Three kids. Three schools. Three identical start times. Three wildly different school locations. It’s time to re-enroll in the fall academic schedule.
The beginning of a new school year brings with it both enthusiasm and reserve. I still revel in the purchase of a fresh note pad yet see the intimidation factor in my youngest son as he enters a new school in a different neighborhood. I’m still wondering how we are going to do this. How will morning routines have to change? What responsibilities do the boys need to take on? Who can we enlist to help?
Part of our academic season routine is the preparation of school lunches. While all three have a food service option, each prefers to pack a lunch. We’re finding that doing as much as possible the night before is helpful and they each need to be involved in the process.
Yesterday, my oldest son packed three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a side of 6 oz. of grilled salmon, two apples, cheese crackers, two protein bars and extra protein powder to make a shake during school. A quick visit to the online calorie calculator says that he should consuming close to 3,000 calories per day just to maintain his weight. His 14 yo brother needs 2800 to maintain and both are trying to gain weight. Additionally, both of the older boys have adopted pescetarian diets meaning that they no longer consume beef, pork or poultry.
Their diet easily fits into my dinnertime planning but I’m struggling with school lunches and the over-consumption of protein bars with ingredients that I can’t pronounce. Then, one terrific blog that I’ve recently discovered lamented the same protein bar fatigue with a wonderful solution.
Vegetarian Spring Rolls
Yields: 16 – 20 rolls
Adapted from this really terrific food blog The Garum Factory
- ½ lb firm tofu, diced ½-inch
- ½ cup organic crunchy peanut butter
- 1 Tbs honey
- 2 small sweet peppers, diced small as possible
- Zest of 1 lime
- Juice of 1½ limes
- 4 Tbs soy sauce
- 1 Tbs grated ginger
- 1 Tbs grated garlic
- 1 Tbs sriracha
- 1 Tbs roasted sesame oil
- 1 cup cooked long grain brown rice
- ½ cup finely grated carrot
- ½ cup shredded purple cabbage
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 24 small cooked green beans, cut in half crosswise
- 1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks – ¼-inch thick and 2 inches long
- ¼ cup torn mint leaves
- ¼ cup torn cilantro leaves
- 20 12-inch rice paper rounds
- Place the tofu on paper towels after dicing to withdraw some moisture.
- In a small bowl, mix peanut butter, honey, lime zest, juice of half a lime, 1 Tbs soy sauce, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp garlic, and 1 Tbs sriracha.
- In a large bowl, mix remaining lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Add the tofu and toss to coat. Add the rice, vegetables, and herbs and gently mix together.
- Fill a plate with water for dipping rice paper.
- Dip a singel rice paper round in water. Immerse for several seconds until it is flexible, but not completely saturated. Remove from water and place flat on a cutting board, Carefully smear 1 tsp of peanut butter mixture down the middle. Top with scant ¼ cup of filling mixture. Lay a couple beans and cucumbers down the middle. Fold in the two side ends. Starting at one end, fold the paper over the filling and roll to form a tight bundle. Repeat. Allow to air dry for 10 minutes. flip over and dry on the second side for 10.
- These can be stored in the refrigerator overnight with a loose covering so they don’t get too soggy, or wrap individually in plastic if you are going to eat them on the rode the next day.
Admittedly, we’ve decided that we like these best when first rolled but regardless, the taste is terrific and the concept of rolling opens a whole new set of lunch box options.
What are your tricks and tips for getting into the school routine? What’s your favorite packed lunch?