Mar 29, 2007

another day, a different angle.

Sometimes the best idea is just to look at things from a different angle. A bad situation, different options that life hands you, or in this humble bagable blog: a piece of fruit.

I don't mean you have to cut all their sandwiches into stars and hearts and cars, in fact I wouldn't recommend doing that except very occasionally. It isn't about catering to the little princes and princesses out there, but it is about adding interest and intrigue to their lunches. And maybe, help the brown bag maker stave off boredom.

Cutting pieces of fruit at different angles doesn't mean adding time to your efforts, but it may offer a moment of interest to your child's lunch hour. Cutting sandwiches they don't like into stars isn't going to make them like the sandwich. Take a pumpkin muffin for example. If they don't like it---the giant size muffin top or bag of miniature muffins won't make your kiddos crave pumpkin. But if they DO like pumpkin muffins, it will add a little fun---and a different angle---to their lunches.

So, take a new approach: instead of four big slices of apple, slice them as thin as possible. Instead of cauliflower florettes, take a whole cauliflower, cut off the base, set it upright and slice straight up and down in 1/4 inch slices like you would slice a loaf of bread. Add that with some dip in their lunch. (No, they won't magically love the flavor or cauliflower, but if they already like it, this can draw attention to the veggie they are eating).

My latest way to cut pears and apples is in thin, thin slices. I cut off the sides, place cut side down and slice as thin as possible. So, brown bag boredom be gone! Time for a new slice in life---or maybe just in a piece of fruit.

Mar 26, 2007

white is the new brown.

These little yogurt pretzels show up only occasionally in my boys' lunches, and they love finding a bag of these pretzel treats.

Trying to put together a color-themed lunch can be challenging, but forces me to 'think outside the bag.' I rustle through cupboards and the fridge for whitish foods, and if I really have my 'thinking cap on' I will think 'white lunch' while walking through the grocery aisles.

Though this list is only a beginning, it may help you find your thinking cap:

White Bagables
* mini mozzarella balls
* string cheese
* vanilla yogurt
* cream cheese or white cheese such as swiss, Havarti, jack on plain bagels (try the mini bagels)
* white cheddar popcorn
* white cheese quesadilla on plain tortilla
* jicima sticks
* cauliflower w/ranch or zesty non-ranch
* cucumber moons (remove seeds and skin)
* cheese filled raviolis or pasta with oil and Parmesan
* hard boiled eggs
* crackers w/white cheeses or hummus
* rice crispy treats
* white rice with chicken
* white bean soup
* mushrooms w/ranch or zesty non-ranch
* tofu
* macadamia nuts
* white grape juice or milk
* white cheese sandwich with hummus, sprouts, butter
* baked potato slices

Mar 21, 2007

the juice on jicima

My friend just told me about her favorite new veggie to pop into her children's lunches: jicima. Jica-who? Ah yes, that oddball whitish thing on the shelf at the grocery store, resting---more like hiding behind---roots of this and rutabaga that. I was wondering what that homely brownish sphere was, and always meant to pick one up and take it home. But alas, life is busy and newbies don't always find their way into my grocery basket.

So, it took a nudge from a friend, and now I am giving you that same friendly nudge: go try this. Buy just one little, homely blob and take it home. Then shave it like you would a potato and dice it into tiny 1/4 inch cubes or even matchsticks---the longer and skinnier the more enticing.

Now, all you need is a little loving dip and you are home free. My friend uses a mix of fresh squeezed lime juice and agave juice (I made it with the juice of two limes and 2 T of agave juice). You can just pour a bit of it over, unless the dipping is part of the daring, then by all means add an extra container in their lunch!

My sons just had a friend over; I plated this jicima and lime/agave concoction and set it out for pre-lunch dipping. I stated: "it is jicima, and tastes a lot like a carrot. And the dip is lime juice and sugar (because agave is a natural sweetener---but that is a post for another time)." My boys both tried it, but their friend gobbled it down. "Hey, did you know your kid loves jicima?" And I imagine they would say , "Jica-what?"

This would be the perfect bagable veggie in an all-white lunch!

p.p.s. My friends Ilva and Joanna just started a new site that will focus on eating healthy for your heart. This month they are focusing their efforts on finger foods---right up my alley since brown bag blues often focuses on finger-friendly foods (for fingers of all sizes!). I sent them these little jicima sticks to add to their list of healthy, heart-worthy foods. Keep up the good work Ilva and Joanna! (Click to read Joanna's list of heartable foods).

Mar 20, 2007

lunchbox cookies

I pulled this recipe out of some random magazine a million years ago, then changed it a bit. I was excited to find a granola bar disguised as a cookie; something still a treat but with more of a nutritional punch.

In fact, I have been known to put granola (sub varying cereals in place of cornflakes, even add a little coconut) and a variety of nuts (sunflower, walnuts, pepitas) and dried fruit right into these cookies. I will tell you the basic recipe, then you can improvise from there (note: if substituting, just stick with similar proportions):

Lunch box Cookies
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour (I use wheat)
1 cup oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups cornflakes cereal
2/3 cup roughly chopped pecans

Oven to 350. Beat sugars and butter; beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour, oats, soda, powder, salt just to blend. Add cereal and nuts. (If you are a dough eater, this dough rocks). Shape into 'golf balls' and bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes 2 dozen, though I never count.

Mar 18, 2007

red is the new brown.

When you need an injection of brilliance for your otherwise boring bags: try a color themed lunch! This will spur the brain forward amidst your busyness. Even walk through the grocery aisles with 'red' on your brain; with your 'rose-colored glasses' you may be surprised at all the new foods, lunch ideas and variations you might find!

Keep your child's [food] curiosity alive while at the same time providing them with a healthful, practical lunch. My boys helped me start a list of possible red bagables to get you started:

* strawberry jam on wheat bread
* Tomato tortilla with cheese and salsa
* pepperoni sticks
* salami slices
* mini pizzas
* strawberry yogurt
* red apples
* cherries
* raspberries
* strawberries
* watermelon
* sliced red peppers
* cherry tomatoes
* radishes
* red fruit leather
* red vegetable chips
* small bites of roasted red new potatoes
* dried cranberries
* strawberry juice
* cranberry juice
* red grapes
* sun dried tomato dip (for veggies)
* red pesto mayonnaise (for sandwich)
* tomato bagel
* red pasta in olive oil with salt (with roasted red peppers?)
* red tortilla chips

Mar 15, 2007

brown bag begins

Routine can put a furniture clamp on one’s brain. Creative functions are put on hold as we attend our To Do List: drop by the post office, dry cleaners, hardware store, respond to email, phone the coach or teacher, fold laundry, clean car, dog, and kids, make dinner, transport kids to the gym or rehearsal or music---you get the idea. It is no surprise to me that coffee is such a long-term fad, where moms like me seek boosts of energy, spontaneity and inspiration.

So when it comes to finding inspiration during that lunch making moment, I was as uninspired as the next person. I am stuck in the muck too; that is how I realized you---and I---needed help. So I started researching online and with other lunch-makers, to compile a list of ideas so when our creative juices are on the fritz, we would have a resource to go to for truly inspired lunch making.

This way, when you look into the fridge and pantry and stand before them like a deer in front of headlights (been there, done that), you can close the door and blog on for some quick jolts of inspiration. Too often in the midst of routine, our creative juices fail us at that precise moment we need them.

We want our children to eat well, to be healthy and well-rounded in their diets. They should have variety, both for basic nutrition and for the exercise of their curiosity. Teaching kids to try new things today will open up a land of possibilities tomorrow. Note to children: taste buds beware, we are on a quest to educate, tease and excite you.

To help you, and myself, I asked many moms about the brown bag lunches they sent to school with their children. What would their children eat? How much did the lunch vary from day to day? What lunch goodies do you consider your best ideas? Any tricks of the trade? How do you incorporate vegetables into their lunch menu? Sometimes, especially on field trips, I walk around during lunch time and take mental notes of lunch contents. I ask the kids what they like, and find out what their parents put in their lunches.

My great fascination likely stems from the fact that I made my own brown bag lunch starting in kindergarten. I ate the same thing almost every day from kindergarten to high school. I had an apple or orange, bag of chips and a sandwich. The sandwich was peanut butter and honey or meat, cheddar, mayo and mustard. In third grade I skipped the sandwich for an entire year---you guessed it, out of boredom---and jealously eyed the Twinkies and Ho-Hos my neighbors devoured. I am glad I didn’t have a Twinkie a day, but I am acutely aware of being bored with one’s food. I want my children to eat healthy and enjoy the goodness of food. Life is short; lunch should be interesting.

Related Posts with Thumbnails