Healthy School Lunch Ideas: Shish Kabobs (Part 1)
Yesterday, I shared a healthy school lunch idea: falafel plate. Another great school lunch idea is shish kabobs. Shish kabobs are basically skewered foods, which can then be grilled or eaten raw. They are easy to hold in the hand and eat, easily portable, and very flexible. You can make them in so many ways – your imagination is the limit!
Shish kabobs are easily made with short wooden sticks sold at grocery, homewares, or cooking stores. You can buy metal ones, but because they are sharp and you want to be able to send your child to school without fear of them getting in trouble, I recommend the wooden ones. They can also be a bit sharp, but the good news is that you can use a scissor to just snip off the sharp ends before sticking them in the lunchbox! If you are grilling with them, just be sure to soak them in water for a while so they do not catch fire on the grill. Here are some of my favorite shish kabob lunch ideas:
Cold Shish Kabobs
Cold shish kabobs can come in many shapes and forms. The benefit of these is that you do not need to cook them. They are usually items that can keep well in the fridge, so you can make them the night before, or even make enough to send for lunch for a couple of days. There’s also the benefit of being able to use raw fruits and vegetables, which contain more nutrients. You can also use things that melt, like cheese, or that might burn, like cubes of bread.
A sandwich kabob is like a sandwich on a stick, in little pieces. Think of what you would normally make a sandwich with and use those items. This works best with homemade bread or a loaf of artisan bread you can cut into bigger squares (sliced sandwich bread is a bit too flat). Use chunks of good sandwich foods, like tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicum (bell pepper), baked tofu, or cheese. Then send the sandwich kabobs to school with your kids with a container of a good sandwich spread. (A slightly more liquid one is best – think tahina rather than hummus.) It’s a different twist on a sandwich and you can load it up with more veggies than you would normally put on a sandwich.
Why not send your kids to school with breakfast for lunch? In general, I think this is a great idea because it mixes things up a bit. I love an egg or some lox and cream cheese on a bagel (okay, gluten free and vegan people you can hate me now). But you can also make breakfast kabobs. For a sweeter version, make some thick whole grain pancakes (these gluten free strawberry pancakes are super yummy) or waffles and cut into squares to put on skewers. Alternate layers with fresh fruit and berries. If you need added sweetness, drizzle on a tiny bit of date syrup. A savory one can include lots of foods. For an omelet kabob, make a nice thick omelet, let it cool completely, and cut in cubes. Skewer with vegetables and cheese. Add some carbohydrates by cutting up a toasted whole grain bagel. You can also poach some egg whites and skewer those. They are great with some home fries – cubed potatoes sauteed on the stovetop with diced onion, olive oil, and spices. You can also add some savory pancakes or folded pieces of crepe for grains on this kind of kabob. I find that for kabobs poached egg whites or whole egg omelets work better than fried or boiled eggs for staying on the kabob and not falling apart and making a mess.
Cold Vegetable Kabobs
I suppose in a way you can think of this as salad on a stick, minus the lettuce or cabbage (they aren’t so great for skewers). For a less messy approach, try using cherry or grape tomatoes rather than cutting up regular tomatoes. Cubed cucumber is also good, as is capsicum (bell pepper) cut in squares. Avoid vegetables like carrots, that will be too hard to spear, or those, like onions, that will be too strong in large squares or cubes. Don’t limit yourself to these traditional things, though. Add some cheese or olives for a treat. Wide leaves of herbs like basil also give a nice flavor and a different dimension. For a grain component, include cubes of toasted bread (actual “croutons” will shatter but homemade ones that are just slightly undercooked will stay together but still give lots of yummy crunch). You can even add a small amount of fruit for a different flavor – fruits like strawberries, mango, pineapple, and figs all go exceptionally well in salads and do well on kabobs. Include a small container of a healthy olive oil vinaigrette for dipping.
Fruit kabobs are a great healthy dessert option and a good way to get your kids to eat their vegetables. Basically the sky is the limit as to what fruits you can include, although for lunches some are definitely better than others. Exceptionally juicy fruits like oranges can be a bit messy (unless you get mandarin sections), but more solid fruits like melons, berries, and pineapple are all great. Apples and bananas can work well but you need to sprinkle them with lemon juice to prevent browning. Sandwich tart fruits like berries between sweet fruits like melon so you do not need to artificially sweeten. Want a super treat? Drizzle with a tiny bit of raw vegan chocolate drizzle mix extra virgin raw coconut oil, raw organic agave nectar, and raw vegan unprocessed cocoa powder (not Dutch process!) in equal amounts and drizzle over the kabobs, then chill.
More To Come…
These are just the cold kabobs. However, grilled kabobs also work really well for school lunch boxes. They taste delicious cold and provide you with a good opportunity to make dinner one night that you can send for lunch the next day. They also include more protein options than the raw kabobs.
If you have any other uncooked kabob recipes or ideas suitable for lunchboxes, please do share in the comments section!