Beyond Peanut Butter & Jelly

Every autumn parents face the challenge of packing nutritious, safe school lunches. The concern is how to create lunches that are quick and easy to make, taste good and will stay safe until lunchtime. In other words, kid-friendly is more than just peanut butter & jelly.

There are three things to keep in mind when considering how to produce a safer lunch – Containers, temperature and foods items.

Start with an insulated lunch bag. There are many economical choices that are also free of harmful chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Phthalates, and Microban and are either lead-free or meet the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) testing standard for lead. Check out SafeMama for a list of safer choices

Step number two is managing temperature control. Bacteria thrive between 40 -140 degrees, so the trick is to keep hot food hot, and cold food cold. Thermal containers will keep noodle soup hot or gazpacho cold for hours. Choose reusable stainless steel containers to avoid break down and harmful chemicals from mixing with your child’s food. They’re economical and reduce waste. Here are a few to choose from

Klean Kanteen

Mr. Bento Stainless Lunch Jar



To keep cold foods cold, use a cold pack or ice bags wrapped to avoid leakage or consider freezing food items like yogurt, milk or juice boxes the night before, and use them as your cold pack. Surprisingly, you can also freeze some sandwiches to thaw by the time lunch rolls around.

Last but not least, safety includes food choices. According to the Food Allergy Research & Education research group, one in every 13 children under the age of 18 years in the U.S. suffers from a potentially severe food allergy. That’s about 2 kids per classroom! With food allergies on the rise, lunches have to go beyond peanut butter & jelly. There are many delicious, easy to prepare items that also fit your budget. Hummus & veggies, wrap sandwiches, salad with separate dressing, granola bars, soups, leftovers, and more. For some tasty ideas check out these options

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My alarm went off at 6:15 AM.  Not only was it early, but it was a rainy Saturday in January.  Not the kind of weather that inspires me to spring out of bed, full of vitality.  But, I’d set my alarm to get up for an 8 AM Pilates class and I knew that if I went back to bed I’d regret it the rest of the day. 


Getting up early on a Saturday reminds me of all the 8 AM introductory classes my freshman year at college.  Those classes are designed to weed out students who are not serious about studying.  As I was preparing for college my mom advised me that if I did nothing else, I should just show up for class.  Showing up meant that I would hear the lecture and be able to recall the material in context for tests. 


We all know better, so why is cutting class, skipping your exercise program or cheating on your diet such a temptation?  Often it has to do with lack of support and unrealistic expectations.  Not reaching your goal as quickly as you’d thought, saying yes to a friend when you really mean maybe, or making a New Year’s Resolution without a game plan of how to accomplish it practically.  The important component here is that playing hooky often isn’t the escape we imagine; it feels more like you’re letting yourself down. 


How do you get past the feeling of wanting to skip?  The first step is to be aware of it and think about why you might be afraid of moving forward.  What would losing those extra pounds, quitting cigarettes or saying no to an obligation really mean?  What would you lose?  What could you gain?  Dig deep so that the pull of a warm cozy bed is less than your desire to follow through with your intention.  Reframe your goal and create practical steps.  Get support from a friend or health coach. However you make it happen, do yourself the favor and Just Show Up. 


Back to Saturday morning, 6:15 AM.  I decided to heed my internal “mom voice” and I got my butt to Pilates.  I showed up.  Was it worth it?  Oh yeah!  Instead of regretting a missed class, I started my day with an amazing work out and I felt the benefits all day long.  My muscles hummed with energy.  I felt strong physically and mentally, and I made better choices throughout the day.  The next time you’re tempted to skip, remember this… everyone feels it, but you’ll feel better about yourself and get more out of life if you just show up.


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Snowy Day Soup

photo (13)It was a snowy day and my guys spent the day making snow forts and having snowball fights with the kids in the neighborhood.  By the time they came in, they were chilled to the bone.  I wanted to make chicken noodle soup as a way to warm them up quickly.  Problem was, I had soup stock but no chicken.  And did I mention it was a snowy day?  So the last place I wanted to go was the grocery store.  What to do? What to do?

When in doubt, check your pantry!  Mine always has canned beans, which are a great swap in for meat in a pinch.   Beans have a meaty texture and are high in protein.  And they have soluble and insoluble fiber, making them a healthy choice as well.  I used cannellini beans and they totally worked.  Most importantly, the soup was delicious!  Next time you’re running short on time or supplies, try beans in place of meat for a tasty and economical change.

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Cool summer soup for hot & humid days!

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I can find something to love about every season of the year.  But summer holds my attention pretty well.  So much great produce comes in season from June through October that grilling and cooking are delightful! However, summer dinners have … Continue reading

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Maximizing My Camera Skills

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Postings have been a little few & far between because I’ve been working to improve the visual portion of my blog.  The focus (yes, pun intended!) has been on photography because I want my photos to entice readers to want … Continue reading

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Sunny Carrot Ginger Soup

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One of my all-time favorite soups is carrot ginger. That vivid orange, and ginger heat is like sunshine in the winter months.  I first made this soup when my dad had an over-abundance of carrots in his garden.  He gave me … Continue reading

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Resolutions for 2012

With the new year upon us and resolutions abounding, I’ve been thinking about the compelling documentary, Forks Over Knives.  Based on research by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, the film  highlights the importance of eating a more … Continue reading

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