September 30, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 30: The Mother of all Waldorf Sammies

Waldorf Sandwich? You have got to be kidding me!
That's what you thinking right? Really, it doesn't seem like a kid friendly lunch does it? Well it is! Want to know why? It has sweet stuff in it, and a bunch of other yumminess that kids cannot turn down. How'd I come up with it? Well if you want the honest truth I haven't been to the store in a week and needed to use up a bunch of left over ingredients which all pointed right to a Waldorf Salad. Not to mention that I needed something over the top and perfectly awesome for the very last day of the Lunch Box Challenge.

Yes, you have made it to the very last day! Thanks for keeping up with me this far I hope you have enjoyed it. So without boring you even more with my nonsense ramblings I bring you -

The Mother of All Waldorf Sammies

dun dun duuuuun

Ok so it's not that dramatic but  work with me here, it's the last day!

I would name this Waldorf Salad Sandwich but I am weird so, I didn't. Simple as that

1 cup shredded chicken
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons light mayo
1/2 cup red seedless grapes sliced and halved
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2  apple, chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons raisins
Pepper to taste
Your choice of bread, rolls or English muffin
*optional red chili flakes or red pepper for sprinkling. Kids may not like it but I did!

Take the first 10 ingredients and mix them up in a bowl. Shake it, toss it, have the kids attack it, what ever works for you. Spin those suckers around till it's all nice and mixed up.
Grab your bread or roll, whichever place baby spinach on it and slap a good portion of the salad ontop. Place other sliced bread on top and eye the perfection you just made. Perfect. Awesome. It's pretty isn't it? You've completely the Mother of All Waldorf Sammies!

I served this with Kiwi, Carrots and a The Peanut Free Vegan Energy Snack

A summary of Lunch Box Tips from the Challenge:   Always remember napkins or wet wipes- kids are messy, so prepare for it! Don't over do the containers, and don't over do portions. Variety is the key, stay within seasons for vegetables and fruits and don't forget to use up left overs. Set aside an area in the pantry and fridge for lunch items and foods to make things easy to grab and go. Always remember to put a small ice pack in the bag for items to stay cool, or freeze their juice/water the night before. This will keep the bag cool till lunch. Invest in a good thermos for soups or warm items.

   Prepare as much as you can the night before to make it easier on both you and the kids for busy days. Try to keep the weather in mind, or school functions, remember school parties will be full of junk so make sure their lunch is lite but healthy. Days they will be on field trips you want to energize the kids not sugar coat them so keep activities in mind.

 Get together with the kids on the weekends to make out a weeks worth of lunch plans, stay organized and don't let a bagged lunch get the best of you. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it does not have to be boring. Introduce new foods at home and encourage them to try it more than once.  Have the kids help prepare or suggest new ideas for their lunches, make this a routine and it will become a healthy habit not just for the kids but for the family.

 Empower your kids with choice! Letting them prepare and or assemble a simple lunch ( the DIY pizza kit, the Everything but the Kitchen Sink Salad)  this puts your kids in charge and makes them feel proud of what they created. Give this choice to them, and watch them grow.  Last but not least, always always have fun with your food. :)

Thanks for staying with me for the Lunch Box Challenge stay tune for the Halloween Challenge which starts tomorrow ( October 1st) . You can always find the latest challenge using the Recipe Challenge tab up at the top. I do them at least twice a year. 
 To find the entire month of Lunch Box Ideas click right here to catch up, you can also find them all on my Pinterest Board right here Thank you again for sticking with me I hope you have picked up useful tips and new recipes/ideas!
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September 29, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 29: On the Go Chicken Hummus Wrap

Today's lunch was supposed to be total vegetarian but the kids changed it up on me. They are my taste testers and while they still ate it without meat they did devour the one with chicken in it much more. This is what happens when you allow the kids to discuss what they like and don't like you get information back and it's helpful. Why waste money on something they won't eat? You can also gather these details for future lunches or even dinners. Mix it up though, experiment try different varieties or ask them what they think would make it better. You involve the kids more in the process you will find you may deal with far less struggles than before. On to the lunch!

On the Go Chicken Hummus Wrap
This is a perfect busy day lunch, even for adults. Grab and go chomp it down.

10 inch tortillas
2 Tbsp hummus ( you can use the hummus recipe I posted here )
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup zucchini
1/3 cup julienned cucumber
1/4 cup black olives
Left over pieces of chicken
Parchment paper

Start with a tortilla and lay it down on parchment paper. Take a good two tablespoons of the hummus and place it in the center of the tortilla, leaving about an inch on the top and bottom then a few inches empty on the sides. Place your shredded lettuce on top, then your carrots and cucumbers and zucchini as well as the cucumber. You don't have to add any meat but I made these without meat and the kids said it needed it in there. I used left over pieces of roast chicken. Place that on top then starting at one end fold over mixture, repeat with other end then take one side and fold it in as well, then the very last side over the center You should have made a burrito :)

Cut this in half making sure you cut through the parchment paper.  Now you wrap with the parchment paper. folding just leaving the very open end opened. This keeps everything neatly tucked in.
I served this with Raspberries and Broccoli

Today's Lunch Box Tip: Make it a routine to get together with the kids over the weekend and discuss lunch ideas and or go to the store for items Make a lunch menu, you can pick the days they have hot lunch and bagged lunch then head to the store for the items you don't have on hand. Bag up your vegetables and fruits on Sunday this way all you really need to do is assemble a salad or sandwich and put it into the lunch box the morning off. Make it as simple as possible and keep to a routine about it, it becomes habit after that.
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September 28, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 28: Party Time Veggie Wrap

Vegetables, oh how I adore thee! 

Kids in general (mostly)  put up a fight about vegetables, some adults as well. Though my kids do eat them- the vegetables not the adults- there's always a day where they complain. In order to try to cut the complaining down I really try to be creative with foods. It doesn't matter how you do it honestly, if you make things into faces or get sneaky and puree it into sauces and or shove it into the meat itself. If the kids eat it, you won! 

Celebrating my garden and the amazing job my kids did on the Walk-A-Thon yesterday I made them a fun celebration lunch- Party Time Veggie Wrap. This is made with the Gem wraps I mentioned earlier in the Challenge. You can get them at a specialty organic store or in that section of the store. It's the same a the sushi wraps, so look for them, they rock. 


2 cloves garlic smashed and minced
1 onion chopped small
2 carrots chopped small
1 cup your choice bell peppers chopped small
2 stalks celery chopped small
4 stalks asparagus chopped small
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups prepared sushi rice 
1/2 cup of broccoli slaw chopped up
1 tomato chopped small
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Heat up a skillet with the oils and toss in the vegetables searing them. Toss is soy sauce then sup stir in rice. Mix it up and heat it till all is heated through. Set aside and lay out your Gem Wraps. Layer mixture on each wrap ( this makes 6)  Leave all the edges clean and then grab the end and tuck in roll the mixture up tightly swiping the edge with a little oil to seal and let sit . Cut for small bite size pieces.
 I don't always cut the carrots or slaw up , but the other ingredients make sure you chop up small. 

 I served this with some Seaweed Snack, and Sliced Peaches. 

Today's Lunch Box Tip: Make sure whatever lunch box you get, whether plastic or soft is insulated and you pack an ice pack even a small one in there to keep the lunch cool on hot days.  Our schools don't leave lunches in the classroom they are kept in a bin outside the class and those things sit there until eleven- In the hot sun!
 If your lunch bag doesn't have even a tiny little ice pack in it guess who's lunch is scorching hot by the time they get it? I remember a very gooey melting peanut butter sandwich as a kid. Put me off PB&J for life! It was so gross!
  An easy solution if you don't trust the kids with an ice pack, freeze their drink box or small water. Take it out in the morning plop it into the bag. It keeps things cool and they get a drink all at once. Simple solution. An insulated bag also is able to keep the cool stuff cooler longer. 
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Did I Say That Out Loud Book Tour Giveaway



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September 27, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 27: Everything but the Kitchen Sink Salad

It's our Walk-A-Thon today!!

We are busy walking away at my kids school to raise money for school funding. It's a blast every year, and it's an all day event so I have to make sure my kids are super charged and energized for the walk. The thing is, during the walk they get loaded up on junk. Pizza, hot dogs, ice cream you get the drift. They do this during the "school" hours walk, way before I get there so what I do is pack them a counter active powerful lunch. What is it?

It's a salad.

 Simple yet there's a little bit of everything in there. My kids get a kick out of this salad because they add in which ever they want and it becomes a super personalized fun meal.

Ingredients and assembly of Lunch

 Grab a  handful of mixed choice of Lettuce, mix this up toss it around and slap it in a bowl.
Sliced some carrots nice and thin toss that in with the lettuce mixture along with sprouts and tomatoes. Don't be skimpy on the sprouts now,  power pack this lunch.
You want some crunch, so pick some pecans or sliced almonds and sunflowers seeds. Try to avoid the croutons, that's boring and plain we're going for awesome here, no normal in this salad!

 ( You can have croutons I'm just kidding, just pick something crunchy)

Now for a sweet additions, dried cranberries are great or some raisins maybe. Apples and pears are also great sweet additions. Make sure you slice the fruit small and or cube it for easy eating.
If you wanted meat add that in there too, your choice!

At school the kids can toss it all around and make their own favorite personalized Salad! 


Yummy, serve this with choice of fruit and dressing. 

Today's Lunch Box Tip:  Try to always pack with the day in mind, hot days they won't eat much. If they have a party that day no sweets in the lunch what so ever, you know the kids are going to end up pigging out on the party foods. Field trip? Pack an energized lunch, our Walk-a-Thon event today I made sure it was something light as it's hot but packs some energy into it. 
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September 26, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 26: Turbo Charging Muffins

Friday is almost here! We all look forward to the weekend don't we? Sometimes the week just drags on though so you are dragging right  along with it. I notice my kids tend to start bottoming out towards the end of the week and they need a jump start.
I love this recipe because you can freeze them and pull them out whenever you need one. Make a big batch freeze them individually and you are ready to just grab and go for lunches. Take them out the night before you have an immediate on the go breakfast as well if you tend to rush and the kids or even you don't get a bite in the morning. ( Never skip breakfast!)

Turbo Charging Muffins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup applesauce
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Beat the snot out of the milk, applesauce, oil, vanilla and egg into a large bowl. Stir like you've never stirred before and add  in the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until you have a fat lumpy batter . Fold in gently the berries or you will upset the batter and they will not rise at all for you. I'm not joking they will refuse to rise, they will throw a fit in your oven and you will be very sad without a muffin. So fold gently.
 Divide batter into prepared muffins tins or cups. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

I served this with a Sprout and avocado turkey wrap. Lay out your tortilla, spread a layer of guacamole down on the wrap then layer sprouts. Take your shredded turkey and layer that on top before rolling up. Cut and store.
For fruit I had sliced Kiwi, and vegetables were mammoth snap peas and carrots.

Today's Lunch Box Tip:  Someone asked me why I never show what's to drink in the lunch box. I actaully give the kids a water. Each kid has their own reusable water bottle and I fill it with ice and water each morning. While juice boxes and water bottles are convenient, it is also added waste, just as with ziplock bags and such.
 Try using reusable items it's the perfect way to start the kids being used to staying "green" and learning about the important of cutting our waste down.

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September 25, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 25: Crazy Red Beans & Rice

I was emailed this week about the containers I use and if I send them to school as is. I have several containers, Bento, Ziplock Lunch kits and others that have been collected over the years. To answer the question, no I do not send as is, I place each container in a soft lunch bag that the kids can easily carry.  Two lunch boxes?  YES, here me out.
 It  makes better clean up for them, when they are rushed to leave the tables they don't always get the time to stack tops within each other and so forth. Does that mean they cram it into their soft lunch bag? Yes, yes it does. Does that mean you've got a mess to deal with? Yup, but think of it this way- If you've been using my tips on keeping to small portions, ( several options, just small portions)  you really don't have much at all to worry about. I think the only one thing that's made a mess was a tablespoons worth of dressing that  leaked around the bag when they didn't put the top on it correctly. This would be better than your child rushing to get his lunch cleaned up and having to carry it all in his arms and possibly dropping it all to the ground. So my lunch box tips are coming to you before my recipe here they are -
So here are my tips-

  • Pick  a soft or hard cased lunch box. 
  • Pick your containers which can be separate or a Bento, or lunch kit. Make sure they fit easily into the lunch bag you picked. 
  • Keep this simple , you do not need to pack 7 containers, if you scroll back over the days of this challenge you will see it's kept very easy for the kids. I think the most they had to open was 4.
  •  Make sure the kids can open and close everything with ease. Just like you prepare a kindergartner to open their juice boxes and snack items, this is the same thing. 
  • Keep any dressings or dips to a small amount. The more you send the more chance it's coming back in a messy way. 
  • Encourage the kids to make sure everything is closed up if they didn't finish their lunch, but be ok if it comes back crammed into the lunch bag in a mess. We all know kids are messy, so be ok with it. It's not the end of the world. 
Got a question? There's only a few more days left in the Challenge shoot me an email at

Today's recipe is Crazy Red Beans & Rice. Get a little crazy with what you put into this. My kids enjoy different things, salsa, different cheese, chopped vegetables. Depends on their mood. You will need to pack this in a thermos but this is again a leftover lunch box.

Crazy Red Beans and Rice.

1/ 2 cup of mushrooms
1 cup of cooked rice
2  cups red kidney beans
1 1/2 chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper of choice
salt and pepper to taste

heat a skillet over medium high heat. Coat pan with oil and add in the mushrooms. Cook till slightly brown set aside add in your onions and cook till cooked tender. Add in pepper till tender then add back in mushrooms. Add in the rest of the ingredients and heat till cooked through. It will be about 15 minutes. Cook this for dinner and save left overs.

My kids like to add in different things so have whatever their favorite is on the side, whether it be salsa, cheese, chopped vegetables. Keep this in a warm thermos and serve with something light. I served it with a sliced plum and with the Applesauce Fruit Bars, instead of making them bars I rolled them up. Find that recipe here.

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September 24, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 24: Hit the road Peanuts you are outta here!

I got a peanut free granola energy recipe!!! 

The last few granola bar or energy bite recipes I've posted people have asked about no peanuts, well I'got one for you! Told you I would, and I think you will like it. I spend the day making them in different batches till one got the thumbs up from my kids. It's similar to one I had made years ago but I lost the recipe to that and I just started tossing things in. Don't you love when tossing things together actaully comes out good? I had one of those days!
Now this recipe doesn't have peanuts or even peanut butter, but it does have sunflower seeds. They aren't nuts, but I know that when I flip the bag over to read the sunflower bag says :  Manufactured on shared equipment with peanuts and tree nuts. 
So be mindful of this. My daughters class has one child who is allergic to peanuts so this is something I'm becoming aware of . Always read the labels and always double check if you are baking for the class that happens to have a child allergic in it.

So here it is, The Peanut Free Vegan Energy Snack

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut unsweetened is best
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 egg
5 dates pitted and chopped
3 Tablespoon coconut oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoon milk

Set your oven to 350. Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl to beat the egg. Mix the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and then start to add in the wet ingredients slowly as you mix. Mixture with be moist and sticky. Mix till well combined. Using a spoon spoon out and drop onto cookie sheet. I got 20 out of this batch, but others about 15 ( I made big fat ones ok? Then I ate them all. I am not ashamed but very full and happy!)
Cook for about 15 minutes, they will look golden brown. Set onto cooling rack and store in plastic bags once cool . They should keep a week.

I served this Granola Cookie with BBQ Beef Rib wrap, Raspberries, Carrots and Broccoli.

 The wrap is simple just shred the beef meat off the ribs and assemble the wrap. My kids said it's easier if I wrap them in parchment paper which holds it together better plus the paper stops any sauce from dropping out the ends.  See ?I have learned something during this challenge from my kids!

Today's Lunch Box Tip:  Is your child going on a field trip? Don't be skimping on preparing a lunch box! Of all the days this is the day where you really need to step it up! Field trips excite a child, because for one thing they are leaving the classroom, second come on it's a bus ride somewhere! No classroom, no tests- it gets the kids going.  With all that excitement you need to feed them something to keep their energy up.
Don't pack candy or anything full of sugar!  There's no reason to place that on the teacher and chaperons, make it a good solid energy granola bar or energy bites. Offer to make them for the whole class as well, that would really help everyone out. These Energy cookies are quick EASY and healthy for everyone to enjoy and they are perfect for field trip days.

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September 23, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 23: Pear It Up!

One of my daughters actaully came up with this sandwich, she put pears into her chicken salad and asked why not put it into a sandwich. Well I say, why not indeed!

Pear It Up
Pear Chicken Wrap uses left over chicken so be sure to not forget those leftovers! 

Ingredients for Wrap
Left over pieces of chicken- whether it was grilled, sears, baked fried. Each wrap takes about 1/4 cup of chicken
1 Pear Sliced thinly

To assemble the wrap. Lay down the tortilla and place arugula in the center leave the back 3 inches empty as you will fold this . Lay some sprouts down, then lay your two slices of pear down. Place chicken pieces on top . Top with Pear, sprinkle with cranberries To fold start at back, fold the back halfway over your ingredients. Then take one side fold in, and repeat the other side. For easier hold fold parchment paper over this and tape it into place.

I served this with Peas and Strawberries, and if your wondering why I keep serving peas it's because my garden is exploding with peas. :)

Today's Lunch Box Tip: Try pairing up some fruits with meats in sandwiches. Fruit like pineapple or apples with pork create extra flavor and juice making the kids go for it more. Fruit within salads or sandwiches also creates an added crunch so it's different for them to try.

Are there any fruit/meat combinations you like ?
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September 22, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 22: The Non Burger, Spinach Tofu Burger

Do not, I repeat do not tell the kids there's Tofu or Spinach in this, and don't think too much about it yourself either. I wasn't always eating tofu, I was one that grimaced and blah, yuck no way! Until I tried it anyways. Tofu takes on the flavors and tastes of what you put in it, so really you can't complain about the taste at all. My kids will eat this burger cold rather than hot, do not ask me why I just serve it and walk away. They're eating it, they aren't complaining so who am I to question?

 The Non Burger, Spinach Tofu Burger


1 pound spinach
2 scallions chopped small
2 garlic cloves minced like crazy
1 block firm tofu  patted dry
1/2 cup  panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tbs soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
Salt and black pepper to taste

2 tbs vegetable oil, or more as needed for cooking

In a large pot bring water to a boil . While it heats up grab some ice and place it into another bowl. Once water boils place the spinach in the boiling water. Stir it and let it cook for about 2 minutes before draining. Put the spinach into the ice immediately. Drain it again, squeeze the life out of it with your hands getting out as much moisture as possible. Go to town and chop that stuff up like nobody's business. Place it into a bowl.

Make the spinach happy and place scallions and garlic into the bowl .  Crumble the tofu into the bowl and mix up really well. Add in the bread crumble, seeds, soy sauce and oil. Sprinkle with Pepper and Salt then mix it up really well. If you have a food processor this would go faster, I don't have one so I beat the snot out of it till it's smooth. Yeah I just said that.

Divide into four patties, or smaller portions which ever is needed. Cover them and chill before cooking.  Put the 2 tablespoons oil into a skillet on medium heat. Slid patties into the oil  and cook about 6 minutes, 3 on each side or until cooked. Flip them carefully.
You can serve these right away or make a cold sandwich for lunch which my kids enjoy. My kids choose from several different sauces for this, BBQ sauce, Ketchup, Salsa, Guacamole, Soy sauce, hot sauce. They have even put ranch dressing on this . Yes my kids are creative! Assemble the way you want, with the sauce you want and lettuce. I picked arugula and sprouts.

I served this with sliced pears, and carrots with ranch sauce and some salsa for the kids to put on the burger.

Today's Lunch Box Tip: Prepare lunches the night before. You can even place the entire lunch bag in the fridge itself. It won't hurt to store the whole thing fruit and all in the fridge. Don't let "no time" be the excuse to not make a lunch. If all the other tips I've given don't help you save time simply make the entire thing the night before, place it in the fridge then grab and go the next morning...Just don't forget it's in there!
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September 21, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 21: Speedy Black Bean Quesadillas

This is a quick and easy lunch for anyone not just the kids. I often make it when I have just a little salsa left and possibly even kidney beans left over. Whatever bean you have can work. Add some pepper in it as well it would taste good with even added onions but again, use what’s on hand and make it your own! I call this Speedy Quesadilla because really you just throw it together heat cut and serve- or place it in for lunch. Literally it’s done in under 10 minutes. Who doesn't have 10 minutes to spare? 

Speedy Black Bean Quesadillas

1 can black beans, rinsed ( 15 oz size)
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup  salsa
1/2 roasted corn
Choice tortillas

 Combine the 1/4 of the salsa and toss it into a bowl with the cheese, corn and beans. mix it all up. Lay out your tortillas and spread about half a cup of mixture onto one side of each tortilla. Fold other half over, pressed down. You can heat this up in a skillet, with about a tablespoon of oil. Heat on both sides till cooked through or shove it into the microwave till it's heated. Cut in half and serve with remaining salsa or guacamole.
* For lunch, make this in the morning

My kids like eating these cold but you can put a little heated pouch into the lunch to keep it warm if you wish.

I served this with a salad with sunflower seeds, Monterey Jack cheese and some extra roasted corn. Fruit is Raspberries and Blackberries.

Today's Lunch Box Tip: Don't over do lunches.
You want the kids to fill up but you need to not over do it. Keep one hearty serving of something not 2 or 3. If you pack a salad serve this was a granola bar, or possible add meat into the salad. If you serve a hearty sandwich side it with light fruits and a  vegetable side or even light salad. Don't pack a sandwich, granola, and applesauce together. That's three powerful filling things that may over fill the kids. They not only will get too full and not finish too soon but that could also give them a tummy ache. Be aware of each helping you put into the lunch, keeping portions reasonable.
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September 20, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 20: Hissing Hummus Dip

My daughter calls hummus "hummmmmmmmmm hissssssssssss" Then she hisses like a snake for awhile and the world is forgotten. She's entertaining for sure.
It's day 20 in the challenge and I haven't really focused on the small items in the lunch. While you may need a jump start on different sandwiches or salad ideas it's also important not to forget that those little dips and dressings. The same thing everyday can be boring, so change it up!

Dont' ever be afraid to change things up.

 My kids had been stuck on ranch dressings or ranch dip ( finely chopped vegetables in ranch dressing!)  Shhh don't tell them! I slowly introduced some new flavors and they all love Hummus! Who knew, and even better it's super cheap and easy to make. <--- That my friends is the bonus factor.
 I've used it as a sandwich spread too. You can finely tune it, add more garlic, add pepper, dill play with tastes.

Named by my daughter here is Hissing Sneaky Hummus Dip

Hummus Ingredients

2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves quarter
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup sesame paste
1/2 cup lemon juice ( fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor combine everything up to the paste. Whirl until the mixture is combined. Slowly add in the lemon juice while it's still on until the consistency is the way you like it. You may or may not use all the lemon juice so go a tablespoon or so at a time. Taste, salt and pepper to your liking.

For this lunch I used left over chicken strips, used a mixed lettuce and instead of butter used tomatoes pesto for the bread. Served with Celery to be used with the Hummus and a side of plums for the fruit.

Today's Lunch Box Tip: It's Friday and you remember what Friday meant way back in the day you went to school right? Test day!
Kids need encouragement throughout the day, the lunch box is the perfect place to place a quick simple word of encouragement. Wish them luck, tell them they rock, praise them for their awesome spelling skills. Make a smiley face even, the point is sneak in a word of encouragement to your kids they may need that extra little lift during the day!
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September 19, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 19: Fruit it up Bars

I'm always on the look out for any granola or fruit bar recipes. They are really easy to make, healthier than what you pick up at the store and just all around fun to make. Another great aspect for making your own is you get the play with the flavors. Add in what you like, take out what you don't want. I call them mix and match bars, really though how it ends up is "Use what I have on Hand" which are a hit and miss at times. Today's started to be one thing and my third batch came out the best. Each one had a different ingredients but the applesauce , dates and sunflowers won out.

Fruit it up with today's lunch! 

Applesauce Fruit bars

10 dates pitted -  I used 5 fat dried dates and 5 big  dried apricots
1 cup almonds or sunflowers seeds
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon applesauce
1 tsp cinnamon
*For the nuts, I have used both versions today, this though pictures was done with pecans and sunflower seeds. So use what you have on hand

Using a food processor , mix nuts into a fine powder. Add in the dried fruit, applesauce and dates till the sticky stuff forms a large glob of dough. Using a 8x8 baking pan line it with parchment paper and make sure the edges are covered. Spoon sticky fruity mixture into the pan and smash the glob flat. It's best to use another sheet of parchment paper cause it's sticky. Get it as even and flat as possible, no lump bars people! Stick it on in the fridge for a few hours. It will firm up. When ready to pack lunches or eat simple pull out and cut on the paper.
When serving they can be slightly sticky, the dried fruit tends to be like that but it's not messy, just slightly sticky.

I served this with broccoli cut zucchini for vegetables and grapes and apples along with a turkey guacamole spinach wrap.

Today's lunch Box Tip- Either place napkins or wet ones in the lunch box. Simple thing to remember right? Well items like a BBQ meatloaf sandwich requires something tough to wipe up those BBQ fingers and lips, wet ones work better. Something like a simple sandwich wrap and finger vegetables or fruits doesn't need much at all- a napkin would do.
 Kids are already rushing to eat, and get to play with their friends and if they can't get their lunch off their faces or hands guess where it gets wiped? Their clothes, so really-  take the time to pick up wet ones. I usually place at least three in a zip lock bag and place it into their lunch bag. Or if the kids are responsible to bring back the small travel pack, just leave it in the lunch bag and they use it when needed.
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September 18, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge day 18: Thai-Riffic Wrap

Think outside the box, way way way outside. Think Thailand!  Yup, today I went all out there. I told you this challenge is for the sole purpose of making you go out of the comfort zone. Try new things, this is how each of my Recipe Challenges starts.

What would a challenge be if you already did it day to day? It would be be normal.

Who wants normal? Blah, Skip normal , hurdle over it even and land yourself in new territory!

Everyone needs to take a chance, everyone needs to try new things. You cannot possibly know if you dislike something if you've never tried it. Just like that saying "Don't judge a book by it's cover." We teach our kids it's not just about the book, it's people, it's situations, and even food. That's the challenge to get yourself and the kids over the "ugh that doesn't look so good," Or the " No I don't like that." Yes well have you tasted it?

I tell my kids take three bites. The first is just diving in to do it, they normally really gag or shove it down to make a dramatic event about it. The second is the one where they really taste it and the third is the deciding factor. You will know by the third ( yes sometimes the first)  if you like or dislike something. The point? You have to try!

The making of The Thai-Riffic Warp is behind this idea 100%. Getting my kids to try something well outside the normal. Two out of four liked it, this was excellent, because they tried. Here's today's Lunch Box

Thai-Riffic Wrap-

What you need

Sandwich wrap
Asian slaw
Romaine lettuce sliced
Grilled chicken pieces ( left overs work great!) 
Julienne Cucumbers,
 Peanuts cut small ( I used a coffee grinder and just hit pulse once to make them pebble sized.
 Wanton strips *optional
Red bell pepper strips
Julienne Carrots
Chopped green onions
Depending on how much you'll make I started with a 1 cup of everything and mixed it up in a bowl before laying it into the wraps. About 1/2 cup of this mixture goes into each. Serve with Thai Dressing on the side.

Thai Dressing

2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp white sugar
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
juice from 1 small lime

Mix Dressing ingredients together until smooth store in fridge till use.

I served this with diced Peaches and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Dried fruit.

There is no Lunch Box Tip today as it's been a week since I challenged you all to join in on trying new things. Have you tried anything new? If so, willing to share how it went?
If not, I encourage you to do so. Even if you try a new vegetable, a new fruit, get the family involved and make everyone part of the process. Have fun with it, be creative and enjoy! You can read back on the homework I gave you here, HINT <--- Do your homework!
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Did I Say That Out Loud? - Review

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I received a copy of Did I Say That Out Loud? in order to write my review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours. My opinions are honest and 100% mine.

My Review- 
You ever have one of those “OMG” moments in your life, where you weren't sure whether to laugh, cry or scream? Ha!  This book is it. This book is put together with a number of short stories that relate to everyone.
 Let’s face it, we are all human and so we all make our mistakes, have our funny moments, have our good gosh did I just do that moment!? Events that paint our lives and change history within family. This book is about the author’s life, stories of which will leave you laughing and thanking all powers above that it wasn't your family all at the same time. Face it we’re all “that” family anyways.
Life just simply wouldn't be without those  , fun awkward and  seriously funny moments and Kelly McDermott Harman has put it to words.
Did I Say That Out Loud, had me laughing and snorting out loud . It is so funny! It’s a heartwarming quick read that dives into her relationships with family and friends. You follow her through crazy situations, tied up with moments that will have you burst out laughing and even relating too! That is by far the best thing of this book. Being able to relate to it. You read a book and are carried away with a fantasy but Kelly managed to snag and relate to me . I like it – and I can laugh about it!
I was busting out laughing with some of the things in this book, exploding rear ends ( nope, not joking, and frankly let’s face it it happens!)  Cat’s suddenly catching on fire ( flash back to National Lampoons Christmas Vacation !!-  that’s not how it happens but I laughed my butt off none the less)
Kelly really created a humor throughout her writing, the events and things that happen along her journey relate to us all. Our pit falls, our fall backs, she took daily life and threw in wit, humor which makes you simply turn some of our life’s most rocky little moments into laughable moments. I love it. Truly a quick easy read that catches you off guard.
Did I Say That Out Loud is a must read, I’m telling you now you will enjoy the all-around wonderfully charming sense of humor as Kelly dives.  Sure screw ups happen, it’s what makes our lives interesting!

I can’t wait to read more from Kelly and her all around great writing. She’s captured wit , humor and made a connection with everyday life! Grab it, read it, enjoy it! 

We've all had it - the "uh-oh" of wishing we could take back the comment that somehow escaped the filter between our brains and our mouths. Did I Say That Out Loud? is the tell-all account of the author's misadventures in the daily experience that is life. Told in the tone of a coffee-klatch gathering with your best girlfriends - you know, the ones you can share anything and everything with - the author holds nothing back as she recounts the trials and tribulations of life as Kelly Harman.

Thinking of braving Botox or plastic surgery? Get the real scoop from Kelly, including pre-procedure husband prep. Need help when your cat catches on fire? Ask Kelly how to extinguish the flames without spilling your wine. Survival tips for when a 300 pound man falls on you? Ask Kelly, who lived to tell the tale.

Kelly captures those "you can't make this stuff up" dramas and takes them one step further. She shows us that by reveling in the inevitable mess of the moments we wish we could take back, we may discover that sharing our stories is in fact healing, unifying, and often outrageously funny.

Bad for the laugh lines but good for the abs, some of these stories will hit close to home, others will stray far, far from your average woman on the street. But all are unified by the inimitable candor and hilarity that her friends agree is uniquely Kelly.

Read 'em and weep.

About the Author
Kelly McDermott Harman was born in Asmara, Ethiopia in 1962 and has walked the road less traveled ever since. Her childhood was spent overseas, living in eight different countries before she came to the U.S. at the age of 16. This experience inspired an adventurous streak and disregard for convention which has yielded a rich life, overflowing with great story material.

Her experiences range from celebrating her ninth birthday at India's Taj Mahal to being evacuated with her family in the midst of a civil war in East Pakistan, single motherhood to serial entrepreneur, and Burning Man devotee to self-made marketing maven. Most recently Kelly came full circle back to the continent of her birthplace, celebrating her 50th birthday at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Kelly lives in Manassas, Virginia with Bob, her husband and true love of 23 years and has three sons. When she isn't writing about her adventures, Kelly loves spending time with her friends and family, but especially with her three grandchildren, teaching them the value of reckless honesty and unhindered fun.  Kelly is currently working on her next book, a memoir about growing up abroad as the daughter of a (former) CIA agent.

Follow The Author

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printed book            ebook version

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September 17, 2013

Lunch Box Challenge Day 17: The Power of Guacamole and a Chicken Sandwich

We're an active family, always keeping on the move, We head to the park everyday bike and run around playing some ball. Once in awhile I'll mention how strong my kids are and they respond in the most funny way. They just stop whatever they are doing and pose to flex their muscles.
They get really into it, standing like the Hulk, mean faces on- 

"Grrrrr look at my muscles!"

It's pretty funny and then they demand some Hulk style foods. Which is more or less anything green and fresh. I mixed things up with this sandwich and put Guacamole in with Chicken. The kids won't eat Guacamole alone, or even with chips but for some odd strange reason they can't turn it down when it's with chicken, so let it be made- The Power of Guacamole and a Chicken Sandwich.

Ingredients For Guacamole

2 1/2 medium avocados, peeled and pitted
1 lime, zest & juice
Small handful fresh cilantro
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped (remove stems and heat for less heat) You can sub in bell peppers if you don't want the heat.
1 teaspoons cumin
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Pepper and Salt to taste

 Blend everything but the tomatoes in a blender or really go to town with a fork to mix it all up. After blending it well and it's nice and thick add in the tomatoes. Serve immediately or store in fridge for about five days.

This sandwich uses up left over chicken breast from a fryer chicken cooked in the slow cooker. Use what's on hand , either shred it or slice it. Up to you. Grab bread, lettuce and chicken assemble but without the Guacamole. Put that in a separate container so the kids can add it on each slice of bread and not have the sandwich be mess by the time to get to school.

I served this with Grapes, Snap Peas and a Trail mix of nuts and seeds. You will want to keep this cool so pack in a small ice pack 

Today's Lunch Box Tip:  Pick up some reusable ice packs, there are one just for lunch boxes, even smaller ones for the kids lunch bag. There are also really good insulated lunch bags that come in handy for those cold lunches. The ones that have a pouch to keep the ice pack in are best as like most kids they will lose it if it's just moving around in their bag loose. If there's no pouch, tape the pack to the bag so it won't fall out when the kids get their lunches out.
Need to keep something hot? Invest in a good thermos , remember to heat the food in the morning before backing and it will be warm by lunch time. Don't mix hot and cold items ( pretty obvious why!)

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