Friday, March 22, 2013

Time For a New Healthy Challenge: 10 Days of Brown Bag Lunches

I know we're well into March, but I never really wrapped up the February Salad Challenge. I'm not sure if I actually ate one salad as a meal for 28 days straight, but I definitely increased the amount of fruits and veggies I was eating by a LOT. I was buying spinach by the pound, and some days I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also, I was more likely to choose a salad when we went out to eat, as opposed to the fried and cheesy stuff I was loving in my second trimester. I even started eating more veggies as snacks, instead of sugary snack bars or candy:

Afternoon Snack: Crackers, Cheese, Tomatoes, Sweet Pepper, Mandarin
As you can see from my salad pics, I'm a big fan of fruit as a salad topping. I also like slightly weird toppings, like veggie "chick'n" nuggets or homemade veggie burgers. Nacho toppings on lettuce are also an old fave. As for dressing, I'm not a huge fan of most dressings, but some of my faves that I use at home a lot are: salsa, hummus, and fruit juice mixed with sweet chili sauce.

A few more salads from February:
Now that March is nearly over, and I haven't been focusing on my "salad challenge" for the past few weeks, I've fallen back into a sugar haze. There's still more than a week to go til Easter and I've already eaten more Cadbury Cream Eggs than I can count, not to mention a whole bag of Hershey's Coconut Kisses. I even ate frozen yogurt with cookie toppings for dinner the past two nights. (As a sidenote, Yogurtland has ONLY the marshmallows from Lucky Charms as a topping - it's like they know me!)

But back to the point of this post (which is not to consume as much Yogurtland as possible before they take away the Lucky Charms). I was trying to think up a new challenge to motivate me to be healthy, and while we were hanging out with some friends on St. Patrick's Day, they mentioned that they won an award from their son's preschool for making the most nutritious lunch. That got me to thinking about what vegetarian options I'm going to pack for Ezzy's lunch (in the distant future). Before I knew it, I was on a Pinterest trail (which I'm pretty sure is never-ending) of vegetarian school lunches, where I found all of these adorable ideas:

Breakfast for Lunch from Happy Little Bento
Breakfast for Lunch (again), this time from the Lively Kitchen
Vegetarian Chili by Veg Kitchen
Cooking With Trader Joe's: Easy Lunchboxes by Family Fresh Cooking
All these lunch ideas inspired me to go on a quest for my own lunch box. I wound up with two circular containers, similar to the one below, from the 99 Cent Store:

Round Lunch Box from the Lively Kitchen
So now I have no excuses not to bring my own lunch to work. I'm actually pretty excited to pack my own food in my new lunch boxes, although I don't want to get anyone's expectations up because the odds of me packing animal-shaped food for myself are approximately one in a million (and that's only because you should never say never, right?). The biggest challenge will be planning ahead and making time to pack a lunch the night before, because there's no way I'm waking up earlier than necessary for this.

My Brown Bag Lunch Challenge is only going to last 10 days, because after that it's maternity leave time for me! I can't believe it's so soon! Once I'm at home, there won't be much need to "pack" a lunch, but I still plan on eating home-prepared foods and getting in the habit of being healthier. We can't expect Ezzy to grow up eating healthy food if we're eating ice cream for dinner in front of him. (By "we" I really mean "me" - I've never seen Joe eat ice cream for dinner.)

Any tips or suggestions for easy, non-meat, prepare-ahead meals are much-appreciated! 

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