A Day Without a Lunchbox

by Valerie on March 5, 2011 · 4 comments

Wednesday lunchbox 013

Happy Saturday. I am so glad you enjoyed Faye’s guest post yesterday.  I too wonder if it is stress eating when it is yummy raw foods fare like she had in her lunchbox (and by the way, that raw sushi looked a-ma-zing) – and have wondered that myself when I have eaten – no, inhaled really –  three cups of steamed kale mid-afternoon in a fit of work stress even though I was not hungry at the time.  To me, that is probably stress eating, though in the grand scheme of things, three cups of kale sure beats the Starbucks iced grande soy chai I used to rely on a few years ago. 

More food for thought.  What are your thoughts on this topic? 

In the meantime, I got a question recently along the lines of  “do you seriously never go out for lunch during the work week?” – now, it is only seldom that I go out for lunch, and that is due to a variety of reasons – one is simply that I like having my own foods. I am so lucky to have a couple of places near my office with healthy gluten-free vegan options (bonus in that I have never had an experience with cross-contamination at either), but at the end of the day, I still think it is healthier and way more cost-effective to eat home-prepared foods the majority of the time. The other reason: there have been way too many days where I resolved to take lunch and go to one of those places only to get pulled into a meeting or get a rush assignment and next thing I know it is 4pm and I am starving and cranky. No good.  So the lunchboxes I bring are an insurance policy against that too. 

That said, Thursday night I had serious lunchbox fatigue.  No inspiration, no leftovers, no freezer stash.  I made another pumpkin chia pudding and decided that instead of making lunch I would rather make muffins for Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger and make myself take lunch outside the office the next day.  Fridays are generally the best days for this.  So I headed to Litestars.  In case the picture at the beginning of the post does not explain it, here is a closer look:

Wednesday lunchbox 016

All the soups are gluten-free, and five of the seven soups are vegan, which means I do not have to worry about triggering gluten or dairy reactions (I worry less about eggs considering they are not usually in soups).  I have been to Litestars at least five or six times since it opened in January and I have always seen those same soup options.  Incidentally, I also feel better knowing all the soups are gluten-free, since that greatly reduces the likelihood for cross-contamination.  The Afterglow and Sea Breeze are thickened with tapioca which strikes me as a fantastic alternative to flour or dairy or even tofu. Super allergenic-friendly, and generally great ingredients and philosophy – I mean, stocks, made in house – I love it. 


In addition to soups, they have a rotating selection of salads:


Most of the salads are gluten-free, but not all. I noticed that the ones containing wheat-berries or bulgur tend to be on one side of the display though, while the rice and quinoa and vegetable based salads tend to be on the other side.  If you are concerned about errant bits of wheatberries flying into the quinoa salad, be sure to communicate that, but so far I have not seen or felt evidence of cross contamination.  I usually get a soup and a salad. For a while my obsession was the tomato soup (named the Afterglow) paired with the carrot salad:

soup and carrot salad

I do not like raisins, so I pick them out but otherwise the salad is delicious. You can get any of their salads by the quarter pound or atop mixed greens in a small size (above) or a large size.  The only downside to the salads is that there are not as many vegan gluten-free options – there are gluten-free options (the brown rice tuna salad and the mango chicken salad come to mind, and if I recall correctly the description says the chicken is free-range) and vegan options (bulgur and wheatberry salads) but so far the only gluten-free vegan options I have found there are the carrot salad, a basic fruit salad and the quinoa salad.  I got the quinoa salad yesterday but did not snap a picture since I had several pictures of several visits to Litestars.  Total bloggista fail, because apparently this sample is my only picture of the quinoa salad:

 quinoa salad sample

It is very good.  Lemony and crunchy from the green beans, with a nice sweetness from the dates.  Another nice thing about Litestars are the detailed cards for each dish outlining which allergens are in each dish as well as the nutritional information. The former is obviously for more interest to me, but I like having all this information:

litestars soup salad with menus

soup menu

Yesterday I had the quinoa salad at Litestars and then walked back with a medium Funshine in hand.  The Funshine has replaced the Afterglow as my obsession.  It contains butternut squash and apples  and is very flavorful.  I love that their soups are served in a drink cup.  Being able to walk down the street holding a hot drink that is not tea is pretty excellent and makes me miss my Starbucks Chais a lot less:

Wednesday lunchbox 018

So yes, that is how I occasionally replace my lunchboxes, though I still brought the chia pudding for snacking.  Before I forget, Litestars also has savory tarts that look really good – the crust is vegan though wheat-based so I totally forgot about the tarts until now.  There are usually two to three vegan tarts, and several non-vegan options. My husband really liked the turkey tart the time we went together.  He said the crust was nice.

I know this place is local to Washington, DC only (for now – I am hoping they take over the world Le Pain Quotidien style) but I am still submitting this to the Gluten-Free Homemaker for this upcoming Gluten-Free Wednesday.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Simply...Gluten-free March 5, 2011 at 1:44 pm



2 Wendy @ Celiacs in the House March 5, 2011 at 10:02 pm

What a fun place. I love the idea of all the soup choices.


3 Sasha March 6, 2011 at 4:33 am

That looks like a great place. I so need one of those where I live.


4 Tasty Eats At Home March 21, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I love the idea of a place like this for lunch! I rarely go out to lunch either, but I have one "safe" place near me that is a raw vegan cafe. I love it, but it's not as convenient or as inexpensive as I imagine your little soup spot to be!


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