School’s almost out, which means end-of-year celebration notices are flying home in the kids’ folders. Sports awards ceremonies, classroom parties, graduation get togethers—whatever the occasion, chances are you’ll be invited to least one potluck, which means you get to pick a dish, any dish, to share with your kids’ friends and their families. Rather than bringing in yet another iceberg lettuce salad or box of processed supermarket cookies, why not impress the crowd with something creative?
These recipes are easy to make and always well received–plus, I love knowing my family has a healthy option when there are no other dishes available to meet their needs.
Nori-Cone Rolled Salads
One of my all-time favorite potluck sides, rolled salads can be filled in seconds and are easy to eat—no utensils required!
Makes 12 rolls
6 nori sheets
1-1/2 cups cooked organic sushi rice (or rice of choice)
Gluten-free soy sauce
Assorted veggies, sliced in long thin strips (my favorites: cucumbers, carrots, avocado, sprouts or micro greens, romaine lettuce, pickled onions)
Optional: tofu, chicken, shrimp, crushed cashews
1. Cut nori sheets in half so they’re long and thin.
2. Place one end of a nori strip in your palm; add 1-1/2 to 2 Tbsp. rice and press down until your palm is full.
3. Add veggies and optional proteins, angling toward top corner.
4. Dip fingers of your free hand in water. Starting at bottom corner, roll diagonally to make a cone. Run wet finger along nori edge as you roll so it sticks together.
5. Serve with soy sauce.
Grilled Romaine & Pineapple Salad
Serves 12 +
1. Lightly brush romaine sections and pineapple spears with olive oil.
2. Grill over medium heat, turning until grill marks appear.
3. Place romaine quarters open side up on serving platter; place a pineapple spear on top.
4. Secure with toothpicks for transport, or cut into quarters and serve as a kebob.
5. Sprinkle with olive oil, cilantro, lime juice and a little salt and pepper.
Spring Greens Pasta Salad
2 lbs. whole wheat pasta
2 pounds baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 bag of frozen peas
Optional: blanched asparagus or veggies of choice
Optional: 2-3 cans tuna or poached salmon
2 packets organic ranch dressing mix*
1-1/2 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Prepare dressing according to package directions.*
3. In large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well to combine.
*Homemade dressing option: Mix together 1-1/2 cups buttermilk, 1 cup mayo, 1 cup plain yogurt. In food processor, chop: 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup parsley, 2 Tbsp. chives, 1 tsp celery seed, 1/4 cup lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Combine with mayo mixture.
Peaches & Cream Cups
‘Tis the season for fresh peaches! I divide this dessert into small paper cups to make it easy to grab and go.
1-1/2 lbs. silken tofu
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup agave or honey (adjust to taste)
2 tsp. vanilla or 3 tsp. fresh chopped mint (Tip: Add 1 fork-smashed banana for banana cream flavor!)
12 fresh peaches, sliced and sprinkled with raw sugar (if desired)
Optional: fresh mint, blueberries
1. Add all ingredients except peaches to food processor; blend (do not over mix). Add additional agave/honey to taste.
2. In each cup, repeat layers: scoop of sliced peaches, scoop of tofu cream.
3. Top with mint sprigs or a few blueberries.
Tip: If you want to get fancy, try this recipe with grilled halved peaches!
Strawberry Rhubarb Cookie Bars
Bar cookies are the way to go when it comes to pot lucks—just mix, pour, bake and serve. No waiting for sheet after sheet of cookies to bake.
3 cups quick rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup coconut oil or coconut manna (up to an additional 1/2 cup may be needed)
1/2 cup honey (or agave, for vegan version)
1 tsp. ground ginger or grated fresh ginger
4 cups of a combination of strawberries and rhubarb (or strawberries and peaches)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix together oats, flour, brown sugar and coconut oil until crumbly. Press half of mixture into a parchment paper-lined 9”x13” pan and bake for 25 minutes.
2. In large bowl, combine remaining ingredients; mix well. Spread fruit mixture over baked base. Top with remaining oat mixture; press down lightly. Bake an additional 35 minutes until bubbly and golden.
3. Cut into bars. (Optional topping: Combine 1/3 cup orange juice with 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar. Drizzle over cooled bars.)
This dessert is easy to make and fun for kids to help make. I make my own crust with the recipe below, but if you’re a hurry you can use a whole wheat frozen crust, rolled out and baked..
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. honey or for vegan use agave
4 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 jar of hazelnut spread
Fresh fruit of choice, washed and sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and honey. Using the back of a wooden spoon, work in coconut oil. Add enough orange juice to form a manageable dough (the consistency of pastry dough). Tip: You can also complete this step using your food processor.
2. Work dough into ball and wrap with plastic wrap; chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes.
3. Roll dough to desired size and shape, making sure it fit baking sheet of choice. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden.
4. Spread hazelnut layer on cooled crust.
5. Place berries on pizza (let the kids help!).
Tip #1: Try this homemade spread instead of the hazelnut spread. In your food processor, combine 1 lb. silken tofu, ¼ cup coconut milk or orange juice, ¼ cup powdered sugar (or agave or honey), 1 tsp. cinnamon. Chill for 30 minutes and spread on crust.
Tip #2: Make fruit tortillas with the above spreads/fruit, along with a slice of banana (cut lengthwise) for an even easier pick-up-and-go dessert!
Dana Zucker is a home cook that likes to do it her way! She gets creative with nutritious ingredients to keep her active family—teenage twins and a vegan, triathlete husband—healthy and happy. Cooking with organic, local and whole food ingredients is key, whether she’s whipping up an early-morning breakfast, prepping afterschool snacks or getting dinner on the table at 10 p.m. Dana says, “We do eat out sometimes, and even cheat with some pre-made foods. But I try to balance making delicious foods with the reality of a busy schedule.” Dana’s recipes are a great starting point to find a style of cooking that works for your family. Her advice? Keep it real—and keep it easy!