Veggie School Lunch #3: Homemade Hummus

I love hummus . I think I pretty much eat my body weight in the stuff each week. And lucky for me my kids like it too. I try to make it homemade as much as possible to get away from any preservatives that can be in the store-bought varieties and because I can sneak in a few power foods without the kids even knowing it.

hummus chickpeas

It’s super easy and cheap to make and thanks to a fantastic tip from one of my favourite bloggers, Deb Perlman over at Smitten Kitchen, I think unlocked the key to the most nutrient dense, fluffy and amazingly delicious hummus ever made!

Deb recently posted a tip for making hummus “ethereally smooth” and her secret is that she peels each and every little chickpea before blending them. So I used my usual kid-friendly hummus recipe and tried the extra step suggested by Deb and I have to admit it was pretty darn light and smooth!

However- did I want to shoot myself half way through peeling those chickpeas? Ummm YES! So if you are ok with moderately smooth hummus vs ethereally smooth then by all means skip that step and make the recipe with whole chickpeas.

hummus peeled

If you are going to eat this at home and nut allergies are not a factor then make it as is with the raw cashews. If it’s going to school – skip the cashews and simply add ½ to 1 cup more chickpeas.

Hummus makes a great protein-packed lunch. I usually send it in one section of the kids lunchbox alongside some sliced pita bread and veggies for dipping. It’s also great tucked into a wrap with sliced veggies and lettuce or with rice crackers or chips.

So give it a whirl and see if your kids enjoy this lunchbox delight. Because this nutrient-dense spread is a winner…whether you peel your chickpeas or not!

Homemade Hummus

3/4 cup raw cashews
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cups rinsed and drained chickpeas * (see note below re: peeling if desired)
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
5-6 tbsp water (to thin as desired)

In a food processor, combine cashews and lemon juice and puree until almost smooth. Add remaining ingredients except water and puree again until smooth, adding water  as desired to thin hummus. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Season to taste with additional salt.

*If you want to try peeling your chickpeas to experience a smoother hummus texture, simply drain and rinse your cooked chickpeas and place them in a bowl. Using your fingers, simply pop the skins off and discard. Some skins come off easier than others but generally the are shed quite easily.

hummus lunchbox


P.S. I have been coveting the Deb Perlman’s new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook at Chapters. It’s going to be my next cookbook purchase. Has anyone bought it yet? Comment below and let me know what it’s like!

Veggie School Lunch #2- Crispy Tofu Wraps

My all time favourite restaurant is Fresh in Toronto. All vegetarian and vegan fare that is so darn delicious that even your non-veg friends will rave about it. And the best dish on the menu for my money is their Magic Tofu wrap. A whole wheat wrap stuffed with shredded lettuce, grated carrot, onion, sprouts, crispy tofu and the most amazing sauce on the planet. Throw in a side order of quinoa onion rings and some organic wine and I’m in heaven!

Lucky for us owner Ruth Tal has written several cookbooks so that we can enjoy her glorious recipes at home. I’ve made several of them and they’ve all been a hit at my house. For some strange reason my kids love tofu and I think it was this introduction using crispy tofu that first got them hooked.

Did you know that in addition to being a good source of protein tofu is also full of iron? It’s true! In fact, the only meat that has more iron than tofu is beef liver. I’ll take the tofu thank you! Unfortunately soy beans are one of the most genetically modified crops so make sure to buy an organic brand that is guaranteed GMO. I like extra firm tofu for this recipe and it’s best if you rinse it and pat dry with a tea towel before you slice to make it easier to work with.

This wrap makes a great school lunch and on-the-go dinner. For school days I just wrap it up in tin foil to retain some of the warmth and send a side of their sauce of choice. At Fresh they make a wonderful vegan mayo but my kids prefer Ranch dressing, my husband likes hummus and Vegennaise and I like a good bbq sauce myself (try Amazing Dad’s BBQ Sauce). The possibilities are endless with this wrap so have fun and experiment to find your favourite combinations. Or you can be like my 2 year old and just dip the tofu slices in ketchup and enjoy!

Crispy Tofu Wrap (adapted from Refresh, Ruth Tal)

Crispy Tofu Coating
1 cup flaked nutritional yeast
½ cup wheat germ
1 tbsp garlic powder
½ tsp each of sea salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients on a plate and set aside.

crispy tofu crumbs

Marinated Tofu
1 package organic extra firm tofu
½ cup tamari
2 cups water
4 tsp garlic powder
Cut tofu into ¼ inch thick slices. Lay them in the bottom of a bowl or dish and pour the tamari, water and garlic powder over top. Swish around to marinate and let stand in the fridge for 15 minutes to ½ an hour.

crispy tofu slices

Wrap Fillings and Extras
12 whole wheat wraps (or wrap of choice)
1 pack of pea shoots or sprout of choice
2 cups grated carrot
1 cup finely diced onion
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 zucchini, shredded
2 tomatoes, diced
½ cucumber, diced
2 tbsp olive oil (plus more for each new batch of tofu as necessary)
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Dredge the marinated tofu in the Crispy Tofu Coating and cook in pan until browned on both sides – approx. 4 min per side. Place the cooked tofu in the oven to stay warm while you fry all of the slices.

crispy tofu inpan
Warm tortillas in the oven. Place 3-4 tofu slices in the wrap and top with veggies and sauce of your choosing.

crispy tofu wrap guts

I often cook up a huge batch of crispy tofu and then keep it in the fridge and reheat it in the oven for on-the-go wraps or to throw on top of stir-frys throughout the week. crispy tofu wraps

Veggie School Lunch #1 – Kym Salad

Does anyone else out there just dread the task of making a balanced and nutritious lunch for your kids each and every school day? I sure do! I keep checking the calendar to see when Lunch Lady and pizza days are going to roll around again.

I’ve sent some winners and some losers in the kids lunch boxes over the years and they are never afraid to let me know if I‘ve packed a real clunker (ahem…tofu dogs). But I keep trying and I’m going to share some of my successes with you over the next few months.

My dear friend Kym is a vegetarian, an amazing cook and an all around beautiful person and she kindly shared her recipe for this awesome salad that also makes a great school lunch. My kids all love it and it is fresh and tasty and really packs a punch nutritionally. To be honest, it is best made in the heat of summer when tomatoes and veggies are at their peak, but I like to make it year round to remind myself of warmer days to come.

Try it out for dinner or lunch at home first to see if your kids enjoy it as much as mine do. You can make it up ahead of time and stick it in a bowl in the fridge to use for the next day. I make this salad a LOT and it’s just as yummy served over noodles, quinoa, rice, lettuce or thrown in a wrap. And it’s always a winner when you bring it along to potlucks!

Kym Salad

1 cup cooked shelled edamame beans, rinsed and cooled
1 cup cooked sweet corn, rinsed and cooled (or use fresh corn cut off the cob in the summer)
2 cups regular or mini cucumbers, sliced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ripe avocado, chopped
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 can of organic mixed beans, drained and rinsed (I like Eden Organics brand)
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp sunflower oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook edamame and corn according to package directions (I often do them in the same pot) and rinse them under cold water. In a medium bowl, combine cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, basil, corn, beans and edamame. Toss to combine. Pour in the sunflower oil, lime juice and vinegar and gently stir into the salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

kym salad in bowl

kym salad in lunchbox