Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cheez Sandwich

Talk about surreal, a local TV newsperson did an interview with me last night! There I was on television opening my refrigerator and chopping an apple. They did a very nice, positive piece -- another happy little shout out for veganism!
Anyhoo, here is my first attempt at making a homemade block cheese to use for slicing. I followed the "Gooda Cheez" recipe in Jo Stepaniak's Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. I sliced it into little cheese sandwiches on wheat bread, with some Brussels sprouts, apple chunks (although not the same apple I sliced on TV -- that was an apple body double), and let's not forget two little organic lemon wafer cookies from Food Fight!
Verdict: I was thrilled that my cheese set up perfectly overnight and had a smooth, creamy texture. But we all felt that the Dijon mustard taste was overwhelming -- good for a sandwich but not for plain snacking. It all got eaten up, though. 3 stars.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Corn Chowder

Last night I made corn chowder using the recipe in the latest issue of PeTA's Animal Times (I also tried to make the coconut- chocolate mousse recipe in my iSi cream whipper with disastrous, runny, very non-moussey results -- has anyone else made this successfully?). I left out the onions, leeks, kale, and peppers for Little shmoo. This morning I woke up early and baked blueberry-banana-oat bran muffins. I packed one for lunch along with organic orange slices and baby lima beans.
Verdict: This chowder had a great flavor even without the onions. He ate everything else but ran out of time for the orange, so he saved it for his after-school snack. 4 stars.
P.S. Tomorrow is the last day to vote for the Bloggie Awards. Please spread the word and vote for yours truly for Best Food Blog, and thanks to everyone who has already voted!

Friday, January 27, 2006


I had other plans for today but last night we were suddenly gifted with a bag of mini-bagels. Shmoo is a big fan of the mini-bagel. I spread them with vegan cream cheese and packed them with some "corn tires", peas & carrots, and two mini-bananas. The smallest container holds four Sharkies for a treat, and for an extra Friday surprise I snuck in a soccer ball pencil topper.
Verdict: Okay, the growth spurt must be over for now, because the appetite is going down! After the picture was taken he asked me to take out one banana. At lunch he ate all the veggies (first, of course, isn't he a kick?) but only one of his beloved bagels before he was full. He didn't try to eat the soccer ball. 4 stars.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Roasted Veggie Hand Pies

I packed two lunches today so I could eat with the shmoo after helping out at school. I roasted potatoes and carrots and tucked them between layers of barley poppyseed pastry to make these little "hand pies" (mine are the flowers). I also packed us each some organic apple slices and "Tuscan Bean Medley" (chestnut limas and cannellini beans), a gift from my lucky aunt who lives near a Trader Joe's. For a treat I threw in spelt pretzels mixed with one of shmoo's all-time favorite snacks: Tofurky Jerky.
Verdict: He ate his entire lunch (loved the beans!) and then ate my jerky, too. I'm surprised that he likes things like jerky and vegan salami -- they're too spicy for me. 5 stars.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Stuffed Peppers

It's another noon release for the shmoo. In case you're suffering any lunch box withdrawal, check out what my lovely sister-in-law made this week: stuffed peppers. She used the recipe for nut and bean loaf I had made into Mini-Wellingtons back in October and added a bit of tomato sauce to it.
She tells me "They tasted great, travel nicely (I took one to work), and are very filling!"
So there's another great vegan lunch idea, but one you won't see in my shmoo's lunch as he doesn't like peppers (yet?). Do other kids like stuffed peppers?
Ah, my husband is now bemoaning the fact that I never make him stuffed peppers. Thanks, Bernusha, we'll be over for dinner!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sweet & Sour Meatless Meatballs

Vegan M.D. Dr. Michael Greger recommended Nate's Meatless Meatballs in the Maximum Nutrition DVD that our local veg group showed this month. I decided to give them a try. I made them into some good ol' Grape Jelly Meatballs (so easy -- cook one package of meatballs while warming up 1/3 cup grape jelly and 1/3 cup chili sauce in a saucepan, stirring until the jelly melts; add the cooked meatballs and voila!). I packed them with half a wheat bun, split so Little shmoo could make a hot meatball sub if he wished; green & yellow wax beans & carrots; an organic orange; and four chocolate covered nuts for a treat.
Verdict: Oh my. Those meatballs are good. They are really good. I think you could serve these to even the most hardened carnivore and they would be none the wiser. Little shmoo was thrilled to hear that there were more waiting for him when he got home. 5 stars.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Phyllo Bundles

Crispy phyllo bundles filled with tofu "feta" made with fresh dill and lemon juice; a lemon soy yogurt topped with fresh blueberries; some gigantes plakis (Greek "giant beans"); and some chopped cucumber, tomato, and kalamata olives. Little shmoo also wanted to show all of you his latest Lego creation, which he is calling "The Fire Vulture".
Verdict: Shmoo devoured the crunchy phyllo bundles, yogurt, and the beans, but he wouldn't touch the salad because of the tomatoes. Even so, I must say we've made a lot of progress with tomatoes lately -- it used to be even ketchup was verboten. Now he likes ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato soup, and sweet grape tomatoes. 3 stars.

Bloggie Finalist!

My little Vegan Lunch Box is an honest-to-God finalist for Best Food Blog in the 6th Annual Weblog Awards (aka the "Bloggies")!

Check it out and vote for me here (scroll down the page to "best food weblog", click on Vegan Lunch Box, then scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit "Submit your votes!").

And remember, "A Vote For Me is a Vote For Veganism"! Really, it's so cool seeing a vegan site up there contending with omnis. It's like when I enter my vegan cookies at the county fair. Only, you know, bigger.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ham Roll-Ups

Here are some vegan ham deli slices rolled up with vegan cream cheese; watermelon, cantaloupe, and red grapes, and a wholegrain Pumpkin Carob Chip Muffin. Someone sent me a link to this Japanese, non-vegan bento blog, and it inspired me to try packing little disks of corn-on-the-cob instead of my usual cooked frozen corn.
Verdict: The corn was a big hit! In fact, everything was a big hit. In fact, I think this kid must be going on a growth spurt or something because his lunches this week have been completely picked clean. He's also eating big snacks and big dinners. What are we going to do when he hits his teens? We might need to buy an extra refrigerator. 5 stars.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cashew Butter Sandwiches

I had both white and spelt bread today, so I made two matching cashew butter and organic strawberry jam sandwiches, cut out with a large biscuit cutter. I also packed some baby carrots with vegan ranch dip, and we decided to give baby bananas a try for the first time. Here's something else new: Barbara's Snackimals Oatmeal Wheat-Free Cookies. I wasn't sure if these were vegan ("natural flavor" is so vague) until I saw them for sale over at Food Fight Grocery, an all-vegan grocery store I desperately want to visit someday. Beverage: plain fortified soy milk.
Verdict: These baby bananas were the perfect fit for the lunch box and tasted just like their bigger brothers. He didn't like the brown half-a-banana I packed him once, so baby-size was the way to go. I think he could have eaten two, though. With no horrifying crusts to deal with, every bit of the sandwich and everything else was completely consumed. 4 stars.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Layered Bean Dip

Some organic tortilla chips served with a layered dip of refried beans, salsa, avocado, more beans, vegan sour cream, and black olives. In the smaller containers are kiwi fruit, organic red grapes, baby carrots, and celery sticks. On the napkin you can see one little maple sugar candy I snuck in as a surprise treat.
Verdict: Ooh, this was a big hit -- it looks like he finished off the chips and ate the rest with his fingers! I was happy to discover a way to pack avocado without having it go brown. 5 stars.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments below! Today it's a simple lunch, but one of Little shmoo's favorites: vegetarian baked beans and veggie dog slices in a warm thermos. Square baked pita chips are in the lunch box with an organic orange, cucumber and edamame, and an apple-raspberry "Just Fruit" bar.
Verdict: Hearty and filling on a rainy, grey day. He ate everything but a bit of the cucumber. 4 stars.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A Proggy!

I am humbled and honored to report that PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has presented me with their annual Proggy Award for "Blog of the Year".

I was so shocked I started to cry like some kind of online Ms. America.

Thank you, PeTA! And thank you to everyone who visits the Vegan Lunch Box to see what's for lunch!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bologna and Twinkies®

What could be more all-American kid than this? A vegan bologna sandwich on multigrain oat bread with Vegenaise, some lightly steamed green beans, a kiwi fruit, and yes, that's right -- a vegan Twinkie!

How did I do it? Watch the whole process and get the recipe here.

Why did I do it? Last week at lunchtime shmoo's friend waved a packaged Hostess treat in front of him. "Have you tried Twinkies? Have you? Have you? They're soooo good!"

Shmoo looked up at me questioningly. "You haven't had one, but I can make you one," I said. Shmoo grinned and looked confidently back at his friend.

Looking at this lunch and comparing it to the veggie-filled lunch below, I see the two extremes of my vegan kid cooking side-by-side. On the one hand, I want him to eat the healthiest diet possible; on the other hand, I want him to feel that veganism doesn't mean deprivation or missing out on things that other kids are enjoying.

Verdict: Little shmoo packed his fluff-filled confection in what he has now dubbed "Mr. Twinkie Brain". He ate everything but the sandwich crust. 4 stars.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Speaking of kids eating vegetables, here's another great way to make veggies fun for kids: Lunch Box Fondue. In fact, this was Little shmoo's special request for today; he saw the fresh Brussels sprouts at the supermarket and begged me to make him fondue. "Weelll...I guess I could make you a giant heap of vegetables for lunch, but only if you're really good!" Hee.
So, fondue in a thermos with apple chunks, new potatoes, steamed green beans, baby carrots, Brussells sprouts, and cauliflower for dipping. A small piece of sweet dark chocolate is alongside for dessert.
Verdict: I sat next to him grading papers while he ate. "This is fondue!" he boasted, and Julia came over and bragged that she could eat a whole bowl of peas. Yes, vegetables are cool! The sprouts were first to go, of course, then the green beans got rave reviews. The cauliflower fell off the fondue fork but was rescued and eaten with his fingers, then he finished off all the carrots, apple chunks, and all but three bites of potato. "Whew, full!" 5 stars.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"No, don't eat that!"

Today's a noon release day ("What, another? Don't these kids ever go to school?" Yeah, I dunno.)

In the meantime, here's a fantastic podcast by Dr. Joel Fuhrman on getting kids to eat their vegetables. His cunning use of reverse-psychology is adorable.

I also appreciate and recommend his book Disease-Proof Your Child. Sadly, our diet is not nearly as healthy as Dr. Fuhrman's, mostly because I've never met a cookie I didn't like or a cake I didn't want to bake. But there are days when I watch my son chowing down on his second heaping plate of steamed broccoli, potatoes, peas, and carrots, and think, "Dr. Fuhrman would be proud!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tofu Fishies

Here's my recipe for Tofu Fish Sticks. I've been experimenting and finally came up with a recipe I'm satisfied with -- they're crunchy and crispy and just a wee bit fishy (kelp granules, dill, and lemon juice, ta da!). So it's tofu fish, tater tots, ketchup, a chocolate rice milk and banana pudding, and two Aplets (last of the Christmas gift goodies) for dessert.
Verdict: Every single bite got eaten, with a request for more of those "tasty fish" when he got home. 5 stars.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Hot Dog

The shmoo is back at school and good as new! Here's his request for today: an enormous veggie hot dog on a whole wheat bun. I cut it in half to fit it in the lunch box, and included a small container of ketchup, a lite pear fruit cup, some grape tomatoes, and a few kettle chips as a treat. A "pickle" joke card is on the side. "Mmm, wouldn't a real pickle taste good, too?" I asked. Shmoo is feeling anti-pickles at the moment.
Verdict: About half the bun was deemed "crust" and left uneaten. Oh, those crusts! 3 stars.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Pink Eye

His teacher warned me yesterday that there was a nasty case of Pink Eye in shmoo's class. Sure enough, his eyes have turned as red as the rising sun. We took him to the clinic and got some antibiotic eye drops (what fun) that should have it cleared up by Monday. Meanwhile, he'll be staying home, enjoying bean soup for lunch and some computer time as a treat.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sushi for Two

Look at what Santa brought me for Christmas! It's my very own grown-up Laptop Lunch Date with gorgeous Bento Bag (and a water bottle and thermos, too!). Now when I eat lunch with Little shmoo I'll be packing my own food instead of stealing all of his! Today I made a cucumber roll for myself and some inari sushi for shmoo, with edamame, green grapes, and Botan rice candy for both of us. My little container has the soy sauce and his has the pickled ginger. I packed my lunch into the stylish bag, tucked the chopsticks in the side pocket, and then...
...off I went to my high-paid executive office job...er, I mean, to teach seven-year-olds the "ay" sound.
Verdict: We were just too cool today. Sushi with chopsticks was the envy of the entire class. 5 stars. (Thank you so much, Tammy & Amy!)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Tofu Pot Pie

Erin Pavlina from VegFamily sent me a copy of her new cookbook, Vegan Family Favorites. Thanks, Erin! I've added a link to her book on the sidebar. We've been enjoying her fast, easy, kid-friendly recipes. Last night I made the recipe for Tofu Pot Pie and set aside some pastry and filling to make this lunch-sized pot pie in a mini loaf pan. I refrigerated it overnight then baked it this morning and wrapped it in foil. I sent it with an organic apple and some chocolate graham crackers filled with chocolate ganache. Beverage: fortified vanilla almond milk.
Verdict: I added some frozen corn to the peas, carrots, and tofu in the pie crust. The sage gravy was easy to make and quite yummy. Little shmoo especially appreciated the fact that this recipe contained no onions! 5 stars.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Hey, we're back! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. Over the Christmas break I made these spectacular black bean tamales (you remove the corn husk wrapper and inside is a wedge of corn masa stuffed with refried black beans). Some mild salsa is on the side for dipping, along with some sweet mango slices and calabacita (Mexican zucchini) with corn in a marjoram dressing. Beverage (not pictured): Rice Dream Horchata.
Verdict: I wish Little shmoo had been as excited to return to school as he was about his lunch! He loved these tamales, and surprised me by eating all the zucchini, too. The mango was too stringy for him, though (it's so hard to get good mangoes here, or maybe I just don't know how to pick them). 4 stars.