May 28, 2007

orange is the new brown.

One of my favorite ideas for curing the brown bag blues is to introduce a color of another kind. This particular brown bag is loaded with the color orange.

A good idea for adding a layer of interest and drama to your child's school lunch its to go monochrome. It helps me 'think outside the bag' when it comes to filling their bags with varied, healthy foods.

Orange is just one idea, I also have bagable ideas for red, purple, yellow and white lunches! The possibilities are endless; the goal is to get your brain flowing with ideas while increasing lunchtime variety and interest for your child.

So, have at it: start brainstorming all the possibilities for orange.

In this photo I help you get started:

  • Cheese Crackers
  • Carrots
  • Dried Apricots
  • Kumquats
  • Baby Orange Bell Peppers (sliced in strips with a cheesy dip?)
A bagful of orange ideas:
  • Sweet potato chips
  • Oranges/tangerines
  • Thinly sliced orange beets
  • Cheddar cheese sandwich
  • Any orange cheese
  • orange pear tomatoes
  • Pumpkin Muffins
  • golden raisins
  • Sesame crackers
  • Madarines/tangerines
  • Smoked Salmon
  • Salmon sandwich
  • macaroni and cheese
  • baked cheese puffs
  • Orange juice
  • Peach/mango juice
  • Peaches
  • orange-colored fruit leather (peach, apricot)o
  • orange/peach/apricot yogurt
  • Dried mangoes
  • golden raisins
  • papaya
  • mango
  • cantaloupe
  • carrot muffins, bread or cookies
  • pumpkin muffins, bread or cookies
  • cheddar cheese crackers with peanut butter
  • cheese dip
  • tomato tortilla with melted cheddar
  • orange juice
  • orange vitawater
Orange you glad to have brown bag ideas?

May 21, 2007

simbree foods

I heart Simbree. This is a long overdue review of Simbree product(s). Simbree products include granola, bars and bites (1 inch cubes of goodness). Sally from Simbree has been so supportive and lovely about sending me simbree granola, bars and bites to try: I was even able to donate some bites in red tins to an auction!

I really love the bites. I carried them around in my car for weeks, so whenever hunger pangs came knocking I would have a thoughtful, healthful snack to answer. What I loved: it only took a few bites to satisfy my appetite. What I loved even more: they are good for me!

Simbree bites---and the bars---come in 3 flavors: Oat Almond Pistachio, Maple Walnut & Chewy Cashew Coconut. They are all delicious and satisfying; next time I promise to eat them all at once and rate each using my Bagable Scale** (Sorry, I hadn't developed my Bagable Scale---for reviewing products---when I first tried the Simbree products).

I used the Simbree Granola for making cookies, and added dried cranberries as a bonus! I made my favorite lunchbox cookies and used Simbree's Maple Walnut Granola instead of the cornflakes. Find recipe here. Granola flavors include Cherry Berry, Grain & Nut and Maple Walnut.

You will notice on the right of this blog I have links to bagable products and bagable drinks. I have tried these products and like them. If I didn't, they wouldn't be there.

You can find Simbree products at Whole Foods; you can also buy them online.

**Rated on a Bagable Scale (Is it brown bag-worthy or not?): Not---Possibly---Probably---Easily---Absolutely

May 16, 2007

the zesty 'not ranch' dip.

My kids have tried ranch dressing as a partner to their lunch-time veggies, but I must be honest, it isn't their favorite. Over the years we have tried this bottle and that, but to no avail. After a pleasant visit on the shelves of our refrigerator, each round of ranch found its way less into our mouths, and more into the garbage.

And I find it funny that I bought bottled ranch, since 90% of the time I make my own salad dressings. They taste so much better, and really are easy to make. Typically, I throw together olive oil and vinegar concoctions, but I do venture out and sometimes mix a mean blue cheese dressing. So why had I not tried to replace the infamous ranch? Especially in my consistent pursuit of making my children's lunches varied, interesting and new. Especially in my attempt to tempt their palate, nurture their curiosity and push them to have informed opinions about food. It is probably my fault that they didn't really like ranch, or really most store-bought dressings, now that I think about it.

They are far better connoisseurs than I was at their age, but then that probably reflects a shift in our culture---and I think they are better for it. All of that to say: we have replaced bottled ranch dip inside the lunch box. I borrowed and slightly modified a recipe for "Basil Green Goddess Dressing" from the Barefoot Contessa (in her new book Barefoot Contessa at Home, p.70). And my children loved it. Their token description was "it is zesty!"

So I whip up a batch for a week's worth of lunchtime vegetables. I send 'zesty dip' in a little Tupperware container, along with a bag of carrots or broccoli. I could probably send cauliflower and parsnips, zucchini or cucumber rounds. I couldn't send---but perhaps your child might like---cherry tomatoes, bell pepper chunks/strips, radishes and/or celery. This 'not ranch' zesty dip is a keeper:

Zesty 'not ranch' Dip
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayo
1 cup chopped basil leaves
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp course pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup scallions, white and light green parts

Place all in blender, puree. (I am a big fan of short instructions).

Note: to de-zest it a bit, substitute dill, oregano, Italian flat-leaf parsley or fennel fronds for the scallions.

May 10, 2007

pink is the new brown.

Spring brings thoughts of pink: pink flowers, pink clothes and in this case, pink lunches. Ask your child to help you make an all-pink lunch and see what they come up with; my boys loved coming up with a list---they even wrote up a list with pink felt pens!

What fun to show off a pink lunch to friends. If you have some pink ideas, put them in the comments section so we can all add to our list of pink. Here are some pink food ideas to get you started:

  • Salami
  • Ham
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • strawberry yogurt
  • strawberry cream cheese
  • radishes
  • watermelon
  • grapefruit
  • pink yogurt raisins
  • pink yogurt pretzels
  • Strawberry or watermelon juice
You could even soak jicima or hard boiled eggs in a little beet juice for a pink effect---have fun!

If you get a kick out of 'colored lunches' you can click on red, purple, yellow or white for more ideas!

May 7, 2007

black is the new brown.

Don't for a second think that there isn't a pile of black foods to go into your brown lunch. There are, and it is a fun challenge to try and find them! Beyond Halloween and someone's 40th birthday, black lunches need not be spooky nor tacky. And who wouldn't get a chuckle out of an all-black lunch?

We discovered, at Whole Foods, black radishes. It is true! And I have a recipe for black bean soup, if soup is your idea of chasing away the brown bag blues. And you can always count on black olives, black currant soda or juice, black beans on a quesadilla, and grapes that are more black than purple. And I have seen black pasta noodles: toss some of those with olive oil and Hawaiian black salt and black sesame seeds. Raisins! Prunes! Blackberry jam and baby, roasted eggplant (with darkest purple basil leaves). Maybe the eggplant in a dip with blackish crackers or the darkest purple tortilla chips you can find. Kalamata or olive tapenade, fig spread...

...okay maybe there aren't THAT many black bagables, maybe you can help name some? Ideas? Recipes anyone?

May 3, 2007

product review: crispy cat bars

Crispy Cat. Love the name. Love it. From Tree Huggin' Treats.

A product review. My boys are growing rapidly, are in sports and it appears they have started down the path of being 'always hungry.' They use their energy faster than they can consume it.

So I have wisened up to their constant requests for food and beverages and added a snack box and drink boxes to our Eurovan. Yes, as you can well imagine I have to vacuum it out once a week. That being said, they take care not to over-crumble my humble vehicle and all the while getting the jolts of energy they need via protein, carbs and fruits.

So when they piled into the taxi---er, van---the other day after school, I handed them a Crispy Cat bar (I love saying it: crispy cat, crispy cat). I like giving them new foods to eat while they are hungry. It seems [my] kids are more willing to try new foods and eat their vegetables if they eat them when they are hungry.

We had three of the 'world's first organic, vegan candy bars' to try**:

Mint Coconut: smells of peppermint patty, taste reminiscent of mounds/almond joy, texture somewhere in between. This was my favorite of all three bars. My fifth grader adored it. Easily bagable.

Peanut Chocolate: upon opening the wrapper, one son said it reminded them of a Snickers, the other said it reminded them of peanut butter cups. Though, neither of them finished it and it stayed on my counter, opened until the next day. I thought it was pretty firm to the bite, not sure about the aftertaste, not dry but not moist either. I will buy it so we can try it once more. Possibly bagable.

Toasted Almond: good bar, I was happily surprised with the crispy rice and remain a fan of dark chocolate. I ate it before my boys had a chance to come home from school. I will have to buy them another one to try. Probably bagable.

Click here to find out how to buy these treats. This product was discovered by---and the review coordinated with---my friend Alisa over at GoDairyFree.

**Rated on a Bagable Scale: Not---Possibly---Probably---Easily---Absolutely

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