Spring is the word of the moment around here. The air has taken on a different smell recently, and we've all been soaking up the sweet new time while chomping at the bit for more. We're on the way to the season of gardens, markets, and abundant fresh produce.
Slowly our culture and our government are starting to take notice of the declining state of our food system, the importance of a diet based on whole foods, and lack of attention and commitment to how we feed ourselves and our children. Some influential people are starting to think and talk about change, and some people are actually doing things, like Michele Obama and Jamie Oliver. These people are helping win over huge groups of people in the hopes that they will act on a national and local level to improve a vitally important public service: school lunch.
Many people are acting locally to connect legislators with their constituents, like Elizabeth Cummings, Iowa Coordinator for the Healthy School Lunches Campaign. She helped me and many other Iowans write letters to voice our support of a change in how schools care for our children's bodies and minds. I urge you to click on the link above and ask your representatives to change school lunch for the better.
This problem itself is not unique. The struggle of school lunch is essentially the same struggle most people face when it comes to feeding themselves: We are all presented with limited time and resources and a never-ending demand for healthy and pleasurable meals.
This is where I see my role in the revolution. I work to provide advice about food that is practical and principled. I write to make it easier for you, my readers, to make food that nourishes yourself and your community. So, I'd like to take this week to apply my standards to school lunch. Inspired a bit by my One Share Project, this week will be all about Project Lunch, in which I'll share one lunch every day that fits relatively within my requirements: healthy, fast, portable, cheap, easy, and delicious, and when possible, local and seasonal. Along the way I'll share what I've learned about committing to bringing lunch and still looking forward to eating and cooking.
So, let's begin with Monday, shall we?
Tomorrow, we'll be eating
Homemade Black Bean Burgers
3/4-1 c. cooked black beans per-person. (I cannot stress my preference for dried beans over canned, from a flavor point of view, but also from a health one when considering BPA in canned goods.)
for each serving, add
1/4-1/3 c. whole wheat flour
1/4-1/3 c. water or stock
then add any of your favorite spices. My mix:
1 tbsp. marjoram
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce1 tbsp. Frank's hot sauce
1 tbsp. ketchup
salt and pepper
Mash this all up, adjusting the liquid and flour amounts, until you have a nice dough to make patties from.
Fry in a pan until both sides are brown, 1-2 minutes per side.
I serve these on sprouted whole wheat sesame buns by Food For Life. Use any kind of cheese you like. Here I used a soft local cheese called Quark by Milton Creamery. I packed everything in Pyrex containers, which I prefer over plastic for heating and storing.
On weekends I bake big batches of vegetables with garlic and olive oil. This week, it was more purple potatoes.
I like to include something green and crunchy to add bulk to a meal, so I included cucumber. I used up some old arugula and ketchup and mustard to make the burger feel complete.
Without the worcestershire sauce, this meal is vegetarian, and without the cheese it is vegan.
I look forward to updating tomorrow afternoon with Tuesday's meal, and I encourage you to share your healthy and frugal lunch recipes in the comments section or to me by email, culinarybliss @ gmail.com. This revolution requires something from all of us, even those who do not have children, and I am happy to be taking part.