Guest blog: School lunches from @100daysofrealfood

I met Lisa Leake at BlogHer Food and I was intrigued by her blog 100 Days of Real Food. She expressed interest in writing a guest blog post and I thought it would be a great fit. Read on…

At the beginning of last year our eating habits were just like those of any other average family. We thought we were making fairly healthy food choices, although we certainly didn’t mind the occasional fast food meal or bag of chips. Then came a series of events including an Oprah show, a book by Michael Pollan, and the documentary Food Inc., which forever changed the way we looked at food. As it turned out, a lot of what we thought were “healthy” food choices were actually highly processed and not the best choices at all. So not only were we motivated to completely revamp our diets, but we decided to inspire others to do the same by starting a blog about our experience called “100 Days of Real Food,” which is also now a nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column.

When we were first transitioning from “normal food” to “real food” I lost sleep over what I would feed my family if I could no longer rely on Goldfish, white bread, flavored yogurt, and fruit snacks. But after a year of avoiding all highly processed foods this new way of life has finally become our new normal. And while we initially cut out processed food because we thought it was the right thing to do we couldn’t help but be convinced after watching this transition “cure” our daughter’s asthma and constipation among many other unexpected and positive changes to our health.

Since the topic of Mrs. Q’s blog is school lunch I want to share some of the “real food” lunches I’ve been packing for my kindergartner this year. We are in the public school system and, like Mrs. Q, have been appalled at some of the things the “buyers” are eating. At the same time though, it is by no means easy or convenient to come up with portable, nutritious, and creative lunches every night that also abide by our school’s “nut-free” policy. But, since the health of our daughter is of course a top priority I do my best with the task at hand. Since the school year is coming to a close these lunch examples could also be considered for the office, picnics, or long summer days at the pool. If you have any additional “real food” lunch suggestions please share them in the comments below!

Frozen smoothie pop, dried fruit trail mix, homemade whole-wheat easy cheese crackers, strawberries, and apples

Hummus sandwich on whole-wheat bread, oranges, and bell peppers with tzatziki dipping sauce

• Homemade whole-wheat pizza lunchables with cantaloupe

• Homemade whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread and cream cheese sandwich, applesauce, local carrots and hummus

Hummus and cheese on homemade whole-wheat tortilla, strip of local bacon, strawberries and mango, and Kettle brand “baked” potato chips (made from real potatoes)

Frozen smoothie pop, grapes, whole-grain brown rice crackers, and egg salad

• Sunflower butter and peach jelly (all fruit spread) on whole-wheat bread, whole-grain brown rice cake, mango, and plain yogurt mixed with frozen berries and a little honey

• Leftover cold whole-wheat pasta topped with a little olive oil and grated parmesan cheese, fruit mix, and carrots
Bio: Lisa Leake is a wife, mother, foodie, newspaper columnist, and blogger who just over a year ago radically changed her family’s diet by cutting out all processed food and refined ingredients. With growing attention from both readers and the media she chronicles her family’s journey on as they seek out the real food in our processed food world. Lisa and her family reside in Charlotte, NC.

Obesity Action Coalition

I subscribe to Former Fat Dudes! whose blog post from this weekend mentioned the Obesity Action Coalition. Considering the dust up that happened on the blog last week and my interest in obesity in general, I decided to become a member. Since I’ve chatted with Rob on Twitter and read his blog, I value his opinion about the Obesity Action Coalition.

If you are interested in joining, the Obesity Action Coalition is offering membership discounted by 50% through Friday, June 17th (It’s not entirely clear on the front page of the website, but individual memberships can be purchased for $10 instead of the regular $20. It’s straightforward once you click “Join”). You can find out more information on Rob’s blog.

Lunch Wrap Up: Week of May 30th

This week First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move! Child Care (covered in the Washington Post). I’m excited about the focus on early nutrition in a place where many kids spend most of their day, including my son. The First Lady and I are doing the two-step — I started in eating school lunch every day in January 2010, which was later that same month that she announced the Let’s Move! campaign. Then, I finally got around to doing something about the food at my son’s day care center and here she is advocating similar changes to day cares across the country. How cool!
You’ll see menu changes from the day care if you follow what they provide. I’m going to have to work a little harder as the month goes on…
Lunches after the jump…

My son’s lunches
Monday — Memorial Day
No packed lunch!
Potatoes, carrots, lentils with cilantro; kiwis and oranges;
wraps with salami, spinach, goat cheese; coconut milk yogurt with strawberries

My kid likes these little wraps. They look cute, but are hard for him to pick up and when they start to fall apart before he can bite them, he starts freaking out. He wasn’t crazy about the lentils when my husband served them (the night before), but I threw them in anyway. Day care menu: ground beef, mashed potatoes, orange wedges, diced carrots with fruit and yogurt as snacks.

Brown rice curry cous cous with sliced olives, broccoli;
sliced apples and oranges;
two eggs; chocolate, ginger, cranberry muffin; bar

Definitely a fav meal of his! Day care menu: scrambled eggs, mozzarella slice, pinto beans, watermelon with mandarin oranges and blueberry muffin as snacks.
Mac and chreese with salami and peas; chocolate yogurt;
sliced apples; crackers

I took a risk giving him a lot of one thing, but I think it went alright. However, he told me he picked out all the peas! Gah! I thought I had him trained! (that’s a joke by the way) Day care menu: battered cod, pasta with alfredo sauce, peas, diced peaches with shredded cheddar and strawberry frozen yogurt as snacks.

Sliced lamb and sliced roasted portobella mushroom;
nooodles with boiled red/blue cabbage;
pancake with syrup; yogurt; sliced apples
He requested pancakes so I put one from the fridge in there. I’m sort of flying blind as I really don’t know what he is eating at day care and what is getting thrown out. I think they rinse everything before sending it home so that his laptop lunch bag doesn’t stink up the room when it’s placed in his cubby after lunch. The purple noOodles started out white, but when I mixed them with boiled cabbage (and sweet red chili sauce), they changed colors! So fun for him! They tasted so good, but there was only enough for his lunch and not mine. I was disappointed! Day care menu: cheese ravioli, wheat bread, green beans, pineapple with banana pudding and hummus with crackers as snacks.
My lunches
Wrap with salami, spinach, goat cheese; strawberries and kiwis;
lentils and cilantro; bar

I can eat limited goat cheese now. This stuff tasted so amazing to me and that surprised me as I really have never been much of a goat cheese kinda person. I think I’m just desperate. My husband made the lentils from a recipe in an Indian cookbook. I think I mentioned before that he went to the library and checked out books on Indian cooking months ago. Then he photocopied the recipes he liked and put them plastic protectors in a binder. This guy is serious!

Broccoli; eggs; brown rice curry cous cous with olives;
oranges; bar; apple
One of my favorite lunches!

Mac and chreese with salami and peas; chocolate yogurt with strawberries;
salad with dressing; bar; apple

Delicious. I craved more!

Pasta repeat; salad;
lamb with roasted portobella mushrooms; yogurt with apple slices

The lamb was terrific, but the roasted portobellas??! They blew my mind. I never did that before, but I will be doing it again. I just googled “roasted portobellas” and found this recipe. I knew that my vegetarian friends liked portobella mushrooms prepared that way so I thought I’d try it. Gimme more!
Have a terrific weekend!

Dysfunctional relationship with food?

Did you know that 1 in 5 people in the United States suffer from a dysfunctional relationship with food? In fact, you might have a dysfunctional relationship with food right this very second! Read on…

  • Have you ever eaten a whole tub of frosting in one sitting?
  • Do you like ranch dressing on pizza?
  • Have you ever fantasized about the hot dogs at Home Depot?
  • Have you ever driven to a convenience store and purchased five packages of Grandma’s peanut butter cookies?
  • Do you drink milkshakes even though you are lactose-intolerant? 
  • Was your favorite school lunch the PB&J “sandwich”?

If you answered “yes” to one of these prominent symptoms, you may be suffering from a dysfunctional relationship with food and need guidance from a certified* food therapist. At Feed Me Right, Inc., certified* food therapists are on the phone 24 hours a day ready to assist you overcome any food obstacles you might have. Just read a testimonial from a satisfied customer, Mrs Q:

“In 2009 I used to stop at a gas station before getting my son from day care and buy a gas station brownie for 45 cents. They were wrapped in plastic and tasted bad, but I needed my sugar. It was not a pleasurable eating experience; I was just filling a need. I was not a picky eater and would eat anything once. I even ate a year of school lunch and developed a temporary taste for school pizza and fruit cups. I’ve always loved food, but since I completed the telephone treatment from Feed Me Right, I no longer have to fight any processed food demons… In fact, eating school lunch for a year changed my life…blah, blah, blah, gluten free…”**

Join Mrs. Q and tens of happy customers who have stopped abusing food and their bodies through our proven “Learn-how-to-cook-and-not-eat-in-your-car” (TM) method. For a meagre $89.99, we will get you back on track in no time!

Call 888-FEEDMENOW for your first and only free consultation.
Please read the fine print below.

* Certified by the Food Association of Therapists (FAT)
** Results not typical

Disclaimer: Actual customers not available. Price subject to change. Feed Me Right is not responsible for relapses back into dysfunctionality. Mrs. Q does not endorse this product and/or service, expressly or implied. Mrs. Q really did eat gas station brownies, but that was in a former life. I have since mended my ways. AMEN!

Teachers eating the students’ breakfasts

My official blog consultant is my sister. She read the post I wrote earlier in the week and told me she cringed. Then she said, “You can’t say things like that. It’s not PC.”

I have removed the post. I’m sorry if some of you were offended by what I said in Tuesday’s post about the overweight coworker eating a school-provided breakfast every day.  At the risk of digging myself deeper into the hole…

Lots of teachers grab the occasional breakfast. At first, I didn’t even think about it. Many people were curious about the new program and the food. Why not try it with your class?

But now I’ve seen that one coworker eat more than 40 school-sponsored breakfasts…. not having paid a cent for them. Yeah, I admit it: I’m judging the person. That could be because I know a little more than the average teacher about school meal funding and how desperately the school district needs money for school food.

So maybe I am a little resentful of the coworker who thinks that’s ok to eat the kid’s breakfast and maybe that’s why I brought up that person’s weight. There is no way I would feel comfortable accepting free food from a school every single day. I do not live in poverty like some of my students. And the teachers at my school, including me, earn a good wage and can afford to supply their own meals.

Food for thought:

  • I have never seen a teacher or administrator pay for the breakfast (I paid for every single school lunch I ate).
  • Teachers and administrators don’t always make sure that all the kids have been served first (Adults cut in line).
  • Last time I checked the intent of the universal breakfast program was to feed less fortunate kids so that they can improve their focus and academic performance in school.
  • I can’t speak to how many breakfasts are tossed untouched so maybe there is an abundance of leftovers and waste.

I’m not perfect, but I stand by what I said. I’m done talking about this. If you are still angry at me, I invite you to find another blog to read. There are plenty blogs out there that are politically correct every day with authors who never make missteps.

Breakfast in the classroom: example eight

Frosted Chocolate Mini-Wheats, juice, string cheese, milk
Chocolate mini-wheats for breakfast? Really?
Parents need to know this kinda thing. That’s why I started the school lunch project last year: I wanted an anonymous public record of the school lunches in my school. Through this blog I was able to give people a view of school lunch only I was privy to. By eating the lunches myself, well, that took it to a new level gastronomically speaking.
Many parents wouldn’t care if their kids got chocolate frosted cereal in the morning. All I’m saying is that they should know. The menu gets sent home, but I don’t think most parents give it more than a passing glance.
Guess who else is eating school breakfast in the morning? Lots of teachers. In fact, lunch ladies offer me breakfast all the time. I politely decline, but they can be pushy! Many of my friends take the cold breakfast (cereals like Crispix and Cheerios). Other teachers take the hot breakfasts. I can’t help but wonder if many teachers end up eating two breakfasts, one at home and one at school. I have seen one administrator in particular grabbing a hot breakfast every day. The person is really overweight and I can’t help but wonder silently if they need those extra calories. I know it’s bad to think that, but I can’t help it. [Edited to add: The intent of the program is to feed hungry children so that they can perform better in school. Hunger complaints have decreased. The program is not there to feed adults breakfast who forgot to eat one at home.]
Honestly, if I hadn’t discovered my food allergies since quitting eating school lunch, I might be more interested in eating the occasional bowl of cereal. At home I have to grab food to go (peanut butter slathered on something) and eating at school would be convenient. However, I also have to question the milk. It’s not labeled as rBGH free and that is a concern. According to the Organic Consumers Association, rBGH is genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone injected into lactating cows so that they produce more milk. I’d rather avoid that if possible.

Inspiration Monday

When I’m online, I’m searching for something. Most of the time, it’s a search for inspiration.

So I’m changing up Monday’s content. I plan on sharing my favorite food news items or quotes I enjoy, but only ones that make me feel ok about humanity. I’ll save any negative news worth blogging about for other days.


I’ve been busy with stuff at home. We had a guest on Friday night so I missed Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (episode three). I’m going to have to find time to watch it on hulu, but I enjoyed The Lunch Tray’s recap. My little family was on the move this weekend so I didn’t spend much time in front of the screen. Now that the sun is here, I’m obliged to be outside soaking up rays. I need to make Vitamin D. Here’s hoping that I’m not deficient anymore…

In lieu of a blog post, I thought I’d share one of my favorite quotes:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ” – Nelson Mandela

And I am reminded what I’m doing here in the first place.

Giveaway winner!

I’m excited to report I picked a winner from last week’s giveaway. Sixty-four people commented (wow!) and picked:

Number #26!

Melissa V wrote:

My favorite food memory would have to with my Great Grandmother. Every time we would go visit my Sister and I would run to the kitchen and start making oatmeal raisin cookies. It got to the point where we didn’t even need the recipe anymore and knew where all the ingredients could be found in the house. I still remember the smell of her aprons and kitchen towels as well as the cow cookie jar that held all those yummy treats.

I’ll email you shortly, Melissa. I can’t tell you how this comment and all of your comments lifted my spirits last week. The memories you shared were beautiful. Thank you so much!

For the sixty-three people who didn’t win, don’t worry. There will be more giveaways this summer!