Lunch Wrap Up #11 – just breathe

It’s been a really long week. It has nothing to do with the blog. Work has been quite stressful. ISAT happened.

I don’t administer the ISAT to my students, but it affects the whole school. The school sort of shuts down.

A few weeks ago, before the test, I ran into a couple students and asked them how they felt about the exam. It’s weird to me that people don’t ask kids how they feel about testing. Feelings drive behavior, no? Anyway, one girl was was completely not fazed. She told me, “I’m not nervous.” Well, I know this student and I know that she is really not bothered by exams. Just so you know, this is not typical for most kids.

The other student (let’s call her Rachel — not her real name) admitted that she was nervous. I asked why. Her response, “I want to go to college. I want to have a happy life.”

Did your breath just catch like mine did? Rachel is in fourth grade. She equates doing well on this test with future happiness…ugh.

I know it wasn’t my place, but I broke it down for her. Looking her straight in the face I said, “Rachel sweetie, you are going to do great on that test. You are very smart. But even if you do terribly, you are going to have a happy life. You are going to go to college.”

You are going to be fine Rachel. Actually we all survived the ISATs.

Just breathe.

Heard the song on the radio this morning, matter o’fact: (Anna Nalick):

Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to

But you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable,
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button now
Sing it if you understand.
and breathe, just breathe…

The song came on just as I was starting my lengthy commute to work…wow, did I need that!

Lunches below the jump… Just click:

Turkey wraps on spinach leaves, sweet potato soup, strawberries,
coconut milk with blueberries, bar

So my mom came from out of town bearing a package of teff flour wraps, which I cannot find anywhere locally. They made great little sandwiches. This was my son’s ideal lunch. He ate everything! Daycare menu: cheese ravioli, bread, diced pears, green beans with fruit and yogurt as snacks.

Repeat lunch

I asked him what he wanted to eat for lunch and he said sandwiches! Also one of you mentioned using goat cheese instead of daiya. My husband has fed our little one goat cheese at home for a month or so, but I take it easy with introduction of stuff so that I can watch for tummy upsets. Well, I think goat cheese is definitely in. I added it to the sandwich wraps. Again he ate everything! Daycare menu: ground beef, rice, bananas, diced carrots, with fruit and blueberry muffins as snacks.

Goat cheese cracker sandwiches, tomato soup,
passionfruit/mango yogurt with berries, apple slices, bar

Another hit lunch! It looks meager to me though. Daycare menu: American cheese sandwich, tomato soup, mandarin oranges, peas, with yogurt and wheat bread with soynut butter as snacks.

Bacon, apricot rice and peas,  passion fruit/mango yogurt,
applesauce, black cherry jello, bar

It was St. Patrick’s day and my kid wore orange to school, but at least there was *some* green in the lunch — in the form of partially frozen peas. The lunch thaws between home and daycare. They also microwave too. I sent along the jello because the other kids were making “green milkshakes” and the front desk was handing out huge green cookies — he needed a treat too. Daycare menu: diced ham, mashed potatoes, applesauce, green beans with fruit and American cheese with crackers

Mac and chreese, kale chips, egg, apple slices,
sunflower seeds, bar

The kale chips are crazy addictive. This time I followed the recipe from Michelle Stern’s new cookbook: The Whole Family Cookbook. I can’t stop shoving them into my mouth. Now they are gone, but I have enough kale in the fridge to make a bunch more this weekend. Don’t be greedy like I was and put too many on a baking sheet. They need their space to get crisp. If they are stacked, they don’t crisp up. My kid loved this lunch and asked for pasta for dinner. We ended up eating buffalo burgers tonight though. Daycare menu: ground beef with pasta in a cheese sauce, bread, diced pears, diced carrots with fruit and ice cream as snacks.

Leftover crockpot meal: brown rice cous cous, beans, carrots, etc,
coconut yogurt with strawberries, turkey sandwich wrap
I ate up the last of the previous week’s leftovers. I really enjoyed that meal — the cous cous is brown rice cous cous (not wheat cous cous). I bought it on sale at Whole Foods. The yogurt with strawberries was amazing! It was like ice cream with strawberries.
Sweet potato soup, yogurt and strawberries, turkey wrap
Another great lunch. I like spooning yogurt out of the container when I can. Does anyone else struggle to eat a whole container of yogurt without something to break up the texture?
Crockpot meal: Apricot chicken with rice, baked potato, apple, bar
Starch overload — I know. My husband bought a convection oven on sale at Menards. One of his goals is to shorten the amount of time it takes to bake potatoes. He’s a funny guy. We had one left in the fridge and I figured if the UDSA can count potatoes as a veggie in a school lunch (instead of a starch), than darn it so would I!
The apricot chicken was really, really good. I used Stephanie O’Dea’s recipe as inspiration. All I did was put in a cup of rice, 2.5 cups of chicken broth/water mix, a frozen package of chicken thighs and a full jar of apricot preserves and then let it cook for 8 hours. My husband and son loved it. We had two nights in a row, which was nice.
Peanut butter sandwich, yogurt, orange, apple,
tomato soup, argo tea
I’m nuts for the Argo Tea. It’s caffeine free. My favorite flavor is Mojitea. At Whole Foods they had a little table and were giving out samples. So my son and I tried some and just loved it. The employee also commented that the bottles are perfect for reusing to hold homemade salad dressings. I have saved every single bottle in anticipation of the day I make my own salad dressing!
Mac and “chreese,” kale chips, egg, bar
Delicious lunch, but I was really hungry after work. In fact, I still am. Off to find a snack!
By the way, anyone notice that food prices have increased? Even taking into consideration the cost of some of the packaged gluten free products, we’re paying more than ever before.
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26 thoughts on “Lunch Wrap Up #11 – just breathe

  1. What you said about the student and the test affecting her life made me think of the documentary "Race To Nowhere." Have you seen it? You must see it. It's about schools, the immense pressure on students, teachers, etc. The movie Oprah should have been promoting. Check out the website. Google "Race To Nowhere."

  2. food prices are going up because gas is going up, they have to find a way to pay for the cost of transporting the goods somewhere. i work in a food establishment and they are adding a "gas" tax onto every dilivery until the price of gas drops below "blah" price.

  3. I swear, I preach kale chips like some people preach religion! I am thrilled you liked them – thank you so much for sharing the link to my new book! xoxox

  4. I never took the SATs and I am now in my BA program at the University of Hawai‘i with a straight 4.0 during my associate's degree and straight A's now.. SAT scores are important if you plan on going to a non-state university, or if you are going to go straight into a university. I strongly recommend students take their core classes at a community college while they discover more about themselves than they ever could have in the public school setting. (It also saves a ton of money, which is smart!)

  5. I absolutely agree with you on the need to break up texture in yogurt. In fact, I buy the same brand of yogurt, being casein intolerant, and find that strawberries work wonderfully. And I second Anon's comment; since food has become so globalized, gas prices have some serious sway in the cost of food – especially produce!

    As one man has said on the subject (forget his name, sadly): "America exports sugar cookies to Denmark, but Denmark exports sugar cookies to America. You think they'd just swap recipes."

  6. It has only been a few years since I last took a standardized test- all told, from K-12 I figured out once that I probably took around 100 separate sittings of a standardized test, including second grade, when we had to be "retested" because the scores from our class were "too high" and we "must have been" cheating. Only to retest and score exactly the same way.

    The bread in your PB&J… did you make that yourself? GF bread is too insanely expensive to buy regularly here.

  7. Can you believe how different your lunches are compared to what you used to eat???

  8. Your lunches sure are looking yummier these days. 🙂

    I'm getting ready to take the GRE. I thought my standardized-testing days were over.

  9. Someone needs to tell those kids–or rather their parents–about all the young college graduates who are currently unemployed, temping, or working dead-end minimum wage jobs. College is no longer the key to a successful life; in fact, it can be a detriment to it in the form of wasted years and senseless debt if people attend solely for a degree rather than a passion for a specific field of study.

  10. I'm just wondering.. Have you gone gluten free b/c you are celiac or for health reasons? Just curious..

  11. I love that you mentioned the Anna Nalick song. I LOVE that song.

    Mmmmmmm kale chips. I tried them for the first time this week. The first batch was a dud (I didn't bake them long enough), but I'm glad I gave them a second chance because they were DIVINE. I used cayenne pepper on them the second time. They reminded me of bacon…which is never a bad thing. ^_^

  12. too much self worth is tied up in tests.
    some of us don't test well (me) Some do.

    DD just took the ACT on Tuesday for the 2nd time. This time the whole Jr. class had to take it during school. She would much rather take the SAT. For the record she does well on both of these tests.
    She tests well. Lucky child.

  13. Sooo true, all the comments about the sickening level of pressure on kids to go to college. My generation is among the first with "wasted degree" syndrome. Far too many kids wafted about college, got degrees in underwater basket weaving, can't find jobs, and are now working part time wherever they can get it. And that was with all of the peptic-ulcer inducing parenting telling children that if they DIDN'T go to college, they'd end up with dead-end part time jobs. Ah the irony.

    Also, Amanda is SOOOOO correct! I truly don't understand why EVERYONE does not start out doing their General Ed in community colleges. I don't care if I win the lottery and end up with more money than I know what to do with, my kids will still be starting out in CC. So many kids end up crapping out after a year of college anyway. At least they can figure out college is "not for them" while spending radically less money, and they'll help out local schools.
    I've seen too many families go bankrupt while their kids were "finding themselves" during a year at a prestigious university.

    Re: Yogurt–
    Yes yes yes. Yogurt (and bananas, and oatmeal) are foods whose textures will make me gag if I think about it too much. I enjoy all of those foods, but the second I dwell on the mushy sliminess, I feel the urge to hurl. I like to shake up my yogurt by mixing in something crunchy, like a handful of granola or some cereal… come to think of it, I bet a handful of nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc) would be delicious too… note to self.

    Also, I learned that many lactose intolerants CAN eat yogurt (something about the active bacteria cultures makes it easier for us to digest), and fortunately, this does indeed include myself. So now when I eat cereal, I just top it with yogurt instead of milk (I have found–as weird as it sounds–that orange juice on cereal is also shockingly delicious. I encourage you to try it Mrs. Q!)

    Also this summer when the weather heats up and you can't indulge in ice cream, give homemade popsicles (you can usually score popsicle trays at dollar stores as summer approaches–experiment with fruit juices/purees and even yogurt–I once experimented by layering several flavors of fruit yogurt into a popsicle tray and was pleasantly surprised by the result!)
    Also, give granita a try (here's a very comprehensive page that contains several recipes to help you get the idea:
    Both are sooo much better for you than traditional ice cream, and really, it's a cold treat you want when it's hot out, so you don't even miss the frozen milk when you know how to make your own creations.

  14. I can only take so much yogurt too without something in it. I like strawberries or some other berries or granola. But my jaw gets tired trying to chew the granola. For some reason I can tolerate the texture of the yoplait thick 'n creamy. However, the word "artificial" came up as a vocabulary word for one of my students. We looked at my yogurt that I had for lunch and it turned out to be a perfect example of artificial ingredients. I think I'm going to have to find a different yogurt.

  15. Eek…wearing orange on St. Patty's Day can be pretty dangerous depending on location. Orange is associated with the English oppressing Ireland, and represents the Irish Protestants. Someone recently in Boston tried to commit suicide by wearing all orange during the St. Patty's Day parade. Might not be so bad in your neck of the woods.

  16. I just have to tell you how much I LOVE checking in every Saturday to see what you guys had for lunch all week! I have four kids and although we are not GF, you are inspiring to pack them healthier lunches….and not as boring as before! Thanks!

  17. My high school was consistently watched by state testers because we always scored "too high". Apparently a 90% pass rate for the IB/AP magnet school means we all must be cheaters. Haha. To me, state testing was a joke growing up. Now, I'm studying to be a special ed teacher and I'm learning about states testing their kindergarteners! They have to bubble test sheets and everything. It's ridiculous.
    I come from a family with a wide range of food allergies so I'm used to dairy free everything, but I'm "blessed" with an MSG and soy allergy that gives me migraines. Are any of the organic things you buy MSG/soy free as well? I have trouble finding things like that where I go to school (aka podunk arkansas).

  18. Thank you for being courageous enough to shed some light on what we are feeding our kids. A true testament to the effect a powerful idea can have.

  19. I'm with the earlier anonymous in that I look forward to reading your lunch wrap-ups every week! I am gluten free and trying to eat healthy as well, and I am inspired by the lunches you pack for both you and your son.

  20. @fitnessjunkie — thank you!

    @anonymous re: msg/soy free — yes, everything is MSG and soy free.

    @anonymous — thanks for stopping by and checking out what I'm feeding my kid! I can't imagine packing for 4! 🙂

    @anonymous re: orange on St Patty's Day — I had no idea about that history. It was just that I forgot!

    Re: testing — we are testing too much. It's over the top.

    Re: being gluten-free — it's because of my sensitive tummy. I have been tested and I don't have Celiac, but I have figured out (thanks to the project) that a person can be sensitive to gluten without having Celiac disease. It makes me feel better not to eat gluten.

    Re: college not being right for all — I agree. Schools are set up to point all kids to college, but that's not an option for all kids.

  21. Yes! While I think it's great that schools point kids in the right direction to go to college if they so desire, this new "you must go to college or you FAIL LIFE" message is absolutely ridiculous. Many people found other forms of secondary education (or none at all!) and still have successful, meaningful lives. To tell kids that life is over at 18 because they're not going to college (ore worse–a specific college) is nothing short of sick, in my opinion.

    I work with children all day every day, and I'm finding that I regularly have to diffuse this college bomb. I'm seeing too many kids just FREAKING OUT thinking their lives are OVER if they don't get into Harvard. I wish I could scoop them all into hugs and just say "ssshhh. It'll be ok." 🙁

  22. I teach high school English, and the exam we administer our students at the end of their junior year is a "gateway" test: as in, a "you're not getting outta here with a diploma until you've successfully reconnoitered your way around/through ME" type dealio. They come to us FREAKED OUT by testing and what it has "meant" to their (presumed) personas, their record of ability and worth and value, both present and future. My department took a stand years ago now that we were gonna tell 'em ALL the truth: that they have been "prepping" for the exam in a very organic, human way since they were in utero; that they are capable by and large of taking and passing it even as freshmen; that the work we do in English class always and ever is about making them strong and resilient thinkers and communicants in the language most of them dream in; that if they dream in some other language, their skills as manipulators of text in BOTH their native and acquired languages will strengthen through our process. Then we make them read (a lot) and write (a lot). And they do well come June of their junior year. We high school teachers look like freakin' MIRACLE WORKERS, but we're not. And we tell the principal we're not, and we tell the Board we're not, and we tell parents we're not: we want them to give credit where credit is due. Our kids are–by and large–able learners who will do well even when (especially when) we don't spend our precious time with them in test prep. Confidence goes a long, long way toward accomplishment. My greatest wish is that some huge group of somebodies would JUST. FREAKIN'. GET. THIS. Teachers need to be given license to calm down; kids need to be told that they are able; tests need to be gotten through with some measure of aplomb until such time as we can eradicate the most heinous of them, and we all need to get back to the business of exposing kids to lots and lots of rich and provocative material that will encourage their very best thoughtfullness. None of us can lose when that is the target AND the arrow.

  23. And about the college thing? Yeah, a lot more of us need to be telling kids that if they pursue WHAT THEY LOVE, they will find a way to make a living–and be happy doing it! Whether that necessitates a degree or not. There's a great book called SHOP CLASS AS SOUL CRAFT that encourages us to continue to encourage kids of all stripes to keep their hands–literally!–in the game in order to create for themselves the richest possible life experience.

  24. I agree about college not being for everyone. Someone mechanically oriented, for example, would be far better off learning a trade that interests them than going to college for "a degree, any degree, don't care what".

    That said, I disagree with the advice to always start at community college. I teach science at a university and most students who transfer to university from a community college have a much harder time with the senior science courses because most community colleges have less rigorous intro. science courses than most universities do (many exceptions on both sides, but this is the more normal scenario). So, someone looking to go into the humanities or social sciences might do well to start at a community college, but unless you know that your particular community college is the exception to the rule, I'd advise against starting a science degree there.

  25. I made that apricot chicken for my fiance on Saturday. I started it around 1 PM. He came back to his apartment around 2 PM after running errands all morning, and when I told him what I was making he replied with a less-than-enthusiastic "Ok, thank you." I took our dog out to the park for a few hours, and as soon as I stepped out of the car I could smell something delicious (I'd left the windows open; it was such a gorgeous Spring day!). As soon as the dog and I step into his apartment, my fiance practically ran to me and asked "Can we eat it now?!" Unfortunately for him, it wouldn't be ready for another 3 hours! But when it was ready, it was delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

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