Leftovers for Lunch

  

Toddler lunch, preschool lunch, school lunch or even for adults, this lunch is good for the whole family, especially people with food allergies or sensitivities as it is peanut free, nut free, gluten free and dairy free. 

Today we are using our Thermos Funtainer to keep honey sesame chicken with brown rice and broccoli warm. Since this is for my 2 year old I cut up all the food into small bite size pieces. The other containers pictured are Kids Konserve and have raspberries and coconut chips (chocolate and plain). You may want to check that your small child can open these containers by themselves before sending them to school, teachers are often very busy at lunch time and may not have time to open every child’s lunch stuff. 

1st grade! 

1 for #firstgrade! I can’t believe how fast we went from having a Kindergartener to having a first grader! Here’s his first day of school lunch…

Open faced sandwich on a potato bun with melted cheese and bacon (pre cooked over the weekend to speed up lunch prep). Pluot, carrots (with bento eyes- found on Amazon) and bell pepper “teeth” and cucumber eyes, #waybettersnacks sweet potato chips and gummy stars from #wholefoodsmarket. 

  

Sprouted and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds


Pumpkin Seeds  – also known as pepitas – are one of those things that I always forget about, suddenly remember how healthy they are and “why don’t I have any on hand?”, prepare them, and then can’t believe I forgot how amazing they taste! 

Pumpkins seeds are touted for containing high amounts of zinc and magnesium as well as vitamin E and protein. What does this mean for you and your kids? Zinc is great for many things, but heading into the school year I’m singing its praises as an immune booster. Magnesium is well known for its calming effects…your child’s teacher will praise you for this, and protein keeps bellies full longer so it makes a great snack.

How do you make them so scrumptious that your kids will not be able to say no to this nutritious snack? The key to unlocking the taste and health benefits is in the soaking so don’t skip this step…

Step 1: Soak seeds overnight (but no more than 24 hours) in room temperature water with a teaspoon of salt.

Step 2: Rins and pat dry. Combine with choice of oil and seasoning in a bowl. (See below for some suggestions). Coat seeds in mixture.

Step 3: Spread seeds one layer deep on parchment paper covered cookie sheet.

Step 4: Bake at 250-275 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes or until seeds start to turn a golden brown. Stir seeds every 10-15 minutes.*

Enjoy as a snack, over salads or cereal, or throw them in a lunchbox!


A Few Seasoning Combination Ideas (based on 1 cup of seeds used):

1) Cinnamon and Brown Sugar: 1 Tbsp butter (melted) + 1 tsp brown sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon + dash of sea salt

2) Sea Salt and Pepper: 1 Tbsp coconut oil (melted) + 1 tsp sea salt + 1/2 tsp pepper

3) Chili & Lime: zest of 1 lime + juice of 1/2 a lime + up to 1 Tbsp chili powder (depends on how spicy you want it) + 1/4 tsp sea salt

* This step is even better when done at a lower heat to preserve the nutrients – at 165/170 degrees – but many ovens don’t go this low anymore. Some studies say roasting above 200 degrees and more than 20min will damage some of the delicate oils in pumpkin seeds but on the other hand you won’t get the amazing nutty flavor. I find it hard to get the seeds to dry up and taste good in my (less than ideal) oven at temps lower than 200 degrees and less than 20 minutes.  

The Adult Lunchbox Experiments


My first “adult” lunch post! Granted, most of my lunchbox posts can be applied to adult lunches, but this one is slightly more mature. More “adult” lunchbox posts to follow will include food that might appeal to a more sophisticated palate or contain food that would be difficult for a toddler or young child to handle. Also, I would never send a young child to school with a Pyrex dish!  I’m excited to get some BPA-free plastic bento boxes in the mail tomorrow to play around with as well.  

Pictured here is a sprouted whole wheat tortilla with cream cheese, salami, pea shoots and tomatoes. Roasted pumpkin seeds (find the recipe for soaking and roasting your own here), caprese bites, cucumber, carrots, and green apple. #therealisticlunchbox #theadultlunchbox #nutfree 

How to Build a Nutritiously Balanced (and fun) Lunchbox

  
Here is what lunch prep looks like at my house.

Even though the little guy (age 2) doesn’t have school today, I’m still prepping his lunch at 7am because I have all the stuff out anyways. It saves time later and we bring it out and about with us so that after the gym we may just sit down at the grocery store and have our lunch there.  It gives me a lot more freedom with my mornings out because I feel like we can just stop whenever (and wherever) and have lunch instead of racing home. 

Someone asked about how my thought process works for making lunches….so here we go.  First I decide on the main protein source. Will it be some meat in a sandwich or tortilla wrap? Perhaps just cut up meat and cheese for crackers? Have we been eating a lot of meat recently and therefore I should switch it up for a hard boiled egg or perhaps a nut source of protein? After I decide on the star of the show (protein is so important for kids!) I next think to what will be the fruit and vegetable and as far as this goes my belief is the more the merrier. This is usually the artistic fun part because I always have several options in the fridge (unless it’s been more than a week since I’ve been to the store!) anything else on the lunchbox is all extra. 

Protein Ideas for the Lunchbox:

  • Lunch meat (in a sandwich or wrap or just plain)
  • Smoked salmon (in a sandwich or wrap or on the side – toddlers seem to like this!
  • Greek yogurt
  • Any type of nut butter (including sun butter which is OK for a nut-free setting)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Hard boiled eggs or egg salad sandwich
  • Tuna or salmon salad (in a sandwich or by itself or served with crackers)
  • Cheese (on a sandwich or in a wrap or by itself with crackers)
  • Hummus, roasted chickpeas or anything else with legumes
  • A bar or muffin either store bought or homemade that is high in protein (check out the recipe here for scrumptious banana nut muffins that have 9g of protein per muffin!)

For more fun ideas to make your child’s (or your own) lunchbox nutritious and pleasing to the eye visit my Instagram account @therealisticlunchbox. Here are a few examples…

   
    
 

New Green Smoothie Recipe

  

I created  a new green smoothie recipe that I think is a winner, so of course I have to tell the world!


Ingredients

1 kiwi 

1 lemon (peel off) 

1 Apple (cored) 

12oz water 

about 2 cups loose spinach 

1 leaf kale 

  

Blend together in a Vitamix or other powerful blender.

Resut is 1 green smoothie packed full of Vit C (yes please I will take a dose of natural anti-inflammatory), folate (well sure I’d like to lower my risk for cardiovascular disease), antioxidants (let’s fight those pre-cancer cells), and minerals like calcium (🎶 dem bones dem bones…). It has a hint of a “green” taste but the sour of the lemon cuts it and the kiwi and apple add a hint of sweetness that is not too overpowering. I don’t like thick, sweet smoothies and this is almost more like a juice, but with the benefit of the fiber found naturally in the fruit and veggies. Raw fruits and vegetables provide your body with active enzymes and vitamins that are often destroyed by heat, so drink to your health!

Bubs, Bikkies and Beaches

We moved into our rental house for the duration of our stay here in Perth and this is our view from our master bedroom balcony… 

 Yup, we are staying THAT close to the beach!

The first few weeks here in Perth the weather has been amazing with midday temperatures in the low 70s and lots of sunshine. Even on the days of high 60s the boys still want to go to the beach. This is what many afternoons look like for us.

 It starts off like this… 

and then we get closer to the water, the clothes start coming off and there is no stopping them from getting their feet (and other parts) wet!  

 

   
 and then we end up like this…and by “we” I mean the kids…

 
  
I finally got a little smarter in packing ahead before leaving the house and I started stuffing swimsuits, towels, and extra clothes into our double stroller. 

  


I could go on and on about the beautiful beaches here. Even though it’s winter, we still found enough sunshine to dip our feet in (or whole bodies in the case of the kids – but they are crazy). There are tons of surfers and paddle boarders out on most days (wearing wetsuits) but also some brave locals or crazy tourists in just their swimmers. 
 And the sunsets are gorgeous…  

So there’s the “beaches” portion of the post, but life here isn’t all glorious beaches and superb sunsets. The picture taken here with my two boys sitting in the grass enjoying a sunset….that captured moment lasted about 90 seconds before they were back up and running around whining about being tired, cold and hungry (well that’s what they would be saying if their whining was translated). 

It’s been a tough transition with a husband working long hours (for all that we see him during the week he could just as well be travelling), a new house to settle into with very few toys and way too many buttons and touch screens at toddler level, an almost bare pantry, and no friends. However, we were extremely lucky to have incredibly helpful family living here in Perth and my brother visiting for 9 days as we settled in. If not for that, I would have lost my mind. I seem to remember my sleep-deprived self telling my husband in the first week or two of being here that the only thing stopping me from going back home was a 40+ hour journey alone with two little kids. Thank goodness I didn’t, because things have gotten much better. 
For one, we got a rental car! Perth has some great public transport but it really is a driving city. I was pretty horrified about the idea of just climbing into a car and driving around on the left side of the road, but after some reassuring words from my brother I set out to try. I was astonished at how quickly I adjusted. Now, about 3 weeks later I feel completely normal driving on the left. I laughed out loud the other day when I noticed this sticker on my windshield… 

Gee, thanks for the reminder. I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be driving on the roads if I need this reminder every time I look up into the heavens for (help/reassurance/prayers answered)?

Also helping make our stay here more enjoyable is the delicous food! I love the European influence here. We found a local, organic butcher within walking distance where we can buy great quality meat, frozen pies (the kind with meat in them!) and other yummies. 

  


And they love treating the bubs (babies) well here. A specialty we like to treat the littles to is a Baby Cino (frothed milk) with bikkies (biscuits or cookies). 

  

We also found a local brewery called Little Creatures in Fremantle (the port city of Perth) that my 5 year old constantly asks to go back to because of this great kid-friendly aspect… 

  So we enjoy great beer while they can play in a sandbox! And of course, I’ve found the local bottle shop (liquor store).

All in all, we are settling in okay. Now if the current torrential downpours this weekend stop plying us with rain every hour or two I might venture out to procure some ingredients to make ANZAC bikkies. 

Next post follow us on our adventures in Perth’s Naturescapes!  

A Journey Like No Other- Part 2

Sometime between Thursday May 28th and Saturday May 30th

Ok, we made it on board the flight from SFO to Auckland without Air New Zealand weighing our carry-on luggage (which apparently they actually do quite frequently) and forcing us to check it, which would have been a pain since we had toys, food, and clothes for our 42 hour journey. Phew. After that hurdle was crossed reality of the next 12+ hours sunk in big time; we are going to be stuck on a plane with little kids. There will be no escape. I was trying to think positively, but it was hard. I’ve done this before with one child and it was really, really hard.

  
Our 5 year old was amazing, but we expected that. After all, he IS a world traveller many times over. Heck, he’s even been down under. But our 18 month old? Well, how can I say it…he’s not like his brother. He was pretty good consider the spectrum of what could have happened, but our flight was overnight and uninterrupted sleep, even for an hour or two, was not on his flight plan.

Air New Zealand does have this “sky couch” configuration where three economy seats have little footrests that come up to be flush with the seat part to create a platform from seat back to the seats in the row ahead. Then the flight attendants lay down a mattress pad and give you feather down pillows and wool blankets. Sounds amazing, right? Well, it would have been if my young sleeping companion had felt the same way! I finally woke up my husband half way into the 12 hour flight and demanded a switch in sleeping arrangements. I was hopeful that although not a perfect nigh’ts sleep, I would have a chance to get about 5 hours of fairly restful sleep still. Wrong again. “Mommy, I need to go to the bathroom”, “Mommy, I’m thristy”, “Mommy….”…and on and on and on. While these are all valid reasons for my 5 year old to interrupt my sleep, at this point I’m running on fumes and my patience is nonexistant. Thankfully I didn’t cause permament psychological damage with my less than amiable retorts (I hope?) So went the 12 hour flight. No sleep for the parents, fitful sleep for the 18 month old, and a good solid 8-9 hours of sleep for the 5 year old. 

The other issue we encountered with this flight was that our 18 month old struggles with a dairy sensitivity and since I’m still nursing him, that means I am also dairy-free. When we called Air New Zealand to request special meals, they replied that they would make a note of it in our file but couldn’t guarantee these meals. They also wouldn’t allow us a bit of extra weight to accommodate the extra meals we would have to take with us. This was pretty frustrating, and was even more frustrating when the meal carts came and there was no mention of our request. So basically they offered me fruit (and called it very filling, I don’t what these flight attendants eat normally but fruit alone does NOT fill me up.) So the toddler and I ate fruit and summer sausage I had brought. Did I mention I hate flying?

  
So we made it to Auckland. It was 5:45am local time when we arrived and completely dark (this pic was taken later in the day). My biological clock was so screwed up I had no idea what day it was, or what time of day it was. My brain was so fried from being awake for about 30 hours at this point I didn’t know left from right or up from down. But I was hungry! 

After eating some breakfast (or dinner? or lunch? still not sure what meal that was) we explored the Auckland airport looking for a place to set up camp – we were going to be there for 8.5 hours. After realizing that the airport was super small and all the good sleeping areas were taken, we proceeded to take over aquire some seats in a group where we only displaced politely asked a couple people to move. Funny thing is, as the hours passed and the kids ran around and (mostly) used inside voices, the seats surrounding us became more and more vacant (probably just a lot of flights leaving – couldn’t have been our lovely overtired children causing a raucous).

  
One thing I did find rather nice about the Auckland airport was the fantastic “Parent Rooms” they have. It’s basically a family bathroom but they have thought of everything. Nursing/changing stalls, child and adult size toilets, sinks and drinking fountains and most importantly – a tiny ENCLOSED playroom where I could stash my children while I used the facilities (my husband was off dealing with said stroller incident). Let me tell you, that was one of the most stress-free trips to the bathroom I have EVER had with kids. I can’t even pee by myself in my own home!

   
     

 We passed the time by coloring (mostly on the paper), blowing bubbles, playing with trinkets, eating, trying to alternate sleeping, drinking coffee (because the sleeping didn’t work), eating, walking miles and miles in the airport to put the extremely overtired toddler to sleep and filing a damage complaint with the airline. Uh yeah, you read correctly. As if we didn’t have enough to deal with, Delta had damaged the handle bar of our stroller (which was annoying but it still functioned) but then Air New Zealand damaged our wheels so that our double jogging stroller was more of a limping, wobbly baggage cart (still functional but not as I needed it once we got to Perth!) They were pretty accomodating and told us to take the stroller to a Phil and Ted retailer in Perth and bill the repairs to the airline. Sounded straight forward so we agreed. (More on that later.)

     
   

I think they were so tired of being around us that they needed thier space.        

   
    So we finally made it through the LONG layover and it was time to complete the last leg – a short flight of 7.5 hours (well it seemed short after the 12 hour flight!) to Perth. At this point we didn’t even care if they made a fuss over carry-on weight, I would have ripped them a new one. Seriously. I felt like this flight had the potential of being the best one yet. We had the sky couches again and both kids wanted to sleep. Wrong again. About half an hour or so into the flight I was trying to settle the toddler to sleep and he was fighting it like a rockstar. We were almost to zzzz land when out of no where he starts vomiting. Holy %$#@ (fill in whatever you like there). I did NOT see this coming. At first I thought it might have been because the smoothie we had in Auckland contained yogurt even though we had requested no dairy. At the time I was mildly pissed off when I tasted my toddler’s almost finished portion and realized there was yogurt! But now I wondered if he was reacting to the dairy by vomiting or was this something else? Now I wanted to rip Auckland smoothie-girl a new one too. But maybe he just needed to get it out of his system? Well, 5 hours later he was still vomiting and looked like hell. We were kind of freaking out now. It’s a powerless feeling when your child is sick but then take that scenario 35,000 feet in the air over an ocean and it’s a whole different feeling. The flight attendants even paged a doctor. 

Finally, with about an hour left in the flight, he fell asleep and stopped vomiting. Now we were not only worried about his health but also that the flight attendants were talking about possible quarantine upon arrival. Australia is really strict about these things, especially with the Ebola outbreak.

  
The poor little guy kept throwing up so much he had on only a diaper in this picture. He just lay there limp in our arms as we dressed him before exiting the plane. After about an hour more of getting luggage, filling out the forms we hadn’t had a chance to on the plane, and going through customs we left the airport and found our way to our apartment. We were a mess. Once again, family saved the day! My aunt lives in Perth and she stepped right into the role my own mother would have filled; bought us basic groceries, helped put the kids to bed, sought out dinner, the list goes on. What a wonderful feeling when someone just knows how to step in and care for you. It felt a little like home.

Thankfully, our sick little guy had stopped vomiting and had wet his diaper in the night so we didn’t have to worry as much about dehydration and hospital visits. And for all the worried moms out there reading this, he was much better the next day…not himself yet but better nonetheless.

42 hours, 3 planes, 1 illness and 0 hours sleep for the parents later and we are half way around the world. I am NEVER doing this again until my kids are older! Ummm, except for the trip to Italy next summer to celebrate a family member’s wedding…which we just found out about (the location) on the heels of this nightmare trip. Oh, and to get home in a couple months (cringe).

PS I would like to make it known that I titled this post BEFORE I realized how true it was to be.

Stay tuned for our first few days of adventure in Perth! (I will try to keep the posts shorter and incorporate more about food – especially my trials and tribulations over ordering coffee!)

A Journey Like No Other- Part 1

Thursday, May 28th

Today my oldest son graduated from preschool. Yay! Bittersweet feelings. And then we got on a plane. All four of us. To San Francisco. Oh but that is not where this journey will end. No, we are then going to Auckland, New Zealand and then we will jump on another plane to Perth, Australia. I think Perth is likely the furthest inhabited destination from our home in Minnesota that we could possibly go to. Initially, I was completely against the idea of following my husband’s job there for the summer (I mean winter) but I warmed up to it…kind of. You see, I hate flying on planes. The yogini inside of me wants to stretch out in down dog and let my warrior 2 stand strong, not to mention laying out flat in shavasana. Who wouldn’t want to practice corpse pose at 30,000 feet?!? I can’t sit still. Ok, now add an 18 month old and 5 year old to the mix. Yikes. Ironically, I just recently proclaimed to my husband (who agreed) that we would not be doing any international travels until our youngest son was at least 2.5/3 years old. Even flying to CA with him is tough and that’s only 3.5-4 hours. Anyways, to make a long story short, here we are…on a plane.

Less than 2 weeks ago this journey was not even a seed of thought in my head. Then one day (very recently) my husband woke up and asked me over breakfast if I would like to move to Australia for the summer. What?!? So… I guess we are not talking about plane tickets to Chicago for a wedding next month anymore? 13 days later here we are…on a plane.

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So far, we are running on about 5 hours of sleep per night for the last week, which is average for my husband (Not me!) We stayed up until midnight weighing carry-on luggage that must be under 15lb each (which means our roller boards are half empty) and the birds chirping outside my window woke me up at 5:30am. It could be worse I guess.

The flight to SF went ok. My 18 month old only screamed for about 15 minutes a couple times, I had a glass of wine and my 5 year old watched 3 movies. Thank god for technology (and alcohol). There were even some good moments…

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When we got to SFO my in-laws met us and it was a GODSEND!!! They really saved our sanity and helped us recharge for the remaining 30 hours of our 42 hour transit.

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At the end of our layover in SFO we had only done one leg of our journey but had been in transit for almost 12 hours. The kids were kind of going crazy from fatigue and it was almost midnight for them when our plane boarded for Auckland.

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Stick a fork in him…he’s done.

We had no idea what would happen later…stay tuned for the next chapter.

Lactation Cookies – Healthy and Yummy Way To Maintain or Boost Your Milk Supply

Based on my conversations with other moms, my pumping output and having two boys who have in the past and currently are thriving on breastmilk, I’m going to go ahead and say I have a healthy milk supply. However, around 3-4 months post-partum with my second baby, I noticed a slight drop in milk supply. I made sure I was doing all the right things to maintain/increase milk supply (staying very well hydrated, eating enough calories, drinking fennel/fenugreek teas) but reducing stress was not something I could address since my main stressor was serious sleep deprivation (this will likely be a whole different post!). Still, my supply bounced back enough to continue breastfeeding. Then we had a nursing strike, then teething, then illness…..the list goes on. My little guy also wasn’t the type of baby who goes on a nursing marathon to naturally boost moms supply, he just gives up at the breast. Now we are 6 months post-partum and going strong with breastfeeding BUT like many moms I constantly worry about my supply.

Now I need a drum roll because I’m about to talk about the EASIEST, most delicious and effective way to build or maintain your milk supply. I have no idea how I did not know about these un-named miracles while breastfeeding my first baby. They are less costly than buying herbal lactation support, you can make a ton and they freeze well, and they can be enjoyed by anyone who wants a healthy but yummy snack (and your kids and husband won’t start lactating!) What are these amazing things? LACTATION COOKIES! If you already knew about them and are shaking your head at me then WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME ABOUT THEM?? I thought I knew so much about breastfeeding, it confounds me that I had never heard of these.

OK I will stop rambling and share the recipe. I felt no need to reinvent the wheel so I did a Google search and found this recipe from DrMomma.org. There is also a great explanation to the ingredients and why they help support milk production.

Major Milk Makin’ Cookies
Recipe by Kathleen Major


1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 3/4 c. oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c. almond butter or peanut butter
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. flax (milled)
3 T brewer’s yeast
1/3 c. water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 c. (12oz) chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts of your choice (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
In a large bowl, beat almond butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, brewer’s yeast, flax and water until creamy.
Mix in eggs.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Mix in nuts and chocolate chips.
Add oats slowly, mixing along the way.

Place balls of dough onto greased baking sheets or baking stones.

Press down each ball lightly with a fork.
Bake 12 minutes.

 

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They turned out really well and are very tasty – not too sweet but still feels like you are indulging a little bit 🙂  Both hubby and my 4 year old really liked them as well. They are pretty darn healthy in my opinion so I don’t mind giving my son one of these cookies as a special treat sometimes. Also, like I said before, they freeze well so why not make a double batch?

BIGGEST QUESTION: DO THEY WORK?!?!?

Well, I have to admit I over indulged on a Tuesday (I had like 3-4 cookies and they are not small! yikes!) I had 1 on Wednesday and was starting to think they were just an excuse for lactating mothers to have cookies whenever they wanted. Well, I was wrong. THEY TOTALLY WORK!!! I woke up Thursday morning engorged. I guess it takes my body about 36-48 hours for all the good stuff to kick in. Since then I’ve toned it down to about 1 cookie a day, sometimes 2 and my supply is very robust now. I’m still not sleeping, just got over a virus, I can work out hard at the gym (these are all stressors to my body) and as long as I still hydrate and have my cookie, I’m all good and baby is happy.