Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting together for a brown bag lunch

Kara: Hey Jen, do you want to get together for lunch?

Jen: Sure! When? Where?

Kara: My schedule is wide open, let me know what works for you.

Jen: This week is full, but I can get together next week.

Kara: Works for me! Do you want to do a brown bag lunch or go somewhere?

Jen: Brown bag is good.

Kara: Excellent!

My brown bag lunch

My brown bag is in fact, green. 

On Friday, I'm meeting my friend Jen for lunch. Literally. She is bringing her lunch, and I will bring mine. It's a win-win situation - we get together to catch up on our busy lives and we eat the food the food that we want to eat.
I always had mixed emotions about going out for lunch. I love going out for lunch, but I saw it as a drain on my wallet and invariably derailed healthy eating for the day. Of course, restaurant food is tasty - but is it worth it?
After I returned to work after mat leave (and 9 months of cognitive therapy), I decided to put it out there - hey girls, instead of going out for lunch at a restaurant, why don't we meet in the food court and bring our lunch?
They agreed. We came. We chatted. And we ate our own food.
In the last two years of getting together with my friends for lunch, I can only think of one occasion that we actually went to a restaurant.   

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pre-washed lettuce isn't all that convenient

The most amusing thing that I discovered since I started eating salad at lunch is that my cat loves lettuce. The little fur ball comes running whenever he hears the salad spinner whirling as it separates water from the leafy vegetable. See, here he is below, eating lettuce. I swear he can't seem to get enough.
My kitty loves lettuce!

Same goes for me. In 2012, I processed at least 104 heads of lettuce in my salad spinner. That's a minimum of two per week that I buy, wash and dry. Typically I pick up green leaf lettuce or red leaf lettuce. I also buy a package of romaine hearts as a back up (it seems to keep fairly well) for those times that I run out of lettuce. If I had a bigger kitchen, I'd seriously consider buying this salad spinner; from the amazon product reviews, it is primarily used by farmers.

When I began eating salad at lunch, I bought the pre-washed lettuce in a bag or box. After a few months, I noticed that I spent too much time separating the good from the spoiled lettuce. It was such a waste of time and money. I notice that pre-washed lettuce isn't really convenient. So at that point I decided to wash, spin and store my own lettuce.
The replacement salad spinner - wow, I need to moisturize!

Ready to eat lettuce in rubbermaid produce saver container

The picture above is the salad spinner that replaced my first salad spinner that I melted the week before Christmas. The whole melting of the salad spinner was a deja vu moment. Days before the incident, I was asked myself what I would do if something happened to this faithful kitchen gadget. Next thing I know its got a big rounded dent in it.

In any case, the next time I melt or otherwise break my salad spinner, I'll limit the replacement search to a couple of days instead of a couple of weeks. I just can't go on without one!

How about you? Do you use a salad spinner or do you dry your lettuce some other way or do you buy pre-washed lettuce? Have you broken a favorite kitchen gadget lately?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lessons learned from holiday eating

Wow - I can hardly believe that it has been (or perhaps more?) a month since my last blog post. I had planned writing through the Christmas holidays and New Year's, but I always seem to forget how busy it is at this time of year and how much time it takes to get ready. I was exhausted (still am) and I needed to take a break.


Happy belated 2013! Anyone else going through baked good withdrawal like I am?

Despite best intentions, holiday eating did not go exactly as planned. I forgot and/or severely underestimated the sheer amount of food that accompanies Christmas/New Year's and all the days before, after and in between. The meals, the gifts of food, food from school, food from colleagues, food from dinner guests, food from neighbors, food from Santa. Food, food, everywhere food!

And busy. Shopping, wrapping, cleaning, Christmas cards, cooking and preparing took so much time and energy. 

Fortunately, I had the week before Christmas off from work, so I assumed there was time to make my healthy lunches and snacks each day. In reality, I was too busy and too tired and too hungry to wash lettuce, assemble salads and other food preparations that I should have done on the weekend. So I ate whatever food was readily available, be it a sandwich, Kraft dinner and um, frozen cookie dough.

In any case, what happened happened; I have no regrets, but there are a few post-holiday lessons learned:
  1. When the neighbors bring a big tin of European chocolate cookies to the house, talk to hubby about not opening said box.
  2. If I melt the salad spinner while cooking Kraft Dinner for the little bear again, just go buy a new one. Interestingly, salad spinners are considered a seasonal product and are not widely available (let alone on sale) in stores.
  3. It was a relief to decide to not bake Christmas goodies; I didn't miss it, even though baking is one of my favorite holiday traditions.
  4. It worked well to exclude cheese as an appetizer.
  5. Frozen cookie dough is handy, but when I unexpectedly end up with a bunch of boxes of frozen cookie dough from big bear's school; keep said boxes restricted to the downstairs freezer.
  6. Whether I'm at work or at home, prepare lunch and snacks so healthy choices are readily available.
Thankfully, I'm back at the pool and my taste buds and are getting back to normal. Life is getting back to normal. I can spin lettuce. It's all good.

What about you? Did you learn anything about your holiday eating? Did you decide to challenge any Christmas traditions?