Lunch Wrap Up: Week of July 25th

Getting a box of veggies from the farm every two weeks has been a real challenge for me. After thinking about it, I have figured out why it has been so difficult for me. I stink at cooking.

I’ve always been a better baker than a chef. Going gluten free after eating a year of school lunch threw that out the window. Only just this summer have I been trying to bake gluten free for the first time and it’s going ok. However, I tried to make zucchini bread this weekend (one of my favorite things to bake prior to being gluten free). Weirdly, one of the loaves just didn’t set. Thankfully my husband said it tasted great, but he was probably just being nice.

I can put a basic meal together. I just focus on serving the basics: a meat, a grain, and a veggie. Fancy techniques are not employed with my two-year-old hanging around. Now with the new veggies and herbs from the CSA box, my skills are getting put to the test. For example, we got a ton of cucumber. More than we can eat in two weeks. I tweeted that I didn’t know what to do with all my cucumbers. People responded that I should pickle them or make gazpacho. Pickling seems like such a lot of work with all the equipment (even the refrigerator version) and when I mentioned the word “gazpacho” to my husband, he grimaced and said, “I like my soups hot.”

But I did find a use for the cucumber today. I sliced them and put them into a pita with smoked salmon and lettuce. Yum! (One of you asked about the pitas I use. I make a pilgrimage to buy them at a gluten free bakery.)

My son’s lunches


Black bean and chicken quesadilla with goat cheese, sliced apples, corn on the cob (seasonal) and a strawberry muffin (strawberries from the farm).

The quesadillas were made by my mom over the weekend. They were terrific. I got a note from the day care that “corn on the cob” is a choking hazard. I’m perplexed by that. They serve corn at the day care, but eating it off a cob makes it dangerous? Can anyone comment on that? Day care menu: Cheese ravioli, wheat bread, diced carrots, fresh oranges, and two snacks of an apple muffin and a cherry Italian ice


 Blueberry pancake with syrup; egg in broccoli slaw with peapods; applesauce; kiwi; roasted carrots, onions and mini-potatoes (from the CSA); chewy bar

I got nothing to say about that lunch. Day care menu: Pasta with meat sauce, sliced provolone, corn or creamed corn, fresh bananas and two snacks of mandarin oranges and pumpkin bread


Quinoa and broccoli (from the CSA); gf fish sticks (pollock – certified sustainable); rice rackers and hummus; yogurt with strawberries

I relented and sent along fish sticks since the other kids were getting them. As a mom you pick your battles and I know that the kid likes fish sticks. At least he got some quinoa in there. Day care menu: Battered cod, rice, green beans, crushed pineapple and two snacks of hummus and crackers and yogurt

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28 thoughts on “Lunch Wrap Up: Week of July 25th

  1. Cucumber salad. My 7-year old has been making it, herself, for years. (I kid you not; you can cut up cucumbers with a table knife. Our only tragedy was the time she put in WAY too much salt.)

    Cut cucumber up. Opal does chunks. Thin slices are fun, too, but harder to stir; grated is excellent.
    Cover in yogurt, add salt and ground cumin to taste. Optional: add chunks of tomato. More optional: admit that in fact, this is also known as raita.

    You can also do japanese style fast pickles, which we normally do with radishes. Slice cucumber thinly, cover sparingly in a sauce made of roughly equal parts soy sauce and vinegar, somewhat less sesame oil (the dark, strong-flavored Chinese kind), and if you are daring a drop or so of chili oil.

      1. My family has a version of this.  We slice the cucumbers, cut up an onion, and mix with sour cream.  Season with pepper to taste.  The onions add a bit of a kick to the salad.  Chill and serve!

  2. The fridge version of pickled cukes takes no special equipment and is very easy. I use a glass container like some people put flour in, but you could use something like a large mayo container. I recommend glass, in any case. Peel and slice your cukes, slice an onion (for flavor) and put them in the container. Pour over 1 part water, 1 part vinegar, 1 part sugar. Put it in the fridge and eat as you like. You can add more cukes/onion as needed for a while. After a week or so, you start over again with a new solution of water/vinegar/sugar.

    As for your fish sticks, he’s getting protein, he likes them and they’re certified sustainable fish! Those are all good things. I wish my kids would eat some fish sticks!

    1. That sounds really good and not too hard. Oddly, my husband and I aren’t big into pickles, but our son loves them. So I really need to figure this one out and stop being lazy! 🙂 Thanks!

  3. When I taught preschool, we considered anything a choking hazard if it slid into a tube of toilet paper; perhaps the corn on the cob could fit into that. Although if you’re packing it, you’re aware that he can eat it safely, but his caregivers might not know and probably kept an extra eye on him. When I serve my 4 year old, I still cut it off the cob for her and I.

  4. Two tips for cucumbers:  1) Cucumber water.  Basically just cucumbers and water, but really refreshing if you’re in a heat wave and/or want to liven up the water.   2) Cucumber salad (which may help with some other veggies in the box as well.  Just chunk up cucumber, bell peppers (red, green, yellow), celery and tomatoes then cover with Italian dressing.  It’s a summer staple in my family because not only is it cheap (we grow everything but celery in the summer), it’s also an easy, cooling side.

    1. This sounds so good! I usually keep Vietnamese fish sauce on hand but a friend recently gave me some Philippine fish sauce which I like even more.  Can’t wait to try it in this recipe.

  5. You can make freezer pickles also sun pickles,  You would need to google for recipes.    my mil makes this kick ass macoroni salad and adds cucs to htem.    I really don’t know what you can do with them

  6. Mrs. Q — you can make tzatiki out of cucumbers to go on pita sandwiches.  You could probably use your almond or coconut yogurt instead of normal dairy.  

  7. Simplest way I know to use up cukes:  Combine one sliced cucumber (peeled or not, your choice) with one small sliced onion, salt & pepper, a pinch of sugar, and enough white vinegar to cover all.  Allow to marinate 10 min. or more.  Keeps well in fridge up to two weeks (at least that’s the longest I’ve tried keeping them).  They get stronger the longer you keep them.   They’re good on their own or on sandwiches or mixed into a green salad.  You can also jazz up this mixture by adding, just before serving, raw corn kernels sliced off the cob and cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes sliced in half.  

    Regarding Tuesday’s lunch, you said, “I got nothing to say about that lunch.”  Well, I do!  Look how colorful it is.  It’s really beautiful!  I think you might be a better cook than you give yourself credit for.

    When I was a kid, my parents’ basic formula for dinner was similar to yours but consisted of a protein, one starch (a grain or a starchy vegetable, i.e. potato, sweet potato, corn, peas, beans, or winter squash), and 3 non-starchy vegetable dishes, at least one of them green.  It seems like today It’s unheard of to serve so many vegetables each night but my parents both worked and they managed to do it.  My brother, sister, and I all learned at an early age how to help out with dinner and by the time we were 10 or so, we would routinely get dinner started before my mom & dad got home from work.  We thought it was fun to be “allowed” to do that.  To this day, if I make dinner for my sister, and I only make 2 non-starchy vegetable dishes, she asks where the 3rd vegetable is.  If we were married, I’d probably have to divorce her.

  8. I love easy refrigerator pickles! I do mine like bread and butter pickles. Cukes and onions in tupperware, heat vinegar, water, sugar (I use Splenda), celery seeds, and mustard seeds, pour onto cukes and eat when cold!

  9. I was curious to see if you read this article about McDonald’s healthy-ing up their Happy Meals.  If you already blogged about it, please forgive me, I’ve been traveling on business and am way behind on my blog reading!,0,196698.story?track=rss

    I think it would be much more fun (and effective) to make happy meal-style bento boxes at home, like you do for your son and yourself.  There’s something exciting about the creativity it takes to make a lunch delicious and cute at the same time, and it has your own signature.  While I’m happy to see McDonalds making an effort, I think families should also make an effort to prepare and eat meals together.  What do you think?

  10. Really scratching my head over your reticence to send fish sticks for your son. I can’t think of a single hesitation you might have in providing gluten-free, sustainably-fished fish sticks as part of a meal that includes so much other healthful stuff. He likes them, they’re perfectly good for him, and it’s a rare opportunity for you to match what the other kids are eating. Wins all around.

    1. I feel like it’s a processed food and not a whole food. Maybe I just have a complex?! 🙂 Probably!!

      1. Fair enough! And, yeah, probably. 🙂 I’d worry more about mass-market fish “fillets” and sticks than a product that’s made by a company focusing on sustainable fishing.

  11. I like cucumber water, and cucumber-quinoa-tomato salad.

    Have you seen Elena’s Pantry? (she has a website and cookbooks). Her recipes are really simple gluten-free baking, and taste amazing!

  12. I like cucumber water, and cucumber-quinoa-tomato salad.

    Have you seen Elena’s Pantry? (she has a website and cookbooks). Her recipes are really simple gluten-free baking, and taste amazing!

  13. Cucumber salad is easy, delicious, and easy to modify! We like ours with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, oregano, and feta cheese. You can give it a different flavor by changing the herbs and types of cheese.

  14. Hi! Remember me? I told you about the rasins in the lungs thing…anyway, corn on the cob is a choking hazard yet corn off the cob isn’t? Whatever. People are weird. I suppose a corn kernal in general could get sucked down into the wind pipe, but it should be fairly easy to cough back up. I don’t know, it is just really weird to me that corn on the cob is considered a choking hazard… you actually have to wedge something into the airway (completely blocking it) to choke, that’s why hot dogs and grapes are such high choking hazards, they are prefectly shaped to block the airway.

    If it makes you feel any better, I’ve never seen anyone choke on corn. And I did way to long of a stent working in a Pediatric ER.

  15. I am curious why on the last day you send hummus when it’s on the menu. Why not just let him have the snack with the rest of the group?

  16. We make a lot of cucumber salad also.  ours is dairy-free,  however.  cut up cucumbers, add white vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and maybe a little onion.  very tasty.  you could also use them in Tabouleeh using quinoa instead of wheat or cous-cous.

  17. I’m not sure why the day care considered corn on the cob a choking hazard.  Our day care serves corn on the cob and just recently posted pics on their facebook page of some of the kids having fun eating it for lunch.

  18. Our family just joined a CSA this summer for the first time. It’s been a source of minor conflict between my spouse and I. Husband watched Food, Inc. on Netflix, and got all fired up; “Let’s join a CSA!” I liked the idea in theory, but didn’t think it would be a practical idea for our household; spouse does not like most veggies, but wanted to give it a try anyway, because it would be good for our kids. Well, of course that last bit made me relent. It’s for the KIDS! Just as I predicted, the CSA is, in fact, a pain the in butt. You receive mountains of items you wouldn’t normally choose to eat, but since wasting food drives me nuts, I cook it all and with my son’s help, we plow through it. The part time job of washing, spinning dry, storing, prepping, meal-planning, cooking and consuming all that produce has, of course, fallen mostly in my lap, which I knew would happen. I am a reluctant one-person restauranteur.

    But it hasn’t been all bad. Daughter has tried some veggies and herbs she wouldn’t normally touch, son’s already broad palate has grown even broader, and my consumption of carb-rich pantry snacks (Pepperidge farm pretzel fish, Stacy’s PIta Chips, Pretzel flats, Triscuits) has had to decrease in order to make room for all the greenery. Spouse still doesn’t eat much CSA stuff, but he does help wash, dry, and store the leafy greens. Yay!

    I think next year we’ll just get a less commitment-intensive version of this experience by making regular visits to the local organic farmer’s market. Not as much pressure.

  19. Take a look at Angela’s blog:  She bakes, but eats gluten free and vegan.  She has great ideas and recipes! 

  20. We started getting a CSA about a year ago.  It has been fantastic, but requires some creativity.  Whatever you don’t think you will use, you can chop up and freeze.  Right now we’re using broccoli that we froze earlier in the year since broccoli isn’t coming in our CSA right now.  You can also shred carrots and zucchini and freeze that for later use in muffins and bread.  I also picked up a copy of The Organic Food Shopper’s Guide by Jeff Cox.  It helps me with food identification and ideas for how to prepare different produce items.  If I’m totally at a loss, I’ll post a picture of the unidentified food on Facebook.  Someone usually knows what it is.

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