In a week when many of us are planning big, elaborate meals we'll be cooking and enjoying for Thanksgiving, we wanted to take a moment to remember that it's not the case for everyone. Right here in Toronto, where SPC is based, lots of families need help putting food on the table. We were recently introduced to The Angel Foundation for Learning, a charitable group dedicated to assisting vulnerable students in the Toronto Catholic School Board. They told us that over 30,000 children (1 in 3 students) within the TCDSB use student nutrition programs every day, be it breakfasts, lunches or snacks (amounting to an amazing 5.3 million nourishing meals per year). This year, to mark the City of Toronto’s Feeding Toronto’s Hungry Students Week (October 3–7, 2011), The Drake Hotel’s Chef Anthony Rose created an interactive Lunchbox Smorgasbord for parents to make with their kids at home. Anthony is working with The Angel Foundation to raise awareness for this issue. It's so important, no matter what community you're in! And now, I'll hand it over to Anthony — C.M.
I wanted to share this Lunchbox recipe, which my son and I often put together, with parents across the GTA. My hope is that the next time they assemble this with their kids at home, they’ll be inspired to support these school nutrition programs in their own way as well – either with donations, volunteer time, or simply by spreading the word. This recipe gives kids a chance to experiment with a host of delicious flavours and textures on their own, all the while, filling their tummies with fresh, nutritious ingredients.
This Lunchbox Smorgasbord is something that I can pack for my son’s lunch five days a week. Simon never eats the whole thing; some days he only eats the meats and fruit, sometimes just the crisps and cheese. As long as he eats something, I’m happy. I start with a couple romaine leaves on the bottom of a lunch container and then I just group all the other foods in little piles on top. All of the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time and are then ready to pack quickly. I usually make this the night before so we can have breakfast together and play in the morning, and then I just grab it out of the fridge on my way out the door. The way we eat this at home: dip the chip in hummus, add a little chicken or egg on top and then top it off with some vegetables or cheese. You can change it up every time and always have something different. Simon gets a fun lunch that always has variety, but is also healthy, balanced and uses fresh ingredients.
- Chef Anthony Rose, The Drake Hotel
Chef Anthony Rose’s Lunchbox Smorgasbord
Servings: Makes 1 Lunchbox or double/triple the ingredients for several kids or several days worth
3 slices of cucumber (cut into round circles) OR
3 carrots sticks (you don’t need to peel them, just make sure they are washed well)
2 Romaine lettuce leaves (rinsed and dried)
3 chunks of cheddar, cut into ¼ inch cubes (I like something medium hard. Any cheese will do but avoid processed cheese)
3 dried apricots OR 2 tablespoons of raisins OR 3 pieces of dried apple
3 chunks of a good firm tofu (available at most grocery stores) OR 1 hard cooked egg, cut in quarters (at The Drake we put eggs in cold water, bring the water up to a boil and take the pot off the heat. Let the eggs stand in the water for 10 minutes and then cool. Peel the eggs when they are cold)
3 chunks of chicken breast (I like to buy the rotisserie chickens from the grocery store. At home my son and I will usually get about 4–5 meals out of one bird. We will use the leftovers for sandwiches, throw some meat into good soup to make it heartier and toss it with some mac ‘n’ cheese as well. That’s Simon’s favourite) OR ¼ cup of canned tuna in water (just drain off the water really well or buy the vacuum packed product). Flake up the tuna.
¼ cup hummus OR black bean dip (there are some great ready made spreads in grocery stores and at the deli counter as well. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous you can buy chickpeas or black beans in a can. Drain all of the water off and rinse really well. Pop them into a blender or crush them all up in a bowl by hand. I season them with a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil in as well. I will then look in the fridge and see what else I can mix in, like leftover chicken, caramelized onions, a little mustard or hot sauce! It’s all good.)
6 pieces of whole wheat pita crisps (these are what my Mom uses. She will buy a couple bags, open all the pitas and cut them into wedges. She drizzles a little olive oil on top and some salt and pepper as well. Roast them in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, nice and slow until they are really crispy. The crisps will keep well in a plastic zip bag for a week).
To pack your Lunchbox, assemble all the ingredients in a plastic storage container. Layer the lettuce on the bottom and then add all the bits and pieces on top to make your fun and healthy Lunchbox Smorgasbord. Try some of the ingredients one day and then use others for another lunchtime and you’ll end up with endless combinations!
Eat it up!