It seems ever more likely that this month or next the schools will resume classes as per usual and that is, for most students and parents, cause for celebration. It also means making up lunches for those students not purchasing mid-day meals. Homemade lunches don’t have to be same old, same old (talking about you, PB and J, Tuna, Ham and Cheese and all the other ordinaries.)
Try mouthwatering muffins as part of the lunch, or sandwiches made with fruit-infused cornbread or pancakes to spark a celebratory mood and make a student feel special. The recipes below are not just different and tasty, they are nutritious, delicious, and healthy. Just what’s needed to mark the happy occasion of school openings.
EASY APPLE CORNBREAD
A nutritious update on plain cornbread
1 pkg cornbread mix, such as Jiffy
1 large or 2 medium apples
½ C walnut, pecan or cashew pieces
¼ C light brown sugar
Core and cut apples into small chunks, leaving on the skin. Follow directions on cornbread mix and make the batter. Add cut-up apples and mix well into the cornbread mix. Pour into rectangle pan (such as a brownie pan). In a small bowl, add the chopped nuts to the brown sugar and toss to coat the nutmeats. Sprinkle the nuts and sugar mix over the top of the cornbread. Bake according to package directions. Cool and cut into squares. Serve warm as a bread with any meal or at room temperature as a snack or sandwich.
Slice two portions for a sandwich and top with jam or fruity cream cheese. Wrap well for lunchboxes. Makes about 3 or 4 sandwiches depending on thickness of slices.
NOTE: You can use pears or dried, sweetened cranberries as the fruit. Or mix the apples or pears with the cranberries for a special treat.
RED AND BLUE MUFFINS
Studies show berries are great brain foods
1 ¾ C flour
1 Tbs baking powder
½ C vegetable oil
¾ C sugar
1/2 C each fresh or frozen blueberries and strawberries
½ C chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds
½ tsp. salt
If frozen, thaw the berries before using. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sift all the dry ingredients together and stir in the nuts. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, oil, and thawed berries. Stir the fruit mix gently into the dry ingredients and blend lightly with a mixing spoon. Grease muffin tins and spoon in mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 15 – 18 regular muffins, two to 2 ½ dozen mini muffins.
TIP: Any frozen berry fruit can be substituted for the strawberries. If you use blackberries or raspberries, however, toss fresh or thawed berries in enough sugar to coat them before adding to eggs and oil, to reduce the acidity of the fruit.
NOTE: These muffins make a good dessert outside the lunchbox. Just split in half for regular size or crumble the mini size into a dessert bowl. Top with ice cream, pudding or custard, and/or whipped cream.
Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Sandwiches
Filling and tasty and just sweet enough to be a hit
12 slices whole grain or gluten-free bread
6 firm, ripe bananas, sliced
1 cup peanut buyer
2 tablespoons honey or agave
2 oz. butter or margarine or coconut oil, at room temperature
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Lay out two slices of the bread on a cutting board. Spread both slices of bread with peanut butter. Set one aside. Take one slice and top it with sliced bananas, then drizzle with honey or agave. Place the reserved slice of bread on top.
Brush top and bottom of sandwich with room temperature butter, margarine or oil. If you have an electric sandwich maker or panini press, place the sandwich inside for 2½ to 3½ minutes. If you do not have a sandwich press, place sandwich in a sauté pan on top of your stove, set at medium heat; and cook for 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 minutes on each side.
While cooking, combine cinnamon and the sugar in small bowl. Remove sandwich and while still hot, season liberally with cinnamon and sugar. Cut in half and serve while hot if eating right away, or let cool and wrap for lunchbox.
Makes six sandwiches. Store, wrapped or covered, in refrigerator up to several days.