Monday, August 3, 2015
Gluten-free School Lunches #1
It snowed today! While the mountains to the east get prolifically snowy each year, our sheltered town never gets snow. Well, never until today. We had fifteen minutes of dancing in snowflakes in our pyjamas this morning, and wasn't it fun!
Then I came in and cooked a hot lunch for the children. We have been eating gluten-free for a couple of months now. It was on a bit of a whim really - the girls had some stubborn, minor problems that weren't really responding to any GP-prescribed treatment, so we thought, well, it can't hurt to try gluten-free for a while. So far, we have seen a significant improvement in one child's eczema, a disappearance of morning tummy-aches, and an unanticipated increase in emotional resilience in another child who shall remain nameless.. which has been very pleasant.
We went back to eating normally for a couple of weeks just to see what would happen, and back came the itchy eczema, the sad tummies and the tears and tantrums, so now gluten-free is the new normal. Because none of us are actually coeliac we have decided that we will be social gluten-eaters - we will eat the birthday cake or whatever else people kindly offer when we are out, because we are polite like that, and also, chocolate cake is still delicious. But at home we are now gluten-free and although at first the girls thought they might die without bread, remarkably they are all still alive and perfectly happy, and never appear to even think about bread, so that's a relief.
However.... school lunches, right? This was what stopped me from even trying this experiment for such a long time. Rosy always took a salad sandwich for lunch, and Posy had a vegemite sandwich every single day of her school life. Because that's all she would eat. How on earth was I going to make school lunches work now? Especially as - I don't really enjoy cooking. Now I think I've mentioned this before - I don't do fancy food. Just plain, but mostly it tastes good. Some people love food and cooking. I love gardening and reading, so cooking is utilitarian, made with real food, and love of the people who will eat it, rather than love of the process. So the recipes you will find here aren't very exciting, but do fill up hungry tummies with a minimum of fuss.
Luckily, last year I bought each of the girls a thermos. Rosy happily takes dinner left-overs in her thermos, but until recently Posy only consented to take one single dish, as long as I made it to her exact specifications. So here is my recipe for Posy-friendly fried rice:
First of all, the day before, I cook a huge, enormous amount of rice, our favourite basmati, when I am making a curry, something I do a lot.
I also save some cooked chicken from dinner, or cook a slice of bacon. Then the next morning, after playing in the snow I saute some chopped capsicum, add a tablespoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of oyster sauce and a teaspoon of fish sauce to the pan. A teaspoon of honey, then half a cup of stock. Then a heap of frozen peas and corn, Posy's favourite, well-loved by ten year olds everywhere. Then I add the chicken or bacon. Once I forgot and we went vegetarian, and Posy didn't notice..
Now lunch looks like this:
Next I add the rice, which is good and dry now from its night in the fridge. And we're done. Although sometimes I add a touch more soy sauce to taste.
Next, I boil the kettle and fill up the thermos and pop the lid on for a few minutes. This makes the inside of the thermos nice and warm and keeps the food hot longer.
Then I pour the boiling water from the thermos into my tea cup, as a little gift from the hot lunch gods.
Don't forget to pack a fork..
This makes three or four lunches for Posy, and makes me feel very virtuous, because, well, cooked lunch. That is a definite good mother halo, right there. That surely gives me a free pass on cleaning the bathroom this week, right??