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I’ve followed Catherine McCord’s blog, Weelicious for many years and I get lots of lunch inspiration from her daily lunch photos on Instagram. So when I learned she was writing a book all about lunches, I couldn’t have been more excited! A whole book dedicated to my #1 obsession…er…interest? Sign me up!
A few weeks ago she sent me a copy of Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box with More Than 160 Happier Meals to review and my family has been cooking and eating their way through her recipes since then.
The book is loaded with kid-friendly recipes in ten categories. There are basics like salads, soups, veggies and sandwiches along with specialized sections providing variations on lunch box favorites like pizza and PB&J. Catherine also introduces the book with lots of solid information on lunch packing basics. Along with suggestions for selecting gear, tips on packing a balanced lunch and strategies for keeping food at safe temperatures she serves up her ideas for encouraging kids to try new foods and reinventing leftovers.
One feature that I thought was particularly noteworthy was the section about food allergies. Catherine goes over the basics of schools and food allergies and gives some suggestions for substitutions when you are faced with a change to your lunch packing routine due to your own child’s food sensitivity or that of one of his classmates. She also includes a fantastic chart that lists every recipe in the book and identifies whether it includes one of four common allergens. Brilliant!
But you want to know about the recipes, right?
What we’ve tried so far:
- Banana Dog Bites — I’ve made these quick roll-ups filled with peanut butter and bananas for breakfast and lunch a few times now. The kids love them and I find myself sneaking them off their plates. (And no — the bananas don’t turn brown in the lunch box.)
- Apple Cinnamon Muffins — I made these on the spur of the moment one Sunday morning. They were chunky with lots of apples and so good.
- Whole Grain Fruit-filled bars — Our new favorites! Get the story on these down below.
- Pizza Quesadillas — Wyatt coincidentally requested these right after I read the pizza chapter in the book, so I made them a few days later. The kids both liked them and I’ve made them for quick dinners in addition to adding them to their lunches.
A few recipes I’d like to try:
I have no fewer than 23 pages in this book dog-eared to mark the recipes I’d like to try. Here are the next ones on my list:
- Shredded Chinese Chicken Salad — this is mostly for me, but maybe the kids will eat it too.
- Cheesy Waffles — cheddar cheese waffles that can be eaten on their own or used to make sandwiches.
- Pimento Cheese Sandwich — Have you noticed pimento cheese is everywhere lately? This recipe is inspiring me to finally try it.
- Mexican Muffins — savory muffins filled with chicken, corn and cheese. These sound like they’ll be great to make ahead and keep in the freezer for busy mornings.
- Pumpkin Pie “Pop Tarts” — my kids are as pumpkin-crazy as I am and I know they’ll be ecstatic if I pull these out for breakfast as a surprise. (Or maybe we’ll make them together!)
Of all the recipes I’ve made, the one that has become an instant staple in our house is the Whole Grain Fruit-Filled Bars. This year Wyatt’s teacher has asked us to send something for a daily mid-morning snack and the vogue choice among his classmates is Trader Joe’s cereal bars. While I don’t mind sending them as an occasional treat, I realize they’re not the healthiest choice and the cost of sending them every day adds up quickly. I gave these bars from Weelicious Lunches a try and they’ve been a big hit with my kids. I make a batch on the weekend, then cut them up and store them in small containers in the fridge. Wyatt can grab one in the morning and put it in his back pack while I’m making lunch. So far I’ve used raspberry jam and apple butter and both were great. Next up: blueberry preserves.
Whole Grain Fruit-Filled Bars
Recipe from Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 3/4 cup fruit preserves or jam
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, and salt. Pulse for 30 seconds.
- Add the butter and cold water and pulse until the dough holds together when pressed.
- Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish, line it with parchment paper, and grease the parchment paper.
- Divide the dough mixture in half and press half into the prepared baking dish, using the back of a spatula to press down evenly.
- Spread the preserves evenly on top of the dough. Sprinkle the remaining dough evenly on top of the preserves and gently press down using the back of a spatula.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Cool, cut into 1 1/2 x 4-inch bars, and serve.
Makes 16 bars.
Tip: Bars can be stored at room temperature up to 3 days or refrigerated for up to a week.
- Weelicious Lunches is filled with 160 recipes and my kids have eaten every single one I’ve tried so far (this is huge).
- The book has solid info about packing lunches that will set you up for success.
- The allergy section is terrific.
- I’ve already discovered a couple recipes that have been added to our regular lunch rotation.
Would you like to win a copy of Weelicious Lunches? Enter below:
Disclosure: I received a copy of Weelicious Lunches for review and there are affiliate links embedded in this post. I have not been paid for this review and I am sharing my honest opinions in the hope that Catherine’s book will inspire you in your lunch-packing endeavors!