New Year, New Lunchbox: Nine Cures for the Midday Blues

The following is a guest post by Jan of Family Bites. Welcome Jan!

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably always looking for new ways to jazz up the midday meal, whether your packing a lunch for work or school, or both. Let’s face it, packing lunches isn’t the most glamorous job in the home culinary world, and when you’re facing picky eaters, allergies and school policies, feeling inspired each time you approach an empty lunchbox can become quite challenging.

With five full months of lunch-making under my belt for this school year, I’ve been feeling uninspired with the daily packing of late. In order to keep myself motivated, I decided that instead of approaching lunches with a menu, I would attempt to approach them with a theme.

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Ideas and Tips for a Winter Picnic in the Snow

A recent article in my local paper touted a few local shopping malls as great destinations to get exercise in the winter. It claimed one could get a good workout by walking their sprawling real estate. Uh, non merci. Even though I happen to live ten minutes from the largest mall in the province, you could never convince me to go there for any other reason than a quick one-stop-shop and that is it.

Whatever happened to getting fresh air? Exercising and window shopping may appeal to some, but I’m guessing a couple times around my mall would only leave me hankering for a Starbucks, — and six new pairs of shoes.

We’ve had a mild winter so far, and if you dress for it, the cold does much more help than harm. Brilliant sunlight, crisp cool air, and a peaceful blanket of white snow – now that is the mix for an invigorating, yet calming work out. We’ve been getting outdoors every day out of sheer necessity; it’s far too easy to go bonkers when you’re snowed in! Sometimes we go sledding, sometimes skating, but all the kids really need is a snow bank to have fun.

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Healthy Winter Breakfasts (Recipe: Maple Vanilla Roasted Pear Parfait)

Eating seasonally can be difficult in the winter, especially if you live somewhere that is covered in snow for 4 or 5 months out of the year and all that’s available locally are potatoes, squash and apples with a long storage life.

Adding berries and tomatoes is much easier in the summer when they’re available straight out of my own garden, just beyond the back door. At the moment, my gardens are buried under three feet of the white fluffy stuff, and it’s likely I won’t see the dirt until sometime in March. However, even amidst the winter wonderland, there is hope for a healthy, ready-to-start-the-day breakfast that will give you the energy and courage (or is it insanity) to head out and embrace the cold.

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Two Simple Salads for Winter

When I was growing up, having a winter salad required a trip out in the snow to fetch the kale. From just looking at the twinkling expanse of our snow-covered garden, with its gentle lumps here and there, no one would ever guess there was life underneath. I would kick away the snow with my boots and dig with my woolen mittens until the bright green stalks came into view. There, hiding under the snow, was our daily salad and much-needed vitamin C boost during the long Yukon winters.

Over the winter months, do you find yourself craving the crunch of a Greek salad, full of cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers? What about the tender leaves of baby spinach or arugula? When we strive to eat seasonally, and thus sustainably, these are but just a few of the vegetables we give up, even though they are readily available in supermarkets.

Fortunately there are other fruits and vegetables to include in our diets to help satisfy the need for fresh produce on a cold January day. Apples, kale, pomegranate, grapefruit, cabbage, celery root, and brussels sprouts are just a few ingredients that lend themselves beautifully to the salad bar.

Here are two recipes I’ve been making forever. When the cucumbers and sweet cherry tomatoes of July are but a memory, they both offer that much-needed crunch. [Read more...]

Weekend Links

Enjoy the weekend!