I am very excited to share this guest post today from one of my favorite bloggers. I first met Laura in college, and have been very lucky to reconnect over Facebook in the last couple of years. We found that we have a bit in common….cooking (although she has achieved the “Real Food” goal sooner than I have!), we are both newish runners, blogging, and a love for Stitch Fix. After reading Laura’s blog for the last couple of months, I have been dying to have her do a guest post. I knew that my readers would love her simple ideas on how to join Real Food into their lives. Laura had the awesome idea about packing real food lunches. This is a topic that I love especially as I pack 5 lunches every evening, and I often get into a rut. I also know that with summer camps and picnics, a lot of people may be packing lunches outside of the home. I am hoping to get into some great habits over the summer that I can carry through to the school year, and I hope that these ideas help you as well! For more from Laura, check out her blog, follow her on Pinterest and follow her on Facebook.
Planning and packing lunches can be such a pain. Sometimes it just seems easier to head to the local sandwich shop on your lunch break or to send the kids to school with some lunch money – or perhaps worse – a prepackaged Lunchable.
I grew up in a household where we always packed lunch. Oh sure – I recall an occasional “pizza boat” school lunch bought in my elementary school cafeteria, but 99.9% of the time, we packed our lunch. I can’t say our lunches were always the healthiest, but surely more so than most kids. No Oreo cookies or bags of Cheetos, though I definitely drank a can of Dr. Pepper almost every day at lunch in high school.
As an adult, I’ve been packing my lunch for work since I graduated from college. Not only is it economical, but it’s also a great way to make healthy choices and not hungry choices (you know – when it’s 2pm and your growling stomach makes lunch decisions for you – and they’re not always the healthiest). I’ve always packed what I would consider to be “healthy lunches” – leftovers from low-fat dinners I prepared, salads with light dressing, and ham or turkey sandwiches (no mayo!) on whole wheat bread. But early in 2014 I started on a journey to eat more “real food,” prompted by all the articles I had read about the problems with our food system and the way we consume foods (“food products” would be a more accurate description).
Once I started down the real food path, some changes needed to be made to my lunch planning. With a focus on whole foods – organic and unprocessed – I actually found making lunches to be easier than I expected. I’ve also noticed that I actually eat more vegetables at lunch (and breakfast and dinner) than I had been before. So you might be asking yourself, what is real food? Simply put, real food is food that is not heavily processed, and is preferably grown or raised locally and organically. You can read more about real food on my blog, Roudabush Real Food Revolution, and there are many great resources online. Some of my favorites:
I also love the eco-friendly boxes by YumBox and PlanetBox, though they are both pricier options.
Bento-style boxes make lunch planning fun for adults and kids alike. The PlanetBox even suggests what to put in each section – dairy, fruits, veggies, etc. – to make sure you’re packing a well-rounded lunch. When I was a kid, we would have called this type of lunch “pieces of things” (clever, right?), and as an adult, I love the variety. A weekday lunchbox for me might include a few slices of Applegate organic turkey, homemade hummus, organic carrot sticks, homemade whole grain crackers, and an apple or a clementine. It’s also a great way to use up leftovers from the night before – maybe a little pasta salad was left over? Or some roasted veggies? Pack them into the box’s compartments and enjoy the next day.
Now I’m not a mom myself, but in my real food reading, I have come across so many clever and creative real food mothers who have some fantastic ideas for meal planning, especially when it comes to lunches. They’ve inspired me to get even more creative in my own lunch-making. Here are just a sampling of ideas for your next lunch (or your kids’) – compartment by compartment – and make sure to look for local, organic foods when possible to make sure your family is getting the best possible nutrition:
The possibilities really are endless – pretty much anything you dream up can go in your lunch box. And don’t forget – the freezer is your friend. Make double batches of baked goods or dinners and freeze them in small portions. Move them from the freezer to the fridge the day before and they’ll be ready to go for lunch the next day.
Dinners around here lately have been pretty blah…as I mentioned yesterday, we have been in survival mode! I have had the same rotation of meals going just about every week. Now that the nicer weather is finally here, and we have been through the winter of the pediatrician, I am ready to spend some extra time in the kitchen. One of my family’s favorite foods is scallops. I was peeking around on the Trader Joe’s website, and saw their recipe for scallops with apples. I decided to test it out, but mid cooking, decided some enhancements were needed. The recipe isn’t freezer friendly – but it is definitely worth sharing!
Check out my version of their Whole Wheat pasta with Scallops and Apples
For the last couple of months, I would say that I have hidden under a rock in the internet world….actually, probably in my personal life as well. This past winter was known for freezing temperatures, awful weather, ridiculous amounts of snow by pretty much everyone in the Northeast. In our house, it was also the winter of the doctor’s office. Ear infections, stomach bugs, croup, pneumonia, a freak ankle injury, strep……it has ALL hit our house. When I was taking care of the kids, I was working til all hours of the night to catch up on work. When I was not working, I was doing a deep clean of the house. I refused to make play dates because I did not want to cause anyone else getting sick, and I really held off going places, out of fear that my kids would get sick…again. We have come out of the germy fog, slowly but surely.
We have had a couple of set backs (one virus, and one case of strep) this past month….but for the most part, I am happily rejoining the world of normal people, or at least normal mom of three world!
I can’t wait to share what’s been going on here…a job change, preparing for kindergarten, some vacations, and some house projects. I also have some great guest posts ready to share as well.
I am looking forward to getting back in the blogging world, and appreciate all of you sticking around during my absence.
Baking is not my thing. I do it when I have to, but given the choice, I would rather make a 10 course dinner, than touch a brownie pan. After college, I lived with one of my good friends. Besides being one of the best people who I know….Jen is a “sweet genius” (nickname given by someone else, but I think that it is perfect) – and is always creating fantastic items in the kitchen. This past week, Jen shared a picture of her latest kitchen creation – these absolutely decadent Easter cookie bars. The base of this recipe is the Crisco Ultimate Chocolate cookies – but the recipe gets taken to a whole new extreme…. I knew that I needed the recipe, and needed to SHARE this recipe. So here is a midweek treat recipe in preparation of the upcoming holiday….the Easter Cookie Bar Recipe.
A couple of questions that may be running through your mind…
Are these decadent? Yes.
Are these inclusive of every awesome Easter candy ? Yes.
Do we recommend you to cut them small or freeze some of these Easter Bars to enjoy later? Yes If you would like to freeze these for later – you can either freeze the bars before cutting (then thaw to room temperature), or you can freeze pieces.
1 bag semi sweet chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli)
1 bag Easter pretzel M&M’s
1 bag Cadbury mini eggs
1 package double stuffed Oreos
Heat oven to 375ºF.
Combine shortening, butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat in eggs.
Combine flour, salt and baking soda separately. Mix into shortening mixture until just blended (I usually do it in 3 batches).
By hand, with a sturdy spatula/spoon, stir in chocolate chips, M&M’s & mini eggs. I did them all separately to try to get them as evenly distributed as possible. Batter will be thick and it will be hard to stir! Try not to over-stir if possible.
Spread half of the cookie mixture into a non-greased 9×13 metal cake pan. Smooth until even and flat.
Put a layer of Oreos on top – press down slightly. You’ll use almost the whole bag.
Spread the rest of the cookie mixture on top, being careful to not disturb the Oreos and to make sure they’re all covered so that they don’t burn.
Bake about 20 minutes. They’re done when they start to get golden brown on top.
Cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour, better if longer. To get clean cuts, put a cutting board on top and flip the entire thing onto the cookie sheet and cut on there.
Disclosure: I received Products and Compensation from Beech-Nut and MomSelect to facilitate this Beech-Nut review, however, all opinions included is my own.
Baby girl is almost 8 months…and is loving life. She is sleeping, playing, and EATING. Lordy, is she eating! She has loved all the tasty food that I have made for her, and her brother and sister get a huge kick out of seeing her “demand” that I feed her faster, or give her more food. I have made baby girl’s food over the last couple of months. Steaming, pureeing, chopping, peeling…over and over. It has been gratifying watching her enjoy all the fruits (and vegetables) of my labor, but I have also run out of steam lately. Keeping up with making a great variety of foods is a challenge…and building my daughter’s varied appetite starts now.
When I had the opportunity to try Beech-nuts new Real Food line with my daughter, I was overly excited. Some of the great flavors include Honeycrisp Apples, Carrots, Spinach/Zucchini/Peas, and beets/Pear/Pomegranate. When I looked at the ingredients, I was thrilled to see that the names of the foods were the same as the ingredients…nothing funny thrown inside! The real test, is how my daughter responds to the food. She ate all the items up…without so much of a the slight puckering of her lips.
She loved them all…with the beet/pear/pomegranate as her favorite. Who knew how awesome those flavors would be together?? I will admit, I tasted a bit to see what the squeals were all about…and it was pretty darn tasty. I loved the opportunity to have some easy, healthy foods to give her..and loved giving her some flavors which were a bit more challenging for me to pull together in the kitchen on a fixed schedule. We can’t wait to try more of the FORTY flavors that they have available
Have you tried this product line? What do you think?
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