I have discovered a super quick and simple way to get kids and fussy eaters to voluntarily eat handfuls of fresh leafy greens and veggies. They'll even beg you to buy more spinach every few days 😳🤭🤯🤗! Yep, I have the discovered the holy grail of parenthood that makes green veggies taste like snack food - crispy, salty and delicious.
Using a sandwich press (pics below) you can have your kids making delicious gozleme and veggie filled wraps in about 2 minutes! The beauty of these is they cook both sides at the same time, and its so quick and easy that it doesn't feel like proper cooking. You could definitely use a fry pan for these instead but it will take a bit longer, and it will feel a bit more like work.
Now let's do something revolutionary and skip the usual life story preamble that recipe blogs all have and instead jump straight to the recipe. You can still find the full breakdown with pictures, explanations, nutritional info and whimsical musings 🤪 below the recipe.
1. Wraps: Bread based/mountain bread/gluten free/paleo/roti/tortillas etc you choose.
2. Handfuls of fresh baby spinach, rocket, parsley, beet greens, chickweed or any other greens you can get our hands on (kids prefer spinach though).
3. Cheese of choice: Damona Almond Feta is amazing for a dairy free option, otherwise halloumi or feta is great.
4. Lemon wedges
5. Optional extras: Grilled capsicum, zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant etc (simply cut these veg into even slices and squash them in the sandwich press or fry pan until cooked and store in the fridge). Herbs and spices such as thyme, basil, chives, zaatar, sumac, garlic, pepper, chilli etc.
1. Pile ingredients in a row on the middle of the wrap and roll up or fold into thirds. Place face down onto sandwich press so it doesn't unroll/unwrap and press for a minute or 2 until browned and crisp.
2. Take off press, cut into segments and serve with lemon wedges. Note: Lemon or other acidic food such as tomatoes improve the absorption of non-heme (plant based) iron from green leafy vegetables. We add the lemon juice after grilling so the wraps don't go soggy.
There you have it; nutritious, delicious, ready in a snap and most kids can easily master doing this themselves. Ive gotta tell you, this has been such a lifesaver for us during lockdown with 2 ravenous bored teenagers. It was also great when they had to go back to school and we all suddenly had to remember how to get up in the morning and make all the things before getting out the door on time (believe me, the struggle was real! 🤣).
So now for the nitty gritty.
Lets talk about wraps. I use mountain bread because it's super thin and comes out deliciously crispy. I'm also a genetically predisposed bread head (never met a carb I didn't like!) and am not naturally inclined to exercise very regularly, so Im always looking for ways to up the veggies and dial down the bread. Whilst these might not be super filling on their own, simply add some dip & veggie sticks, salad mix and sauerkraut or cut up fruit and its a great meal.
My son on the other hand is a sports nut with a voracious 18 year old hunger so he prefers thicker wraps to fill him up faster. He uses pita bread, wholemeal tortilla style wraps or roti and he'll usually have 2-3 at once. We always choose wholemeal or wholegrain for its added fibre which is more filling, better for digestive health and is marginally more nutritious than white flour wraps.
Ive even been meaning to see if these yummy grain free wraps could be cooked in the sandwich press. I guess ill have a chance now that were back in lockdown again in Melbourne.
The filling can be as simple or complex as you like. The simplest is handfuls of baby spinach (yep that's handfuls - plural!) and some kind of salty cheese: nut based or dairy, both work fine.
I also like to add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to improve absorption of the fat soluble vitamins K and beta carotene; the precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin K is an important cofactor in developing and maintaining bone density and strength but it cannot be stored in the body so needs to obtained from the diet on a regular basis. It's possible to become deficient in as little as a week, but the good news is that leafy green vegetables (like parsley, spinach, kale rocket etc) are excellent sources of Vitamin K.
Beta carotene is an important antioxidant that helps to improve eyesight (it helps reduce age related macular degeneration), is linked with enhanced cognition and is widely considered the beauty vitamin for its protective effect on skin. It's commonly found in bright red, orange and yellow coloured fruits and vegetables but dark green leafy veg are also a notable source.
Tip: If using rocket or parsley chop it roughly first so its not too fibrous or stringy.
You can also add in grilled veggies which you can cook up in a snap using the sandwich press. I like to have containers of pregrilled veg in the fridge ready to use.
To assemble, simply put all your fillings along the middle third of the wrap.
Fold the two sides over the middle and turn over, so the seam is face down. We usually cook 2 - 3 at a time depending on how full they are.
Press the the lid of the sandwich press down and then switch it on - remember no need to preheat! Cook for about a minute or 2 until flattened and browned.
Slice into 4 pieces each and serve with lemon, yoghurt or dip.
Just in case you're not sure what I mean by a sandwich press, here's a pic. They heat up nice and quick, are super easy to clean and are amazing for cooking so very many more things than bread - just wait till I share my fabulous tofu hack! These are particularly great if you're just cooking for one and don't want a million pots to clean.
For something so incredibly handy there is one very unfortunate drawback, and that is that sandwich presses all have non-stick coatings. There are many health concerns regarding the toxicity, and environmental persistence of non stick chemicals, but the main things to be mindful of are:
Don't use if there are any scratch marks - use wooden or silicone utensils to avoid scratching the surface. If its scratched, i'm sorry to say, its best to get rid of it.
Don't overheat - there is no need to preheat these things. Simply put your wraps onto the cold surface and turn on. if you're planning on making lots of these in a row I'd suggest using a frypan instead.
When I purchased my sandwich press there were simply no other alternatives available and I thought long and hard about the health pros of quickly and easily getting more nutritious food into the family vs the toxicity concerns. I was a time poor student trying to feed a hungry family at the time so I made the sandwich press purchase with strict instructions to the family that we would have to get rid of it if it wasn't looked after very carefully.
I am now very happy to say that there is a more environmentally friendly alternative available. I recently discovered these cast iron panini press weights that can be used with a fry pan. Apparently you heat them over a separate flame whilst heating the frypan. I'd love to hear from anyone who has used one.
I hate needlessly adding to landfill so I will wait until this machine gives up the ghost and then will definitely switch to one of these groovy things.
So there you go, quick easy nutritious and delicious. I particularly love the stealth factor of being able to increase my kids veggie intake without them really noticing. And Im pretty confident that this will hold them in good stead when they leave home and don't have their live in chef with them anymore 😜.
I hope you enjoy them as much as we do and I'd love to hear how you go with these fabulous wraps 😋