Back to School Lunches: Sandwich Sushi

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School Lunches: Sandwich "Sushi" @GagenGirls.com

It’s that time of year again – back to school!  Don’t get me wrong, I love my summers, but back to school is one of my favourite times of the year.  The smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the new ranges of notebooks and backpacks, and the amazing sales in just about every store.  I may not be a student anymore, and haven’t been for a couple years, but as an ex-student, now-teacher and (hopefully) future-mother, I still keep an eye out for the back-to-school trends.

School Lunches: Sandwich "Sushi" @GagenGirls.com
My first day of grade 5 (left); my first day of university (top right); and my first day of teaching (bottom right).

No matter what age, as a student and teacher, my school lunch is one of the highlights of my day.  I went from being that kid who opened up their lunchbox every day to see what amazing creations my mother packed for me, complete with its own special note containing jokes and messages of love, to being the teacher who stuffed her bag to the brim with various healthy snacks and nibbles to keep my energy levels up throughout the day (and then still managed to somehow spend a fortune in the school cafeteria, mostly after I dragged myself down in search of caffeine).

As someone who is very versed in school lunches, I’m constantly in search for tasty, healthy and fun dishes.  As I was skimming through my Pinterest, I noticed a general fascination with bento boxes and other Japanese-inspired lunch items.  This made me think – what is one of my favourite food?  Sushi!  How could I adapt it for a kid-friendly school lunch?  Sandwich sushi!

Trio of sandwich sushi: ham & cucumber, PB & banana, and raspberry & cream cheese. (@GagenGirls.com)
Trio of sandwich sushi: ham & cucumber (bottom left), PB & banana (top), and raspberry & cream cheese (bottom right).

Sandwich Sushi: How-To

Step 1: Choose your ingredients.

Sandwich sushi is so adaptable.  You can treat it like a regular sandwich and choose your normal fillings (e.g. lunch meat) or treat it more like a finger food snack, but one way or another it will be easy to fill with any favourite foods.  For my sample trio, I chose PB & banana, raspberries & cream cheese, and ham & cucumber.

Tip: Swap out the cream cheese for some whipped-up cottage cheese for a tasty, healthier option.

Step 2: Get your wraps.

I chose a small, basic tortilla for the purpose of trying out my sample trio.  The smaller wraps worked, but the “sushi” would probably be more easily assembled in the larger sizes.  In the future, I would probably buy the larger tortilla wraps in those fun, colourful varieties.  This would probably also be a good way of adding extra nutrition for the little ones (with varieties like spinach or sun-dried tomato) and a fun pop of colour to liven up their day.

Step 3: Spread your base.

Your base spread helps keep everything together.  Yes, the tortilla provides a good structure, but you need something gooey and sticky to act as the glue (though way more delicious).  Make sure the base goes edge to edge and covers the whole tortilla evenly and completely.  The bases I used were: peanut butter (for the PB & banana rolls), cream cheese (for the raspberry & cream cheese rolls), and mayo (for the ham & cucumber rolls).

School Lunches: Sandwich "Sushi" @GagenGirls.com
Peanut butter base for my PB & banana sandwich sushi.

Step 4: Add your fillings and roll your “sushi”.

Make a line of your fillings across one side of the tortilla.  This will be the side where you start rolling.  The really nice thing is that this step requires little to no prep – the banana only had to be peeled and then could be placed down whole.  The raspberries just got a little rinse before being put into their line.  The ham got laid out straight from the package, with some chopped cucumber added in a line on top.  Easy!

School Lunches: Sandwich "Sushi" @GagenGirls.com
A line of raspberries on cream cheese (left); ham spread out on mayo-covered tortilla, ready for its chopped cucumber filling (top right); banana on peanut butter (bottom right).

Tip: It was necessary to add extra mayo around the edges while rolling the ham & cucumber rolls to keep the tortilla “glued” together.  Otherwise it didn’t really stay together that well.

Step 5: Chop.

Slice your rolls to create bite-size “sushi” pieces.

Some tips:

1) Leave the end bits for your own nibbling delight (or fun preview for the lucky kid).  I never could find a way to make the ends of the “sushi” roll work.  If you or your child don’t mind, those parts could absolutely be included, but I just trimmed off a small bit to ensure the next part would chop perfectly.

2) Use a chopping knife, not a dinner knife.  I started cutting the first roll with the same knife I had used to spread the base (in this case, the peanut butter), and the teeth just tore apart the tortilla.  Yikes!  I switched out for a toothless chopping knife, and it made the job much easier.

3) Chop the tortilla roll with the overlapped bit on the underside, as shown below, to help keep the tortilla from slipping and moving while you’re slicing.  Trust me, it’s super frustrating otherwise!

3) For my PB & banana rolls (the first of the trio I made), I chopped them quite big.  While this was kid-approved later, after seeing how small the other rolls turned out (since I was spacing them based on the size of the raspberries and chopped cucumber), I thought the banana rolls could have been skinnier too.  This would also increase the amount of pieces produced from each roll (the seven PB & banana pieces above are from two tortilla rolls, versus the 4-5 pieces of one tortilla roll for the other varieties).

School Lunches: Sandwich "Sushi" @GagenGirls.com
Slicing the PB & banana sandwich sushi roll.

Step 6: Enjoy!

I tried each of my trio and loved them, but does that make them kid-friendly?  There was only one way to find out!

School Lunches: Sandwich "Sushi" @GagenGirls.com
Sandwich sushi: officially kid-approved!

He loved the trio of sandwich sushi so much, he even lured over his sister to try a few.

School Lunches: Sandwich "Sushi" @GagenGirls.com
Sandwich sushi: officially kid-approved!

It’s official – with room for alterations and modifications, sandwich sushi is a winner for this year’s school lunches.  Any student, child or older, would love finding this easy and fun treat in their lunchbox!

What kind of sandwich sushi roll would you like to make?  Tell us in the comments!

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