Archive | Lunch RSS feed for this section

Pumpkin Spice Coconut Cookies

4 Nov

I made it to the other side of midterms week alive and mostly unscathed. I had a good 60% reduction in homework over the weekend, so I took full advantage of it! In the past weeks, my only “me” time has been working out at JTS. So what do I do with a whole day without studying? More exercise, naturally. I went falling  hiking, even though I don’t have the correct shoes for it, especially in the snow. I had a blast. It was much needed.

Yes, I'm laughing so hard my eyes are hardly open.

Yes, I’m laughing so hard my eyes are barely open.

If you follow me on facebook, you might have seen my purchase of a certain coconut product that came in the mail- Nikki’s pumpkin spiced donut coconut butter. It’s amazing on any fruit or baked good. Or…on a spoon. With some Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Yep, I went there. I would recreate this wonderful coconut butter myself, but my food processor just isn’t sharp enough nor powerful enough to make coconut butter. I’ve made plain coconut butter three times, and those will be the last until I can upgrade my processor. It should not take 60 minutes and a ton of melted coconut oil added to make it the right consistency.

Maybe the world has gotten a little too obsessed with pumpkin-flavoring-everything. I spotted these in Fred Meyer the other day. While I’m a don’t-knock-it-till-you-try it kind of person, I am  just going to say no to pumpkin and potatoes. Plus I don’t eat chips anyhow.

20131101_165927

No thanks.

My fridge had run out of sweet snacks for my husband to put into his lunch. I hadn’t noticed; so he kindly asked me to make my chocolate coconut no-bake cookies and I eventually got around to obliging a few days later in between the hectic whirring around the city and formidable study-homework-test-report-study-homework tornado. Staring at the recipe on my fridge, spatula in hand, I thought about the almond butter and what I could substitute in for it. I have gotten in the habit of smothering bananas/apples in it right before I take off for biology class, and therefore wanted to preserve what I could for that bad, delicious addiction.

It was like one of those cartoonish lightbulb- epiphany moments. Pumpkin spiced cookies! It’d be so easy. And it was. These are even better than the originals.

025

  • 2 cups dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup raw, local honey
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup Nikki’s pumpkin spice donut coconut butter, softened**
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla
  1. Measure out your softened coconut butter and have it ready.
  2. Put honey, pumpkin spice, cocoa powder, and oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Watch it as you bring mixture to a boil for 1 minute, stirring with a spatula to prevent burning..
  4. Immediately remove from heat.  Stir in the coconut butter and vanilla.
  5. Stir in shredded coconut until everything is coated evenly.
  6. To get the shape of my cookies, I used a spatula to press a little of the mixture into a small Tupperware and packing it firmly. Then add a little more and pack it  in more. Because of the coconut oil, it’ll fall right out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I have found that this shape crumbles less when bitten into.
  7. Alternatively, you can simply scoop out spoonfuls onto the parchment paper.
  8. Toss into the fridge until set- a few hours at most. Once that happens you can transfer them into a container and store in the fridge. Serve cold.

**Softened coconut butter and an extra 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice may be substituted.

024

Have you seen any weird or wondrous pumpkin spiced anything lately?

Advertisements

Real Food Lunches

23 Oct

Hey guys. I’m “back.” I’m recovering from my second illness in a month and trying my darndest to remember how the citric acid cycle in cellular respiration works, along with molecular shape and VSEPR theory. So much fun, I tell ya.

lunches

You may recall my nervousness at the beginning of the school year. I was worried about keeping up with packing a nourishing, satisfying lunch for my daughter to take to kindergarten. Thirty-some-odd packed lunches later, I’m over my initial apprehensiveness. These past seven weeks have been a trial-and-error/ learn as I go period. Now I fret less and even take less time preparing everyday.

What I’ve learned thus far: (in bullet format, because I’m all about bullet format lately (hooray lab reports!))

  • Ask what they want. After the first few weeks of choosing for her, I started to let my daughter decide what to eat. Surprisingly, she asked for the same things she had already been eating. I would simply add one or two things to make it a more complete lunch.
  • This or that. For tough food categories, I give her the choice between what we have. She’s old enough to understand that this is what available; so she has to pick out of what there is. Example: Jerky, tuna, or turkey?
  • Some kids like a lot of variety. My daughter is not one of those. She is ok with having only a few things in rotation, as you’ll see in the pictures below. She does get plenty of variety in her breakfast, snack, and dinner though.
  • Finger foods are fun. We don’t consume many finger foods at dinner anymore (ex. pizza;) so having things like cherry tomatoes, olives, and raw veggies to pick up with her hands are so cool. At least to my five (and a half) year old.
  • It’s ok to introduce new foods during the school year. I’ve had a pep talk or two about how new foods might not taste very good the first or second time. It might take a lot of small tries to learn to like something new. (FYI- it’s worked.)
  • Buy a thermos. I didn’t get one until my daughter didn’t eat something “because it was cold” a few times. Twelve bucks at Target later, she was happily wolfing down hot meatballs and spaghetti squash at school.
  • Before we bought the thermos, she was only carrying her cute LunchBots bento box and a water bottle. After the thermos purchase, we got little bag on clearance to stash everything in. Thank goodness it’s machine washable.
  • Usually she gets water to drink. On the occasion that I do pack her juice or milk, I throw in an ice pack, which wouldn’t have worked without the aforementioned lunch bag.
  • Store bought “lunch” type meat is either priced high or high in preservatives and flavors. Added flavors really irk me, whether “natural” or artificial. To me, that says “whatever meat we’re feeding you is so crappy that we had to add other crap to make you think it tastes good.” While I have bought some Applegate sliced meats here or there, we have made a lot of the others and saved a ridiculous amount of money, not to mention peace of mind knowing exactly what I’m feeding my child.

On to the pictures! These are the real lunches I’ve packed, and my daughter has eaten.

1045 978 961 960 950 921 910 908 899 845 832 829 796 784 783 772 717 458 457 456 455 20131022_082245 20131021_074020 20131018_080119 20131017_081645 1059 1050 1038
image

image
image

image

image

image
image

If you’re more into lists than pictures, here’s a breakdown of these real food lunches:

Meats/Mains

  • Homemade jerky
  • Tuna sushi
  • Scotch eggs (sausage wrapped boiled egg)
  • Homemade chicken nuggets (breading is mainly shredded coconut)
  • Pepperoni
  • Salami
  • Homemade sliced smoked turkey
  • Turkey/ham/roast beef wrapped peppers
  • Paleo zuppa toscana soup
  • Bacon
  • Cucumber tuna sandwiches
  • Meatballs, sauce, spaghetti squash

Vegetables

  • Sliced peppers
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Broccoli
  • Homemade sweet potato chips
  • Olives
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Celery (ants on a log- with almond butter and raisins)
  • Kale (usually wrapped in meat)

Fruit

  • Apple
  • Banana
  • Plum
  • Raisins
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Dried pineapple
  • Creamsicle gummies
  • Strawberry gummies

Nuts/Seeds/Treats/Other

  • Trail mix
  • Cinnamon Almonds
  • Raw nuts and seeds- almonds, pecans, pepitas, sesame seeds
  • Justin’s maple almond butter
  • Honey yogurt (our yogurt is from a local farm. It contains whole, un-homogenized milk, cultures, and honey)
  • Pumpkin yogurt (honey yogurt + pumpkin + spice)
  • Pumpkin chia pudding
  • Paleo apple cider muffins
  • Pumpkin spice coconut cookie
  • Kerrygold cheese
  • Raw pumpkin pie bar
  • SB&J bar
  • Paleo pumpkin muffin

There you have it. Real food lunches- easy. But wait! What about that one thing in the picture? How did I make it? What’s the recipe? Don’t be shy- ask in the comments below and you shall receive.

But wait! There’s more! I will be updating this post at least once a week with MORE lunches and ideas! That’s right, this very post right here will continue to grow. So if you run out of ideas or are just looking for something a little different, hop on over and you’ll be glad you did.

 

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds & Trail Mix

3 Sep

055

It’s back to school time around my neck of the woods. My daughter will be starting kindergarten in less than a week; and while I may have a calm exterior, internally I’m fighting the urge to freak out. I know my social butterfly 5 year old will love kindergarten. She went to half-day preschool last year at a public school, so many things won’t be new or scary to her. What I’m not  freaking out about is me. This is the beginning of a decade of making school lunches, driving, more driving, and coordinating my classes to work with whatever school or extracurricular activities that interest her.  I have a resolute stance that yes, I can handle it all like a champ. But then I have this meek, inner doubt trying to squeak out, are you sure you can keep up with it all? 

Last year was a breeze. My husband was off of work due to an injury, and was available for driving, meal making, and keeping up with housekeeping. I had few classes on campus, and therefore a highly flexible schedule. My daughter was in school for 3 hours, and ate all her meals at home. This year, my husband is back to working full(and over-)time, I have many hours where I have to be on campus for classes, and my daughter will have to eat lunch at school for the first time ever. That means I’m the main meal maker, including portable lunches for both my husband and daughter. 

Needless to say, I’ve been preparing for weeks. Influencing posts by Michelle of Nom Nom Paleo persuaded me to purchase a LunchBot for my daughter to use. It comes in the mail tomorrow and I think I’m more excited than she is. Michelle has some great lunch ideas that I’m sure I”ll refer to when I get tired of making my go-to lunches. 

A challenge I’ve recently faced is making foods that are easy to eat while driving, because my husband’s career isn’t always accommodating with a lunch hour at a table or with access to a kitchen. Beyond raw, cut vegetables (that are always included in his lunch box whether he chooses to put them in or I lovingly slip them in after I notice he hasn’t packed enough) I wanted to make something that is closer to a balanced snack that is fantastically delicious, to the point of looking forward to eating it. Something with fat, protein, and sweet goodness. In comes trail mix to save the day! I spent some time in my favorite place (Marlene’s bulk cooler) and scooped baggies full of the good stuff. 

For the sweetness part, I perused a list of real snacks compiled by Katie of Girl Meets Nourishment and immediately wanted to give the cinnamon roasted almonds a try. The original poster uses pure cane sugar, which I don’t use. I did have a bunch of coconut sugar though, and honestly I had no idea if it would work as a substitute for this particular recipe; but I was willing to sacrifice having sticky nuts if it didn’t turn out right. I figured if it could become granulated/crystallized once, I could do it again. 

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

  • 1 1/2 cups roasted almonds (if using raw, you can roast them beforehand for 10 minutes at 350°)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 TB water

In a big skillet, add all your ingredients except the almonds. Mix it all together until if forms a paste.

037

 

Add the almonds and stir to coat. 

Place the skillet on a burner over medium, and stir. Stir, stir….constantly for 7-10 minutes. 

This is what stirring looks like, in case you didn't know...

This is what stirring looks like, in case you didn’t know…

Don’t walk away from them, you have to keep stirring and watching them like a hawk. After a while, the mixture will begin to solidify.

Keep stirring until the sugar crystallizes onto the nuts.

Immediately remove from the heat and pour onto some parchment to cool.

Hardened coconut sugar

Hardened coconut sugar

They are perfect on their own. Maybe a little too perfect. Without restraint, I’m sure I could have eaten the ENTIRE batch in one day. To prevent myself from eating handfuls of them at a time (besides that first one, of course) I put them into my fantastic trail mix. 

 

Yum Nom Mmmm Nummy

Yum Nom Mmmm Nummy

Trail Mix

  • Cinnamon roasted almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Raisins 
  • Goji berries
  • Coconut flakes
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds

Use whatever proportions you like. You know you’re going to pick out your favorite ones anyways.

 

What do you pack in your kids school lunch or your own lunch?

 

SB&J

27 Aug

image

Since easing my (bread loving) five year old into paleo, the one thing she still asks for on a regular basis is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After a few weeks of explaining that we don’t even have bread in the house to make a pb&j, she has started to ask, “did you buy bread yet?” It’s difficult for her to grasp/remember that we’re not eating peanuts OR bread anymore.  Having never liked peanut butter, it’s hard for me to empathize with her craving for this lunch time treat. She does enjoy almond butter, which is a great for me since I don’t have to convince her to like other nut butters. She even saved up a dollar of her earned money to buy a squeeze packet of Justin’s maple almond butter.

Then one day Taylor Made It Paleo posted these pb&j bars (which don’t really have peanut butter in them, but sunflower seed butter and cashews) and I thought I’d give them a try to help my daughter transition easier. I’m going to call them SB&J bars-sun butter and jelly- because that seems more logical to me.

Despite all I’ve heard and read about how great they are, I’d never bought or tried Chia seeds before. I knew exactly where to find them though, so I picked some up in the bulk section of Marlene’s. Kinda off topic-that little cooler room in the back of the store filled with nuts, seeds, dried fruit and all sorts of natural goodies is one of my happy places. Does it make me crazy that I could joyfully spend an hour a week in that little room? Probably. But I’m ok with that.

Anyways, back to the bars. The SB&J ones, not the kind with alcohol and single creepy guys. The crust was super easy and much like many other paleo snacks/desserts that use dates and nuts. The jam middle layer is so super simple and amazing that I wonder why I don’t make my own jam this way. In my opinion, reduction > pectin. (Oh yeah, I threw in some Tuesday morning math symbols. You are welcome.)
As for how they turned out, not only did my daughter love them, but my husband’s first response was, “Do you have enough ingredients to make more? I could eat one of these in my lunch everyday.” I’d call it a win.

SB&J Bars
Courtesy of Taylor Made It Paleo

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp coconut cream
10 dates, pitted
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
pinch of salt

Directions:
Place blueberries and honey in a small saucepan over med-high and bring to a low boil.
Turn heat down to medium-low, and continue to cook while mashing blueberries, and stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Add chia seeds and coconut cream and continue to cook/stir until you get a jam-like consistency (about 20-25 minutes).

image

Thick and jam-like

Put mixture in the fridge to cool while you make your crust.
In a food processor, combine dates, cashews, sunflower seed butter, and salt until all ingredients are well incorporated.

image

Separate mixture into two “equal” parts. They’re just as awesome if one layer is a little thicker, so unless you’re a perfectionist, don’t fret too much about it.
Line a small bread pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper for easy removal.
For the crust, take one half and press down into the bread pan using a spatula to compress.
Remove jam from fridge and spread evenly over the crust.
Crumble the rest of the crust mixture over the top of the jam and press down to evenly form top layer.
Place in the fridge for 30-40 minutes before using the plastic wrap to remove it from the pan and cutting.

image