Healthy Lunches

I wrote a guest post for …And Love it Too. Below is the summary- you can read the full post here (link to And Love it Too).



 I try to keep the following in mind for school lunches:

  • The kids have almost no time to eat. If I pack them something like blueberries they will eat one at a time, run out of time, and come home with a full lunch box. So, it must be easy to eat in big bites- fast! Sad, I know, but a fact of our public school life. Nothing too crunchy or time consuming.
  • Pushing their comfort zone with a bit of a new vegetable or something healthy that they marginally like is OK. Packing food they don’t like just results in hungry kids. This may seem obvious, but one of my daughters is so particular it is almost impossible to guess what she will like even when I try my best. Asking her is a bad idea as she will only admit to liking fries and chocolate.
  • A little bit of fun makes their whole lunch enjoyable. A note. A carrot cut like a flower. A fun food pick.

For my lunch I use all the vegetables in my refrigerator left from the previous week’s CSA. I make a big bone broth and random vegetable soup and freeze it in individual portions. Then I know I will eat well when I am hungry and busy.

That covers lunch but there is one more important healthy food to plan for school: Birthday parties! Our school serves a lot of treats in the classroom. Often events crop up with very little warning. So, I keep my freezer full of Just In Case Cupcakes. (I think most of us Mom’s with special eaters do the same!) I usually freeze the chocolate cupcakes from my cookbook. Today I am sharing my Colorful Sweet Potato Cake recipe (which just happens to be paleo friendly).


Photo: Colorful Sweet Potato cake with coconut whipped “cream” frosting, homemade gummies, and cupcake guys.

colorful cupcake

Colorful Sweet Potato Cupcakes Recipe on And Love it Too!

(I will post a recipe for the naturally colored frosting (see photo below) on in the next couple of weeks.)



My kids and I decorated a bunch of cupcakes like monsters and then I photographed them. Afterwards I gave the photos to my kids and asked them to write one page cartoons. Most of them are quite nonsensical and being the mom I think they are the cutest thing ever!

Another First Day (With Tears)

Last week I shared Sierra’s first day of school, today was Hannah’s first day. Before I tell you more about that, let’s back up a bit.

I realized that looking at the pictures on my blog gives a bit of an idyllic image. In part because I choose my favorite photos, and in part because I assume you don’t want to hear every detail of how much my kids fuss. But maybe some of you moms look at my blog and wonder- is it really so easy for her? Well if you ever wondered that I will tell you- sometimes it is so hard. So unbelievably impossible just to get through one morning. And other times it is a little easier.


The night before Hannah’s first day of school, she thought the dinner was so disgusting she couldn’t even be at the table. She laid on the ground and cried while we tried to have a nice dinner. So she went to bed with an empty belly. Then in the morning I cut her food wrong. And she cried and cried. With some extra complaining in-between the tears. I wish I could tell you some of this is unusual, but it happens on a semi-regular basis with her. I eventually gave up and spoon fed her the food so she wouldn’t go to school hungry.

Then I showed her the bento I made, and instead of any kind of excitement she exclaimed, “I don’t like some of that!”


I wish I could say I was a model of patience, but I got mad and started threatening to never cook for the family again.

Eventually we pulled it together and got out the door.


I will post a new recipe next week. In the meantime keep trucking along all you moms!

First Day of First Grade

Sierra had her first day of school today, and I sent her off with a proper cute lunch.


Her little sister doesn’t start preschool until next week, so we had a day with just the two of us. I cleaned the whole house (that felt awesome). Then Hannah and I planned a “first day of school party”. Hannah loves planning parties- she made a cute sign for the front door- it said, “You are invited to a party… surprise.” She wrote all of the letters herself and was very proud. We set the table, picked flowers, hung some streamers, and baked brownie cupcakes (I used this recipe). Hannah said she was “hoping for a hug” from Sierra (so sweet)!



Nutty Mushrooms

This is an adaptation of a recipe from “Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe”. Her recipe, Nut Crusted Mushrooms, is so clever and delicious, but it contains dairy. So we modified it a bit, but all the credit goes to her for these tasty morsels.

I was trying to decide how to incorporate these into a cute bento, so I sought my husband’s advice. He suggested a canoe. Of course he would think of a canoe; racing canoes is his favorite hobby. Some of you might be thinking, “Canoe racing? Where do you do that?” Well, there a many races and a New England Canoe club set up for people like us! (I race too sometimes.) Here is a photo from a race several years ago. I was actually 8-months-pregant in this photo but I tried to choose the most flattering angle for the blog post.

So, I really just used what I had on hand for the backdrop of the bento. Yellow Rice, a simple recipe in my cookbook- along with grapefruit, pomegranate, pistachios, and sugar snap peas.

My husband suggests preparing a warming tray or the oven on low to store these after they are cooked as they seem to get cold quickly.

Nutty Mushroom Recipe

2 Port0bello mushrooms
1 egg
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
Pinch garlic powder
Olive oil


Cut the mushroom caps into 1/2 inch slices.
Crack the egg into a shallow bowl and beat it.
Grind the almonds into a consistency of course sand. (Do not try to save time by using almond meal- it is too fine and doesn’t do well in this recipe.) Place the almonds, nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder in another shallow bowl. (My husband suggests holding back some of the nut mixture as it tends to get clumpy when being dipped.)
Heat a bit of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Dip the mushroom slices in the egg, then in the nut mixture, and place it on the hot pan. Cook on each side until golden then place on a wire rack.


I am sharing this recipe on And love it too,

Pistachio Pesto Pasta and Scary Monster Bento


Maybe I went too far. I didn’t realize how scary this was going to look! A few years ago my oldest daughter forbid me from making scary bento, so I haven’t until now; but I just felt so inspired! I put the vegetables on the bottom, pasta on top, cut the mouth out of a cucumber and put a strawberry behind it. The eyes are raw mushroom, cucumber, and strawberry.

Pistachio Pesto Pasta Recipe

1/4 cup salted pistachios
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Pasta and Vegetables
8-10 ounces gluten-free pasta
1-2 tablespoons oil
mushrooms (2 cups chopped)
2 cloves garlic
bunch of asparagus (2 cups chopped)


For the pesto, combine the pistachios and cilantro leaves (and garlic if using) in a small food processor and pulse until it is a chunky paste. Pulse in the olive oil and set aside.

Cook the pasta. (Remember to salt the water and if using rice pasta it tastes best if rinsed after cooking.)

Saute the vegetables in a bit of olive oil, then toss with the cooked pasta and pesto.

Enjoy hot or cold.

* If you make the pesto for another recipe, you might want to add 1-2 cloves garlic- I did not do that here because the garlic in in with the vegetables.

Shared on Bento Blog Network, Allergy Free Wednesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays, Wellness Weekend

First Day of School

Not just the first day this year… but the first day of kindergarten!

Sierra was only slightly nervous as she left the house looking prepared for her new future as a kindergartener.

She requested maki rolls for her lunch. Her favorite. That’s pickled ginger on the side (she could eat a whole jar if I let her). I tried to make the maki look like a school bus. I colored the rice with turmeric and filled them with yellow peppers.

Sierra bravely climbed on the bus and as the school bus pulled away I noticed my knees shaking. My body was remembering my first day of school so many years ago…

Sierra and I agreed to a tradition of “Freaky Friday” lunches. We don’t have time for fancy bento everyday, but Monday’s are “Maki” Mondays and Friday– it’s scary monster time!

Shared on Motivate Me Monday,