For kids who are back in school or parents who want a healthier and less expensive lunch, try some of the following suggestions. First, while there is nothing wrong with the good old brown bag, it doesn’t keep things from getting smashed, doesn’t keep hot things hot or cold things cold, and doesn’t have compartments that force you to be more creative. Recently I picked up a Rubbermaid lunch helper that is reasonably priced just under $10 at King Soopers, and pretty darned slick. All the separate compartments click into place on a blue ice slab that you freeze until needed. The whole thing fits into a regular rectangular lunchbox for transport.
The first photo shows Spicy Apricot Chicken Wings, strawberries from Garden Sweet Farm, a green salad with dressing in the small container.
Broiled Chicken Wings with Spicy Apricot Sauce serves 4
4 1/2 lbs chicken wings
2 1/4 tsp. salt
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼- ½ tsp. cumin, to taste
1 cup apricot fruit only preserves
Juice of 2 fresh limes
1 garlic clove minced fine
1/2 tsp. cayenne or hot sauce to taste
Pre-heat broiler. Oil a rectangular baking pan. Toss wings with garlic powder and 2 tsp. salt in a large bowl, then spread in a single layer in baking pan. Broil, turning over once, until barely cooked through, 20 minutes. While wings are cooking, blend preserves, lime juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, one minute.
Brush 1/4 cup sauce on cooked wings and roast another 5 minutes. Brush wings with 1/4 cup sauce again, then turn wings over and brush with another 1/4 cup sauce. Continue roasting until wings are browned and very tender. The meat will fall off the bone!
Fill a thermos with spicy Black Bean Chorizo Soup. It’ll stay piping hot, ready to add a dollop of sour cream or some diced avocado.
1 lb Boulder brand chorizo sausage
1 small onion, diced
2 small cans mild diced green chiles
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium or large red potatoes, chopped
1 quart homemade chicken stock, or 1box Imagine brand chicken broth
salt and pepper
pinch dried basil and oregano
1 tsp. (or more to taste) ground cumin
Crumble and cook sausage in skillet, adding a little water to the pan. Add the onion, garlic, and potatoes with a little salt and pepper and the dried herbs. When the sausage is cooked, add rinsed and drained beans and chicken stock. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to allow vegetables to cook and the flavors to blend. Garnish with chopped hard-cooked eggs, squeeze of lime, chopped tomatoes, diced avocado, sprinkle of grated cheese, chopped green onion or chives, chopped cilantro, or a dollop of sour cream.
A quick salad made with canned Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon is easy to make and enjoy. Drain the salmon and place into a bowl. Stir in enough avocado oil mayonnaise to moisten. Add 1 tbsp. organic sweet pickle relish, 1 chopped hard-cooked egg, and some chopped celery. Serve with tomato wedges if you like, or substitute sliced black olives for the pickle relish.
Chicken or Turkey Patties with White Beans serves 4
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1/2 can of Cannellini or Great Northern beans (use the other 1/2 can in soup or stew)
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1-2 tbsp. finely diced red bell pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp ground cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp almond flour
Mash the beans with a fork and mix all the ingredients together lightly–do not overmix. Form into 4 patties, dip each into a little bit of seasoned almond flour, and fry each patty until done, turning only once. Cook about 5-6 minutes per side. Serve immediately with pesto mayonnaise or Raspberry-Chipotle Ambrosia.
To 1/2 cup mayonnaise, add a couple of teaspoons of prepared basil or roasted red pepper pesto, and stir to blend. Serve as a side to the turkey or chicken patties. Also good with grilled chicken, pork, beef or fish.
The photo at left shows just how much food the compartments hold, enough to fill an entire plate!
Wild Rice Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Avocado
2-2 ½ cups of cooked wild rice
3 tbsp avocado or macadamia nut oil
4-5 thinly sliced green onions
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Serrano chile, seeded and sliced very thinly
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 ½ cups sugar snap peas, stemmed and sliced diagonally
½ cup chopped cilantro
2 tbsp torn mint leaves
2 tbsp torn basil leaves
½ cup chopped macadamia nuts
Lime wedges for serving
This can also be made with Forbidden Rice, which usually comes from China, of questionable quality. So I adapted the recipe to wild rice, because the black rice contrasts so well with the bright green of avocado, snap peas, and fresh herbs. Substitute brown rice or one of the really dark rice varieties from Lundberg brand, available anywhere.
If starting with uncooked rice, rinse the grains under running water and let soak in cold water all day. When you get home, cook the rice in 2 parts water to 1 part rice, bring to a boil, add ½ tsp sea salt and cook 20 minutes until done. I think wild rice is done when it is half black and half white. ½ cup uncooked rice equals about 1 ½ cups cooked.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium low heat and stir in the chile, green onions, and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and remove from heat.
Combine lime juice, rice vinegar, fish sauce, and a pinch of sea salt in a bowl with the chile-garlic mixture. Transfer the warm cooked rice to the bowl and stir to coat with the sauce. Let it sit to allow the flavor to develop, at least 10 minutes and as long as 1 hour.
Dice the avocado, place into a small bowl, cover with cold water and let stand for 30 seconds. Drain and stir into the rice. Add the snap peas, chopped herbs, and stir gently to combine. Serve garnished with the chopped nuts and lime wedges. Optional: This would be very nice with cooked shrimp and/or asparagus. I forgot the peas this time, but added chopped dried plums. Often, I add chopped fresh pineapple.