In this stressful back-to-school/hurricane season, you and your family need food that supports the body and boosts morale. The Edgy Veggie prescribes fresh, seasonal produce.
However, the threat of lunchbox meltdown, power outage and similar desperate situations call for a solid Plan B — foods needing little or no refrigeration, preparation or cooking. Hurricane survival and lunchbox satisfaction rely on the same thing — a well-stocked, plant-powered pantry.
Many of the items you probably already have on hand. The rest you can fill in for around $50 total. They all keep indefinitely, and are available at your local supermarket.
Nonperishable, shelf-stable sure things include:
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• Boxed soy or almond milk
• Juice boxes (100 percent juice, please)
• Water, water, water: The hurricane preparedness folks recommend a gallon per person per day for a minimum of three days
• Canned beans, such as reduced-sodium chickpeas or black beans
• Canned tomatoes
• Canned vegetables (your favorite)
• • Dried fruit: raisins, sure, but also apricots, mango and cranberries
• Granola or other whole grain cereal
• Granola bars
• Instant oatmeal
• Nuts* (preferably raw, unsalted)
• Nut butters*
• Roasted red peppers
• Whole grain crackers
• Whole grain graham crackers
* Some schools ban nuts and nut butters due to food allergies.
This list doesn’t mean you should take a pass on fresh veggies. With the exception of tender greens like spinach and arugula, many raw vegetables and almost all fruit can withstand a day without refrigeration. Celery, carrots and zucchini, and the glorious stone fruits of summer — peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries — are sturdy enough for lunchboxes, too.
On the other hand, cheese, milk and yogurt are risky. They won’t keep should a storm knock out your power, and in these sweaty days, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay cool and fresh in your child’s lunchbox, either. Spoilage will only ramp up your stress.
Mayonnaise likewise is perishable. Swap mayo for mustard, ketchup, salsa, oil and vinegar or even luscious tahini as a sandwich spread or salad dressing.
Most breads will bloom with mold within 24 hours without refrigeration. Whole grain wraps last a day or two longer. Trust me on this.
Here’s hoping the season holds nothing but clear skies and contented kids (and their parents). But stock up, just in case.
Hurricane Survival Salad
High in fiber, flavor, protein and style, this Mediterranean salad is made with shelf-stable items and needs no refrigeration or cooking. The only trick is making sure the vegetables are thoroughly patted dry before preparing.
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
pinch sea salt
freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon balsamic or sherry vinegar
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and blotted dry
1 (15-ounce) can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, blotted dry and sliced into quarters
1/2 cup roasted pepper (about half of a 12-ounce jar), blotted dry and sliced into strips
2 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1 handful olives, green, black or mixed
In a small bowl, mix together paprika, cumin, sea salt and pepper. Spoon about half the spice mixture into a larger bowl. Set aside. Add the olive oil, balsamic or sherry vinegar and pinch of sugar to the remaining dry spice mixture. Whisk briefly to emulsify. Pour the chickpeas into the bowl with the dry spice blend. Toss to coat.
In a separate bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper strips, chopped sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Alternately, arrange them as a salad compose, plating as fancy as you like. Scatter the spiced chickpeas on top and drizzle with the dressing. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Per serving: 174 calories, 10 g fat, 4 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 388 mg sodium.