She’s fought back after a couple of potentially devastating breaks: a breast cancer diagnosis when she was still breastfeeding her first child and damage from a fire that destroyed neighboring Richardson’s restaurant in Phoenix. But Lucia Schnitzer, now the mother of three children age 6 and younger, doesn’t dwell on past challenges. At Luci’s Healthy Marketplace, her Phoenix coffee shop and healthy-eating restaurant, she keeps her focus on wellness.
“We’re all about providing a place for people to come and be reminded of wellness,” she told us when we profiled her as a “RAK Mompreneur” in 2010. “Not just eating healthy but taking care of yourself and surrounding yourself with people who reflect wellness.”
Her restaurant features organic and gluten-free fare in addition to catering, cooking classes and more. As Valley families begin to prepare for back-to-school season, we asked her to share some ideas for lunch boxes or after-school snacks.
Frozen Chocolate Banana Pops
¼ cup raw cacao powder
¼ cup coconut oil or avocado oil
1 tablespoon coconut crystals or agave nectar; sweeten to taste
3 large ripe bananas
Chopped peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts or pistachios
Toasted unsweetened coconut (To toast coconut, place in a 300 degree oven and bake for about three to five minutes or until lightly browned. Watch carefully.)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, wax paper, or aluminum foil. Cut the bananas into two- to three-inch chunks. Insert a popsicle stick, bamboo skewer or chopstick into the pieces of banana. Place on the prepared baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes.
Mix cacao powder, oil, and coconut crystals/agave nectar in a bowl until smooth. Remove the bananas from the freezer and dip in the chocolate, making sure the banana is completely covered. If desired, roll (or sprinkle) the chocolate-coated banana in chopped nuts, toasted coconut, granola or colored sprinkles. Eat right away or place them back on the baking sheet and freeze.
Once completely frozen, the bananas can be stored in a covered container for about one week. To soften the bananas, place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. Makes about four to six frozen chocolate bananas pops.
Kids will love to help you make this healthy snack because it’s fun to spread the nut butter and sprinkle the chocolate chips.
No corer in the kitchen drawer? Slice the apples into rounds first, then use a small cookie cutter to remove the core from the center of each slice. Wrap sandwiches tightly before tucking them into lunchboxes. Makes two servings.
2 small apples, cored and cut crosswise into half-inch thick rounds
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
3 tablespoons peanut or almond butter
2 tablespoons raisins or chocolate chips
3 tablespoons granola
If you won’t be eating these tasty treats right away, start by brushing the apples slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
Spread one side of half of the apple slices with peanut or almond butter then sprinkle with chocolate chips and granola. Top with remaining apple slices, pressing down gently to make the sandwiches. Transfer to napkins or plates and serve.
Homemade Rainbow Popsicles
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups pomegranate juice
3 cups lemonade
1 cup orange juice
food coloring (natural food coloring is available at some health food stores)
Dixie cups – 4 oz size
Wooden popsicle sticks
In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and water over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, and stir in the corn syrup. Set aside to cool.
Prepare and chill the liquid layers:
Red: combine 1 cup pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons simple syrup and 2 drops red food coloring.
Orange: combine 1 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons simple syrup, 1 drop red and 1 drop yellow food coloring.
Yellow: combine 1 cup lemonade, 2 tablespoons simple syrup and 1-2 drops yellow food coloring.
Green: combine 1 cup lemonade, 2 tablespoons simple syrup and 1-2 drops green food coloring.
Blue: combine 1 cup lemonade, 2 tablespoons simple syrup and 1-2 drops blue food coloring.
Purple: combine 1 cup pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons simple syrup and 2 drops blue and 1 drop red food coloring.
Pour the red layer into your Dixie cups, to about ¼” thickness, and freeze for 30 minutes. Add the orange layer, in the same way, and freeze for another 30 minutes. Place the sticks in the center (the two layers should hold them pretty well). Pour in the yellow layer and freeze for another 30 minutes. Add the green, blue, and purple layers in the same fashion. The purple will come very close to the top of the cup, so handle carefully.
Allow the popsicles to freeze for 3 hours, though for optimal curing, let them freeze overnight. There will be some simple syrup left over—keep it in your fridge for future popsicle, lemonade or cocktail making.
To serve, simply make a small incision in the rim of the Dixie cup and tear the cup off. Makes 12 four-ounce popsicles.
4 extra-large flour tortillas
1 package (3½ oz) soft cheese spread with herbs
1 bag (6 oz) fresh baby spinach
8 ounces thinly sliced salami or ham
8 ounces thinly sliced Havarti or Swiss cheese
1 jar (7 oz) roasted red bell peppers, drained and sliced into thin strips
For each tortilla, spread two to three tablespoons cheese spread almost to edge. Layer
evenly with 1/4 of spinach, salami and Havarti cheese. Place bell pepper strips
down center. Tightly roll up; cut off and discard (or eat) rounded ends. Repeat with
remaining tortillas and filling ingredients.
Cut tortilla rolls into 1½-inch slices; secure with toothpicks. Refrigerate until ready
to serve. To serve, remove and discard toothpicks; stack two or three slices on a
serving plate. Makes 18 servings.
8 oz spaghetti, cooked and drained
4 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1½ cups pasta sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (about 8 oz)
Vegetables to make “faces”
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan; set aside. In large bowl, combine spaghetti, eggs, Parmesan cheese and pepper. Evenly press into muffin cups to form a “crust.” Top each cup with pasta sauce, then mozzarella cheese. Bake 15 minutes or until bubbling. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Decorate with vegetables. Makes 8 servings.
Hot Dog Spaghetti
Take a hotdog and cut it into five pieces. Push about five uncooked spaghetti noodles through the hotdog. Place in a pot of boiling water and cook till spaghetti is done. Serve with spaghetti or cheese sauce or with olive oil and Parmesan cheese.