Snacks for lunchboxes! When I have a couple of hours to “myself” (ie perhaps when our baby is asleep and kids are at school), I love to bake something that can be packed in the kids’ lunchboxes all week. On weekends or after school, the kids love helping me make their treats and snacks. Recently we made the Puffed Brown Rice Treats from Sarah Waldman’s wonderful book, Feeding a Family. The kids loved them, and I loved them for lunchboxes since they have no refined sugar and are made with organic puffed brown rice cereal. Since they aren’t baked, they are also very quick to prepare.
To make these school-friendly, we used sunflower seed butter instead of a nut butter. The kids love standard Rice Krispie Squares, made with sugary cereal and marshmallows, but they were really happy to have a square of this more nutritious version in their lunch every day for a week!
My kids (ages 5 and 6.5) are participating more often in packing their own lunches, now, too. Since we are always trying to be as waste-free as possible, this task isn’t quite as easy as putting out a bin of individually packaged snacks for them to choose from. That said, it’s not a tricky job; they just need a little skill in chopping, scooping, rolling, etc. I’ve been doing my best to encourage this kind of independence with food prep since they were very young, and, wonderfully, it’s starting to really show! My husband was away this week and the kids were so helpful in the mornings with their own lunches. Our YumBox lunch gear helps too: all those predictable compartments, and just one box to wash and keep track of!
I made a lunchbox cake last week that I really loved and is very decadent: moist and rich. It made an amazing after-school snack and paired beautifully with tea for the adults. I say “lunchbox cake” because it’s low in sugar and thanks to the high fat content, it stays fresh all week. All the flavour comes from the sour cream and olive oil, orange zest and juice, and a few chocolate chips. It’s a perfect weekday cake.
Sour Cream Olive Oil Lunchbox Cake
adapted from Family by Hetty MacKinnon
1 cup sugar
zest and juice of 2 oranges
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan. Place the sugar and orange zest in a bowl and, using your fingertips, rub everything together until the sugar is damp and the scent of orange is everywhere! Add the eggs and whisk for a couple of minutes until pale and thick. Beat in the sour cream and orange juice, then gradually whisk in the olive oil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips to the bowl with the wet ingredients and use a rubber spatula to gently fold everything together until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
Bake for 45–50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then open the sides of the springform to gently release the cake.