap.  Cook it in a glass casserole dish with a cover if you have one, so you can store any leftovers in the fridge as-is and save yourself a step.

I use high protein garbanzo bean flour in this gluten free version, but you can substitute brown rice flour or any other whole grain flour you have on hand just as well.

Ingredients

  • 6 carrots, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
  • 3 or 4 green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups raw cashews, pre-soaked in just enough water to cover
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage
  • Coconut oil for the cooking dish
  • 1 cup garbanzo bean or brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper (optional)

Soak cashews for 30 minutes in just enough water to cover them.  I soak mine right in the Vitamix!

Preheat the oven to 385 degrees.

Place chopped carrots and sweet potato pieces in a saucepan with 1” of water.  Heat, covered, on a medium high stovetop to simmer, then lower the heat to medium low and steam for 7-10 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.

Turn off the heat and add the green onions.  Replace the cover and let the pan sit for a few more minutes to allow the onions to soften and the other vegetables to begin to cool.

Add the steamed veggies and the sage to the blender or food processor, and blend with the cashews (and soaking liquid) just until completely blended, no need to completely puree here!

Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and stir the flour until blended.  Pour into an oiled casserole dish or loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until the top begins to look dry.

Remove from the oven, let sit for ten minutes before slicing into squares and serving.

Easy Lunch Kabobs

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Many among our older generation are surprised to see today’s parent frantically whip up an entirely different meal for their kids than they’re eating.  The kids’ food category is after all a relatively new construct, and although it creates exciting marketing opportunities for food companies, it isn’t such a win for kids and parents.

Most “kid foods” contain more sugar, fat and sodium than the adult versions, tastes which shape their food preferences into what can become a vicious cycle as time goes on.  Taste buds become so saturated that healthy, whole foods with their more subtle flavors have a hard time delivering enough sensation to satiate.

I agree, it’s hard to get children to eat kale and quinoa when they really just want a Happy Meal, but fortunately for all of us, there are happy mediums too.  When time and patience are at a premium, it helps to have some tricks up your sleeve to keep the Mac ‘n Cheeze at bay.   Mama Bears Tips for Healthy Eaters is here to help, or check out this fun and easy Kabob suggestion, because as the photo-shoot props and my nine-year old reminded me, kids are infinitely more likely to enjoy food that comes on a stick, even tofu.

Kabobs are a great way to pack a healthy, kid-friendly lunch using last night’s leftovers or fruits and veggies straight from the fridge.  Share the menu below with your kids and let them check off their choices so they can be sure to add them to your grocery cart or market tote, and create their own lunchtime masterpieces.

Easy Lunch Kabobs                                                                                                                                       Choose your favorites:

  • Bell pepper
  • Cheese
  • Grapes
  • Steamed cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Rolled lunch meat
  • Smoked tofu
  • Melon
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cubed whole grain bread
  • Chicken or turkey cubes
  • Steamed potatoes
  • Celery squares
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Pineapple chunks

Bamboo skewers are easy to find at your local market or retail store, but often too long to pack in a lunchbox.  Use kitchen scissors to snip them into two pieces, then skewer your favorite combination, leaving just enough of the stick free for easy pick-up.  Pack or wrap in a BPA-free reusable container for an easy lunchtime treat.

UltraVeggie Maki Rolls

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Makes 2 large rolls, 2 servings

Inspired by the Japanese tradition, these colorful rolls are as fun to make as they are good to eat. Sprouted lentils and brown rice deliver high quality protein to complement the nutrient-rich seaweed and veggies rolled into a highly flavorful package.

Pack UltraVeggie Maki Rolls for lunch or serve with a big salad for a light evening meal.   Be creative with your fillings; add your favorite veggies, nuts or even some smoked tofu for an extra protein punch.

You’ll need a bamboo mat for this, but they’re easy to find in the Asian food aisle of most grocery stores, and inexpensive (around $2) too.

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets nori seaweed (available at most grocery stores)
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup red lentils, sprouted or pre-cooked
  • ¼ cup cooked brown rice
  • ½ red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts, pecans or sunflower seeds
  • Bragg’s Liquid Aminos for dipping

Directions

Prepare a pot of brown rice by simmering 1 cup of rice and 1/2 -1 teaspoon salt  in 2 cups of water,covered for 45-50 minutes until the water is absorbed.

When rice is just finished cooking, remove ½ cup from the pot, and blend with red lentils.  (chefs note:  If you like the rice and lentil combination, add 1-2 cups of sprouted red lentils to your freshly cooked rice to use in additional meals).  Store remaining rice covered in the fridge for future use.

Scoop out the avocado and add it along with the salt and garlic powder to a small mixing bowl. Mash the ingredients together until well blended.

Place a sheet of nori onto your bamboo mat, and spread the half of the avocado mixture evenly over the bottom half.

Layer half of the rice mixture over the avocado, then sprinkle half of the pepper, cabbage and nuts (or whichever fillings you choose to substitute) over the spread.

Moisten the top half of the nori with a little lemon juice or water, and you’re ready to roll!

Roll the nori starting at the bottom, and rolling up burrito-style, making sure the filling is wrapped in tightly.  Slice in half or into small cylinders and serve with dipping sauce on the side.

Super Energy Breakfast Bars

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

One of my go-to food staples.   These Super Energy Breakfast Bars really are all good; high in nutrients, fiber and protein with very low sugar and no saturated fat.  And very kid-friendly!  The ingredients are easy to find, even a good chain grocery store should have them.  These hearty oat bars store and travel really well too, perfect for on the go or on the road.  While the ingredients list looks long, the prep is very easy and the recipe makes enough for at least a week, they’re quite dense.  I like to whip up a batch on the weekend and enjoy them all week long!    If you bake more than 5 days’ worth, consider freezing some of the bars for later.

Note:  I recommend using an 8 or 9” square baking pan or dish, but don’t let that throw you off track.  Substitute a cake pan or similar in a pinch.

Oven Ready

Oven Ready

Ingredients

  • 3 cups steel cut oats, spelt, rye or tricale
  • 1 ¾ cups rice milk (or substitute any plant milk), keep ½ cup reserved
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • ½ cup 100% peanut butter or almond butter (made without added sugar or other ingredients)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 tbsp. chocolate or vanilla protein powder (Vega Protein Smoothie is our favorite)
  • 1 -2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¾ cup raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 – 2 tsp. stevia (optional)

Add oats to a large mixing bowl, and pour in 1 cup rice milk and vanilla.  Mix well to combine, then let stand for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.   Thinly spread coconut oil along the inside surface of an 8 or 9” square baking dish to prevent sticking.  Add banana, oats and remaining ½ cup rice milk to your blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Pour into oat mixture and add remaining ingredients.  Stir until well blended.

Spoon the mixture into the pan, spread evenly and pat it down with a large spoon or spatula.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the pan in for at least 15 minutes longer (or until the oven is cool).  Cut into squares and serve.  Store covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Tangy Orange, Fennel, and Kamut Salad

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Orange, Fennel, Kamut Salad

Orange, Fennel, Kamut Salad

6 servings

Whole-grain kamut is making a comeback, and Tangy Orange, Fennel, and Kamut Salad  is a flavorful way to enjoy it.   This highly nutritious grain is the perfect alternative to brown rice; the nutty flavor and substantial texture make a wonderful combination in this dish.  I prefer to soak my kamut for at least 8 hours or overnight before cooking, but it’s not a must-do if you find yourself in a time crunch.  Serve as a side dish or over some fresh arugula for a yummy main dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups whole-grain kamut (soaked overnight if possible), rinsed and drained
  • 2¾ cups water
  • 1 cube or 1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon
  • 1 large seedless orange, peeled, separated into sections, and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
  • ½ cup dried, unsweetened cranberries or dried currents
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 medium bulb fennel, finely chopped
  • ½ cup scallions, chopped
  • ¼ cup pecans or sunflower seeds, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Place kamut in a saucepan with 2¾ cups water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes over low heat, until almost all the liquid is absorbed.  Turn off the burner, but leave the pan on the stove. Add fennel and scallions to the pot, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes longer.   Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Minted Quinoa Tabouli

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

minted quinoa salad

minted quinoa salad

4 servings

This savory salad tastes so fresh, you’ll love our high-protein version of the classic summer favorite.  Best to enjoy when cucumbers and tomatoes are fresh and in season.  I love using my mini food processer for chopping the herbs, which saves a lot of prep time; but it’s a pretty minimal effort either way.  The quinoa may be prepared in advance for this dish, since it’s served cold.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large English cucumber, peeled and diced (2 to 3 cups)
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • ¼ cup black lentils
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice (fresh if available)
  • ½ cup parsley, finely chopped (a mini food processor or spice grinder is helpful if available)
  • 4 tablespoons mint, finely chopped (see above)
  • 1 tomato (variety of your choice; approximately 1 cup),  seeded and diced
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon salt

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan.  Add quinoa and black lentils, bring to simmering, then reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and allow quinoa mixture to cool.  Mix in remaining ingredients and serve warm or cold.

Betty’s Bean Burritos

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

BettysBeanBurrito---opt6 servings

Betty’s Bean Burritos are a delicious opportunity to use leftover beans and rice for an easy dinner or satisfying lunch. As quick to make as they are healthy, I usually add shredded cabbage for an extra dash of green; as always, have fun creating your own version!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked kidney beans, precooked
  • 2 cups brown rice, precooked
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 6 whole-grain tortillas
  • 1½ cups shredded cheese, vegan or dairy
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1½ cups salsa (jarred is fine; choose your preference, from mild to hot)

Optional:

  • ½ cup olives 1 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup smoked tofu, diced

Heat beans and rice separately by placing into a saucepan, adding ½ inch of water, and warming over medium heat, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes. If beans are unseasoned, stir in salt before serving.

Warm your tortillas by wrapping a stack of 6 tortillas in aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350° oven until heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Layer each warm tortilla with beans and rice and any other fillings you choose, spreading evenly in a line down the center. Top with cheese and salsa, tuck in the ends to keep the goodness in, roll up, and enjoy.

Ten Minute Spring Rolls

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Ten Minute Spring Rolls 1The actual prep time for these delicious spring rolls depends upon your choice of veggies, but when time is of the essence, ten minutes is enough.  Cabbage, lettuce, avocado, tofu and sprouts are your speediest options.  Carrots, peppers, cukes and herbs take a bit longer, but not much.  The rest is a snap; just dip the spring roll wrapper in water for a few seconds as it softens like magic and you’re ready to fill and roll.  Here’s my eight-year old helper Talia to demonstrate her fabulous ten minute spring rolls, one simple step as a time:

Ingredients:Ten Minute Spring Rolls 2

  • 8 rice paper wrappers (available in the Asian-foods section of most grocery stores)

Filling options (choose 3-5 for best results):

  • 1/2 cups alfalfa or radish sprouts
  • 1 cup green-leaf lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup red or green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 large carrot, shredded or julienned (sliced in thin strips)Ten Minute Spring Rolls 3
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and julienned (sliced in thin strips)
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and julienned (sliced in thin strips)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped (a blender or mini food processor is great for this)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (see above)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted peanuts, raw or roasted, chopped
  • 6 ounces firm tofu, plain or teriyaki-flavored, cut into 16 thin stripsTen Minute Spring Rolls 4
  • 1 avocado, seed and peel removed, cut into 16 thin strips (optional)

Optional:

  • ¼ cup teriyaki sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids for dipping

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip a wrapper into the warm water for just a second or two to soften, then lay it flat on a plate and get ready to wrap.Ten Minute Spring Rolls 5

Place your choice of ingredients in a row across the center, place, leaving about 2 inches on either side of the wrap without any ingredients.

Fold the “naked” sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper, burrito-style. Repeat with remaining ingredients.   Served room temperature or chilled, with (0ptional) dipping sauce.

Time Saving Tip: If a stop to the market is on your agenda, visit the salad bar and stock up on precut veggies like carrots and red peppers to save the time of cutting them yourself.

Quickie Quesadilla

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

1-2 servings

Remember way back in the day before the microwave when the go-to appliance was the toaster oven?  While you don’t need a toaster oven per se, this recipe is definitely inspired by it.  Just use your oven or even a large, covered sauté pan to briefly heat your creation, and voila!  Quickie Quesadilla, just like that.  It’s so easy, you might encourage your kids to put together this tasty sandwich-alternative high-protein lunch or snack.

Ingredients:

  • Whole grain or brown rice tortilla
  • ¼ cup shredded mild cheddar or Monterey jack cheese (plant-based or hormone-free dairy)
  • ½ avocado, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup black, pinto or kidney beans
  • Optional:  mild salsa for dipping

For oven cooking:  preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sprinkle beans across the top of the tortilla, then cover with cheese.  Place the quesa on a cookie sheet, then cook for five minutes until cheese is melted,.  Remove from heat, fold in the middle, slice up pie-style and serve.

For stovetop preparation: place a saucepan (with a cover) on the stovetop, heat to medium.  Sprinkle beans across the top of the tortilla, then cover with cheese.  Place the quesa in the saucepan, cover then cook for five minutes until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat, fold in the middle, slice up pie-style and serve.