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Filling ye olde lunchbox

By asoglin
Friday, September 28th, 2007 at 8:33 am in Cuisine.

lunchFive days a week, 38 weeks a year, year after year after year … is it any wonder refilling your kid’s lunch box is beginning to resemble a scene from “Groundhog Day”? Morning comes, the alarm clock clangs, and there the lunch box sits once more, waiting for culinary inspiration or at least – oh God, not another overly fragrant tuna sandwich. But, as promised, we’ve got suggestions for filling that lunch bag. Follow the link to the full line-up, which includes an amazing peanut sauce for broccoli and chicken sates, and a pear crisp. But for starters, here’s a fantastic base for homemade trail mix…

Courtesy of Berkeley chef and renowned cookbook author Mollie Katzen, it’s crunchy, fruity, homemade granola. We added dried cranberries, golden raisins and M&Ms to turn it into trail mix at our house, and we’re about to bake our fourth batch. Everyone loves it – kids, teens, grown-ups – and it’s perfect for dorm care packages.

Nonstick spray for the baking pan and the honey measuring cup
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups combined seeds and chopped nuts (pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, walnuts or whatever you have on hand)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup assorted dried fruit (raisins, currants, cranberries or blueberries)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 13-by-18-inch baking tray with nonstick spray.

2. Combine the oats, seeds and chopped nuts, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl.

3. Combine the oil, honey (spray the measuring cup with nonstick spray first so the honey slides out) and vanilla in a 2-cup measuring cup, and pour this into the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly and spread on the prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, stirring once or twice during baking.

5. Cook on the tray. When it has cooled and become crunchy, add the dried fruit.

6. Eat plain or with milk, or use it to make fantastic trail mix.
(Recipe courtesy of Mollie Katzen, from her cookbook “Salad People and More Real Recipes” for preschoolers and up, from Tricycle Press)

So, what are you putting in your kid’s lunchbox?

Jackie Burrell

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