At Jack's preschool each child's parents are charged to bring snack about once a month. The requirements are simple: enough vegetable, fruit, complex carbs, and protein for 20 kids, 2 parents, and 2 teachers. Protein and carbs are easy -- challah, whole wheat bagels, whole grain biscuits, etc (but never nuts and since some kids are vegetarians, it's best to skip meat). Fruit is hard to screw up, since the kids love anything sweet -- strawberries and blueberries are always popular. The veggies are tough though. Baby carrots (which must be steamed) are successfull, as is dried seaweed. Seaweed has quite a bit of vitamin A, but also loads of sodium. I've tried red pepper strips and jicama tossed with lime juice with no luck at all.
Because I love to bake, my solution is often zucchini muffins supplemented by plain yogurt and fruit. This past week I watched a Good Eats episode dedicated to sneaking parsnips into kids' foods. A recipe for parsnip muffins was presented, but I was dubious about parsnips carrying that recipe. But how about parsnip and zucchini bread? Parsnips aren't exactly a nutritional powerhouse, but they do have a fair amount of vitamin C and fiber, as well as some iron and calcium. Zucchini supplies a wonderful dose of vitamin C, plus vitamin A, calcium, and iron. This bread is healthy and tastes really good. The recipe works as as muffins or a loaf, and is easily doubled.
Parsnip and zucchini bread
(adapted from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook)
2 cups (8 ounces) white whole wheat flour
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) bread flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (6 ounces) milk
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) canola oil
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces from about 2 medium zucchini) shredded zucchini
2 cups (about 6 ounces from 2 small parsnips) peeled and shredded parsnip (don't use the tough cores)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9x5 loaf pan.
2) In a large bowl whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Combine the eggs, milk, and oil in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until just barely combined -- do not overmix. Add the zucchini and parsnip. Stir until veggies are combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
3) Test the center with a toothpick or wood skewer -- it should emerge cleanly when done. Remove to a cooling rack and let sit for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Let cool completely before cutting.
(Note: to make muffins instead of a loaf, raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake about 20 minutes)