Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Packing a Lunch

About 18 months ago, I splurged on a purchase that I've never regretted. I have a black belt in buyer's remorse, so that's saying a lot. That purchase was 2 stainless steel lunch boxes for my girls:  Planetboxes. These things are indestructible, tidy, customizable and oh-so-convenient! I LOVE them. The kids are pretty fond of them too.

They inspire creativity in me. For some reason, those compartments just call out to be filled with tiny morsels of yum.  I never in my life could have predicted an obsession with taking photos of my kids' lunches, but there it is. Here's a VERY small selection of my Planetbox pictures (the ones still on my phone!). Keep in mind we're not 100% perfect paleo. We're gluten-free at home, but we eat some dairy (sour cream, cheese & yogurt mostly) and 2 of the kids eat legumes in the form of peanut butter daily. My goal for them is whole foods, gluten-free.  They do eat a fair bit of lunch meat in their packed lunches, but--our family motto--"It is what it is."

Salami, Nut Thins, butter beans and rice(cooked in bone broth),
cherry tomatoes, organic ranch dressing, apple wedges
sprinkled with cinnamon, dark chocolate kiss

Pepperoni, cheddar cheese, Nut Thins, butter beans and rice
(cooked in bone broth), baby carrots, organic
ranch dressing,
apple wedges sprinkled
with cinnamon, dark chocolate kiss

Lemon-Garlic Roast chicken with catsup for dipping, butter beans,
cherry tomatoes, apple wedges
with cinnamon,
dark chocolate kiss

pepperoni, Nut Thins, cheese stick, home-grown green beans,
mashed potatoes, baby carrots with
peanut-butter-honey dip
(and a raisin face),
dark chocolate kiss

Slices of chicken breast (ghosted-up with food markers) with
catsup for dipping, home-grown green beans,
Nut Thins,
banana chunks (gussied up with food markers),
dark chocolate kiss

Nachos!!  Taco meat in the Big Dipper, tortilla chips,
shredded cheese and sour cream, lettuce leaves,
dark chocolate kiss

Seasoned ground beef, mashed potatoes, green beans,
cumin-roasted carrots, apple wedges with cinnamon,
dark chocolate kiss
My rules of thumb for packing Pretty-Paleo Lunches
  1. Know your kid!
    My oldest can be incredibly picky.  It took her a long time to get okay with eating meat and she's still resistant to a lot of it.  It's a texture thing for her, and when we find something that she likes, it becomes part of the permanent rotation.  She LOVES seasoned ground beef.  No sauce.  No veggies mixed in.  Just ground beef with salt, pepper, garlic & onions.  She likes sliced pepperoni, too, and has been a cheese fiend since toddlerhood.  Those are all acceptable forms of protein in our house, so that's what she has.  Every day.  For dinner I do insist that she try new things, but I require lunches to be easy and eaten.
  2. Aim for balance.
    I do my best to make sure each lunch has protein, some sort of veggie and fruit, and starch.  Some days work out better than others.  If I miss something one lunch -- or if a particular kid decides to stop eating the veggie portion of the meal for days at a time -- then we make it up at dinner with extra veggies.  Some days are just hard.  We're in the middle of soccer season, which has meant some really awful, unbalanced dinners eaten standing around the kitchen table while changing into uniforms, packing backpacks and doing homework.  Last night the kids ate Larabars and banana chocolate chip muffins for a pre-game snack, and hot dogs, potato chips and roasted marshmallows for dinner at my brother and sister-in-law's house.  It is what it is.  We're going to have a rocking dinner of Garden Fresh Meatballs with mashed sweet potatoes and some kind of sauteed greens tonight.  It'll all balance out.
  3. Make it fun!
    I suspect food markers are less-than-paleo, but drawing pictures on food is hysterically funny and really cool.  Last Halloween I drew jack-o-lanterns on cherry tomatoes and you can see my chicken-breast-ghosts above.  I've drawn flowers on boiled eggs, MADE flowers out of lunch meat, and bought skewers that look like little swords.  Kids LOVE that stuff.  It's hard sometimes being the kid that doesn't get to bring sandwiches and Cheetos for lunch, and my kids have a LOT of stuff stacked in the "weird" column just by being in our family.  Whatever I can do to make their lunches the coolest-looking ones at the table, that's what I try to do.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


My husband and I have been blogging separately for a number of years.  Recently we decided that it makes more sense for us to combine our efforts into one blog, encompassing the topics near-and-dear to us.  So in the very near future you will be able to find posts, recipes, photos, scholarly religious and historical articles and the like, at our new "home":


Muffin Season!

I love love LOVE fall!  It’s finally starting to cool down a little, so that I don’t feel like the house is going to melt around me if I turn on my oven.  That means…it’s Muffin Season at Hearth Mayo!  Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins are a universal favorite in our house, and I have (literally) a couple dozen extra-ripe bananas to use up, so that’s what I baked for for today’s breakfast.  I’ve used several different recipes—all good—but our current favorite is this one from George, the Civilized Caveman.
The recipe states to add all ingredients to a blender.  I’m not fond of blending thick stuff in my blender and then trying to get it back out, so I put all my ingredients into a large mixing bowl and hit it with my trusty immersion blender instead.  Works GREAT, it’s easier for the kids to help scoop muffin batter into the tins, and cleanup is less frustrating for me.
As usual, I subbed natural peanut butter for the almond butter.  I also switched this batch up a bit when I realized I didn’t actually have any chocolate chips.  I threw in a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder and a couple tablespoons of honey and blended that in.  Then I remembered that I had some dark chocolate kisses in the freezer so I chopped those up as “chips”.  Kind of messy, but it tasted good so I’m counting that as a success.  J
I'll add a picture later ... if there are any left when I get home!  Each of the kids had 3 for breakfast...

Edit:  There were some left!  And here's my photo (I'm trying hard to get better with the pictures...):


Friday, October 11, 2013

The Great Doughnut Fundraiser Conspiracy

Okay, so there's not exactly a conspiracy.  Probably.  But I'm so flipping frustrated with the endless stream of junk-food-based fundraisers at my kids' school.  It FEELS like a conspiracy to get as much junk food into every person's house as possible.  Pizza.  Candy bars.  Cobbler mixes.  And doughnuts.  These, to me, are the most insidious, because they're right there, in my kid's face.  Every other kid's parent (it feels like) is cooler than me.  They fork out the buck and let their kid eat the delicious, warm, crackly-sugared goodness that is the Krispy Kreme doughnut that has been delivered straight from the bakery to the hallowed halls of elementary school education.

I am not cool.  I do not want my kids to eat the deep-fried-in-crap-oil, coated-in-white-sugar confections.  I'm not opposed to the occasional treat, but I'd like to pick when it happens.  And I'd like to make sure it's as healthful a treat as I can manage and it still be considered treat-worthy by my kids.  So, when the doughnut-fundraiser notes came home in the bookbags earlier this month I made a mental note of the date (which I miraculously remembered WITHOUT writing it down; that should speak to how much the doughnut fundraiser pisses me off).  That date was today, a Friday in October.

Sidenote:  We are knee-deep in our very first ever soccer season.  Both girls are playing soccer for the first time ever, on different teams.  Between practices and games, we're committed 3-5 days/nights a week.  We got back from games/practice at 8:30PM last night.

Okay, so we get back home last night and everyone is hungry again, so I feed them snacks and get them all to bed.  After a quick cleanup, it's now 9:30PM.  Time to make the doughnuts.  I've used  this recipe before (with some modifications) and the whole family loved it, so I decided not to tinker with success.  The only change I made was the almond butter; I was out, so I subbed natural peanut butter instead.  The marriage of chocolate and peanut butter is famous for a reason, folks.

Full disclosure:  this is NOT a yeasty, firm-yet-delicate Krispy-Kreme-like doughnut.  It's far more like a cupcake in doughnut form.  Guess what?  My kids are 9, 6 and 2.  If it looks like a doughnut and is sweet, well then folks, you have yourself a doughnut.  HOWEVER.  A "real" doughnut is glazed.  I'm not sure how my 6 year old knows this, because she has never set foot into a doughnut shop, but she does.  Therefore, to make these truly worthy of doughnut-fundraiser-replacement-doughnuts, they required a glaze.  I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk and sucanat that I powdered in my coffee grinder at 4:50AM.  I thought the texture was a little grainy, but the kids LOVED it.
So yes, dear readers, I sent the kids to school each with a dollar and their own dang doughnut.  Doing my part to thwart the creep of Krispy Kreme into the schools.