Tag Archives: lunchbot

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.

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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

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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.

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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?