Monday, December 22, 2008

Lunch Box Survey

Check out this fabulous lunch box survey form (pdf) from FamilyFun that you can print out and include in your child's lunch box. What a clever idea!

My favorite part:
"On a scale of 1-5 how tasty was your lunch today? (check one)

5 - Awesome!

4 - pretty GROOVY

3 - just OK

2 - I ate it anyway

1 - 'HERE FIDO...' "
HA! I think "I traded it for _________ " should be one of the options.

My son would hate the absolute utter cuteness of this form, but I bet there are kids out there who would love it. If anyone gives it a try, let us know how you rate!

Thanks, Chelee, for the link!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Around the World: Indonesian Yellow Rice and Tempeh

Indonesia: land of tempeh! I absolutely adore tempeh. It's got a nutty, mushroomy flavor and a very impressive nutritional profile. For those who haven't met tempeh yet, tempeh is made from cooking and fermenting whole soybeans until they form solid cakes that can be cut into slices and steamed or fried. It's got more bioavailable protein than tofu or plain cooked soybeans, and the fermentation of tempeh makes it easier to digest. Thank you, Indonesia!

Today I fried my tempeh and then coated it with a glaze made from brown sugar, soy sauce, shallot, and red chile. Sweet and spicy! Next to the tempeh is Indonesian Yellow Rice: rice cooked with turmeric, lemongrass, and coconut milk. This dish is prepared in Indonesia for festivals and sacred occasions. It is often shaped into a cone to represent the sacred mountain Meru. I garnished my cone attempt with a fresh chile cut into a flower blossom.

Beneath the rice is a simple Indonesian vegetable pickle -- carrot, cucumber, and shallots pickled with vinegar, sugar, and salt; very easy, sweet and crispy. And for dessert, two little clementines. Citrus was appropriate, as there are more varieties of citrus fruits in Indonesia than I have ever heard of in my life.

Verdict: The pickles were my favorite part, crunchy and addictive. The tempeh and rice were good together, but I really can't wait to eat all the leftover tempeh on top of a big green salad; that's my favorite way to eat tempeh. 4 stars.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Healthy Holiday Appetizers

...from Pillsbury, of all places. The other day I picked up a copy of the "Pillsbury Holiday Appetizers" magazine at the grocery checkout stand. I was drawn to this adorable Christmas Tree Vegetable Platter on the cover:

Isn't it cute? What a great appetizer to bring to a holiday party, with a healthy vegan dip on the side (I'm thinking hummus, Yumm! Sauce, vegan ranch, guacamole...) You could even substitute some carrot sticks for the pretzels.

The magazine had several other healthy-sounding vegan appetizers: Fig Spread, Salsa-Lime-Bean Dip, Roasted Green Beans, and Lettuce Bundles. Wow, who knew?

Are any of you planning to bring healthy vegan dishes to holiday events?

P.S. Speaking of Pillsbury, aren't some of their products "incidentally vegan"? It seems to me I remember picking up a package of their refrigerator crescent roll dough or something, and noticing that it was oddly animal-free ... then carefully setting it back down and backing slowly away.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Laptop Lunch Sale!

Hey all you Super Shoppin' Santas out there! Tammy from Laptop Lunches just dropped me a line:
"I wanted to let you know that we are running a Holiday Discount now through the 16th of December. We are giving 20% discount on purchased items. The code is holiday2008. We get so many people who say they heard about us through you so we thought your readers might be interested."
There you have it! I bet some good little boys and girls (and some good big boys and girls, too!) would be delighted to find Laptop Lunch Boxes under the tree.

Monday, December 08, 2008

What's Santa Shmoo giving to all the good girls and boys?

I usually bake homemade sweets for all our neighbors and friends at the holidays, but this year I decided to give everyone Gourmet Red Wine Soup Mixes instead.

My friend Renee makes these soup mixes -- all natural, all vegan, low in sodium (hooray!), and yummy, too. You just add water or broth and they're done in less than an hour. My favorite is the Red Wine Vegetable Bean (I like adding cooked brown rice and baby spinach to it).

I'm putting them into little gift boxes for my friends and family along with a package of crackers and some fresh clementines.

I hope people don't mind the healthier gift this year. With all the diabetes, heart attacks, and high blood pressure I've been a witness to this year, I couldn't bear to make everybody another batch of cookies and fudge.

Shmoo Review: Holiday Book Ideas

Are you all done with your holiday shopping? If you're still looking for some gift ideas I've put together a list of some of the books I've been enjoying lately...

1. For those with allergies: Alisa Fleming has just released a new edition of her book Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living.This book includes all the good stuff of the original -- a comprehensive guide to dairy substitutes, grocery shopping information, chapters on health and calcium concerns, food allergy resources, and more -- plus updated information and a lot more recipes (over 225!)

2. For the bento fan: Hawaii's Bento Box Cookbook: Fun Lunches for Kidsis about the cutest thing going. If you love to coo over lunches that look like teddy bears, princesses, mermaids, or little mice, this is the book for you. I have to warn you, the recipes are not vegan, but that shouldn't stop you from using this book for inspiration; substitute vegan deli slices and cheese and white veggies like jicama or daikon for the bologna, cheese, and fishcake in the designs.

(Also, if you like bento, manga, or Japanese cooking in general, I'm sure you'll like The Manga Cookbook,another book I really got a kick out of this year.)

3. For the athlete: For information about vegan athletes and nutrition, check out Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Lifeby professional Ironman triathlete and vegan, Brendan Brazier. His book offers up sound advice for athletes along with all-natural recipes for gels, sports drinks, smoothies, and bars.

4. For the home preserver: This was my birthday present this year from my mom, who also loves to can and make preserves: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.With the economy going the way it is, what could be better than lining your pantry with rows of pretty preserves that you made yourself? And this book is gorgeous, with full color photographs throughout and hundreds of recipes I've never seen before but can't wait to try. (By the way, the "Bruschetta in a Jar" is fantastic.)

That's all the new books I can think of for now. What are some of your recommendations?

P.S. My book(ahem) would also be a great holiday gift for all the vegans and lunch-packers on your list!