Monday, March 31, 2008

April 1st Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, April 1: Breakfast - pearsauce, bran muffin; Lunch - chard and mushroom lasagna, mixed vegetables, banana; Snacks - broccoli, hummus

Childcare Center Menu, April 1: Breakfast - applesauce, french toast sticks; Lunch - turkey lasagna, California vegetables, kiwi; Snacks - veggies, sour cream dip

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring is Almost Here!

For me, March and April are the hardest months to survive the Midwest. By this time of year, I am in desperate need to take a vacation in some warm place and without a good selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, I am generally tired of trying to eat as close to home as possible. But it's also the time of year when I feel excited about what is to come. Saturday was a beautiful day. I took Caroline for a walk in the woods and we found buds on the shrubs - yes buds! And lots of them. Spring seems like it is finally just around the corner...and with it will come early Michigan crops like spinach and other greens...and before I know it (around the early part of May) two of my favorite foods will be available at the farmers' market and grocery stores: asparagus and strawberries!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 31: Breakfast - O's, Pink Lady apple; Lunch - brown rice with lentils and dried apricots, cabbage and Ida Red apple salad, banana; Snacks - 100% whole grain bread, apple butter

Childcare Center Menu, March 31: Breakfast - orange juice, Cheerios, Golden Grahams, Rice Krispies; Lunch - cheesy rice, bananas, salad; Snacks - breadsticks

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Locally Grown Veggies!

My friend Barb is a member of the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm. It is a year-round CSA (community supported agriculture) which means that even though we're still under several inches of snow ( snowed again today), she gets fresh, locally grown, organic vegetables every week. I am so jealous. But, since she is out-of-town this weekend, I scored and got to pick up her share today! I was almost drooling when I saw the carrots, collards, green onions, potatoes, garlic, onions, salad mix, and Butternut squash that I would get to take home. I will use some of it in Caroline's lunch tomorrow and will enjoy the rest this weekend. Thanks, Barb!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 28: Breakfast - pumpkin carrot muffin, Bartlett pear; Lunch - egg salad (Grazing Fields), carrots (Student Organic Farm), potatoes (Student Organic Farm), 100% whole grain bread; Snacks - hummus, broccoli, whole grain Melba toast

Childcare Center Menu, March 28: Breakfast - fruit cocktail, wheat croissants; Lunch - turkey sloppy joes, California vegetables, watermelon; Snacks - cucumbers, tortillas

March 27th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 27: Breakfast - pearsauce, ten grain hot cereal; Lunch - salmon salad, 100% whole grain bread, red potato, broccoli, edamame; Snacks - whole milk plain yogurt, whole wheat graham crackers, blueberries

Childcare Center Menu, March 27: Breakfast - applesauce, cream of wheat; Lunch - turkey sandwiches, mashed potatoes, honeydew, cucumbers; Snacks - lemon pudding, wheat crackers

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Feeling Like a Hypocrite

So, I'm feeling like a hypocrite. After yesterday's post about the salmonella outbreak tied to cantaloupes from Honduras, I am packing a banana for Caroline's breakfast tomorrow. Before this year, I hadn't bought a banana in years. It's not that I don't like bananas. I actually do like the taste and texture of bananas and in fact, they were my very first solid mom fed them to me when I was a newborn. There are lots of different reasons why I stopped buying bananas years ago and they have to do with issues like fair wages for farm workers, food miles, negative environmental impacts, and on and on. It would take more than a blog entry to write about my problem with bananas. But at some point, Caroline was introduced to bananas and of course, she loved them. I made a decision to include bananas in her school meals so that she wouldn't feel left out and because I didn't want her to start taking the other children's food. Last August when we opted out of the Childcare Center food program, we were told that we would no longer be able to bring Caroline's food from home if she started to 1) refuse her own meals or 2) take the other children's food. So, bananas have become a staple on our weekly grocery list along with milk, tofu, and bread.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 26: Breakfast - ten grain hot cereal, prunes, banana; Lunch - mac n' cheese, mixed vegetables; Snacks - Pink Lady apple, sunflower butter

Childcare Center Menu, March 26: Breakfast - oatmeal, raisins, bananas; Lunch - macaroni and cheese, California vegetables, cantaloupe; Snacks - apples, soynut butter

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cantaloupe Recall

On March 23, the FDA issued a warning on cantaloupes. According to the AP article, cantaloupes from a Honduran manufacturer may be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. More than 50 people have become ill but thankfully, no deaths have been reported. This type of food scare is becoming increasingly common in the U.S. In 2006, it was the E. Coli outbreak tied to bagged spinach. Before that, a Hepatitis A outbreak associate with green onions from Mexico. Eating food grown closer to home from people you know in no way prevents harmful bacteria from entering our bodies. But for reasons that I can't explain in any scientifically credible way, I do think it helps... especially if you know intimate details about the farmer's production practices. the people who harvest the food have access to a clean bathroom and a sink with soap and running water? Proper hygiene from field to fork is key to prevent the spread of bacteria like Salmonella. Unfortunately, it snowed this past weekend so it looks like it will still be awhile before I am buying food grown nearby.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 25: Breakfast - pumpkin carrot muffin, pearsauce; Lunch - lentil croquettes, 100% whole grain bread, carrots; Snacks - cheddar cheese, whole grain crackers

Childcare Center Menu, March 25: Breakfast - pineapple, wheat croissants; Lunch - chicken nuggets, carrots, grapes, wheat bread; Snacks -cheese, crackers

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I made Mark Bittman's (How to Cook Everything) bean and mushroom empanadas tonight and they were a family hit! The filling was less of a hit than the shell but I think that this is one of those foods that Caroline will begin to like over time. The dough was easy to make - just flour (white all-purpose or whole wheat pastry), baking soda, salt, vegetable oil, and water quickly processed in my Cuisinart and then rolled into thin 6-inch discs. I put about a tablespoon of refried beans with mushrooms into the center of each, folded the dough over, pinched the edges to seal, and baked them in over for about 20 minutes. These would be great with any filling (including fruit like sliced apples or vegetables like pumpkin pie filling). I saved some of the dough (wrapped in plastic) and the bean and mushroom filling for Caroline's lunch tomorrow. Instead of making 6-inch discs, I am going to experiment with a small 2- or 3-inch disc, which should be the perfect size for an almost 20-month old!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 24: Breakfast - O's, pearsauce; Lunch - bean and mushroom empanadas, peas, Cheddar cheese; Snacks - Pink Lady apple, whole milk plain yogurt

Childcare Center Menu, March 24: Breakfast - white grape juice, Cheerios, Life, Rice Krispies; Lunch - veggie tacos with refried beans, lettuce, and cheese, bananas; Snacks - apples, yogurt

Thursday, March 20, 2008

March 21st Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 21: Breakfast - ten grain hot cereal, Queen's Lace peaches; Lunch - egg salad (Grazing Fields), 100% whole grain bread, sweet potatoes (frozen, Stahlbush Island Farms); Snacks - banana, whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, March 21: Breakfast - cream of wheat, peaches; Lunch - egg salad, wheat pita bread, apples, cucumbers; Snacks - carrots, graham crackers

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Soda Bread Disaster

I'm having one of those days where I drop everything my fingers touch. I made Deborah Madison's soda bread for dinner tonight and pulling it together was an absolute disaster. I made buttermilk (1 cup whole milk plus 1 tablespoon of white vinegar) and after it finished curdling, I picked it up and promptly spilled it all over the stove...and my beloved cookbook. After I wiped up that spill, I tried to cut the butter into the dry ingredients but since I forgot to pull the butter out of the freezer in time to thaw out, the center of it was still frozen and the flour went flying. I was supposed to stir the honey into the buttermilk (my second attempt to make the buttermilk) but the honey was too firm and the more I stirred, the more buttermilk splattered and spilled. When I mixed the wet and dry ingredients together, I could tell that something was wrong...the batter had the runny, lumpy consistency of muffin mix...and I was supposed to knead this for one minute until smooth?! I finally ended up placing a big lump of dough on my cookie sheet. It browned in 20 minutes instead of 30 and looked like a porcupine...We had it for dinner tonight along with lentil soup and thankfully, it tasted okay and Caroline (and Geoff) didn't seem to care.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 20: Breakfast - pearsauce, soda bread; Lunch - lentil soup, tofu, mixed vegetables; Snacks - Queen's Lace peaches (frozen last summer), whole wheat soda crackers, sunflower butter

Childcare Center Menu, March 20: Breakfast - applesauce, raisin bread; Lunch - ghoulash with turkey, honeydew, California vegetables; Snacks - watermelon, Ritz crackers

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Meal Time Tips

Several weeks ago, Caroline's teacher, Krystyna, gave me a couple of meal time tips to help me deal with my picky eater. She suggested that I talk with Caroline about her food. "Ask her questions about the color of her food or its texture and temperature," she said. I was doubtful that this would work but I gave it a try. I must admit that at first, my questions sounded more like demands with an "eat your food" undertone. But after awhile, it became easier to ask these questions without the expectation that Caroline eat her food. And it's working! According to Krystyna, Caroline was trying to get my attention by putting her feet on the table and refusing to eat her food. After spending an entire day apart, she wanted (and needed) some attention...and she (obviously) knew which of my buttons to press! Since I began paying more attention to her during dinner, she has stopped screaming "NO" and has kept her feet on her chair (though they do creep up once in awhile). Is this all it takes? Not likely. But for now, Caroline is eating her food again.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 19: Breakfast - ten grain hot cereal, prunes, banana; Lunch - rice with pesto, egg, and tomato (canned last summer), peas and carrots (frozen, Cascadian Farms), Pink Lady apple; Snacks - Bartlett pear, whole wheat graham crackers

Childcare Center Menu, March 19: Breakfast - oatmeal, raisins, bananas; Lunch - cheesy rice, peas, carrots, apples; Snacks - tangerines, smiley fries

Monday, March 17, 2008

March 18th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 18: Breakfast - Queen's Lace peaches, Zingerman's 8 grain 3 seed bread, apple butter; Lunch - lentil croquettes, brown rice, mixed vegetables (frozen, Cascadian Farms); Snacks - pumpkin carrot muffin, blueberries (frozen, Walton Orchards)

Childcare Center Menu, March 18: Breakfast - peaches, wheat bagels, cream cheese; Lunch -turkey meatballs, mixed vegetables, cantaloupe, wheat bread, potatoes; Snacks - grapes, soft pretzels

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back in Town

After 10 days, I am back in town. We don't have tomorrow's menu, but I have a vague idea of what it might look like. We have four packages of tofu in the fridge waiting to be eaten so I will pack marinated and baked tofu in Caroline's lunch tomorrow. I make this recipe at least once every two weeks because it is easy and Caroline loves it. I marinate the tofu the night before and then cook it under the broiler for about 7 minutes.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 17: Breakfast - O's, pearsauce; Lunch - marinated and baked tofu, brown rice, broccoli; Snacks - pumpkin carrot muffin

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Chaotic 10 Days

It is going to be a chaotic 10 days...for Geoff. I am heading out-of-town tomorrow on and off for 10 days and will be leaving Caroline's Lunchbox in Geoff's capable hands. Caroline is eating more these days or maybe I am just less anxious about how much she is eating!

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 5: Breakfast - ten grain hot cereal, banana, prunes; Lunch - baked and marinated tofu, brown rice, bok choy, Satsuma orange; Snacks - whole milk plain yogurt, blueberries (frozen, Walton Orchards), whole wheat graham cracker

Childcare Center Menu, March 5: Breakfast - bananas, oatmeal, raisins; Lunch - fish sticks, salad, wheat bread, kiwi; Snacks - lemon pudding, wheat crackers

Monday, March 3, 2008

March 4th Menu

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 4: Breakfast - blueberry muffin, pearsauce; Lunch - whole wheat English muffin, tomato and meat sauce, potatoes and peas, Satusuma orange; Snacks - cauliflower, carrots (MSU Student Organic Farm), hummus, whole grain Melba toast

Childcare Center Menu, March 4: Breakfast - applesauce, wheat croissants; Lunch - turkey sloppy joes on wheat buns, cucumbers, grapes; Snacks - carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, dip

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Prune a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Prunes are a must to keep Caroline regular. I (or she) discovered this the hard way today when we skipped our morning breakfast of hot cereal and prunes. Caroline eats hot cereal and prunes every morning either before she heads to school or, on days when oatmeal or cream of wheat is on the menu, for breakfast at school. This morning, we skipped the prunes and went to Mama Bear's cafe instead. Mama Bear's is in Old Town and serves as much local and organic food as possible. It is only a few miles from our house so we go there on a regular basis. I love Mama Bear's - good, strong Fair Trade coffee, fluffy pancakes, and incredible pastries. This morning, Caroline and I shared a big plate of pancakes and scrambled eggs. It was delicious. But as a result of skipping her prunes (or "poon" as Caroline calls it), Caroline had a stomach ache and was straining sporadically throughout the day. I'll try to remedy this situation tomorrow by giving Caroline her daily bowl of hot cereal and prunes plus a 1/4 cup of pearsauce. I add the prunes to the water before I add the cereal so that the prunes are super soft and melt into the cereal. This helps to keep them from sticking to her teeth.

Caroline's Lunchbox Menu, March 3: Breakfast - O's, pearsauce; Lunch - mac n' cheese, peas, carrots (MSU Student Organic Farm), Satsuma orange; Snacks - whole wheat graham crackers, sunflower butter, Ida Red apple (Almar Orchards)

Childcare Center Menu, March 3: Breakfast - white grape juice, Cheerios, Life, Rice Krispies; Lunch - baked mostaciolli, peas, carrots, bananas; Snacks - crackers, soynut butter
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