Fail Cukes For The Win!

Over the summer I planted a little garden (aka “a test plot”) to see if I could grow anything successfully. Although I had mixed results, I’m hooked. It is so fun to go into your garden and pick random delicious tidbits whenever you want. The boys just loved picking carrots and mint and gnawing on them while they hung out in the backyard. Here’s how the veggies (and fruit) grew:

Successes (I got a lot of these veggies and they were delicious):

  • Carrots
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Brussel Sprouts

Failures (None of the below grew and the plants died):

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Spinach

Mixed results:

  • Strawberries – The plants did fine, but didn’t provide any fruit.
  • Cilantro – Some grew, but it didn’t thrive.
  • Broccoli – A couple plants survived so I had enough broccoli to nibble on for a snack.
  • Cucumbers – I planted them late so they only grew a little bit….

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Little cucumber balls! Could they be any cuter? Chefs, take notice. Plant late and you’ll have the cutest little garnishes!

I’m definitely planting again in the spring — and I’m going to expand my garden too! Any suggestions about what I should plant next year?

5 Ways to Reduce Chemicals in Packed Lunches for Grown Ups!

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 One of my husband’s favorite gluten breads

Lunch is such a pain of a meal to plan. I think it’s actually worse to pack my own lunch than Charlie’s. I do my best to make a good one for myself, but I still slip up. I went through a phase that I bought several gluten free microwave meals because it was so hard to find time to make my lunch in addition to the kids’ in the morning. When my tummy wasn’t happy with those meals, I had to revise my time-saving strategy.

Here are my top tips for rehabing your packed lunch:

1) Stop Eating Canned Soup

One of the principals I worked with would have a large can of soup everyday for lunch. He had bright red, flushed cheeks and I couldn’t help but wonder if he really should have been eating the much sodium and BPA every single day. Especially after reading BPA in Cans and Plastic Linked to Quick Rise in Blood Pressure in the New York Times, it made me  think canned soup should definitely not be part of a daily routine.

2) Stick with a Basic Sandwich

I’ve been packing myself a sandwich for lunch now for a couple months. I usually relied on leftovers from dinner, but I have been trying to lose weight and I’ve realized that I eat fewer calories when I pack a sandwich. I eat gluten free so I have gluten free bread, mayo, ham or turkey with a slice of swiss with a handful of spinach. Couple it with an apple and gluten free pretzels and I’m done.

3) Choose the Right Bread

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My husband is not gluten free, but he has learned about the value of eating whole foods. He no longer eats regular bread like the Roman Meal I grew up eating or the Wonder bread he ate. A paragraph of ingredients including chemicals, fillers, and preservatives are not good for people. My husband likes the bread he gets at a store called Garden Fresh. The ingredients are few and the taste is great (according to him of course!).

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4) Don’t Microwave Plastic Containers

Every day I see coworkers shove random plastic containers in the microwave. Some look kinda old and I wonder if plastics are leaching into their food. I use Pyrex containers when I do come to work with leftovers. Here’s what Harvard has to say about microwaving food in plastic.

5) Ditch the Microwave Meals

While my husband does choose a better bread for himself, I cringe that he still buys microwave meals. I know, just a few months ago I was doing it too, but he gets the really lousy cheap meals sometimes I wish he wouldn’t. I don’t belabor the point — I’ve learned to pick my battles, but I think for optimal health we need to avoid eating food made with chemicals in a factory.

What are your tips for better lunches for adults? Thanks for reading!