Thursday, September 18, 2014

What's For Lunch...

On the ipod "My Heart Is Open (feat. Gwen Stefani)" By: Maroon 5
So there has been a lot of chatter about Levi's school lunches... So I wanted to answer some questions, post a couple of recipes and explain how easy it is to do this yourself... if you want to.
About three years ago we started packing Levi's lunches in a planetbox lunch box for various reasons, so to answer the first question why a planetbox?
#1 I have a strong belief that food is extremely visual. The planetbox is pretty.  Not pretty because its has the best characters on the outside but pretty because it is neaust because it is in it!
#2 Because of all of the small compartments it forces me to give Levi a myriad of choices. The outside cover also holds his water and mid morning snack. As to not waste valuable lunch space!
#3 I also love the fact that the planetbox can be washed in the dishwasher and that it has held up well for three years and still looks almost brand new.
How do I cut out all of the cute shapes?
I use mostly metal cookie cutters that I have collected over the years in addition to some Japanese garnishing tools that date back to culinary school. You can find mini cookie cutters in various places... cake decorating stores, craft stores and even online although amazon should be ashamed for selling mini metal cookie cutters for $5 dollars each! (btw I would never pay that)  Some shapes I do cut by hand but not that many.
How long does it take me to make is lunch?
While I'm flattered that some of you think I stay up all night doing these, the true is on average they take about 5-10 minutes prep time.  But I do think about them all of the time. I try to make lunches that interest him.  He loves fish, tornados, whirlpools, car washes, volcanos.  In school they are studying about fruits and focusing a lot on letters and words so I really try to bring all of those elements into his lunch.
Does he eat all of the food?
It depends. he's three. I made him a jello pond with apricot fish in it..."he told me he couldn't eat it because the fish were swimming!" Will I try it again...absolutely!  Levi eats a lot of stuff that most kids wont.  He has woken up in the middle of the night and asked for an English cucumber and actually ate the entire thing... He has also been exposed to a lot of different kinds of food...its sort of the plus to being a chef's son.  He is not into sugar unless its a sour patch kid or a soda.  He threw up the last time he ate a cupcake, but every once in a while he will eat cake with no icing.  I usually don't order a standard kid menu item for him at a restaurant because honestly how can I expect him to try new foods if every time we go out he eats chicken nuggets and these days it doesn't matter if we go to Amercian, Mexican or Chinese the kids menu is almost identical...  Actually don't even get me started on chicken nuggets because I think they are the downfall of American cuisine.. Im not against a piece of fried chicken or even a chicken tender but the formed nuggets are just unfortunate. And honestly if restaurant chef's decided to get just a little more creative and realize that the children eating at their restaurants will one day be adult patrons, maybe we wouldn't see the same stale kids menu... I digress.... So he eats most of the food but does leave some.  Most parents introduce foods to their child once... If they refuse it, the parent doesn't send it again. Most children, most adults actually are not crazy about something the first time they see it.... I'm not saying to send your kid with a lunchbox full of stuff they dont eat... Instead maybe send a couple of new things a week. Make it different ways, spice it up!
Do I do this to show off? 
Ha! No if showing off was using cookie cutters then I really don't get paid enough!  I work alot... And not just away from the home... I have to tell my boys I'm working even sometimes when I'm with them. I work on most holidays and my work doesn't ever really end... That is really hard to understand when you are three.  So making great exciting lunches for him is honestly a great way for him to have a constant everyday reminder that even if its at 530 am and he is still sleeping... I am thinking about him and taking time to do something for him. And I enjoy it! Food should be fun when you are 3! Actually food should always be fun... Why not?  I hear from friends and clients everyday that lunches are a beating so if by me posting pictures even just helps a couple of moms with ideas then it is totally worth it!
Can I have the recipes? 
If it is something that I'm making for my kiddos, absolutely. There are some proprietary recipes that I use for work but most of the time I'm pretty open :) so the much requested veggie chili recipe is here!
Veggie chili
1 Tb olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 mixed (red, yellow, orange) peppers, diced and completely optional
2 -15 oz cans chili beans, not drained
2 -15 oz cans navy beans, drained
2 -15 oz cans black beans, drained
2 -15 oz can pinto or kidney beans, drained
2 -15 1/2 oz can petit diced tomatoes, not drained
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
In a soup pot bring oil up to smoking add onions and peppers, sauté until slightly soft. Add the garlic and continue cooking over medium high heat for 1 min. Add all of the beans and tomatoes and the chili powder, cumin and oregano. Reduce heat to medium low. Continue to simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until flavors meld and a nice rich sauce develops. Serve with cheese and chips. You can also top with fresh guacamole and/or sour cream
xoxo chef a

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