Monday, December 20, 2010

School's Out...But Lunch is IN!

The kids are out of school until January 4th. But we still need to eat lunch.

And being that I'm actively trying to lose weight, eating out isn't really practical! Not to mention that eating out is expensive!

Here's my lunch for today. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite meals.

Oh, and if you're wondering if Weight Watchers works: Yes. It does. Well.

I've lost about 25 pounds since September 19th.

1/2 cup white rice, 1/2 cup refried fat-free black beans, 1/2 an onion and 1/2 a bell pepper sauteed in 2 tsp olive oil, a cup of shredded lettuce, a small tomato, 1/3 cup low-fat shredded cheese, and 2 Tbsp light sour cream. Also, two clementine oranges.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mom-ables AND Where I've Been

I've been away for a while. I didn't mean for that to happen, but life happens, and I needed some time to adjust. In addition to volunteering full time seven days in a row (way too much!), I was busy Christmas shopping, getting my daughter ready for her winter ball, losing weight, wreath making, and dog getting.

Yes, we came home with a new dog last week. Her name is (now) Sacha. She's a German Shepherd that's about to turn a year old. She was underfed and undertrained but we're working on that. She's amazing!

Christmas is right around the bend, so it was about time we got our decorations up and running. I don't do much. I prefer simpler holidays. But here's our tree and the front yard.

Here's my wreath. It's a rag wreath. I love making them, but they're time-consuming.

Here at Fort Benning, there's an annual Father-Daughter ball. It's a time for little (and big) girls to get dolled up and experience a real Army ball: dining and dancing and toasts and everything. It was such fun getting her ready for this experience!

Also? I've been losing weight. Remember I started Weight Watchers on September 16th. Since then, I've lost over 20 pounds. It really, really works. I'm loving the results. I'm even loving the process. They have a new program called Points Plus and it's phenomenal! I encourage you to check it out if you want to lose some weight!

(It's time to take another picture! I'll keep updating them each month!)

Anyway, here's the real reason you come: lunch box time! Today, it's a Mom-able, my answer to those bad-for-us Lunchables on the supermarket shelves. Simple to assemble and fun to eat, these are becoming my busy day go-to meal for the kids.

Roast beef, mini saltines, American cheese, clementines, cucumbers, and kiwi. She's taking hot cocoa to drink.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Santa Shop Again Today

I'm volunteering at Santa Shop all week at my daughter's school. This is day two. Yesterday I was so busy that I didn't have time to finish my entire lunch. Today, I'm going to just bring nibbles instead of a meal. One of the kids yesterday was overheard telling his buddies that he was going to tell her (whoever "her" may have been!) that he went to Jarred. He was purchasing a necklace for the lucky lady in his life. Kids are awesome. But they watch too much television. :)

Here's Fancy's lunch. Would it just totally mess things up if I changed her nickname again? See, we have nicknames that we actually use for our children. Bayberry is our oldest's real nickname. But Fancy's real nickname is actually Tuna. I wondered about changing it to Tuna here. Yes, we call our daughter Tuna. It's a long story, but a very loving one. :)

Anyway, here's her lunch for today:

Turkey & cheese 1/2 sandwich; mini cupcake; cucumber sticks; mini rice cakes; kiwi; milk.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Weight Watchers Lunch

Weight Watchers just launched its newest plan, Points Plus. If you've been thinking about checking out Weight Watchers, now's the time to do so. Points Plus is the best program I've seen. It rewards folks for choosing whole, natural foods. Processed foods are discouraged and carry heavier points values. That's totally in line with my way of thinking.

I'm helping out with the Santa shop at Fancy's school today. The kids will all shuffle in with their money, and I will help them choose the perfect piece of junk present for Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother, or whoever is on their list. I'm going to be there all day, so packing a lunch was necessary.

Fat-free turkey & 2% American cheese on 9 grain light bread with light mayo; mixed nuts; mini rice cakes with natural peanut butter; diet cherry Pepsi; clementine.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's Back to School Again!

After a week off for Thanksgiving, the girls are back to school tomorrow. So, it's back to lunch packing for me. And what am I going to put in their lunch boxes? What else? Turkey!

I made turkey salad with turkey, feta, walnuts, and mayo, and added shredded carrots for color and texture. The salad is on Flat Out wraps. They both have caramel corn and half a small orange. Bayberry has a couple of small tomatoes and some apple crisp with whipped cream.  Fancy has crustless pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Both girls are taking raspberry lemonade to drink.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Saturday is Bayberry's Birthday

My firstborn child turns twelve on Saturday. We're having a slumber party tomorrow night.

Since her birthday falls on a weekend, I'm sending her birthday lunch a day early. Here it is, followed by Fancy's lunch:

Can you read it? The main compartment has round peanut butter sandwiches, topped with Nutella and marshmallows. The marshmallows spell out the word HAPPY. I wrote on the mini bananas with food coloring pens. And there's an oatmeal cookie. She also has yogurt, and is taking juice to drink.

Fancy has bread rounds topped with peanut butter and marshmallows spelling out I (heart) U. I also wrote on her banana. She has a pumpkin pecan bar cut in half. She's taking a yogurt and juice to drink.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I feel a little guilty when... kids' lunches aren't something spectacular to share with you. A lot of the time, they're just ordinary. I would like to be more creative. I think I'm going to set a goal for myself to make artsy lunches at least twice a week. For now, here's Fancy's not-so-fancy lunch:

Peabut butter & Nutella, grapes, popcorn, and pudding, with milk money tucked away in her box.

PS If you care to, please check out my new, personal blog. I've only posted there twice so far but it will be my off-topic, ranting, raving, sharing, fun blog. I'll share some of my photography, too. I'm trying to improve it. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I can't believe this

Apparently, when a kid leaves his or her lunchbox behind in the school cafeteria, one of the lunch ladies takes it home with her. And then fails to come back to school for several days in a row. Bayberry left her $40 Laptop Lunchbox at school last week. Now, it's nowhere to be found, one of the other lunch ladies told her that another lunch lady takes them home when they're left behind, and no one will do anything about it.

I'm livid. And too sick to storm the school demanding my belongings.

So for now, I pack creatively.

Here is Bayberry's lunch for today:

Peanut butter & Nutella on Whitewheat; two baby bananas; mini saltine crackers; Boy Scout cheddar cheese popcorn; Chicken & Stars soup; orange juice.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Mom's Sick" School Day Lunch

Boy oh boy, am I ever. I'm trying to get in to see the doctor today. I've got a fever and terrible cough. So lunch is....processed today.

Fancy has a Thermos full of ravioli, two baby bananas, an oatmeal cream pie, and a bottle full of apple cider.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lunch for Friday

In case you didn't pick up on it by now, I love using tortillas in lunches. They're like little blank canvasses, ready for me to imprint them however I want. Not to mention how cheap they are. I can buy a package for just over a dollar, or make them for pennies.

I used them again for Friday's lunches.

This time, it was Bayberry's turn to leave her lunch box at school, so she's taking the EasyLunchBox.

Both girls have the same lunch: Tortillas cut into pizza crust rounds, pepperoni cut into little pumpkin shapes, mozzarella cheese, and a small sauce container full of pizza sauce; green grapes; Pumpkin Mousse; graham crackers (in plastic wrap to keep them from getting soggy). Bayberry's taking orange juice and Fancy is taking purple grape juice. And wearing dark colored clothing. ;)

No School Today

It's Veteran's Day. Thank you to all who have served and all those who continue to serve, especially my hero, my love, my husband, who's a combat veteran and has served the Army for over 12 years.

No school means no lunch boxes. However, ever since I started packing the girls' lunches and sharing them with you here, the Muffin Tin Monday blog carnival has attracted my attention. I don't do muffin tins because my kids go to school. It's not Monday, but I decided I'd give it a go anyway and my girls' faces lit up in big smiles -- even the almost-12-year-old had a smile on her face! This is a fun trick I'll pull out of my hat on no school days in the future.

Mac & cheese with turkey dog, carrot sticks (tomato for Bayberry), cucumber rounds, creamy Italian dressing, cheese, and two mini chocolate bars. Orange juice to drink. Small piece of flat bread on the side.

PS An update on Bayberry: She has a seizure disorder of unknown origin and is staring on some anti-seizure medication. Iloved her neurologist and we have a plan in place to overcome these episodes. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fancy's Lunch Today

Pizza! We didn't go to school today. It was homemade individual pizza, red grapes, and apple cider for lunch today, with kid-created chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gingerbread Men for Monday

Not the traditional ones, though. I used my gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut sandwiches into little gingerbread men. I used Wilton food color markers to draw their faces and shirts.

Fancy (above) is taking her lunch in an Easy LunchBox since she left her usual bento at school over the weekend. That's going to be fun to clean...

Bayberry (below) is taking her lunch in her usual Laptop Lunch System.

The sandwiches are flour tortillas, honey ham, and cheddar cheese, with a smear of mayo. They both have grapes. Bayberry has a tomato and Fancy has cucumber sticks. They both have a couple oatmeal raisin cookies.

Fancy will take a water bottle. Bayberry will either take water or juice.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Fancy's Lunch for Friday

It's back to packed lunches! I took a simple approach to lunch for today. I love the concept of Lunchables. One of my favorite lunches is bread or crackers with cheese and fruit. So that's what I packed for Fancy.

Mini saltine crackers (aren't they cute?), deli roasted turkey and honey ham and cheddar cheese, red & green grapes, and chocolate animal crackers. Orange juice to drink. Whatever I send to drink always comes back home hardly touched, so I've started filling the drink containers only partially. Fancy is taking less than half a full bottle (pint size bottle) so we'll see what happens.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

School Thanksgiving Luncheon lunch boxes today, I'm afraid. It was Fancy's school's annual Thanksgiving Luncheon and Fancy and I bought the lunch.

I appreciate the sentiment. I appreciate the invitation. But the food? It's horrible. Here's a picture of my tray of food. It was $5.00, by the way.

Turkey (admittedly moist and normal). Cornbread dressing that had the consistency of grainy pudding. Yellow gravy. Green beans that tasted nothing -- NOTHING-- like green beans. An orange with quite a bit of it still green. Mashed (overcooked?) sweet potato. Very bitter cranberry sauce. Dinner roll. Strawberry milk.

I couldn't eat most of this food. And, no surprise, Fancy ate only her dinner roll, mashed potato (the parents didn't get mashed potato), and the inside of a few green beans. She drank her vanilla milk and half of my strawberry milk.

Let's look at the positives:
  1. This was an opportunity for parents to come in and share a school meal with their children. Not all parents realize that we're welcome to join our children at any meal, any time. I try to join Fancy once a week. Meal sharing is an important part of being a human. It draws us together. This is a good opportunity for bonding.
  2. There are lots of colors: maroon, yellow, white, green, orange. Colors are good!
  3. The foods are traditional family Thanksgiving foods. They tried.
  4. Those lovely women who work in my daughter's cafeteria worked really hard to make this happen. They don't cook the food, but their work loads tripled today. Instead of serving 300+ children, they served all of those plus their parents. Thank your cafeteria workers. They deserve some praise. It is NOT their fault the system is flawed. Remember those lovely ladies at holidays and year's end.
I'm thankful that the meal is done and I won't be subjected to it for another year. And next year, if we're still stationed here, I'll go, and I'll buy a plate of food. And I'll nibble. Because there are other important messages in play: sharing a meal with my daughter is the most important.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lunches for Tuesday & Wednesday

Did you get out and vote yesterday? I did. I even have a sticker to prove it. :)

Here was Fancy's lunch for Tuesday:

Cheese and crackers, grapes, and cookies. Juice to drink.

And here are the girls' lunches for today. Note the puzzle pieces? I made them with Lunch Punch. Aren't they cute?

Peanut butter & Nutella puzzlewich; cookies; pudding; and grapes

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Here are our Halloween costumes for this year:

Fancy was a ghost.

Bayberry was a black cat.

And Army Man and I were an old married couple.

We had lots of fun handing out candy last night to all the trick or treaters. Tonight, it's off to a haunted farm for more Halloween fun.

What did you do for Halloween?

Here are tomorrow's lunches. You'll note that I will be using up some candy in this week's lunches. Anything to be rid of it around the house.

Both girls have peanut butter, Nutella, and banana wraps. Bayberry has an organic red pear, while Fancy has red grapes. Bayberry has some Cheetos from Halloween. Fancy has a granola bar from Halloween. Both girls chose three small candies to bring. And both are bringing orange juice to drink.

Stay safe. Have fun. Brush your teeth! :) Oh, and check out All Home Cooking. All Year Long. for a great giveaway. You can enter to win a CSN shopping code!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fancy's Lunch

Whew! This morning, we awoke to tornado watches, thunderstorms, and pouring rain. It seems to have calmed down now. How's your weather?

A birthday party kept me from packing lunches last night, so I packed them this morning instead. Here's Fancy's:

That dark stuff actually looks much more appetizing in person. It's four mini meatballs on toothpick skewers, and shredded cheese. In the middle, lettuce and cucumber salad. On the right, she has baked sweet potato sticks. Sliced apples (dipped in fruit fresh) and a zebra cake fill the top portion of her bento box. She took juice to drink.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lunch for Wednesday

An easy way to assemble a school lunch box is by answering some "favorites" questions. Packing favorites can become tedious day after day, but it does make for quick packing.

What's your child's favorite sandwich?

What's your child's favorite fruit?

What's your child's favorite dairy product?

What's your child's favorite protein source?

What's your child's favorite vegetable?

What's your child's favorite savory snack?

What's your child's favorite sweet treat?

Obviously, these questions don't all have to be answered for every lunch. Just pick a few based on what's on hand and pack a quick lunch. Today, my kids brought a Favorites Lunch. Their favorite sandwich is a peanut butter sandwich. They both love string cheese. Hard-boiled eggs are a favorite protein source, and they are both crazy about pomegranate and kiwi.

I tucked in a cinnamon roll with orange icing for Halloween and added some milk to drink. A nutritious, delicious lunch that is certain to come home empty.

Note: I left Bayberry's eggs unpeeled so that they didn't make her whole lunch smell like egg. Fancy needs help peeling eggs, so I went ahead and peeled hers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday's Lunch

(Scroll down to skip soapbox and get right to the food.)

Yesterday's peanut butter pasta was a big hit with both kids. Bayberry ate it on the way to the emergency room -- she got dizzy, fell, and hit her head on her locker at school, so we went in to get her examined. The CT scan came back clear, and her blood work was perfect, so they sent us home and told us to contact a neurologist. He can't see us until November 2nd. So we wait.

Nutrition is, in my opinion, wonderful medicine. I can't cure whatever is ailing Bayberry, but I can give her the best nutrition I know how, pumping her full of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, good protein, and carbohydrates. That's what I aim to do in my children's lunch boxes: arm them with daily doses of health (with a dash of junkiness thrown in now and then for balance, because all work and no play makes Bento a dull box).

I wonder to myself what people are hoping to achieve when they sent their children to school with a Lunchables for their meals. One of the kids in my daughter's lunchroom takes the same lunch every day, and trades up for healthier items. She takes an Uncrustable, a bag of chips, a bag of cookies, and a Hi-C "juice" box. Never any fruits or vegetables. Never any whole grains. Never any fiber. Never any calcium. Of course, her family could be making up for this deficit at breakfast and dinner. I simply don't know. Odds are, though, that they aren't. Probably, it's cold cereal and milk for breakfast every morning and something fast for dinner, such as Hamburger Helper, or a frozen entree.

Are we too busy? Are we too programmed from commercial television? Are we unaware of the current health climate? I don't know what the problem is, or how to fix it for anyone except my own family. All I know is that my lunches are healthier, cheaper, and almost as simple to prepare.

/end soapbox

Today's Lunch: Peanut butter & banana sandwich on WhiteWheat bread; cucumber rounds; Campari tomato for Bayberry; strawberries & cream; low-fat cheese crackers. Fancy has a spider pick for fun.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gopher Guts

*First, my apologies for no posts Thursday and Friday. I see I actually lost a couple of followers when I didn't post for several days, and that makes me sad. :*( However, my oldest, Bayberry, got her third HPV vaccine (Gardasil) and immediately went into a full-blown seizure, had loss of feeling in her leg, and has been dizzy and headache-y ever since. Nothing like this has ever happened to her. We have a pediatric neurologist visit this week to see what's going on. I would advise anyone considering this vaccine to read up on it online. That's all I'll say for now.

Onto lunch! Do you remember the song about gopher guts from childhood? There are so many versions, but this is the one I was raised with:

Miles and miles of greasy, grimy gopher guts
Mutilated monkey meat
Chopped up parakeet
Eyeballs, eyeballs, floating in my bloody soup
Me without my spoon

So that's what the kids are taking, in honor of the month of October and Halloween, for lunch this Monday.

Miles and Miles of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts (Chilled Peanut Butter Pasta Salad)
Mutilated Monkey Meat (Cut-up chocolate chip cookies and Halloween theme mini marshmallows)
Chopped Up Parakeet (Kiwi)
Eyeballs Eyeballs Floating in my bloody soup (pomegranate seeds)

Peanut Butter Pasta:

Cook 1/4 lb of whole wheat spaghetti al dente. Drain and toss with a bit of olive oil.
In a small sauce pan, combine 1 cup beef broth, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 cup green peas, 1/3 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy, your choice)/ Cook and stir until thickened. Toss with pasta. Serve warm or chilled, with sesame seeds on top.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fancy's Lunch for Wednesday

Bayberry and Fancy are taking the same lunch, so I'm just posting one picture. Wednesday, it's a peanut butter explosion. This lunch is definitely NOT safe for schools with nut allergy kids. Thankfully, my school isn't one of those. Peanut butter is practically its own food group in my daughters' minds.

Whipped peanut butter & muscadine grape jelly (locally produced) on whole grain white bread; apples with whipped peanut butter for dipping (sprinkled with Fruit Fresh to keep from browning); homemade peanut butter cookies, cut up. Milk to drink.

For the cookies: combine 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, and 1 egg. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet. Flatten with fork dipped in sugar. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until lightly browned. Three ingredients. Simple and delicious. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Lunch of the School Week

Hi! I hope you all had a great weekend. We had a four-day weekend here and enjoyed the time as a family. Tomorrow, it's back to school for the kids and work for Army Man (he's officially done with his school, having graduated with distinguished honors -- top in his class!). And so, it's back to lunch packing for me.

I'm in dire need of I could use a trip to the store but am trying to postpone it until Wednesday. I'm trying to use my car/gas as efficiently as possible, and that means combining trips. I can get by just fine until Wednesday. It'll just take planning and preparation.

Here are the kids' lunches for Tuesday:

They're taking almost identical lunches: Half a wrap each (pepperoni & cream cheese on a spinach tortilla: a favorite); some multigrain tortilla chips (found at The Fresh Market); fruit (a mix of some pineapple, some kiwi, and some mandarin orange segments); and a chocolate-peanut butter-oat no-bake cookie bar. Bayberry has some locally produced Vidalia Onion-Georgia Peach Salsa for her chips. Milk is the beverage of the day.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thursday Lunch Boxes

So you say that your kids want PB&J everyday? You can still offer them some variety. Thursday, my kids (and husband) are taking PB&J "Sushi" Rolls.

To make the peanut butter & jelly "sushi" rolls: Trim the crusts off of your bread slices. Roll flat with a rolling pin. Spread peanut butter thinly all the way to the edges. Smear a little bit of jelly over the peanut butter. Roll tightly. Slice carefully.

The girls are taking the same lunch Thursday. PB&J "Sushi" Rolls; TLC Country Cheddar crackers; Grapes & Asian Pear; and French Vanilla Yogurt with homemade granola. They're bringing orange juice to drink. Bayberry's yogurt has a lid. Fancy's will be encased in plastic wrap, then lidded, to ensure its safe arrival at the cafeteria table.

These are the last kids' lunches of the school week. We have a four-day weekend. See you Monday with another lunch!

My Giant Weight Watchers Lunch

I was in the mood for something indulgent, but I didn't want to spend serious points on it. That's the great thing about turkey burgers. Seriously, even if you are certain that ground turkey tastes like ____, give Jennie O Lean Turkey Burgers a shot. They're so delicious that you might not even miss the beef. I'm a serious beef eater and I can't tell a difference. They're that good.

I also treated myself in a real way with some chocolate. I haven't had any chocolate candy in three weeks. The wonderful thing about Weight Watchers is that I can choose to have my chocolate candies. I just plan for them. Like today.

What I ate: Jennie O Turkey Burger on a Whitewheat 100 calorie hamburger bun. I added a slice of Weight Watchers brand American cheese, a cup of green leaf lettuce, three strips of lower sodium turkey bacon (cooked crisp), a sliced Campari tomato, 1/4 cup sliced onion, 1 tsp each mustard and light mayonnaise. Also, nine milk chocolate Hershey kisses.

This burger was so huge that it was hard to get my mouth around it. It felt really super indulgent, but I stayed within my points allowance. And, there's nothing like a sweet ending to a delicious meal like this. Nine kisses really did satisfy me.

Keeping track? I lost 1.4 pounds this week, bringing my 3 week Weight Watchers total weight loss to 10.8 pounds!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wednesday Lunches

I love these little baby sweet bell peppers. They're so darn cute, plus they fit in lunch boxes easily, add a splash of color, a bit of crunch, and lots of flavor.

We had turkey bacon leftovers from dinner (breakfast for dinner) so I decided to turn them into BLT sandwiches.

So both kids have a BLT, a string cheese, some animal crackers, and cantaloupe. Bayberry has two mini bell peppers in addition. She likes to bite off the tip and stuff the pepper with the string cheese and eat both together. Sounds yummy to me. They'll take orange juice to drink.