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What do I look for when I am packing each lunch? Well, there are a lot of things. But here are the main things that I am trying to accomplish or am conscious of when packing my kids lunchbox.
Happy Tuesday Everyone!
Last night I made a good sized batch of Mongolian Beef (actually Venison). If you are a hunting family, or someone who has not really LOVED wild game in the past, this is the recipe for you! I've made this for family and friends in the past, which no complaints, only praise.
I've modified the original recipe I had, which lets be honest has WAY too much sugar in it. For those who have to watch your sugar intake (everyone), I've created a version that doesn't significantly spike your blood sugar.
Here is my recipe for PCOS Friendly Mongolian Beef
A Meatless Monday Lunch Option.
Yes, I believe children need animal products in their diet. Yes, I believe in eating meat...but, a healthy vegetarian meal on occasion adds in a different array of nutrients. All of wish are important. Balance is key.
Do you eat beans? We love beans at our house, we eat them quite a bit, especially in the winter. Over the weekend I made a big batch of From Scratch Black Bean Soup. I would like to say I made enough for us to eat some all week for lunch...it was so good, it didn't last.
Beans provide a wonderful option for proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Not all beans are created equal, though. Many have very different nutritional profiles. All should be soaked, or early germinated before cooking.
Beans and Legumes have been a staple of many cultures for a VERY LONG TIME! Typically they are paired with grains like rice. This combination creates a complete protein profile. I always find it amazing to look at how cultures traditionally ate and combines foods and how they plays into what we know now with nutrition...pretty cool they inherently knew this.
Let's learn a little about some of our commonly use, and not so commonly used legume varieties. It might just inspire you to try something new.
The importance of family staples.
Again, if you guys keep up with previous posts, I like to make large batches of go-to items during harvest season (ie...summer/fall). These become an essential part of our winter meal prep, or last minute lunch ideas.
I made a couple of different batches of pesto's over the summer while my kale and chard were exploding. I froze them into little 1/2 cup servings. This morning, it came in handy as I searched high and low for something to put in M1's lunchbox....it's grocery day!
The Thompson Family Top Ten
Okay, so this should be fun. We have our TOP TEN foods that are pantry/freezer staples, and constitute a large portion of our diet. I though this might be fun. Much of it, we harvest and store ourselves, other things are items we purchase weekly.
Today I want to discuss probiotics a bit. (Since I added some yummy yogurt to the box today). Probiotics have become more mainstream, nutritionally, in recent years, and for good reason. More and more research is coming out linking the bacteria in our digestive system to mental health, immunity, development, cancer prevention, nutritional absorption, etc...
When I look at diet, I try to look back at how our ancestors ate, before advent of processed, chemically made "food." How did they preserve their food for winter, with nitrate preservatives, chemicals, and vacuum sealing. Many of the methods they used required fermentation, or the bacterial culturing of our foods. Almost every culture across the globe and in history had at least one version of a fermented or cultured food they consumed regularly. This is a gap in our modern diets. Rarely are people making their own fermented vegetables, kefir, yogurts, sausages, sourdough breads, etc... It is a lost art, but many of you are helping to bring it back, as I know from Facebook!
Culturing your own foods is way easier and safer than you think (for those of you who do not). I almost always have a jar of something on the counter. My husband has threatened to buy my a fermentation fridge if I don't stop...I'm still waiting!
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. M1 finally lost her first tooth last night! Big deal in the Thompson household. Because of this recent change in M1's teeth, she decided this morning she needed soup for lunch because it would be too hard to chew...okay I'll humor her.
I found these great ramen noodle packets. The noodles are made with a variety of rice species (forbidden rice, jade pearl, exit...) yes they are packaged, but they can be a convenient meal. Always read labels! This lunch was put together in 10 minutes, cooked and packed. Not bad for a hot, healthy meal.
I left all the toppings and noodles out of the broth so she could put it together fresh at lunchtime. She helped pick out her veggies. Whenever possible let your kids help, let them have a say. It gives them a sense of ownership over what they are eating, and I have found, makes them more likely to eat healthy foods. So, she got to pick veggies and a protein for her toppings. She chose eggs, green onions, and daikon radish.
There really is nothing like hot soup on a cold day. I highly recommend investing in some good thermos's. I think one of the ruts we fall into when packing lunches for kids is cold lunches. Step it up and send them to school with nutritious and warming foods. Especially in the winter months.
Today, I want to talk about the importance of COLOR. I have seen so many lunches, I had them as a kid, that are bland in color. Usually this means they are bland in nutrition and flavor as well. There is also evidence that color increases ones appetite and desire. It's more appealing to our senses.
I, for some reason, pushed snooze on my alarm this morning and woke up almost an hour later than I had planned. I hate that feeling! So, the morning was really rushed. I do not do well under time constraints and tend to get a bit frantic. So glad we had leftovers that could be used for lunch, at least for M1. I did not pack my own lunch this morning, sigh...take out it is.
As I packed an Organic LOWFAT Milk in M1's lunchbox, I cringed a bit and then thought it would make a great topic for today...
I thought I was going to have to head out for a birth last night or this morning, so I prepped M1's lunchbox last. I didn't, and it was really nice to have the lunchbox ready to go this morning.
Do you plan the night before, or the morning of? Why?
Last night I made Quinoa Tabbouleh. This is a dish that I love to make in the spring mostly, but ended up with a big batch of parsley and needed a way to use a good chunk of it. Tabbouleh is a parsley based salad. There are so many variations out there, but traditionally it is made with Bulgar. I really enjoy Quinoa, but have a hard time finding recipes that I like. I tried this combo a couple of years ago and it was a hit with the family. This batch, I had some yellow tomatoes, so its not quite as colorful as it should be, but they were really sweet tomatoes, so the flavor was excellent.
Okay, so this is a dish that I like, but what about the kids? M1 is a veggie eater, if you have not noticed. She loves tomatoes and cucumber, so this is a win for her. M2 on the other hand has a compete overs ion to anything tomato. If you ask she will tell you she is allergic to them. Really, she says she is allergic to anything she doesn't like the flavor of. I think having the tomatoes be yellow was actually beneficial last night. I didn't say anything, just served it and watched. She ate the tomatoes, no problem! She did complain about the green onion in it though…sigh, but did eat it.
This Tabbouleh is so much better the next day. I highly recommend making it a day before. That way the flavors can marinate.
Here is a link to my Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe.
A friend of mine commented that her daughter comes home telling her that the other kids don't bring veggies for snack time. She told her daughter that she new that M1 did! So, at least I know that I have helped one mom justify her lunchbox choices.
Not all of M1's lunchbox's can be winners. Today she asked for a peanut butter and honey sandwich. I did my best to balance it out with some protein and produce. Not that a peanut butter (organic, crunchy) and honey (organic, raw, unfiltered honey) sandwich is the worst thing I could give her, but there is just so much sugar involved. Especially since today's bread is not my favorite sprouted grain bread.
I see this as a treat, and my belief on anything that I deem a treat is not to avoid them entirely, but to teach my children the art of moderation.