November can be dreary, so let’s make a special effort this month to brighten up your packed lunches.
November is the beginning of a quick descent into the winter season. As the days are growing shorter and colder we are all turning towards warming comfort foods. Roasted root vegetables, chestnut spread and rich cheeses are just the ticket for this month’s packed lunch repertoire. Let’s pack them with warm orange and red colors, wonderful aromas of rich spices, crunchy nuts and apples. Decorate your lunch with few fun food picks and maybe a note or two - and let’s all be thankful for all the healthy foods that we can provide.
Bring your roasting tins out this month. Let’s roast wonderful chicken, which you can turn into many different packed lunch dishes. With the roast chicken leftovers you can make a great chicken salad, like this Grilled Sesame-Ginger Chicken Salad or Chicken-Avocado-Carrot Sushi. And of course who can forget the November turkey. Let’s celebrate Thanksgiving all month long with all the delicious pairings of smoked or roasted turkey and cranberries, pumpkin and sweet potato. How about this wonderful smoked turkey-pumpkin hummus sandwich sushi? Take a slice of bread, gently flatten it with a rolling pin, then smear a bit of Pumpkin Hummus and a slice of turkey. Add some shredded carrots or a few raisins as an accent. Roll and cut into sandwich sushi rolls.
When it gets cold it’s good to add a bit more fat into your diet. Cheese is a great way to do that, as it is a great source of calcium and protein. The cheeses that are at their peak this month are Emmental, Morbier and Cantal. Why not cube them into your packed lunch or use cookie cutters to make fun cheese shapes. I also love Gruyere cheese this time of the year, especially when served with some walnuts and raisins on a side. And don't forget to include lots of thick Greek yogurt in your lunches!
I’m a huge fan of November veggie picks. By this time of the year I start craving roasted brussels sprouts. My kids are still a bit lukewarm towards them, but they eat them well enough when I turn them into brussels sprout hash. Pumpkin is also at its peak just now. How about making little pumpkin muffins? Or pumpkin hummus that would go so well with roasted potatoes or full grain crackers? Oven roasted root vegetables are also a great addition to any packed lunch. I think this idea for a Roasted Root Vegetable Salad is a pretty nice idea.
November is strangely rich in seasonal fruit. You don’t really think of it as a fruit-friendly month, right? But it is. Here is the month of pineapple, chestnuts, first lemons and clementines, kiwi, and still the wonderful bounty of apples, pears and grapes that will soon end in December. And don’t forget fresh nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds. They are great for cooking with or snacking.
Recently, I’ve been experimenting making my own crackers. They are so much healthier (and cheaper!!!) than the store bought ones and you can apply your own special touches with seeds or grains. Since November is also the month of olive pressing, this might be a fun recipe to try out: Olive Oil and Seed Crackers or Cheese Thins. This is also the month when I’m getting more inspired to start making barley and farro for dinner. Both grains are also excellent as a base for hearty grain salads. Think roasted nuts, some dried cranberries, perhaps a sprinkling of blue cheese, some chives, maybe a bit of roasted beets and wonderfully rich farro like in this recipe.