It’s that time again – back to school time. And for the first time in four years, I’m actually going back to school. I’m so excited. I have my planner lined with color coded Post-It notes. I decorated the covers of my Moleskine notebooks. What? You didn’t know I was a nerd?
Getting ready to go back to school this time around has been more about how to make sure I have healthy food options and how to get dinner on the table for Josh and I at night. Luckily my classes are mostly in the morning, so even if I have to work at night, I have time to figure out meals (hopefully). I’ve got dinners pretty well figured out – freezing leftover veggie burgers, pierogies, empanadas, tempeh bacon, or falafel – so we can make dinner in less than 20 minutes if we have to.
For breakfast and snacks I make big batches of muffins and granola bars and freeze them. They’ll thaw in my backpack or purse so I can eat them when I want.
The tricky part was figuring out my lunches. Since my classes are in the mornings I am still not sure how lunch is going to play out. There are some days that I’ll have meetings, and I’m sure I’ll stay on campus to get school work done – there are so many distractions at home. I’m sure that I’ll eat my share of PB&Js, since they’re cheap, easy and travel well, but now that I’m motivated I have my sights on more exciting things to fill my lunch box.
I started brainstorming by thinking of my lunches throughout grade school. This didn’t take me very far, as I ate the same thing every single day : A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a cup of applesauce, a Little Debbie’s treat (usually a ho ho), and a bottle of water. Obviously I was intrigued by the applesauce. It’s starting to be fall, so apples are going to be popping off the trees any time now, which makes me think of my grandma, who is the apple queen. She used to serve homemade cinnamon applesauce whenever I went over for lunch. The apples were still chunky and had a little bite to them. I loved that. It was so real, fresh, homemade.
My Carrot Applesauce is inspired by fall, my grandma and school. I strayed from the chunky variation that I love so much because I didn’t want chunks of carrots, but it’s loaded with cinnamon and has sweet hints of brown sugar and vanilla. Just 6 ingredients and a little time on the stove and you’ll have something to be very proud of when you open up your lunch box.
This recipe is naturally gluten free, dairy free and soy free.
- 2 apples, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (Choose your favorite variety, they’ll all work)
- 6-8 carrots (about 2 cups), peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Combine the chopped apples, carrots, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium saucepan. Add 1/4 cup of water. Stir everything to combine.
- Cover and heat over medium heat. Let the apples and carrots cook down until they’re very soft, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- When the carrots and apples are soft, remove from the heat and let sit, uncovered for about 5 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and use an immersion blender (or transfer the mixture to a regular blender). Blend until completely smooth.
- Store in little jars in the fridge for up to 10 days.