Sunday evening after a half term holiday…I’m all caught up on sleep (hah! – why do kids wake SO early when there is no school?) the little glass jars all now have the appropriate lids and I need to start the prep for packed lunches. I used to have a pathological hatred of packed lunches (bear in mind my girls are only 5 and 3 so I’m still a borderline newbie!). It was always such a stress to think of what I could and should be providing:
“Is this enough protein?”
“How can I stop the sliced apples going brown?” (more on this later)
However, since I’ve started to take a fresh look at food and what our bodies actually need (instead of crave) it has become oh so much easier. Plus, having the kids involved in selecting what goes into their bags has been an added bonus!
One fabulous addition to their lunchboxes has been hummus. The kids help me make it every Sunday, which feels wonderful. I sometimes pretend I am living in a culture where younger generations are taught ancient food preparation techniques and understand the spiritual nature of food – bonding over a chickpea or two is great soul food! After we’ve made a giant batch, the kids divide it into small pots and select their ‘dippers’ for the week – carrots, apples, cucumber, celery or homemade gluten free croutons.
Hummus is popular in most Middle Eastern countries and has rising popularity in the West thanks to its amazing nutritional values – iron, potassium, B vitamins, protein, fibre and vitamin C.
So let’s hear it for hummus…
Hell, even the ancient greek philosophers Socrates and Plato wrote about the benefits of hummus – so whatever motivation you need, I beg you to introduce hummus to your kids for their packed lunches, if you haven’t already done so.
And in keeping with my dedication to health and nutrition, I would advise staying clear of the store-bought stuff. It can contain a host of nasties, including conservatives and gluten… which is public enemy #1 in my household as my eldest has Coeliac Disease.
Now, we like to peel our chickpeas. Partly because it is an excellent way for young kids to learn how food is prepared, and partly because the result is a rich, light hummus which the kids adore. If you don’t have the time or inclination you can skip this step… but if you can please start this simple food ritual for your family – nourishment for body and soul.
- 400g chickpeas (rinse well if using canned chickpeas to reduce the salt content)
- 1/4 cup light tahini
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 Garlic clove (more if you like things garlicky)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Water - may need more if too dry
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- Add the tahini and lemon juice to the blender and mix for a minute until a smooth, pale paste forms.
- Pop in the garlic, cumin, salt and oil and whizz again for 30 seconds
- Finally, add the chickpeas and water and blend until thick, creamy and totally smooth. If it looks too thick, add some more water.
- Scoop it into a glass container, drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with paprika. Keeps well in fridge for 10 days if it's in a glass, airtight container.
Coming soon: Packed lunches 101