Lunch Wrap Up #10 – I don’t have mad skillz in the kitchen

Aside from writing on this blog, I rarely share information about food issues with coworkers and certainly not the parents of my students. Real-life friends and family know exactly what I think about everything, but at work I don’t get into people’s faces about this stuff. In public I’m a quiet observer, but in private I’m more feisty, opinionated, and blunt. Blogging gives me an outlet.
People at work have commented that I look good. I really do look better than I did last year. I say, “I am eating more whole foods and cooking from scratch more than I did before.” I think that’s a great way to describe being gluten-free without getting into everything. If they push, I tell them I’ve been gluten-free and dairy-free for a couple months. Most people respond with things like “wheat is my life” or “that sounds hard.”
If a coworker opens the door to a nutritional topic over lunch (food in the news, school food, dieting, etc), I might voice an opinion if I’m feeling bold. They initiate those conversations, not me. Likewise I would never tell the parents of my students how to feed their children or talk about topics I blog about. I don’t remember ever talking to a parent about nutrition or vice versa and as such I don’t tell parents to pack lunch or to stop eating school lunch. I don’t go there ever.
Additionally, I don’t talk about anything related to the blog with my students. Food comes up in discussions every now and then. We touch on healthy eating and we talk about what they eat at home and at school, but I don’t bring in my own opinions. I believe that it’s not appropriate for any teacher to force their own opinions on their students.
Just thought I’d share that little nugget of information with you. Lunches after the jump:

MY SON’S LUNCHES
MONDAY
Bacon omelet, passionfruit yogurt with blackberries, green beans,
mandarin orange, cupcake/muffin, apple butter for dipping pretzels (in bag)
Have I mentioned that my son drinks goat milk? He loves it and tolerates it well (oddly, I can’t drink it). We buy the Vitamin D fortified whole goat milk, which is at our local regular grocery store in quart containers and we send it to daycare. In a side-by-side comparison of whole goat milk and whole cow milk, goat milk is virtually identical to cow milk. Goat milk is about four times as expensive, but I don’t care at all — when he’s drinking goat milk he doesn’t suffer from chronic bathroom troubles. With reference to the lunch above, the daycare folks say he ate well! Apple butter sent in place of the cream cheese the other kids were eating with their pretzels. Daycare menu: cod nuggets and fettucine alfredo (weirdest combo ever), diced pears, diced carrots with yogurt and pretzels with cream cheese as snacks.

TUESDAY
Waffle, bacon, yogurt with blackberries, orange, syrup,
sunflower seeds, crunchy green beans, crackers (in bag), banana
They told me that he didn’t like the orange so I didn’t send any more this week. At least he’s not eating canned fruit and veggies every single day. Daycare menu: chicken patty (mechanically separated chicken, I’m sure) on whole wheat bread, bananas, peas with fruit and yogurt as snacks.

WEDNESDAY
Lamb burger, ketchup, rice pasta with daiya cheese,
avocado, applesauce, cupcake/muffin, bag with sliced apples
I wonder how the pasta I sent turned out…it looked funny to me, but they said that he liked his lunch. I was trying to imitate what the other kids were eating. Daycare menu: ground beef with buttered whole wheat pasta, applesauce, green beans with fruit and blueberry muffins (the little mini-junky ones)as snacks.

THURSDAY

Rice and peas, blueberry yogurt with blueberries, mashed sweet potatoes,
eggs and bacon, sliced apples in bag

Admittedly I packed the rice and peas to fill up the lunch – I didn’t know what else to put in there. He loves mashed potatoes normally and I figured everything else would fill him up. Of course I find out he only ate the eggs and bacon. Daycare menu: scrambled eggs, hash browns (formed round patty), pineapple, diced carrots with yogurt and fruit as snacks.

FRIDAY
Chicken crockpot meal with brown rice cous cous, green pepper,
beans, broccoli, carrots, applesauce, yogurt with blueberries,
crackers in bag to go with cheese (under yogurt container)
I made this crockpot meal and I thought it was great, but I’m biased: I love casseroles. Bland textures are ok with me. Well, even though my son ate it when we served it for dinner the night before, the daycare folks told me that he really didn’t want to eat his lunch. Boo. I just couldn’t do another ground beef equivalent to compare with the other kids’ food. Daycare menu: ground beef with mac and cheese, diced peaches, peas with fruit and cheese and crackers as snacks.
MY LUNCHES
MONDAY
I did something very exciting and I had a terrific lunch.
I’ll be blogging about it next week (with pictures)!
TUESDAY
Chicken sausage, cupcake/muffin, mini-spinach salad, blueberries, orange

The cupcake/muffin was my grain!
WEDNESDAY
Avocado, blueberries, peanut butter sandwich
(stacked so you can’t see the other half),
broccoli soup with microwaveable container below it.

Looking at this picture I think, “That’s a minuscule lunch!” It was actually just fine and quite comforting (I love soup).

THURSDAY
Tuna noodle casserole, blueberries, orange, bar
I used to love tuna noodle casserole and now I’ve tried to make two different gluten-free, dairy-free equivalents and I have failed. But it was edible and it satisfied my longing for one of my favorite casseroles, but my husband and our son were not crazy about it.
FRIDAY
Chicken crockpot meal, bag with crackers, blueberries and an orange
I’m not a talented cook. I’m getting by. This was a “getting by” crockpot meal. It took me under 15 minutes to throw it together. Reading Make it Fast, Cook it Slow really inspired me; however, I now think I can throw anything into a crockpot and have it turn out. Whoa, there girl. I’m not that skilled.
I started with a package of frozen chicken breasts, dumped in a can of Amy’s gluten-free baked beans (one of my favorite foods of all time)…I know what you are thinking…then I chopped up celery and carrots, threw in one chopped up green pepper, more than half a container of chicken broth, and a large head of broccoli, chopped. Then I left and it cooked for roughly 8 hours. When I came home, I noticed that most of the broth had not disappeared and while I was chatting on the phone with my dad, I dumped in half a box of brown rice cous cous and switched it on to “high” for 30 minutes. After thirty minutes, the broth had been absorbed by the cous cous.
I thought it tasted good. My husband didn’t think it was bad and like I said already, my son ate some when I served it for dinner. I’m a casserole person and I don’t like spicy food, but my husband really dislikes uniform textures. He loves throwing nuts on various meals for “crunch” and of course he loves spicy food. So this meal was not as satisfying for him as it was for me. But he dutifully ate it. What a trooper!
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18 Responses to Lunch Wrap Up #10 – I don’t have mad skillz in the kitchen

  1. Lauren March 13, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    Every time I see your pictures of passionfruit yogurt, I die in envy. I HAVE to find some of that somewhere. It sounds delicious! Gosh darn small towns and their limited groceries…

  2. Julia's Child March 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    That was smart to toss in the couscous, because most slow cooker recipes produce MORE liquid as they cook. (Whatever fat is in the meat or chicken renders into liquid, and the lid prevents it from escaping.)

    Here's an idea to help your husband enjoy slow cooker food. Make him some wheatberries. These are raw, unprocessed wheat kernels. You can boil some on the weekend for 90 minutes or so, drain, and store in the fridge until the next night. They are toothy and hold on to their texture. Serve them alongside the slow cooker dish (which by definition has a soft, wet texture that I too enjoy) for contrast.

    Hang in there! It sounds like you're doing great.

  3. Mrs. Q March 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Yum! Great idea! Regarding the passionfruit yogurt, it may warrant a special trip to the big city! 🙂

  4. jenna March 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    OK, I'm going to play devil's advocate. as a parent, I appreciate that you as a teacher try to keep your opinions out of the classroom. but if you were my child's teacher I would WANT you to find windows of opportunities to tie real food into your lessons, whether that be through reading, writing, math or science.

    do you think that "a nourished brain is a learning brain" is an opinion or a fact? do you think that the link between nutrients and health including brain function is an opinion or a fact?

    you may be missing a window of opportunity to educate your kids on the benefits of real food. i'm not suggesting you advise your students that gluten free is the way to go. i do suspect some of your "opinions" are actually "facts" that could benefit your students.

    what if you were to have your kids journal about what they think "healthy" food is. then view their responses and correct misconceptions. use it as an opportunity to illustrate that a low-fat yogurt with food dyes and "strawberry flavor" is not real food.

    you can encourage kids to think about the food they eat without telling them the answer you think is right. tell them the answer science thinks is right (just avoid the whole low-fate, stuff yourself with grains bit). USDA says fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

    i think your principal would support you if you did have parents that complained about the healthy food talk. just say that schools feed kids so they need to get it right, and nourished kids perform better in the classroom. do some research and be prepared to back up your claims if you do have parent complaints (which I don't suspect you will…)

    instead of "don't drink chocolate milk" teach that sugar makes it hard for the brain to learn. give kids the thinking skills they need. empower them to make better food choices.

  5. Krisfromparis! March 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    i always admire your son's meals…I am gluten-free too…and they look so appetizing!! he's a lucky boy 😀

  6. Squirrel Leigh March 13, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    Out of curiosity, if your son drinks goat milk why not just give him goat cheese on his pasta? It melts nicely, tastes incredible, and makes great mac and cheese!

  7. Donna March 13, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    Do you send frozen peas/green beans in your son's lunch? They always look frozen in the pictures.

  8. Kathleen March 14, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    Mrs. Q, every morning when I pack my lunch for work I think of your blog. I'm really striving to eat healthy, balanced lunches and even though I don't know you personally I think of you as my ally in the lunch war, LOL. Thanks for the inspiration, keep up the good work!

  9. Mrs. Q March 14, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    @Squirrel Leigh — I need to try that! Great idea!

    @Donna — Yes, sometimes I dump in some frozen peas or broccoli. The bag sits a little while before it gets put into the fridge and I know they heat it up. Even if they don't, my son likes to eat frozen veggies, sometimes running to the freezer and asking to suck on a frozen carrot or piece of corn. I figure it's a weird, but healthy treat!

    @Kathleen — Thank you! I do the best I can. I probably should be packing more for myself!!

  10. Mrs. Q March 14, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    @Krisfromparis — Thanks!! 🙂

    @Jenna — I feel like I'm walking a fine line. I want to make sure the advice I give to kids is in line with what the standard recommendations are and not just what I believe, which are definitely different! Thanks for the support!!

  11. Squirrel Leigh March 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Oddly, loved to do the frozen veggie thing when I was a kid too. Frozen bananas were another big treat, especially since frozen they're just like eating ice cream.

    Come to think of it, they make goat butter too (but it's super expensive because of how much harder it is to separate out the cream from the milk with a goat).

  12. SL March 14, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    I have a super easy crockpot meal that sounds a little like the one you put together that you might like. I take two-three chicken breasts, put them in the crock with a box of Trader Joe's butternut squash soup, a jar of curry simmer sauce and a bag of lentils. Cook on low for 8 hours. The lentils absorb a lot of the liquid and it's very casserole like, and tasty!

  13. Anonymous March 14, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    Haha, Squirrel Leigh, somehow your line "how much harder it is to separate out the cream from the milk with a goat" made me get this bizarre/amusing image of a goat being shaken vigorously to make goat butter. Eh… it's been a long day for me…

    Mrs Q, I'm proud of you! A year ago you were a self-professed non-experimenter in the kitchen. You got a recipe and you stuck to it like glue. Now you're learning to throw a pinch of this and a dash of that into a pot to see what happens! Next thing to tinker with are herbs and spices. I find soup (especially something like chicken soup which is like a blank canvas) is a great way to test out new herbs. You can give soup a mexican twist with a minced jalepeno and a dash of cumin (crumbled corn tortillas can also thicken soup nicely), you can give it an italian twist with some minced rosemary topped with fresh basil, or some chopped apples and curry powder to take it slightly Indian… you can travel all around the world just by opening your spice cabinet, and it's a great way to learn about what kinds of herbs/spices work well together. Sure it's trial and error, but it sure is fun!

    Also, if your husband likes things spicy, he can always add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to the top of his food. I like to spice up a lot of things that way myself. (Water chestnuts are another great thing to stir into dishes because they retain their crunch without really changing the flavor of anything)

  14. The Yummy Mummy March 15, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    I LOVE that you don't indoctrinate your students with something you believe. Somehow a four year old who can spout the atrocities of high fructose corn syrup makes me wince.

    But I think you should definitely share what you do and make it about your choices. That way they can see what you've done, and make their own decisions, without feeling judged, or preached to, or guided, or "brainwashed".

    If they think you are cool (and I'm sure they do) they might think what you are eating is cool. Even if all that happens is one kid starts trying new food, that is a big win.

    We lead by example. Good for you…

    Kim

  15. Christiane March 15, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Doesn't couscous have gluten? Or have you found a gluten free brand that you enjoy and would be willing to share?

  16. Shylo March 17, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    Have you considered hemp milk? It's chock full of Omegas and is gluten-free. About $3 for a shelf-stable box. My son is a vegan and loves it.

  17. Kate April 2, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    Maybe I haven't caught up on enough blogs, but I'm wondering why couscous is in your diet if you're doing gluten free? Last I checked, couscous was made from a gluten-y grain…being GF myself, I only choose quinoa as my grain b/c of it's full profile of amino acids and larger amt of protein as compared to other grains like brown rice. Just wondering!! Thanks! -Kate

  18. Mrs. Q April 2, 2011 at 4:05 am #

    Hi Kate! It's brown rice couscous. I got it on sale at Whole Foods!

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