Tag Archives: lunch

Small change #7: Pack a meal or snack — or both, then achieve balance

Of course you’re busy, I know that.  Do this at night: Pack like your very best self.  You know, what you would pack a kid you wanted to keep healthy.  A sandwich and fruit and a few chips (a few chips means what the recommended serving says).  A salad with beans or a little chicken or something over the top, with carrot and cucumber and a little — 1 Tbsp — container of REAL dressing (not the fat free crap).

Snacks: Carrots with a bit of hummus, or even pretzels with a bit of hummus. A small handful of peanuts and raisins.  A small bag of chips.  And apple or banana.  Or a few.  Don’t be afraid to pack a lot of fruits and vegetables — that’s not what’s bringing this country down, you know?  A little dried fruit sometimes helps a sweet tooth.  A lot will give you diarrhea and well, a lot of gas, so be careful out there.

Do as little or as much of the above as you can.  If you only have time to lay out a little trail mix in a bag and grab that, it’s fine.  But if you can grab a few Cuties (little oranges or clementines or whatever those amazing little things are) or something that will quench your hunger, that will go a long way later when  want something to eat while you’re in front of the computer.  You won’t think it will work, but when you’re hungry you’ll eat it anyway and then be surprised when it does work.

If you need something to eat while you’re busy, make it fruit or a vegetable with a little protein (a cube of cheese — not a BLOCK of cheese, but one the size of a couple of dice), or a few nuts (5 almonds, for example), which will keep you from gnawing your hand off or raiding the doughnut box before lunch.

Make sure lunch, if you pack it, is satisfying.  it’s better to have a little of something you love than a lot of something you don’t.  One slice of that leftover pizza with a bit of salad if you can’t take the idea of just salad for lunch for example.  Or bring a little salad, eat it FIRST, then go get the kid’s size burger from fast food if that’s what you live for (skip the fries, or get a size smaller than what you normally buy.  You usually get small?  Share or throw half away.  Or ignore me and just bring the salad!).  You see?

If you work a little bit of fruit and perhaps a vegetable in there, you will eat less of the stuff you love and still get to have it — just not all at once.  The best way to do that is to pack something and be ready so you don’t raid vending machines or head for sugary drinks at the coffee place nearby.

If you like all of that, pace yourself.  Pack a lunch and allow yourself the sugary drink once a week, the vending machine once a week, and the burger once a week.  Just not all at once.  It will feel painless but it makes a LARGE difference over time.


Mmmm: parmesan pesto omelette

I have the advantage of working at home most of the time, which means I can make my lunch on the fly. The downside: I often end up standing in front of the open fridge wishing I had started some rice half an hour ago when I wasn’t starving. Or that someone would swing by and make me a meal.

So today I ended up whipping up one of my very favorite things: an omelette. Not just any, but an imitation of Le Pain Quotidien’s lovely, lovely parmesan pesto omelette, since I’m a lady who lunches…mostly at home. This is a fast, good, pretty low fat way of making an omelette that tastes as good or better than the kind made with plasticky drooling cheese. Wish I’d thought of taking a picture of it before the parmesan started to melt, but there you go.

You need:

* One small omelette pan (if you don’t have one I recommend the 8″ open skillet most manufacturers of expensive sets use as a “try me” pan: a good one is about $20 and for eggs, go non-stick).
* cheese slicer or grater (or sharp knife and patience)
* a carton of egg whites or perhaps 4 freshly cracked ones
* A block of parmesan cheese (get the real stuff)
* Trader Joe’s Pesto alla Genovese (basil pesto) (a dab will do ya, trust me)
* a tiny amount of butter or trans-fat free margarine like Earth Balance for the pan

All of the ingredients came from Trader Joe’s. The egg whites are good for at least 2 omelettes — use within the week, and the other stuff will last…a couple of months! All for about the cost of one omelette at a restaurant.

Slice yourself some cheese, very thin (I use the center slicer on an old grater).
Heat up the pan on low, toss in the butter/margarine (half a teaspoon will do) to coat. Pour in half a cup of egg or more when the pan is heated. Omelettes are supposed to be made on high heat, but I prefer a gentler heat and to wait so that there isn’t much “skin” formed around the omelette. If you prefer that, heat on high. After the egg turns white and starts to bubble around the edges, gently lift the sides of the forming omelette with a spatula and tilt the pan down, then up a bit, allowing the extra egg on top to flow underneath. When the top looks soft but not watery, add 1/2-1 teaspoon pesto, then fold to make the omelette. Gently heat for another 30 seconds to a minute, then plate and add the cheese over the top. Makes a good dinner with very little mess.

Le Pain Quotidien serves the omelette with artisan bread and a small salad of baby greens with vinaigrette, which is surprisingly perfect even in the morning. TJs sells bagged greens, vinaigrette and baguettes if you’re in the mood to go all European. And there you go.

Salad days

Left to my own devices, I could eat carbohydrates with bouts of protein consumption and nothing else. Usually by dinnertime my interest in going face down into a bowl of food at the end of the day when I’mYum! make-upless in my “tired pants” (nicknamed by the child for the proclamation about my mental state that usually accompanies their donning) is keen.

Turns out this is also how the vast majority of my students fill the bill when they’re left to their own devices. They work a lot, can’t afford a lot, and thus they eat breakfast and generally return home looking for food with raptor-like hunger. Many of us can finally relax at dinnertime (or lunchtime if we work the night shift, hopefully). They don’t have enough time to shop, don’t have enough time to eat, and as a result they don’t meet up with vegetables very often unless they’re in a wrapper squeezed between a piece of meat and a bun.

So how about a salad?

When you’re really hungry, this sort of thing tastes really, really good. The prep also lends itself to the popping of ingredients into one’s hungry mouth without a trace of guilt. And if one is a serious cheater like me, this can all be done rather quickly (and somewhat cheaply, but let’s not kid ourselves, produce can be expensive — but you’re worth it!! Excuse me while I put down my pom-poms). Here’s how — any or all of these: Continue reading


Adorable cuteness from www.Iloveobento.com.  Now get packing!Today we made our monthly trek to the rather large, cavernous, favorite, horrible, boring mall. My child loves the place, but with its wide expanse and those tiny legs needing to see every remote corner from end to end, I pack like we’re going on holiday.

Because even though the place is huge, it has very little nutritious food.

With gas soaring over the $4 mark in L.A., and food prices rocketing, it also pays to pack a bag. Here’s what was in ours: Continue reading