Not so Wee-but still Delicious

The blogging community certainly has rallied around its computers to share recipes, advice, and products galore designed to pep up our kids’ lunches.  Some great new cookbooks like weelicious and other real food websites are out there full of ideas for beautiful, healthy lunches packed with love.  And they have inspired me.  They have me fantasizing about the day that I will carefully wrap my daughter’s hummus-carrot-tortilla-wrap in the shape of sushi with a defrosted home made smoothie pop,  home grown berries, and vegan 3 ingredient raw brownie bites in her cute little lunchbox.  Right?

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via Weelicious

Or at least get something, including some veggies, in a lunchbox during the morning rush.

Here’s the thing.  On a typical morning, my husband and I head to work and my daughter heads to a full day preschool with a fairly organic, albeit too processed, but decent lunch and snack menu.  We scramble around each morning just trying to get the twins fed, my daughter dressed and fed, then to get ourselves dressed for work (and sometimes fed) before my hubby leaves for the train and my 4 y.o. and I head out the door at 7:30.

So my more pressing problem is what the heck am I going to eat for lunch?

Fast forward to 11:30.  My coworker of 9 years and I have this conversation daily.  It goes something like this.

Me:  What are you doing for lunch?

Her: Today I brought my lunch. But I don’t really feel like eating it.

Me: Well, I didn’t bring one, I was going to head out for Gyros an organic field green salad, wanna go?

Her:  Well, I wouldn’t mind getting away from my desk.

So off we go.

I am about 10 years into my journey of label reading and organic-loving, and she is about 5 months in and recently has become more aware of our somewhat messed up Standard American Diet.   So, now we’re pointing in the same direction.  I personally have recognized that a majority of my “failures” come from outside the home (not in the products I buy at the grocery and eat at home).  She wants to learn more about what to buy and what not to buy.  We both are sick of our existing lunchtime routine.  So here’s our idea.  We will pack each other lunches 2 days a week.  That’s 4 days a week of home made lunches!

Do you know how exciting this will be?  Ok, so I doubt I’m going to get personalized toothpicks or notes tucked in my lunchbox (I can only dream)…

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via peoniesandpoppyseeds.com

I mean I do need a confidence boost around 1 pm or so…but anyway, note or not, 2 days a week I will get the excitement of being delivered something to eat without utilizing a single brain cell for its procurement!  Plus, when it’s my turn, isn’t it always more fun to cook for someone else (that’s what I’m telling myself at least)?

We wanted rules that would keep us somewhere of the equivalent to walking distance from a salad bar  and a long road trip away from Chicago deep dish pizza.  I knew I wanted to try to stick to the beautiful Mediterranean food pyramid on my days.  After some back and forth, here are our proposed guidelines:

1)      Nothing with ugly long ingredient list that includes things we couldn’t have in the pantry at home.  No HFCS.  No artificial dyes.  Try to avoid most common GMOs in the main meal (ixnay on the corn, soy).  We decided that a caveat to the “# of ingredients” mantra could be condiments, used in moderation.

2)      Must. Include. Veggies. Somehow.  Organic for dirty dozen.

veggies

3)      Real dairy only, and in moderation.  I know perfect would be milk from grass fed, pastured cows, but it’s surprisingly hard to find.  I did find one farm that makes products available at Whole Foods stores in the Chicago area.  Good alternatives when looking for dairy are either store brand organic, or this common supermarket brand for butter or cheese from Ireland, where their “regular” cows are mostly grass fed.

One of my favorite salads is a raw kale salad that is Asian inspired, which I want to share with her as my first lunch.  Post to follow.

One down, 25 more ideas to go.  I knew my recipe hoarding would come in handy eventually.

Are we carb free? Dairy free? All organic?  Nope.  No, not going to be a realistic goal for this working mom who is lucky to remember to put on deodorant every day (and who loves bread).  But will save us $ from eating out, we will get to enjoy food together (a principal tenet of the Mediterranean lifestyle), and will hopefully make us feel better come 3 pm.  Especially if we have that inspirational note to pin up. 

Laura Sig

I Love Farmers’ Markets!

I love farmers’ markets.  Love, love, love them.  I get so excited to support relatively local farms, to be part of the local food movement, that I get carried away.  Every time, I get way carried away.

I took little one on a leisurely jog (ha!) down the “hill” to the local farmers’ market last weekend.  I bought half of what I really should have (peppers, lettuce, avocado) and a boat load of strawberries, blueberries and fresh figs.   I ran back up the hill thinking, “I’m going to have a heart attack getting back home.”  Oh, and I also thought, “I’m going to make a berry tart and something great with these figs!”   *grunt*  Then I walked the rest of the way up.  Because I’m human, and pushing a chubby toddler up an 80 degree vertical incline is hard.

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Little one and I have eaten a whole lot of fresh berries (no tart) and one fresh fig.  Every time I open the fridge, I feel guilty that I don’t know what to do with them.  Fig Newtons, homemade?  Oh, those are made with DRIED figs, and I’m not about to dry these figs just to bake something with them.   Stuff them with goat cheese, wrap in prociutto?  Sounds lovely.  Haven’t done it yet because that involves an additional grocery trip this week, and I avoid all extra shopping trips like the plague due to my little angel, who, last grocery trip, pulled a bottle of soy sauce off the shelf that exploded like an IED all over everything.  (I do, truly, love him dearly.)

I’ve set a D-day for these figs to be eaten or become garbage (as I haven’t yet created a compost plan).  I’ll let you know their finale.

Until then, it was a good thing to shop at the farmers’ market, but not a perfect thing as the figs testify.   Off to eat more fresh berries, maybe with a little ice cream…

ice cream

Wondering what happened?

Well, I did it.  I cooked with those figs.  I tried bacon-wrapped, stuffed with goat cheese.  They were good.  (How could they not at least be good?  They were wrapped in bacon for Pete’s sake!)

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Before, 3 innocent figs posing for the camera.  After, a hot gooey mess of yum.

They could have been better.  They needed something  to brighten up the flavors, maybe marinated in balsamic vinegar?  Eh, too much trouble.  I’d recommend slicing figs, serving them over some greens with crumbled goat cheese, bacon bits and a nice vinaigrette.  That would be perfectly delicious with a lot less work!

I also tried candied figs.  Why not?  I love candy.   I did not love candied figs.  They lost some of their figgy flavor, and extra sugar was not needed for this batch of over-ripe fruit.  Oh well.  At least the figs were able to be part of an experiment before they got tossed.

:)