Posts tagged ‘healthy’

February 29, 2012

Light, Lazy Lunch


This was one of those mornings I would have rather washed dishes and vacuumed the house than pack lunches. When I feel that way, I grab the LunchBots containers and silicon muffin liners. I line each with six red cups and start looking in the fridge and pantry for anything that I can drop into the liners. Today, I found baby carrots, kalamata olives, hardboiled eggs, string cheese, strawberries, sweet potato chips and gluten-free animal cookies. C is a lighter eater than S, so I added some sliced pastrami to S’s container. Lunch was packed in just a few minutes, and in the process I even managed to clean out some bags from the pantry and jars from the refrigerator.

I know this is a lot like the Tapas Lunch I posted a few months back. But this morning I filled it with different food items. That counts as a different lunch, doesn’t it?


February 9, 2012

Five under 5: Pesto Burger

It’s pesto—again! I had no idea how much S and C love it. I knew they liked it in their pasta, but they seem to like it anywhere and everywhere. Today, I packed S a leftover pesto bison burger from last night’s dinner. I had mixed two heaping tablespoons of pesto with one pound of ground bison. I shaped them into five patties and cooked them in a cast iron skillet. I topped each patty with a slice of fresh mozzarella and let the cheese get nice and soft. Then, I toasted a couple of Par-Baked Panini Rustic Rolls (a new Trader Joe’s find!) and spread each side with more pesto. I topped the rolls with some spinach leaves and a few slices of red bell pepper. On the side, I served grape tomatoes, carrots, and sweet-potato chips. S begged to have it again for lunch today. Easy enough—and with just five ingredients.

I may have to take a short hiatus from blogging. My beloved German Shepherd, Zoe, has been diagnosed with lymphoma. She was our first baby (we got her when she was just 8 weeks), and has been a sweet, loyal friend for more than 12 years. While there are still lunches to pack, I’d like to make time in the mornings to take her to Dog Beach and the wilderness preserve, making her last days as happy as possible.

January 9, 2012

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese

Okay, I did not pack this for S’s lunch. She hates mushrooms. If she thinks she sees so much as a sliver of one in her food, it stops her cold in her tracks. However, C loves, loves mushrooms. And he’s not picky about the variety, and whether they’re raw or cooked, so he happily eats plain button mushrooms (which he piles high on his plate at a salad bar), shitakes, creminis or big fat portobellos. I love that he loves them because mushrooms are packed with vitamin B-2 and D, copper and potassium.

After picking C up from preschool today, I decided we’d head home for lunch. I knew there were two portobello mushrooms waiting for us in the fridge. They were left over from a vegetarian craving I had the other night. I didn’t want meat, but I still needed something hearty. Portobellos were the answer. I first made the stuffed mushrooms a couple years ago for my book club, and they were so good I bookmarked the recipe.

The portobellos are first marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, soy sauce and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Then, they’re roasted gill-side down in the oven for 15 minutes. After that, you flip them over and stuff them with a mixture of spinach, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, onions, chopped mushrooms and breadcrumbs. Simply leave out the breadcrumbs if you’re on a gluten-free diet. It won’t change the consistency much. Put them back into the oven for another 15 minutes. The result? A perfect umami flavor.

As strange as this might seem, I’ve been eating the leftover portobellos for breakfast. I top each with an over-easy egg for a dense, low-carb meal.

As for S, she got turkey and avocado on an everything bagel.

Here’s the link to the recipe at Epicurious:

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese

December 5, 2011

Beans and Franks You Can Feel Better About

The kids made gingerbread houses yesterday afternoon and we all got so involved that I lost track of time. Before I knew it, it was time for dinner. I needed something on the table—quick! It was a night for beans and franks. But not your mom’s version of it. Something ever so slightly healthier. I had organic baked beans in the pantry and Trader Joe’s apple chicken sausage (free of nitrates and nitrites) in the refrigerator. I poured two cans of beans into a pot and dropped the sausages into a skillet. The kids like it when the sausages get nice and charred. Then, I made a big green salad. All done in less than 30 minutes.

This morning, I packed leftovers for S, including some baby carrots and apple slices to make sure she gets some fruit and vegetables. I also added a cute holiday napkin with a penguin wearing a Christmas hat. It’s almost as good as a little note. She’s happy, I’m happy and lunch is done.

November 17, 2011

White Bean Chili

I have a soft spot for this recipe. My friend, S, first made this for my family shortly after I had given birth to C. At the time, I was sleep deprived, failing at the transition to having two kids, and so mentally and physically exhausted that I couldn’t bear the thought of cooking. Thanks to the awesome moms in my neighborhood, I had dinners brought to me three times a week for a month.

I distinctly remember the evening S brought over this white bean chili. Everyone was starving, cranky and desperate for comfort and sustenance. In walked S with a big steaming pot of chili. I swear she had a halo over her. And she had an assortment of toppings for the chili: crushed tortilla chips, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese, etc. It was satisfying in all the right ways, and super fun for my daughter who got to piece together her own meal. That same week, I asked S for the recipe and I have been making it ever since. Sometimes, I add cumin-rubbed, grilled chicken; other times, I opt for cumin-spiced, grilled shrimp. In either case, it’s always a hit with the family. If you’re in a pinch, you could easily chop up some store-bought rotisserie chicken.

This recipe is very, very simple, and takes hardly any time to cook. The kids have a blast scooping chili with their chips and tailoring the toppings to their liking. When I packed it for S’s lunch this morning, I put all the condiments in a separate container, so she could create the perfect combination at school.

White Bean Chili

1 TB vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 – 4 cups chicken broth
2 TB chopped fresh cilantro or 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 TB lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp red pepper sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1 bag frozen whole kernel corn
3 cans (15-16 ounces each) white beans, drained (any variety will do — cannellini, Great Northern, white navy, etc.)

2 cups chopped cooked chicken (I just toss some olive oil, cumin, and salt on some breasts and throw them on the grill.)

Heat oil in 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic in oil, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender. Stir in remaining ingredients except chicken. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 20 minutes. Stir in chicken; simmer until hot.

Garnish with shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips, chopped green onions, diced tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro, sliced avocado, or sour cream.

September 1, 2011

The Homemade Lunchable

For what seemed like every day of an entire school year, S gave me the lowdown on the lucky bunch who had a Lunchable for lunch. Then, she would tell me in detail who got which kind. She coveted the Lunchable the way a little girl—and even big ones—covet a shiny Hello Kitty lunchbox.

So, I reminded her of the evils of highly processed foods, hydrogenated fats and high fructose corn syrup, but Kraft had her tightly in its grasp. “But it looks soooo fun,” she told me repeatedly. To which I responded: “The company that makes it wants you to think it’s fun. But it’s just food that’s bad for you.” She retorted, “Then why do my friends’ moms pack it for them?”

In short: because it’s easy and inexpensive. Busy moms can feed their kids lunch for an entire school week for less than ten dollars. And all they have to do is take the Lunchable out of the fridge and throw it into a lunchbox. Lunch? Check. It doesn’t get much easier than that. I get it.

One day, S was going on a field trip and her teacher requested that we pack a completely disposable lunch. My opportunistic daughter had an idea: “What about a Lunchable? Just this one time.” After all the begging and pleading, I caved. Secretly, I hoped she would hate it.

Later that evening, I found myself standing in front of an array of Lunchables. I turned over each one and read the nutritional information. I cringed; it was worse than I had thought. S had specifically requested the one with ham and cheese and crackers, accompanied with Oreos for dessert. What’s in a few crackers, slices of cheese and ham, and a couple Oreos? Brace yourself: 21 grams of fat and 1,070 mg of sodium. After hemming and hawing, I finally grabbed the box and tossed it in my basket.  After all, I had promised.

When S got home from school the next day, she told me, “I’m starving. The Lunchable was disgusting! I only ate the crackers and Oreos, because the ham was all puffy and watery, and the cheese tasted like oil.” I wanted to shout, “Hooray!”

S still liked the idea of the Lunchable, of piecing together your own meal, so it inspired me to come up with a homemade version. With some Late July and Back to Nature crackers, Applegate Farms salami and goat cheddar cheese, S can now have a Lunchable that’s delicious and good for her. To round out the meal, I included cucumbers, grape tomatoes and radishes. And I replaced the Oreos with some raspberries and cut-up nectarines. Packed in five minutes!

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