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Monday, June 9, 2014

Before and After: Lunchboxes Reviewed

There are so many mommy bloggers out there who post pictures of really beautiful lunches for their children.  The lunches are perfectly balanced with lovely, organic, wholesome fruits and vegetables.  We, as the mom's reading these blogs and planning our own children's lunches, are often inspired by what they have to offer.  And, if your like me, you often wonder:   (1) what the hell is wrong with me that I can't make a perfectly beautiful lunch for my child; and, on the rare occasion that I manage to come up with such a masterpiece, (2) why the ef didn't my child eat it?   We as the readers of these blogs are consistently led to believe if only our produce was more perfect, our designs more clever, our containers more environmentally friendly, then we too could have children that would eat vegetables.  

I sincerely hope that in my attempts to provide meal ideas for you and yours that I have never misled you into thinking that my son eats everything that I put in his lunch for him.  If I describe an item as a "hit," it typically means that somewhere between 55-95% of the item was consumed.   I do not believe than anything has ever been eat in its entirety (I omit here whole fruits, as Oliver sometimes will eat all of the grapes, pineapple or oranges that are provided and, of course, his PB&J if the crusts are removed).   But, an entire sandwich or thermos full of goodness?  No way.    I consider a "miss" to be something that Oliver refuses to eat at all, or something that he picks apart to the point that when it returns home in his lunchbox it is nearly unrecognizable.   So, 49% or below consumption.   You may think my criteria for hits and misses are too liberal.  But, in the world of preschool, I rarely expect more than 50% compliance with anything, to expect that with food would be pure absurdity.  

So, today, in the interest of showing you the inner workings of Oliver's lunch boxes are the results of two separate lunches from last week.

Lunch #1.   Lunch one, to me, looks super tasty.   I made a yellow bell pepper and cheese quesadilla in a whole wheat tortilla.   I cut the yellow bell peppers into super fine pieces so that they could not be easily removed from the cheese.  I chose yellow thinking that their mild sweet taste could not possibly be offensive to the preschool palate (and you can't see them in the cheese.)  I paired the quesadilla with a banana blueberry muffin (last week's recipe which Oliver has eaten up for snacks), pineapple, and some sliced tomatoes.    Here it is:

And, this, this, is how it came home.   Note the obviously unsuccessful attempts to remove the teeny tiny bell peppers and the carnage that remained when that didn't work out.   The tomatoes are untouched.   The muffin has been tried and cast aside.  Only the pineapple found a place in Oliver's tummy on Tuesday.

Lunch #2   As many people know, I began working on school lunch menus to try to get Oliver to stop eating PB&J every. single. day.   But, about once a week (and usually on Fridays), I pack him his preferred sandwich, - although on this particular day he chose peanut butter and honey.  He likes to get adventurous like that every now and then.  We have a few different sandwich cutters and his current preference is for the dolphins with the heart.  So, that's what he got today.   It is also accompanied by two carrot slices, blueberries, and another muffin. 

And, there we have it.   Sandwich totally gone.  Blueberry, Muffin, Carrot massacre.    My point is this, Oliver will never ever eat everything I send.   Even when every single item is something that he himself picked out.    

There may be other children out there who eat their lunches in their entirety, but mine is not one of them.  There is no amount of vegetable manipulation that will make my current preschool age, boundary testing, opinionated, Oliver eat all of his lunch.   Short of disguising them that is.   Now, I know that there are already lots of books on the market about hiding vegetables, -- and I myself have covered it before when I talked about my "special" tomato sauce and my kale smoothies.      In fact, we made up a batch of that special sauce on Friday night (Roma tomatoes, steamed carrots, kale, and bell pepper, all pureed with some basil, oregano, salt and pepper) and had it on pizza!   Oliver only eats pepperoni pizza -- or so he thinks.   I opted for slicing the Tofurky basil and sun dried tomato sausages super thin.... and he was none the wiser.   --I think it helps that he gets to put them on himself.  

Now to the week ahead, this weekend I prepared a pot of black beans (you know, the ones I said I was going to do last week and didn't!)     And, I put together this week's recipe:

Peanut Butter-Banana Granola w/ chocolate chips!

1/4 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
2 small super ripe bananas (Tip:  If your bananas have turned, but you don't feel like baking, put them in a ziplock and freeze!   Just defrost and use on another day.)
1/8 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups rolled oats (I like to toast mine)
1 cup whole wheat flour
 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 cup chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix the first five ingredients while the oats are toasting (toasting is optional).   Allow the oats to cool completely.   Mix with flour, baking soda, and almonds.  Mix wet and dry ingredients, then add in chocolate chips.   Press firmly into a glass baking dish (I line mine with parchment paper to make it easier to pull them out and cut).  Bake for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely, remove parchment paper and slice/crumble.  

This recipe was supposed to be for granola bars, -- but they just turned out to crumbly.   But, the flavor profile is right on, -- and Oliver will eat the granola just as easily as he will granola bars.   Here is what his lunch looked like today:  leftover pizza, strawberries and granola.   Can't wait to see what comes home tonight!

Have a great week!

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