Archive for the ‘Lunchbox’ Category

The INAUGURAL Talking About Our Thursday Food Choices

So, on my The RA Vegan facebook page, we’ve been talking about making healthy food choices.  It’s a constant theme in my life, to be honest.  I mean, things are certainly healthier since I became a vegan, but you can still be a junk food vegan.  (The day I found out oreos were vegan was NOT a good day!) In the discussion it was brought up that I’m not the only one having these issues which got me to thinking……  So very much like ‘What I Ate Wednesdays’ (WIAW) we’ve decided to have  ‘Talking About Our Thursday Food Choices’ (TAOTFC – LOL).  So, every Thursday I’ll write a post about what I ate that day.  (Or, in the event of being super busy, on Friday.) On the facebook page we’ll discuss our choices through pictures or posts or whatever we decide to use to share.  That way there is 1) Some accountability and 2) we can get some ideas about what others are eating!  You can share on your blog or through facebook; or you can just read.  Whatever you’re comfortable with! I have to admit that knowing that I would be doing this tonight *did* make me think more about my choices.  When I did WIAW I would often decide ‘well, I just won’t count today’ and would eat something crazy.  Today I had no choice!  That said, this is NOT about shame.  If you eat 5 soy ice cream sandwiches then oh well.  Not judging here. For breakfast I had leftover pizza.  This is homemade pizza on wheat crust with sauce, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, and vegan mozzarella from Trader Joe’s.  I often don’t eat much for breakfast but I ate 2 pieces of this.  Interestingly, after one piece I thought ‘I don’t need another’ but I still ate it.  I got about 3/4 of the way through the piece and decided I was done.  Next time I’m hoping I can listen to that inner voice earlier!


Then I packed my lunch for school.  As you can see, it didn’t take much!  This is leftover Easy Red Beans and Rice and 2 clementines.  I have started taking time to sit in the teacher’s lounge with others and eat the last few days.  Typically I eat at my desk, working, but really that’s not the best thing for my emotional health.  When I went to get up after just a few minutes today (I had eaten very quickly) one of the women I eat with told me to ‘sit down.”  She was right.  I need to take some time to talk with adults during the day; to think about my needs. packed lunch Not long after, though, I realized that this wasn’t enough food and went into the stash of food I keep in my desk.

2013-01-10_13-49-49_412  There was only about 2 of these left but they were definitely good!  Then I taught the rest of my day.  On my way to work with one of my special girls I enjoyed 3 of these macaroons.


YUM.  I got these for Christmas and I’ve enjoyed every pack.  Truth is, that every pack seems to be getting better!  After working with my girl and a quick trip to the thrift store (as my 13 year old said, at 7 am, that he needed more track pants.  Seeing as how I couldn’t handle this request at 7 am, I handled it at night!) I came home to an amazing dinner that Mark made.


Salad, Vegan Lasagna, and a gf/vegan brownie topped with strawberries!  (There might also have been a piece of vegan garlic bread in there that I didn’t get to photograph!)

So, all in all not the worst day or the best day.  I need to eat more fruits and veggies and less processed foods.  I have already put the leftover salad in a container to take for lunch tomorrow, and have a container of pomegranate seeds to take in my lunch as well.  I feel like the snacks I had in my desk weren’t bad, but I think maybe I should pack more in my lunch so that I have better options like some extra fruit.  And today had more vegan cheese then I think I’ve had in the last 6 months; It just worked out that way.  That won’t be normal.

So how was your day today. both food-wise and non food-wise?  I hope it was a positive day and that, whatever food choices you made, you don’t beat yourself up about any of them.  Each moment is a chance for a new beginning!  (Now I need to stay out of the brownies as I put them away!)


Chickpea Salad for a Hot Day

In the summertime my life revolves around water and being outside.

My goal, every summer, is to make lots of fresh cold food that can be eaten on the go.  But I still often find myself staring in my pantry wondering what I should make for potlucks and pool time and beach trips.

I was looking through the photos on my facebook page  when I saw this photo from last summer:

It’s a salad my friend C made and she basically gave proportions for how to make it with the caveat to just use what you have.  So I did.

The most recent salad was what I brought to 4th of July at my mom’s and it was quite tasty.  Use this as a guide, though, and use what you have on hand and what is fresh.  I’d love to hear what you come up with (and to see pictures!)

2012 4th of July Bean Salad

2 cans (15 oz) garbanzo beans

1/4 sweet onion, chopped

1 orange pepper, chopped

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cucumber, chopped

5 or so marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

1/2 block daiya jack style cheese, chopped

1/4 cup (or more) apple cider vinegar

1/8 cup (or more) olive oil

1 tbsp garlic powder with spices

salt and pepper to taste

Drain and rinse the beans and put them in a bowl.  Add the other ingredients and mix.  The daiya will break down a little in the marinade so keep it separate if you want to retain the consistency.  I liked the flavor that it added even when it was a tad broken down.

It was a great addition to my 4th of July plate!

Gluten Free & Vegan Texas Sheet Cake

I will warn you now.  This is NOT health food.  Generally a vegan diet can be quite healthy.  But oreo’s are vegan.  If I ate them all the time I’d be vegan but not healthy.  Same goes with this cake.  But it sure is yummy and would be a good one when you’re looking to bake for a crowd.  T wants me to try and make this as a Smith Island Cake.

I think I first had Texas Sheet Cake when I lived in Oklahoma.  It’s baked in a big sheet pan and is rather thin and always chocolate plus it has an icing that is put on when it is hot.  I may or may not have ever made one before.  Isn’t it awful that I can’t remember?  Mark always says I can never make the same thing twice so I often forget what I’ve made before!  But I know I ate them at church pot lucks in OKC.

But recently, on pinterest, I saw a gluten free Texas Sheet Cake.  And I started thinking:

  • about how easy it would be to veganize this
  • about how I have yet to find a gf “go to” cake
  • about how this would probably taste really good

so I couldn’t see why not to try it!

A couple of notes before the recipe:  1)  I tried to thank USASillyYaks for the recipe on their site but, for some reason, wordpress isn’t letting me post on other blogs much these days so sorry but THANK YOU!  2)  You can use whatever gluten free flour mix you’d like here.  We can’t use commercially prepared ones because they included potato starch which we can’t eat.  I use the proportions from this post and use whatever I happen to have.  3)  I have found that using the finest milled flax seed I can find makes my egg replacer work the best.  And now let’s bake some cake!

Vegan and Gluten Free Texas Sheet Cake

2 cups gluten free flour mix

2 cups sugar

1 tsp xantham gum

1 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp ground flax meal mixed with 6 tbsp warm water and whisked together well

1/2 cup chocolate almond milk mixed with 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the ingredients above together.  It will be lumpy.

Now in a pan on the stove mix

1 cup earth balance with

4 tbsp cocoa powder

and 1 cup water

Bring to a boil.  When it’s boiling stir well and then pour in with the other ingredients.  Mix well.  This will take awhile but also realize it is pretty thin.  Pour it into a large sheet pan that you have greased.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the center is set.

When the cake is about 5 minutes from being done make the frosting.

1/2 cup earth balance

1/4 cup cocoa powder

6 tbsp chocolate almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar

In a pan bring the earth balance, cocoa powder, and almond milk to a boil.  Stir occasionally so everything mixes well.  When it is boiling take it off the heat and add the vanilla and powdered sugar.  Mix well.

Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool about 5 minutes.  Then pour the warm frosting over top, spreading it well so it covers the whole thing.

I do want to say that you could taste the almond milk in this.  You would be just fine with a more neutral non dairy milk like soy or rice.  While I used chocolate because I had it, I think vanilla would be just fine here.  This makes a LOT of cake.  My plan is to freeze pieces of it so the kids can take one piece in their lunches.  Mom might take a piece too, you know, to keep it even.  lol

And I thought I’d leave you with a picture of who kept sniffing the cake while I was trying to photograph it:

This is the face that is saying “Who me??  No!  I wasn’t sniffing your cake, mom.  Promise!”

WIAW – Crazy Day Addition

Last week I didn’t do What I Ate Wednesday and I have to say, I missed it.  😉

Today was a crazy day of running around, running meetings, testing students, and going to appointments.  But I still ate!

Breakfast was the last muffin and a banana.    I’ve been worried about my liquid intake recently.  Basically I’ve been concerned that I have been dehydrated.  I’ve been trying to up my water intake but I often forget or don’t have time.  So yesterday I made myself a big pitcher of iced green tea and drank a few glasses of it today.

(That’s stevia behind the drinks, by the way!)

Lunch was eaten quickly at my desk.

That’s leftover Black Beans and Quinoa and a banana.  (What can I say?  The bananas were apparently the easiest thing to grab today!)  I *think* I had a fruit and nut bar in the middle of the day that I grabbed from my desk drawer in between meetings but the truth is that I’m not completely sure and I didn’t take a picture.  Talk about mindless eating?!  I know I was hungry and I remember looking in my drawer but the rest of that time is so filled with “trying to get things done.”

I left work early to go to an appointment and then stopped at my mom’s to drop E off.  When I walked through the door Mark shoved a cookie at me and said “Here!  Try this!”  So I did, without taking a picture.  I did, however, get the box.

It was a decent cookie that was vegan, nut free, gluten free, soy free, etc.

E was at my parents’ house.  Mark went out.  And T still didn’t feel good and didn’t want to eat, so I was on my own.

I was hungry and tired so I went basic with salad greens, sunflower seeds, and goji berries.  (See, I did learn something at Take Back Your Health!)  I topped it with some olive oil & balsamic vinegar.  Fast and easy and tasty.

I decided I was still hungry, though, and made my favorite banana soft serve recipe:

That’s 3 frozen bananas, a good tablespoon of natural almond butter (crunchy, preferably), and some almond milk blended.  Then topped with some raw cacao nibs.  Bliss.

I guess, in looking back, I could have called this the day of the banana as well.  Wow I didn’t necessarily mean to eat that many bananas!  Do you ever find yourself eating the same thing over and over in one day?

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins – Vegan And Gluten Free

Along with being intolerant to wheat T has an intolerance to potatoes.  Actually he has a few others as well but the potatoes one impacts us in lots of ways.  I’ve already talked about the fact that he can’t eat French Fries which is, of course, death to a 12 year old boy.  But the other thing it impacts is that most premade gluten free mixes have potato starch in them.  If potato starch was far down on the list we have been ok with it, but we are realizing that even a little bit creates some problems.  However I’ve been having problems making my own mixes recently.

When I want to bake this is what I take out of the fridge and freezer.  I know there are plenty of people who have had success making their own mixes, and I have had some successes, but I haven’t been able to make anything I’ve been consistently happy with other than the Gluten Free Cookie Mix I use, and I haven’t had as much success making other things with that.  I will continue to mix things up and try them, but I have to admit I was thrilled when, on my weekend in DC, I found Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit Mix that does *not* contain potato starch.  I’ve made 2 different muffins with it and so far, I like it.  I think it might become my go-to flour mix for muffins, quick breads, and pancakes/waffles.  Yes it is a little pricey, but no more than buying all those other flours.

When thinking about the flour mix I decided to try looking up some quick bread recipes.  I happened upon this post which led me to this recipe on Natural Papa.  As you will see, my final recipe is quite different but I wanted to give credit to my inspiration!

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins

1.5 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit Mix (or other gluten free mix)

1 cup certified gluten free oats

3/4 cup organic white sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon (I might use more next time…)

2 tbsp ground flax seeds

6 tbsp warm water

1 1/4 cups natural (no sugar added) applesauce

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup almond milk

3/4 – 1 cup dairy free chocolate chips

1/3 cup brown sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix the flour, oatmeal, sugar, salt, and cinnamon together well.  In a small container mix the ground flax seeds and the warm water.  Let sit for a few minutes while you add the other liquid ingredients (applesauce, oil, and almond milk) to the dry ingredients.  Don’t mix yet.  Add the congealed flax mixture to everything else and mix together.  Then add the chocolate chips and mix well.

Grease your muffin pan.  The dough will be wet but not runny.  Plop it into your muffin tins.  When it is all used up, mix together your brown sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle a little on top of each muffin.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let sit in the muffin pan for about 10 minutes before you remove them from the pan to cool on a rack.  They will appear a little gooey if you eat one now, but set nicely.

Makes about a dozen muffins.

These will be breakfast, dessert, and lunchbox snacks around here.  I think the basic muffin could be modified in many many ways.  What is your favorite muffin?

WIAW – 1st week of Vegan MOFO

I’ve been absent from What I Ate Wednesday for the last few weeks because, to be truthful, I kept forgetting to photograph my food!  My life has been on fast forward and I would find that I would get to the end of the day having taken pictures of about half my food so it just wasn’t practical to post.  But I’ve missed it!  So glad to be back.  And what an awesome time to be back: Vegan MOFO (The Vegan Month of Food)!  In my intro to this month long extravaganza I talked about how I am still sort of shocked to be participating.  But it is helping me think even more about what I eat and introducing me to some wonderful blogs.

Breakfast was pretty typical these days.  Peanut butter and a banana on whole grain toast.  I will admit that the glass of juice is actually Orangina.  I know.  I know.  But it’s an old addiction from my teenage years.  I grew up going to French language schools in the US and well, I developed a love.  I haven’t had it in years but found a bottle over the weekend on my health food store circuit and have been nursing it for a few days.  E has discovered it and loved it so, to be perfectly honest, I actually finished it off this afternoon.  Bad RA Vegan.  No soda like products!

The school where I teach is in a very low income area.  One of the programs is that on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays the kids get a snack.  It is always a fruit or a veggie.  When there are extras I sometimes get offered them.  So today’s snack:

(Anyone know what they are sitting on?  If you do you are a teacher and probably a special ed teacher!  Dolch word cards.)

My lunch was sort of spaced out.  Before my lunch duty I wasn’t very hungry and so I had an apple and some cherry tomatoes from my garden.

After lunch duty I needed a little more so I ate the last of the Forbidden Rice Salad I picked up on my health food store circuit this weekend plus some of the Vegan Truffles I made with the chocolate coconut butter.

As I went to pick up my next group I stopped by the teacher’s lounge.  There had been a committee meeting in the morning and there were leftover refreshments.  I nabbed an apple and was chomping it when I picked up my kids.  “Where did you get that apple?”  Being the consummate professional that I am I said “I found it.  On the floor.”  After the “ewwwwwwwwsssss” finished up I told the truth.  No photo but it was good.

Ran through the rest of my day as usual.  Dropped a friend at the car dealership to pick up her car and then came home to a sick child but a clean kitchen where I decided I should cook dinner.

A cup of tea in my favorite mug helped get me through dinner prep.

And a good dinner it was!

I guess I should admit that I had 2 pieces of quiche along with that tomato.  And then E and I sat around snacking out of the bowl of pears.

In looking back this is the most fruits and veggies I’ve had in some time.  Pretty good, actually.  More fruits then veggies and I know I should tilt the tide in the other direction but oh well….

At the very end of the day I got super hungry so a small bowl of cereal and soy milk hit the spot.  No pic but it was good!  I’ve been trying to get away from super sweet cereals and chose an organic fruit sweetened cereal.  Moving towards health one step at a time.

WIAW – Getting in the Swing of Things

I had big plans this week.

  • I was going to chronicle my food on Sunday.  Then on Monday.  Tuesday?  Nope.  Happened on Wednesday.
  • I was going to write a post about all the things I have been doing with chickpeas lately.  Hasn’t happened yet.
  • I was going to photograph an entire week of lunches for the Vegan Lunchboxes for Adults Blog Challenge.  My excuse here is “why do it on a 4 day week?  Wait for a 5 day week.”  The truth is that I forgot to bring my camera to work on Tuesday and my phone was dead so I couldn’t take pictures.

Instead I took T to the immediate care clinic for his sprained elbow.  I’ve been adjusting Skyler to her new home.  I’ve been killing fruit flies.  And I’ve watched E pull out her own tooth.  All while adjusting to life at a new school that does not have air conditioning but is toning my thighs and butt with all the up & down stairs I’m doing.  My motto remains:

It is never boring around here.

So Wednesday morning dawned at my house.  E and Skylar were asleep with me in my bed.  (Mark leaves for work by 5:15 and sometimes E ends up in my bed without me even knowing it.)  T was asleep in his bed.  Mark called to wake me up and I groggily pulled myself up to get us all ready.  It involved quite a bit of cajoling T to get ready and herding of Skylar while saying to E “you HAVE to get up!”  T’s arm really hurts so I know it’s difficult but life must go on.  I had him out the door around 7:05 and to the bus stop.  Skylar and I walked around the cul-de-sac a bit so she got some walking time while we waited for the bus.  As soon as T heard the bus Sky and I had to be scarce and pretend we didn’t know him.  Ah the joys of having a tween boy!

Then I had time for breakfast!  2 pieces of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and a glass of almond milk.  Yum.

As we were walking out the door E announced that she was tired of wiggling her loose tooth and pulled it out!  Remember I said never boring!

Dropped her at school and then hit the ground running.  I dropped my briefcase and lunchbox in my office and then went to work with kids this morning, never even stopping to turn on my computer.  I did drink a bottle of water at some point.  When lunchtime rolled around, though, I was hungry.

I made a pan of Gardener’s Pie over the weekend to take for lunches.  It’s really good and very filling which helps me get through a whole day.  I also had cut up fresh pineapple and a nectarine.  There are 2 wheat free fig newtons in a bag that I ate later in the day.  (Lately lots of things have been on clearance in the health food sections of my local grocery stores, these cookies being one of them.  While the deals have been nice it is actually sad since this means the store is discontinuing them.)

I worked all day and then went to see my counselor.  Yes, I go to therapy.  When it was finally found that I had an auto-immune disorder my reality changed.  She helps me work through that.

My kids were with my parents (their Wed night thing) and Mark was working on his schoolwork so when I got home dinner was on my own.  I decided to combine this chock-full-of goodness salad  with this veggie burger  to make

The dressing was supposed to be thousand island but I couldn’t find the pickle relish.  It was delicious none the less.  1 cup of vegan mayo.  1/4 cup ketchup.  1 tbsp rice wine vinegar.  Mix.  (This was not all the dressing!)

Lots of water consumed today but otherwise nothing else.  It’s funny how I still crave soda.  I look at it longingly and walk past.

After putting the kids to bed I sat around thinking “I’m still hungry.”  I was really thinking of banana soft serve but I have to admit it seemed like too much work.  I was looking up some work things online and the idea of pulling out the blender just wasn’t appealing to me.  So I finished the day the way I started it, with a glass of almond milk.  No picture since you saw it this morning.  Hope your day was great!