Yes, it’s that time of year again! This article originally appeared on August 27, 2012. Hope it helps you make the transition back to a fall routine this year too. –Editor.
Back to School Meatless Monday
September is an odd month. It can still be as hot as summer but the mornings and evenings can be chilly, hinting at autumn. Whereas in August you are buying new pens, pencils, tablets, binders, schoolbags, lunchboxes and all the other equipment to start the new school year, by September it’s a done deal. We are all back into the routine of school runs, bus schedules, car pools, after school activities and homework. Life can be a bit fraught while everyone gets used to their new routines.
Yes, it’s essential and non-negotiable. But let’s be a bit flexible at the touchiest time of the day as new classrooms and faces loom. So work with what everyone will eat. Cereal and milk is good. Toast and a pot of yoghurt is acceptable too. A smoothie for the testy teen can work. What is important is to make sure everyone gets some nutrition before they leave the house, which is why a smoothie can be handy to thrust at a sleepy-eyed teen running for his ride.
Smoothie to Go
Soft fruits are smoothie staples but are fast going out of season. Freeze seasonal fruits if you haven’t already. Peaches, nectarines, raspberries, alpine strawberries and blueberries are also prime candidates for the food dehydrator too. It’s time to look into your cupboard and freezer and call on some of the credit you stashed over the summer months.
Dried fruit tastes nicest if it has been rehydrated for at least five minutes in some boiling water and then drained. If you are using frozen fruit for the smoothie, thaw fruit briefly in the microwave.
1-2 tablespoons blueberries or raspberries or strawberries
1 banana, cut up
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon oat bran or wheat germ
Combine the above ingredients in a litre container or blender cup. Add soy milk gradually bit by bit to your desired consistency as you blend in the litre container with your whizzy wand or process in the blender container. To serve to your flying-out-the-door family member, put the smoothie in a go-cup with a lid!
Building Lunch Boxes
This can be another contentious subject and I counsel the line of least resistance at this critical time of year. For the child who really wants to blend in lunchroom, it’s PB-n-J all the way. Pop in a pot of yoghurt or homemade cookies. Chocolate chip is probably okay for the first week. Then start pushing the granola bars and oatmeal cookies. It’s definitely time to put in the favourites for a bit of comfort while a child is settling into a new environment or routine.
If you have a more adventurous eater you could make a Grated Cheddar Cheese sandwich with some homemade chutney or relish. If you had a glut of zucchini then you will want to acquaint yourself with various recipes because it is a great way to use up surplus squash! Sneaky way to get in some more of the 5-a-day fruit and veg, too.
And if you have a real sophisticate (probably a teen) then you might consider a cream cheese and pimento stuffed green olive combo. And if you doubt this as suitable lunch box material, dear reader, I was that teenager!
You will know if you dare push fruit into the box so early in the semester. Try some boxed raisins with youngsters or some trail mix with older kids. Or you may want to put some smoothies into a thermos flask if your kids are fans of them.