Everyday children go hungry all over the world. Not just in poor countries but even in places which seem to be rich in resources. These children might make the trip to school but are too weak to learn because their bodies and minds are deprived of nourishment. Just when children are excited to hear about snow in the forecast bringing a day off from school, others cry because they will miss their only meal of the day.We think we feel their pain but nothing in our daily lives quite prepares us for the child who sits apart from others at lunch because watching other kids eat makes the pangs of hunger even harder to bear.
The Lunchbox fund is an initiative in South Africa to provide lunch in school to children who would otherwise go hungry. 65% of children in South Africa live in poverty, 20% have been orphaned by AIDS; without parents and without food they are likely to slip out of school into a bleak future. This week, The Giving Table (http://www.givingtable.org/#home) has organized a campaign to support The Lunchbox Fund and I am proud to donate this post toward this effort.
The theme for bloggers donating posts is lunch. In keeping with that, I thought I would share my story of packing lunch for my kids. When Kid 1 started school, we agreed that she would buy lunch on one day, usually on Friday when pizza was offered and the rest of the days I would pack lunch for her. Mindful of children with nut allergies, the school prohibits peanut butter but other than that we experimented and tried out every kind of sandwich filling we could imagine and my child was happy to eat sandwiches everyday. I would listen to the complaints of other parents about packing lunch for a picky eater and be thankful for my blessings. Then came Kid2 and my world turned upside down: the lunchbox would come back almost just as it was sent out, sandwiches were boring, pasta was “too cold”, chicken smelled “funny”, I just could not get it right.
Desperately searching for a solution, I fell back on the lunches of my childhood, the soft rotis , the delicious stuffing that my mother would roll up in them; and I decided to try and replicate it. Since Kid 2 is constantly vowing to become a vegetarian “from my next meal”, I have to chosen a simple and easy vegetable dish that makes the lunch nutritious and yummy.
Easy Indian Vegetable Medley
A few green beans/flat beans
2 or 3 stalks of cauliflower/broccoli
1 green chilli
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Slice the onion finely. The vegetables should be chopped fine, length wise. This ensures that all the ingredients are roughly the same size and will cook at the same rate so none are left too raw or overcooked. Any combination of vegetables will work but I have included our favorites, sometimes I have only two or three of these to hand but the recipe works just as well.
Heat oil in a pan. Keeping the heat at medium, add the cumin seeds (these are available at all Indian grocery stores and many regular grocery stores as well. if you do not have them, you can still go ahead and make this). When the seeds are toasted, they turn a darker shade and it is time to add the onions. Let them cook till they are soft and then add the vegetables. Toss all the ingredients together and let this cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the turmeric (availability same as that of cumin) and salt ,and mix well. Cover and let it cook for about 5-7 minutes. Take off the lid and check to see if vegetables are tender but not mushy. At this stage you can add the green chilli, sliced in half, for a little bite if you like. Increase the heat and cook for a minute so the vegetables are crisp and bright.
I usually roll this up in a roti made at home with whole wheat flour. This can also be purchased at the Indian store or substituted with tortillas. Since the school day is long, this is supplemented with fruits and yogurt. Often, this is what I have for lunch as well.
The campaign runs through this week and even donating my weekly coffee budget would make a difference, and I certainly intend to do so.We have many choices for lunch, I intend to share this good fortune with those who have none and make a donation here.Please do consider it as well.