{Today’s Lunchbox} Mostly Raw = Timesaver

by Valerie on January 6, 2011 · 2 comments

January 6 Lunchbox

{Today’s Lunchbox}
I was rushing when making today’s lunchbox so it was all about making things easy. Focusing on raw or close to raw foods definitely makes lunchbox assembly faster for me.

  • Red pepper boats stuffed with the cashew pumpkin seed cheese I raved about yesterday. I skipped the apple cranberry sauce because I did not think that would work well with red pepper.
  • Celery
  • Lightly steamed kale
  • Two Sweet Green Smoothies, from Affairs of Living (yes, yesterday’s and today’s lunchboxes are definitely inspired by Kim)

The Great Time Question
I am planning to write a couple of posts on how I manage to have lunchboxes despite leading a busy lifestyle (I work on average 60 hours a week and lately it has been closer to 70) but since today was an example of a lunchbox thrown together on a particularly hectic day I thought I would highlight a few time-savers I rely on:

  • Sticking to raw or lightly cooked foods as the base of my lunchbox definitely speeds things up when I am out of dinner leftovers, which was the case when I prepared today’s lunchbox.
  • No matter how busy I am, I try to always have some sort of hummus or nut pate or dip in the fridge during the week.  In this case, the cashew pumpkin seed cheese is actually a hybrid hummus nut pate as it contains cooked white beans in addition to the cashews and pumpkin seeds.  As long as I have a hummus/dip/nut pate, I can always stuff it into peppers, collard leaves, or romaine leaves or spread it on crackers or bread or use it in a sandwich.
  • Lightly steamed kale is a fast staple for a lunchbox.  First, kale is incredibly filling for me (likely the combination of fiber and amino acids in kale), so I know if I round out a lunchbox with kale, I will not go hungry.  Lately I have been lightly steaming kale because the kale at the farmer’s market has become a bit bitter though overall I do prefer raw kale salad.  Whether I make kale salad or steam it, kale is actually pretty fast. For this lunchbox,  I can stemmed a few large kale leaves in under 5 minutes, and then steamed them in the rice cooker while I made the smoothies.
  • Smoothies are another great fast staple for me in a lunchbox, though admittedly that only became the case when I acquired a VItamix.  I washed the kale for the smoothies and the steamed kale at the same time, and filled both with kale simultaneously.  I also added the kale stems to the smoothie so nothing went to waste.  Then, I finished the smoothies in the 5 minutes it took to steam the kale in the rice cooker.  I will acknowledge that this was possible because the Vita makes short work of a smoothie with raw nuts, carrots, an apple and a banana. 
  • Foresight goes a long way, even where there are no leftovers to pack. I came home way too late the night before to work on a lunchbox, but I did think about the lunchbox before going to sleep, checked the fridge for what produce we had, and decided to rely on kale for two of the components of the lunchbox, and put cashews to soak overnight for the smoothies. That took me about 3 minutes total.  Had I not had the cashew pumpkin seed cheese to rely on, however, things would have been a bit more tricky.
  • Practice helps – I never liked the term practice makes perfect, but there is something to it – six months ago I could never have managed to make and pack a batch of two smoothies and a side of steamed kale in under 10 minutes, but the more I make certain staples the faster I get.
  • Kitchen configuration helps too.  I keep the Vita and the rice cooker side by side to the left of the kitchen sink. Yes I waste very valuable  counter space, but I can wash veggies and steam and/or blend without moving far.  The microwave used to live in that spot, and it was only when I bought the Vita that I actually thought of the sink/Vita/rice cooker set up on one side of the kitchen.  
  • And finally, a word on teamwork and help. I will freely admit my husband helps me with prep and cooking.  One thing I am not good at in the morning is anything that involves chopping and a large knife.  Therefore, he did cut the perfect-looking red pepper boats (aren’t they adorable?) and cut the celery.  That said, if I had not  been able to rely on him, I would have just packed the red pepper whole and cut it up and stuffed it with the cashew pumpkin seed cheese at work later. As for the celery, I would have just torn two stalks off the celery in the fridge and cut that in half and in half again as that is basic cutting even I can do in the morning.  I often ask him for help with cutting produce in the morning because I want things to look a bit prettier for the blog. And he benefited because he got a side of steamed kale made for his lunch. If he liked green smoothies, he would have really benefited, as with the Vita it is super easy to scale up smoothie recipes in no time.

Have a Lunchbox & Want to be a Guest Blogger at {Today’s Lunchbox}?
I am looking for guest bloggers of lunchboxes on an ongoing basis, so email me at citylifeeats at gmail dot com if you are interested.  Guest lunchboxes must be gluten-free and whole-foods based but need not be dairy-free or vegan.  I know this is a time for resolutions and change for many, so would like to provide as much lunchbox inspiration as possible.  To do that, I think it is important that you see not just my own lunchboxes but other people’s as well. In my view, packing one’s lunch is a change that can have so much impact – both on your health and finances – so I would love to hear from many of you.  They can be work-day lunchboxes, school lunchboxes, travel lunchboxes or weekend lunchboxes. 

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 bitt January 10, 2011 at 2:04 am

I used to pack almost the same thing for work! I no longer have to pack lunch due to not working anymore but I do pack lunches for my husband that are all vegan and gluten-free and usually some raw foods in there too. I also pack stuff for travel. So if you want a guest post of that I'd be happy to help out!


2 Tasty Eats At Home January 10, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Those red pepper boats look so tasty! Working as many hours as you do – I'm surprised you have time to blog, even!


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