Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lunchbox Tricks with Pizza Treats

We've been back to school for a few weeks now, but we're only just beginning to get back in rhythm. A new year inspires a renewed commitment to sending our kids to school with healthy, fun, and tasty lunches to fuel them through these busy days.
Darienne and I  found out lately that pizza dough is great and versatile way for lunch boxes. They make a good alternative to sandwiches and the kids like to eat them cold, which is a good advantage. Here are some links of how creative you can go with them: 

Pizza Lollipops: These are a favorite for Darienne's kids! If you have a small lunch box or just don't want to bother with lollipop sticks, they're equally entertaining as little wheels.
Ham and Broccoli Calzones: These calcium-rich pocket sandwiches are fun—and fast to make if you have pizza dough ready to go.
Beef and Spinach Pockets: Loaded with lots of higher nutrition ingredients, these are easy to eat and freeze well. Do a whole batch and warp individually so that you can send to lunch when running out of ideas. 
Mini Hot Dogs  aka Pigs in a Blanket - Sounds like a party? Maybe good for one special day of the week. This is fair competition with the cafeteria, does well eaten cold, and you choose the best type of frank, tomato sauce, and even one or two green ingredients to be wrapped in it. 

The magic about playing with pizza dough is that by making them different shapes you can be creative with the fillings. From chicken to grass-fed ground beef, using chopped vegetables and including all sort of seasonings and some good cheese, the pockets, calzones, and lollipops can be a complete meal, guaranteed to vanish from the box. 

For a very delicious homemade dough recipe, you can use this one by Darienne: 

Pizza Dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (one package)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for baking sheet
optional: fresh or dried herbs, ground flax seed

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour, yeast, and salt, along with herbs or flax seed, if using. Process the dry ingredients briefly, then pour in 1 cup of lukewarm water and the olive oil. Add more water, just a tiny bit at a time (you might not use the entire amount) and continue to process until the dough forms a ball. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or so to form a ball. Set dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Divide dough into as many pieces as you plan to turn into pizzas, pizzas, calzones, lollipops or blankets. Shape each piece into a ball and set on a floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Use the dough as desired, following the recipes above. 

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