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Weekly Lunch Wrap Up #3

Here are the lunches we sent to school with Kiddo1 this week!


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From left to right we have a roll-up in romaine leaf with leftover pork and cucumber, small carrot sticks and cucumber disks, regular red watermelon (we miss yellow watermelon!) and a homemade chocolate chip cookie. I was all set to publish my chocolate chip cookie recipe, but then I started on a mission to remove the granulated sugar from it. So it may be a few more weeks.


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Kiddo1 was fairly receptive to the last salad I sent with him, so I thought I could push my luck a little and sent more of a real salad than just white lettuce with cucumber and ham all over it. This time it was more of a “build-your-own” approach with leftover beef and disks of cucumber and carrots. My attempt didn’t work out too well, though, since he came home with most of the food still in the box. But baby steps. Somehow the watermelon and Enjoy Life chocolate cookie disappeared though…


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A little more simple today! Just some ham sticks (shapes are fun), disks of carrots and cucumber again, some dehydrated zucchini chips (he actually did eat one or two, but he says he still doesn’t really like them yet), grapes, and an Enjoy Life snickerdoodle cookie.


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Too bad this picture sucks ’cause I thought this lunch was gooooood. We just couldn’t seem to get away from carrots and cucumbers for lunch this week, but on Thursday I did add a new homemade treat – blueberry gummies made from fresh berries that came in our CSA box. We also have mini kabobs with turkey meatballs and leftover red kuri squash with some BBQ sauce.

We skipped school Friday – Kiddo1 was not feeling well. Mr. Handsome and I ate big salads and Kiddo1 had some fruit. No pictures though! Sick day threw me off! We will strive for better next week!

Updated! Even More Crispy Baked Sweet Potato “Fries” Recipe (GF, V, P, NF, AF)

Updated 9/24/2014: Higher heat and only one rotation makes this recipe a bit lower maintenance and, most importantly, more crunchy! Also updated 10/14/14 with small tweaks of goodness.

Confession time! I have a sweet potato addiction. I ate a whole sweet potato, like a pound’s worth, just today. I’d stop myself, but for ONCE something that tastes so good IS SO RIGHT. These babies are loaded with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium… all the good stuff. The best part is, they’re pretty easy to make and require minimal ingredients, yet they can be dressed up with more yummy stuff if you want! Awesome. (Of course they are a starchy veggie so try not to eat a whole sweet potato by yourself in one day).

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries (gluten free, vegan, paleo, nightshade free, allergy friendly)

Here’s what you need:
A sweet potato. I used about a quarter of a 1-lb beauty when I made these. Any more and they won’t all fit on the pan (see below).
Cooking oil of choice. I used olive oil but you could go with coconut to maintain vegan or if not, lard or tallow would be amazing (I hope to have results of tallow rendering up soon!)
Salt. I’m a fan of Himalayan pink sea salt.

Here’s what you do:
Step-by-step photos are below, but basically you….
1. Preheat oven to 425
2. Cut potato into strips.
3. Coat with oil.
4. Arrange fries on a baking sheet with space between each potato piece. Sprinkle with salt.
5. Bake for 15 minutes on the top oven rack, then flip potatoes, turn the sheet around, and bake for 10 more minutes or until the fries are browned well but not burnt. (Different color sweet potatoes cook at different rates, so keep watch. I find white sweet potatoes are the fastest, followed by purple and orange take the longest amount of time.)
6. Let fries cool outside the oven for a bit, then arrange on a serving dish.
7. Watch your “fries” disappear!

This recipe yields enough fries for one person (I’m selfish). Just make at least two trays-worth if you’re sharing because they go so fast!

Now for a little more detailed instruction, with photos!

I start by selecting amazing produce. We’re heading deep into sweet potato season right now, so start looking at the farmers markets and local grocery stores for classic orange sweet potatoes, edgy purple ones or, even, the illusive white sweet potato (the latter is to be used to trick your family into thinking they’re eating actual potatoes – muhahahaha). Our market was just full of sweet potatoes last week so I scored a bunch of orange ones. Purple ones would really take these fries to the next level!

After selecting, washing, and drying the perfect sweet potato, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and get to work on washing the produce. Once they’re washed they can cut. For fries I like to slice them thin, about 1/4″ square by a few inches long, depending on the shape of sweet potato you have. I also enjoy slicing them in cubes sometimes. They’re so versatile! Here you can see my chopped produce for this recipe.

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Don’t eat the penny! It’s just there for scale.

Save yourself the trouble and leave those tasty skins on when you slice them! Just make sure you washed them well before you start chopping.

After slicing, it’s time for some fat to help these beauties taste even yummier and not stick to the pan. I use maybe a tablespoon of olive oil. You could also use coconut oil or, if you’re not vegan, some tallow or lard.

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Just enough oil

Now just toss your produce around in the oil to cover it. CRISP TIP #1: Well-coated fries get crispier than fries that are sparsely coated or not coated with any oil or fat at all.

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Getting yummier

And arrange on a baking sheet. Don’t rush this step! CRISP TIP #2: You want to give each fry some space, otherwise they won’t get crispy.

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Blurry because I’m so excited to eat them!

Second confession! I have an aluminum foil obsession too. I always line my pans with aluminum foil because they’re so much easier to clean. Just toss the foil! But I’m creating a lot of waste that way. Plus I’m not so sure if cooking on all that aluminum is good for us… but the pans themselves are aluminum too! So maybe once I get some better pans (stainless?) I’ll else up on my foil use. UPDATE: I’ve been using wax paper instead of foil lately. The wax paper just gets so smokey, so I wonder if it is any better than the foil…

Now is a good time to salt the fries so that the salt sticks to the oil. It’s okay to salt them after baking, too, but I find more salt ends up on my plate if I wait.

Now the baking part! CRISP TIP #3: My fries tend to get more crispy if I place my baking sheet on the top rack in my oven. I don’t know why, but that’s my oven’s sweet spot.

CRISP TIP #4: Rotate those fries! I bake them for 10-15 minutes, or until I can tell the bottoms are getting browned. Then I take them out and flip them all over. Before I put the sheet back in the oven, I spin it around so that the fries that were in the back of the oven move up to the front. If you’re baking multiple trays, move the bottom one to the top and vise versa. If your fries are of varying sizes, you may want to pull some out of the oven while the others are still baking. It is a delicate balancing act. Once you’ve got everything flipped and rotated, roast again for another 10 minutes or so, or until your fries are sufficiently browned. Browning makes them crispy!

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After roasting on all sides.

Then let them cool a little and put them on a plate.

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Salted and ready for my mouth!

There are variations a-plenty for these too!

Try adding your favorite seasonings! Just chop them fine and add them with the oil to make them really stick.
+ Minced garlic, or garlic aioli, or garlic powder
+ Rosemary
+ Cinnamon (toss with honey for an even sweeter treat!)
+ Balsamic vinegar
+ Thyme
+ Onion powder

For more variations, substitute another veggie for the sweet potato! You can make fries out of almost anything.
+ Yams
+ Squash (the shape of butternut or delicata works out the best for fries)
+ Zucchini
+ Rutabaga
+ Turnips
+ Beets
+ Celery root/celeriac

And speaking of shape, these don’t even have to be fries! They can be cubes or rounds. Slice rounds super thin and you’ll get chips! Just make sure to oil them really well or the chips will burn and stick like crazy to the pan. Experiment with oven times for these other veggies so they don’t burn and get nice and soft in the middle. Now I’m inspired to try variations too!

Enjoy the yummy healthy goodness!

Weekly Lunch Wrap-up

We finished our first week of school! And somehow a nutritious lunch was sent with Kiddo1 every day! Here’s what he ate…


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All the round foods! Sausage (grass-fed beef sausage I found at the local grocery store), disks of cucumber and carrots, strawberries, also sliced in rounds, and, finally, sweet potato “chips” that apparently were cut way too thick and were not too edible at all. We’ll get that one next time I’m sure.

I forgot what all the jokes were this week! I should photograph them with the lunch box or something… They were really funny, I swear.


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I told Kiddo1 I was making him a deconstructed ham roll-up today. Little did he know that really just meant it was a salad. But a salad with almost more toppings than lettuce! He said it was pretty good, yay! Rounding out the meal is an Enjoy Life cookie and yellow watermelon. Yes, the watermelon is yellow! We found it at the farmer’s market over Labor Day weekend. It’s amazing! It stayed non-mushy for like two weeks after we cut it. Tastes like watermelon but better.


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Sorry for the blurry picture. Sometimes I just shoot and run in the mornings! Lunch today is leftover ground turkey and asparagus stir-fry. He loved the turkey but… well I tried with the asparagus but it came back home anyway. In the muffin cups we’ve got cucumber and raisins, and on the right there’s carrot sticks and a broken Enjoy Life cookie.


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Ham roll-ups day! Or should I say, oh-crap-its-8am-and-lunch-isn’t-packed-yet day! We had this beautiful leaf lettuce leftover and it made the best wraps cause the leaves didn’t have stiff spines like romaine. They look pretty too. Of course, rounding out the box is an Enjoy Life cookie and carrots sticks because… well we were late.


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Why not begin and end the week with shape-themed lunches? Instead of circles today we have cubes! Okay well I guess the homemade chocolate chip cookie is a circle (why didn’t I make a couple cubed ones??) but for the rest of the lunch we have some more of that delicious yellow watermelon, ham, cucumbers, of course there are carrots and also some homemade BREAD! Whaaa??? Bread??? Yep, I’ve found a recipe for wheat/gluten-, egg-, dairy-, and nightshade-free bread that is soft and delicious. We’ve been making toast, french toast and even a couple sandwiches with it (and I’ll use it this Thanksgiving for stuffing). I’ll post the recipe later on. Oh and the cookie recipe!

Til next week!


Weekly Lunch Wrap-up & Guide

Waaaay back when I was pregnant, I did a weekly post called Tie Tuesday. It provided motivation for me to take care of myself and feel good about myself by holding myself accountable for getting dressed every day. Because getting dressed every day can be really hard for the pregnant! But forcing myself to not just throw on yoga pants but really try to put something together ended up making me feel really good about myself every day. I digress, but my point is the weekly posting of my outfits was a good motivation to do something I didn’t really want to do but was good for me.

So, I thought I might do the same sort of thing again but with a little twist. This time my dreaded task is lunch-making, but once I have it done I feel so super good that my son has a healthy lunch he can eat at school. I felt so proud the first day I even Instagramed a photo of my son’s lunch! And that’s when Tie Tuesday popped into my head again.

Each week I’ll post a photo and description of my son’s lunches. I hope this provides me with the motivation not only to make the lunch every day (actually, he needs to be making more of them too!) but I hope doing this also motivates me to use variety and new ideas when planning and packing meals out. Oh also! I write out a joke for his lunch every day too, so I’ll include that in the comments because I think they are very funny, even though I did not come up with them myself.

Let’s get to it!


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Okay so this is a short week because school started on the Wednesday after Labor Day. A good week to start with posting! Today we packed roll-ups with leftover pork, red onions, and a bit of BBQ sauce all wrapped up in a couple small leaves of romaine. Also packed: cut strawberries, carrot sticks, applesauce, and the dessert-of-the-week: homemade brownies (wheat-, egg-, dairy-free Bob’s Red Mill mix).

Today’s joke: What’s the king of all school supplies? (The Ruler)


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On Thursday I had fun with my julienne peeler on some carrots and cucumber. To keep with the theme I shredded chicken into strips as well! Coupled with BBQ sauce. Rounding out the left side is another brownie and grapes.

Today’s joke: What’s smarter than a talking bird? (A spelling bee)


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I wasn’t ready for Friday. We must pack lunches at night! So my fall-back lunch is a romaine wrap. It’s like a sandwich, sorta, because you can stuff things in it, but it isn’t bread and it sneaks in a vegetable too (both because of the romaine and I can usually sneak some onion or something in there too, although he is getting wise to that). So today we had chicken, cucumber, and a tiny bit of onion in our romaine wrap, along with more carrot sticks, broccoli, raisins and an Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookie for desert (those egg-free brownies are only tasty for a couple days, plus this cookie is the first “processed” lunch item  so far!).

Today’s joke: What did one mathbook say to the other? (I’ve got problems)

Next week is a full five days! Hopefully I’ll be better about packing lunches the night before by then. And my picture-taking will slowly get better, I hope.

Also! Bonus feature today since it was a short week. I created a sort of map for us to use when we pack lunches. It is a general guide for us to use when we pack so that any of us can attempt to put together a nutritious lunch. I only wrote down the foods that Kiddo1 has a high likelihood of eating, but I’m sure we’ll be adding to the list as the year goes on since we continue to try new foods, sometimes trying the same ones again and again! Anyway, this is what is hanging on our fridge now:

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I think it’s pretty self-explanatory but… each column is basically a food group that is needed for a complete lunch. We start with one protein, then at least one or two veggies, a fruit, and a dessert. Under each column title is a list of suggested foods that Kiddo1 likes. Of course we can put in other foods, these lists are just suggestions.

Below the list of foods for each column is a list of suggestions for serving. For protein you could put it… in a wrap, on a kabob with veggies, in a casserole or salad, etc, etc. Veggies can be cut in strips – thick or julienne/thin like Thursday’s lunch, cut in chunks or rounds for a kabob, dehydrated into chips, all kinds of things.

They all seem like simple suggestions but it’s really nice to have the list while you’re packing so you have a little less to think about. This also helps with my weekly meal planning so I remember to plan for a little extra food here and there so we have lunch ingredients handy. I’ve found it is hard for me to plan specific lunches, just easier to throw them together based on what we have. Perhaps I will change my tune after a couple weeks, I’m not so sure. Luckily I have the choice to change it whenever we all see fit!

Happy lunching, til next week!