Healthy Kids' Lunches: Bento Style!

I just borrowed some Bento supplies from a friend for a fun lunch get together I'm having next week.  I decided to try out some things tonight and make my kids each a bento lunch for tomorrow's homeschool co-op.  What fun!  I wouldn't do this much since we do homeschool and it's pretty time consuming, but it was actually fun to do.  

There's a hard-boiled "fish" egg,  panda bear cherry tomatoes, piggy filled with soy sauce (for the veggies), peanut butter & apple butter tortilla roll ups, and the panda hiding behind a broccoli & celery tree on sprouted "grass".

This one has all of the same items as the other box, except a celery and red pepper flower with a cheese center and cilantro leaves.


Tropical Meal Repacement Shake

I just made the best shake ever....seriously!  It tastes like a little piece of tropical heaven.  I find that if I don't have a shake for breakfast, I have a difficult time making it to lunch, even with a snack (today it was organic edamame that even the kids love).  So I decided to make a shake for lunch and have it early.  This is by far the BEST shake I've ever made.

  • 1 scoop Beachbody vanilla meal replacement shake
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries (or more if you like)
  • 1 sm can pineapple juice
  • 1-2 T unsweetened dried coconut

Blend all ingredients and enjoy!

I can't wait to try this recipe with the new Tropical Strawberry Shakeology coming out next month.  If you've made a shake you love, please share your recipe in the comments section!


Tahini Dressing

Since my vegan challenge, I have been eating a lot of salads.  A friend of mine bought me some Zesty Tahini Dressing from Whole Foods that I absolutely love!  I wanted to try to duplicate it at home.  The results are not exact, as the Whole Foods version is much more "garlicky" tasting.  But, I really do like this dressing and my recipe yielded several cups!

  • ½ c tahini
  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 4 T nutritional yeast
  • 4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice (the juice of 1 medium lemon)
  • 3-4 cloves freshly minced garlic (add more or less, depending on how you like it)
  • 2 ½  T Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar

Put all ingredients into blender and mix until creamy.  Store in refrigerator for approximately 1 week.  This would make a great salad dressing, dip for fresh veggies, sauce on a wrap….the possibilities are endless!  Note that there is no oil, other than what is naturally in the tahini.  This makes this a very low calorie, low fat dressing. 

Recipe adapted from Eat On Purpose


Vegan Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes!

As of last Saturday, I've taken on a 28 day Vegan Challenge via Whole Foods.  This has forced me to try some new recipes and experiment in the kitchen.  I love it! Tonight I wanted something sweet, so I experimented with a strawberry cake mix I had in the pantry.

  • strawberry cake mix
  • egg substitute:  mix 3 T ground flax seeds with 9 T (approx 2/3 c) water until it gels
  • 1/2 c cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1/2 c almond meal
  • 1/2 c unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 c applesauce
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 c water (or more if your mix is too dry)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease 24 muffin tins (or 48 mini muffin tins) with coconut oil or spread.
  3. Create your egg substitute with the flax seeds and water in a small bowl.
  4. In a large bowl, blend cake mix, cocoa, almond meal, and unsweetened coconut together.  Add egg mixture, applesauce, vanilla and water.  Stir until blended, but do NOT overmix.  If your batter is too thick, carefully add a tablespoon or two of water at a time until batter consistency.
  5.  Spoon out batter into muffin tins and bake for 18-20 min on 350.  (Test doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center.  If no batter sticks to the toothpick, cupcakes are done.)
These cupcakes are SO yummy & moist!  They are just under 100 calories for the large size and only 50 calories for the mini ones.  I like to make the mini ones and freeze them for a  quick 100 calorie or less snack.  (**I had to correct this post on the number of calories**)

I've been reading about how to make "buttercream" frosting with coconut oil instead of butter, but I don't have enough on hand to try that.  I guess I know what I'll be getting at the store next time!  (I'll update soon with a picture.)

Speaking of vegan recipes.....Beachbody has come out with a Tropical Strawberry Shakeology that will be available for purchase on Valentine's Day!  Contact me for more info or to be reminded of when it's available.


New Year's Hoppin' John & Quinoa

We like to have black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.  I had to get creative in the kitchen because my ham was still frozen, so I used the bacon I had in the fridge.  I was very surprised by the results!  Even all three of my children (ages 9, 6, & 5) loved this dinner.  Combining the black pea dish with quinoa made a creamy, mild chili style meal.  you can double this meal and freeze half of it.

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 8 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cans black eyed peas
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • 3/4 c salsa
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1 t Adobo seasoning
  • salt & pepper
  • water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 T butter

  1. Cook bacon pieces, but do not let them get crispy!  Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in large stock pot.  Add shallots, green pepper & garlic.  Saute for 5 min on low heat.
  3. Add cooked bacon, peas (not drained), chiles, salsa, cumin, Adobo, salt & pepper, and 1-2 cans water (I use the cans from the peas).  
  4. Cook mixture on med-high to high until it boils.  Reduce heat, but continue boil for approximately 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  5. Meanwhile, rinse quinoa.  Place in pot with 1.5 cups water & bring to boil.  Add more liquid if it all becomes absorbed.  Boil for approximately 10 minutes.  When finished, add butter and set aside.