Lunch Box Series – Part 1 “Let’s Wrap it up!!”

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I am sure most mothers will relate to this post. As a busy working mom, I find it very hard in the mornings to innovate and plan something new everyday in my kid’s lunch box. Not to mention the fact that kids nowadays are such picky eaters!! I have 2 girls at home, one who loves Indian food but is an extremely slow and picky eater and the other will try her best to get away from eating homemade Indian food every meal!! Also for kids here in the US the peer pressure is tough and having to explain what’s in your Indian lunch box is an added apprehension. I have always told my kids, that they should stand by what they believe in and should not feel pressured to eat or not eat something that they don’t want to. But it’s easier said than done.
So with all of the above constraints, packing lunch boxes is a nightmare for me!! Back when I was growing up, my lunch box every day consisted of some kind of mixed rice (most South Indians can relate to this) i.e Lemon Rice, Tamarind Rice, Tomato Rice etc. you get the picture. Or on occasions it would be Idli, Dosa, Upma etc. And when it was “Noodles” on very rare occasions in the lunch box, I would feel special and be sought after!! There were no two ways about it, it was eat it or leave it. And if you leave it then be prepared for a lecture in the evening 😛

So all that said, I want to start this lunch box series on my blog. I am by no means an expert. But this is a way for me to chronicle some tried recipes that even i forget i had put together. I always struggle in the morning, so this will help me plan and prep for all needed ingredients and hopefully make this nightmare a little less scary!!

My kids love taking wraps in their lunch boxes, because its easy to eat and no fuss.
So my first post on this series is all about “Wraps”. Pardon my pictures in this, since some of these are phone pictures but will help get the job done.

Falafel Wrap:
This wrap seems like a lot of work for a busy weekday morning. But if you prep ahead, then this is such a breeze!!

20150924_065148For the Falafels:

IMG_20150923_182944

Prep on Sunday morning:
Soak 1 cup white channa (Garbanzo beans) in water through the day

Prep on Sunday evening:
Pressure cook the channa with enough water for about three whistles in a pressure cooker. Drain and place the channa in a food processor.
To this add 2 green chillies, salt, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp pepper powder, 1 tbsp Dhaniya or coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin or jeera and 1 tbsp sesame seeds/til.
Pulse on medium until all of the above is a coarse paste.
Take the coarse paste in a mixing bowl. Add finely chopped onions (1), chopped spring onions (green onions), chopped cilantro and chopped parsley.
Add 2 tbsp wheat flour to this paste. Form into round balls with your hand. Alternatively you may shape into cutlets.
These falafels can be made and refrigerated in a airtight box for 2 or 3 days.

Make on Monday morning for Lunch box:
I usually bake my falafels at 400 F for about 30 minutes. (First thing i do in the morning is to stick these in the oven).
Alternatively, you may shallow fry in a pan with little oil or if you prefer you can even deep fry. They taste great when deep fried 😛

Meanwhile, chop some tomatoes, peppers of choice (green, yellow or orange), some spring onions (i ditch the onions for lunch box), tender cucumbers.
Toast a tortilla on a tava/pan. I buy uncooked tortilas from Costco. But you can even make a roti at home and use those.

On the inside of the tortilla, spead some cream cheese (if you have any), place 2 baked or fried falafels, top with chopped veggies, some ketchup and mayonaise (optional).
Wrap one side, then bottom, then other side, roll into a foil, close on top and pack.

If you prefer to send these in Pita pockets (which i sometimes do), fill all of the same inside a pita pocket and wrap in a foil and send.
This tastes delicious either way.

20150923_192917Tip: Once you have the falafels made on Sunday, these are so easy to get together. You can even pre-bake or fry the falafels and just before packing toast on a tava.

If the above Falafel sandwich seems too much work for you 🙂 Then Mom, you will appreciate the next one.

Roasted Potato Wrap:

IMG_20150825_065726This is extremely easy.

Prep on previous night:
Boil 2 potatoes in a pressure cooker for 1 whistle. Cool and Peel. Refrigerate the boiled potato.

Next Morning:
Chop the potatoes into cubes. In a pan, heat a few tsp of oil. Add the boiled, cubed potato. Add some turmeric powder, chilli powder or paprika, salt and toss well. Roast for a few minutes until slightly golden.
Meanwhile chop veggies of choice – I use tomatoes, bell pepper or any colored pepper available and some cilantro.
Toast a tortilla or roti on a tava. Spread with cream cheese, top with roasted potato. Top with veggies, a sprinkle of some pepper powder, some grated cheese (i use a mexican cheese blend of cheddar, monteray jack and pepperjack cheeses). You can use whatever is available. Squeeze some ketchup and mayo and wrap.
Wrap in foil and pack!

Delicious and Easy Sweet Corn Wrap:

This is one of my favorite wraps to make because it easy, healthy and the kids love it.
IMG_20150817_064411
I buy frozen American sweet corn for this recipe since it makes my life easier 🙂 If you are ambitious then you can even use fresh corn on the cob.
If you are using fresh corn on the cob, then peel the cob and use a knife to chop the kernels of the cob. Rinse and use.

1 cup shelled sweet corn.
A handful of chopped lettuce or fresh spinach leaves
1 Medium tomato – Chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese
Ketchup
Mayo (optional) – I have one kid who loves it and one who detests it 😛
Tortillas or Rotis

Method:
1. In a pan bring water to a rolling boil. Add the shelled corn and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
2. In a pan, heat about 1 tsp butter. Add the drained, cooked corn and toss on high heat for about 2 minutes. Spinkle salt and pepper and mix. You may even add chaat masala if you like.
3. Toast your tortilla or roti
4. Spread cream cheese or any cheese spread or green chutney (if your child prefers spicy) on the insides.
5. Top with tomatoes, chopped lettuce or spinach, the roasted corn, some cheese, ketchup and mayo.
6. Wrap it up and pack 🙂

IMG_20150817_064506

With cheese!!

And if you want to do sandwiches instead of wrap, you can use the same filling inside a sandwich. Do not toast the sandwich. Toasted bread gets soggy and tastes bad after a while. You can send a cold sandwich with this filling. It tastes great.

Yummy Corn and Spinach sandwich

Yummy Corn and Spinach sandwich

None of the above ingredients are set in stone. You can add or omit as your child desires. I am just providing my ideas that I use for filling.

Hope you enjoyed my post.

Please note that we are vegetarians so I will be able to only share vegetarian wrap or sandwich recipes. If you are a non-vegetarian you can improvise the same with chicken or turkey as you prefer.

I also use Paneer extensively as a filling in my wraps and sandwiches. All you have to do in terms of prepping is make the paneer filling ahead to use while you pack lunch on a busy morning. Some paneer wrap and sandwich recipes on my blog are:

Paneer Kati Rolls

Paneer and Potato Paninis

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