{Today’s Lunchbox} Iris of The Daily Dietribe

by Valerie on April 22, 2011 · 5 comments

I am so pleased to be sharing today’s guest post by Iris of the The Daily Dietribe. Iris began writing The Daily Dietribe when she first started eating gluten-free just about two years ago now. In addition to sharing her gluten-free recipes, she has written about her experiences working as a weight-loss counselor and her own struggle with weight and binge eating disorder. Iris has an MA in psychology, and is now pursuing her MS in nutrition at Bastyr University so she can become a registered dietitian. I actually adopted Iris for Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger last year and was delighted to get to know her blog better.  Iris was also a catalyst behind the lunchbox series here: guest blogging for Iris in September started it all.  I guest blogged again for Iris recently, and she has here before as well.   I am delighted she is guest blogging here today – this lunchbox looks wonderful!

Valerie of City|Life|Eats and I have never met. At least not in person. Yet we’ve shared our tips for healthy eating with each other, and a few weeks ago she made me a deliciously balanced lunchbox that I was able to eat despite my various food intolerances. After that, I wanted to return the favor with a lunchbox of my own. I had glorious visions of salmon patties, flatbread, and decadent desserts.

Then I got real.

There are times when you go all out, such as when you are hosting Easter brunch or having a new beau over for that oh-so-important third date. But when you’re trying to pack a healthy lunch for work every day, ambition takes a back seat to expediency. It’s not about trying to impress anyone. It’s just about knowing that you have something nutritious and tasty for lunch that’s easy to prepare.

Now, if you’re dealing with food allergies or intolerances, you’ve got your work cut out for you, so in addition to wanting something easy, you also have to work hard to find variety. Like me, Valerie has to avoid a number of foods, so getting creative is key. What does that mean? Well, for me it often means making a list of available options within each food group and then mixing and matching them throughout the week. Once you know what you can eat, it’s an easy matter to stop at the grocery store, grab a little of everything, and then come home and experiment. If you have a favorite salad dressing, try playing around with the salad ingredients so that you’re not always eating the same vegetables. Or perhaps add a twist to your normal salad by adding some fruit or fresh herbs. If you like making your own garden burgers, try using a different bean than you normally do, or throwing an extra ingredient into the mix, like turning these lentil quinoa burgers into black bean and corn quinoa burgers. Do you have a tried and true muffin recipe? Switch up the type of fruit you use, or if it’s savory, try different herbs. What I’m trying to say is: play with your food, and don’t be afraid of trying something new. If you don’t like it, you never have to make it again. But you could also end up making something you love, which is what happened when I experimented with my spring mint salad. I know Valerie doesn’t eat cabbage, so I traded out the cabbage for beets and extra carrots. And lo and behold, I’ve got a new favorite salad.

And I’ll share a little tip with you that I used to tell my weight loss clients: don’t focus on what you can’t have. Focus on what you can have. When people ask me what I can’t eat, I often find it much easier to make them a list of all the foods I can eat. Think about it this way. If someone told you they wanted a salad but couldn’t eat spinach, tomatoes, or mushrooms, it might take you a minute to come up with something. But if they told you they wanted a salad, and could eat lettuce, cucumbers, and peppers, you’d probably have an idea a bit faster, right? So if you’ve got a list of foods you can’t eat, or even just one, mentally tuck that list in your back pocket and take out a new piece of paper. On this paper, write down every single fruit that you can think of that you can eat. Then make another list of vegetables you can eat. Grains. Protein sources. And so on. I think in the end, you’ll realize your list of “cans” is much longer than your list of “cannots.” And believe me, I’ve got a long list of “cannots” so I know it’s tough! But it’s not so hard once you start seeing it as a fun and challenging way to play with food.

Okay, so enough talking from me. Make your “can” list and then go forth and experiment!


Today’s Lunch a la Valerie:

  • Spring Mint Salad with beets instead of cabbage, tofu, and a side of baked sweet potato
  • Pineapple Muffins (a variation on my pumpkin spice muffins)
  • An orange (because you’ve always got to have something that takes no prep)

Iris, this lunch looks wonderful. Thanks again so much for guest blogging.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Iris April 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Thanks Valerie! I've still got it in my mind to make something starch-free for you, but the muffins were what I had on hand for that day. I'll be working on it though…


2 hunterslyonesse April 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Love it! Iris, I do the same thing when people ask me what I can have when they find out I'm gluten-free. My easy answer is, "Every piece of produce in the produce section!" Truth is, I love walking into the produce section when I first get the store and see all that color to choose from (even if I have a list I can still admire the color).

Valerie, I don't think I've ever quite said this before, but I do admire your tenacity with your lunchbox series. It inspired me to take a smoothie to work with me one day for my snack. I've always taken leftovers to work with me for lunch. I admit that the only lunches that get any serious packing are the ones for road trips. 😀


3 Farty Girl April 23, 2011 at 1:29 pm

There's so much I love about this post! First off, thank you for the reminder to eat more new veggies. It's a welcome lesson and one that gets the creative juices flowing (along with the stomach juices)!!! Also, I love the idea that you should always have something that takes no prep. That totally takes the stress off – plus, it keeps you eating something raw and simple and real.

What a great post! Thanks!


4 LauraJayne April 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I re-discovered beets this year (I hated them as a child) and have been discovering that there is a TON of ways to serve them! I haven't used them to replace cabbage, but this looks SO delicious!


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