The School Lunch and My Vegetable Garden

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How healthy is your child’s lunch? Is making a lunch so hard to do? I am looking for ways to bring more vegetables into my children’s lunches.

At the store, my daughter begs for one of these lunches in a box, but I am not happy with the idea. Have I ever bought these quick lunches for the children? Yes, I have given in to their pleas. Not often mind you. I think my four year old daughter has has these boxes four times in her life. I like the idea of a bento box, but these temptations are not in my plan for a healthy meal. I have also noticed a greater push for processed goodies from my children. Soda is only purchased on special occasions, but this is creeping in to our lives more. They do eat fruit; however, I would like this balanced with vegetables. When I peer into my daughter’s lunch kit, I see that she is eating, but she is eating selectively, so I went on a quest to improve the offering.
baking bread
    I am not sure if I would consider store bought bread as healthy or not, but I have not enjoyed the quality. Having grown up on rye bread, I have the perception that a good, hardy bread is superior to the flimsy whole wheat slices from the store. Baking my own bread has been a fun project that my daughter helps me with. We follow no recipe. We end up with a happy conglomeration. The fact that she made the bread makes her interested in partaking of this meal. We are beginning with a simple plan. I bought yeast in a large package, so I take about a tablespoon. I add a little sugar and about a cup of flour. To this about a cup of warm water is poured into the bowl, and Katya whisks away. We set this aside to proof (check for bubbles to see that the yeast is active). Eventually we add about five more cups of flour, a tablespoon of oil, and a pinch of salt. Sometimes more warm water.  Placing this under our mixer with a dough hook, we knead the dough for five minutes. This is the part where we adjust the ingredients until we get a dough mixture. We let this rise for about an hour. Then we make rolls. We let these rise in a sprigform cake pan for a half hour. We bake these in the pan for twenty minutes at 400F. We take the rolls out of the oven. Break them apart, and let them finish baking until brown. This process begins before dinner, and continues in stages throughout the evening.
    My first attempt to make the sandwich more interesting was more of a kolache. We boiled some hot dogs. Flattened out a ball of dough. I added a little humus, garlic mayonnaise, and spinach. The dough was folded over the hot dog. This we baked like the other bread. This kolache was quite a hit. My daughter ate all of her bread. My next attempt is to take herbs and other leafy greens from the garden to be mixed into the dough. The idea is much like using spinach in pasta.  I found that chopping the herbs seems to be fine, but the leafy greens are better when blanched. This does cause a green color in the bread. I may not be supplying all of their vegetable needs, but it is heading that way.
    Have you ever tried a Vietnamese sandwich? My children like them, except for the jalepenos. The pickled vegetables are the real hit. I still have some carrots in the garden, but I am mainly using the bell peppers and green onions for pickling. These three vegetables have been good. I tried the lettuce leaf wrap (no bread, just lettuce); this has not gone down well.  Maybe pickled beans will be next. Tomato slices in the bread work, but I am thinking of drying these slices for chips. I do not think that every dried vegetable will work as a substitute, but maybe if seasoned well, I can find something they like. Sumac has turned out to be a good spice. I am sure if I experiment that I can discover another vegetable creation that they will eat. I am thinking of making fruit leathers as well. Do you have any ideas?

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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