On the menu: Arugula Salad with Cumin-Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Today, I want to talk about lunch.
I’ve been packing my lunches since the 4th grade. My bagged lunches were pretty simple: a peanut butter sandwich, a bag of chips, a piece of fruit, and a treat. There was that time in 8th-9th grades when I ate yogurt for lunch most days. There were the months and months of “bread sandwiches” in high school, when I decided I was too good for filling and ate two pieces of white bread with whatever else I had packed that day. There were countless Cosmic Brownies.
Now in…21st grade (yikes!), I typically follow the formula of my childhood. I need something crunchy and salty, something bright and fresh, and something sugary and overprocessed to round out my midday meal. These have been the sides to my sandwich for forever. But last month I took a new route and started making salads. These salads, like my lunch, follow a formula: a base of greens, a roasted something, some nuts, a little extra something, and some cheese. Dressed, always, with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Here’s this week’s salad: arugula, cumin-roasted sweet potato, pecans, dried cranberries, and feta. I eat my salad after my handful of potato chips (dill pickle this week, thank you very much) and before my fruit (you know it’s a blood orange) and my cookies (which are Oreos this time around).
Lunch is the meal I rely on the most to get me through the day. I work up to it after breakfast, then it fuels me through the rest of my afternoon. Lunchtime has been such an integral part of my educational experience. But there are many children in school in South Africa who don’t get lunch, and that breaks my heart. 65% of all South African children live in poverty. Lunch may be their only meal of the day, and many children must attend school to get their lunch. Receiving food encourages children to stay in school and obtain their education. I don’t know what my school days would be like without my lunch. I can’t imagine what it’s like for these kids. Lack of food can diminish concentration, erode willpower, and strip away a child’s potential. Without food, a child’s attendance and performance at school is severely jeopardized.
Today, there’s a bunch of food bloggers who are donating their posts to The Lunchbox Fund. I chose to participate because of how important my lunch is to me at school and how strongly I value my education. Everyone deserves lunch. The Lunchbox Fund identifies schools or forms partnerships with locally based NGOs or community organizations in order to evaluate and identify schools. It funds distributers to buy and deliver food, monitor the feeding scheme, implement a Project Manager, and deliver reports back to them for evaluation.
Just $10 today will help The Giving Table, a philanthropic organization centered around food bloggers, donate a daily meal for 100 South African children through The Lunchbox Fund. Donate what you can, and if you can’t, help spread the word today about the cause. I donated $10. Maybe that means I won’t get that shiny new magazine when I check out at the grocery store and my weekly bag of gummy bears, but a meal a day for a child is so, so, SO! much more important than that.
Cumin-roasted Sweet Potatoes
original “recipe,” makes enough for 3 salads
One large sweet potato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Wash sweet potato, then dice it into 3/4 inch cubes. Toss on a baking sheet with olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Roast 25-30 minutes until browned and tender, tossing with a spatula every 10 minutes or so. Store in the refrigerator to toss on salads.