Friday, March 18, 2011

Guest Post: Lunch with City|Life|Eats

Packing your lunch for work (or school) is one of the simplest things you can do for both your health and your wallet. When you eat out, you're reliant on someone else to provide you a healthy meal, and you can't always be sure what's going into your food. But when you bring your own lunch, you know exactly what you're getting, and you can be sure to make the right choices for your body. You'll probably also save a few bucks, and that's always a good thing! 

Of course, getting into a lunch-packing rhythm takes a little practice, and even those of us who do it regularly can get bored and find ourselves stumped for new ideas. At Bastyr, I've been lucky enough to have a cafeteria where I can regularly eat delicious gluten-free food, so I took a break from packing my lunches for a while. But eventually I decided it was time to start taking charge of all my meals again, and I found some inspiration in the lunch box series over at City|Life|Eats. Valerie posts her lunchboxes to give us all meal ideas, and when I told her how boring my lunches had been lately, she offered to "make" me a lunchbox. I'm ridiculously impressed at her ability to not only find something that falls within my guidelines, but to have it look so good that anyone would be excited to have this for lunch! Read on below for Valerie's lunchbox plan, and stop by her blog if you want more inspirational lunch ideas.

I am so excited to be guest-blogging a lunchbox here today, especially because Iris and her Gluten-Free Fall Specials Series  inspired me in the first place to start blogging about lunchboxes on my blog.  Initially I was just going to blog about them for a week, but that turned into a month, and now it has been over six months.  I post lunchboxes I bring to work (which generally include a lunch and a couple of snacks) but also weekend lunchboxes and travel lunchboxes.  For me, packing food is a way to save money and time but also reduce stress.  As anyone with food intolerances and restrictions known, grabbing a meal outside of home, whether on-the-go or at a restaurant, generally requires asking several questions or reading labels very closely. It can get complicated, especially when short on time, so I like having the option to just pack a lunchbox.

As you know from reading The Daily Dietribe, Iris has made several changes to her diet to target specific health problems.  In addition to eating a gluten, tree nut, peanut, and sugar-free diet, Iris avoids foods high in amines.  When Iris and I were discussing my guest blogging a lunchbox, I suggested I make a lunchbox tailored to her diet requirements.  So here is a lunchbox for Iris, based on the lists of foods Iris sent me and her kindly answering a couple of questions.  The only problem? I live in Washington, DC, so I cannot actually give Iris the packed lunchbox, but I figure she can replicate it in Seattle.

Here are the contents of the lunchbox, with some notes as to why I chose them:
  • Red peppers and broccoli sauteed in grapeseed oil with garlic, coriander and cumin, and wrapped in half a brown rice tortilla.  Romaine lettuce is among the greens Iris can eat on her diet protocol, so she could also replicate this wrap using romaine leaves instead of tortillas.  For tips on how to soften a tortilla, click here.
  • Hummus, using my basic recipe, but swapping lemon juice for lime as Iris avoids lemons. I also added a quarter teaspoon of cumin to complement the lime and give the hummus a Southwestern flair.  Iris can add some hummus to the wrap for some protein, but there is enough hummus that she could also snack on it with the raw vegetables in the lunchbox.  
  • Pumpkin Chia Pudding, made with unsweetened soymilk. This recipe is by Gena of Choosing Raw and is sweetened only with stevia.  While the recipe does call for almond milk, unsweetened soymillk can easily be substituted to make the pudding Iris-friendly.  Since the wrap is not very high in protein, and hummus is the main source of protein in this lunchbox, I wanted to be sure to include an additional source of protein.   
  • Carrots, a slice of raw red pepper and some celery (the celery is hidden by the other vegetables).
  • Cinnamon vanilla sunbutter.  I used Organic Sunbutter as the base, as it is completely sugar- and salt-free.  I know Iris loves Sunbutter, and I also know she likes to mix sweet with savory, so I added a pinch of sea salt and a few drops of liquid vanilla stevia to the sunbutter, as well as a pinch of cinnamon.  That way it has an interesting sweet and savory feel to it, and can be paired with the carrots.  I also know Iris likes apples, so she could have this with apple slices if she wanted more of a sweet snack, but paired with the carrots it definitely is more of a sweet and savory snack.
This is designed to be lunch and two snacks.  I know Iris is a busy graduate student, so I specifically picked two recipes (the Pumpkin Chia Pudding and Hummus) which she can make in big batches and have several days in a row.  The wrap portion of the lunchbox can be replaced with leftovers from dinner or quinoa instead of a wrap with the vegetables, which can of course be varied.  Iris could also experiment with different proteins to go with the vegetables and the wrap. I was initially going to include tofu in the wrap, but decided on hummus to make the lunchbox as varied as possible and have several different sources of protein, namely chickpeas, soy milk and various seeds.  Since Iris can eat seeds, I took advantage of that and incorporated three types of seeds: chia seeds, sunflower seeds (in the Sunbutter) and sesame seeds in the tahini. And, Iris, thank you for having me as a guest blogger on your blog. I hope you like the lunchbox! 

Valerie blogs at  City|Life|Eats about food, life, work, and living with food allergies and a modified diet. Her lunchboxes and recipes are gluten-freedairy-free and often, but not exclusively, vegan.  You can subscribe to City|Life|Eats via RSS or email or connect with Valerie via twitter or facebook.


Stephanie said...

Great post! I'm always searching for better, more exciting lunches for myself and my husband (who eats 2 lunches, by the way. Talk about needing LOTS of ideas!).

gfe--gluten free easily said...

What a great post from Valerie! I love how she looked at your current needs, Iris, and came up with a delicious lunch plan. Serious yum. :-)


Valerie @ City|Life|Eats said...

Iris, thank you so much for having me guest blog again on your blog. It is always a pleasure and I am so glad you like the lunchbox :)

cooperkelly4 said...

love your ideas. I blogged about our lunchboxes here:
It is such a great way to save on plastic baggies, etc. Love your ideas!

J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) said...

Valerie always has super cute lunches!

Alisa Fleming said...

Valerie is the lunchbox queen! I love the idea with the SunButter, sounds scrumptious!

Katie Mar said...

thanks for the heads up alisa, i just put my the cupcake widget on my blog! :)

i'm glad you commented....i love your blog!!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Valerie's lunches always inspire me! So great that she put one together for you!

Anonymous said...

Super Site

Carson said...

This lunch looks amazing. Would you mind making my lunches too? I really appreciate you taking the time to detail every little item and thought that you put in to this lunch.


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