What Favorite Foods are You Packing in Lunches?

“Snack size hummus (from Whole Foods [ and Costco]) with veggies. Also, edomame.” – Lisa Copeland

“Reese loves carrots and Ranch dip and surprisingly enough…she barely touches the Ranch.” – Melissa Maddock

“Make your own uncrustables – using whole wheat bread and mostly peanut butter (make a lot on the weekend and freeze them, they will thaw out by lunch time.” – LaDonna Goodwin

“We pack cucumber slices, snack-size hummus, different fruits and beef jerky, pita chips, celery, yogurt frozen overnight.” – Jill Byrd

“Whole wheat sandwich rounds, with light veggie cream, cucumbers, bell peppers, and sprouts….delicious! “ – May Tolson

“Catie really loves couscous. Sometimes I throw in dried fruit and pine nuts; other times I add diced tomatoes & green onion. Couscous is very versatile and can be served hot or cold! I mix up the pb & j together in a bowl before spreading it on the bread for Jake’s sandwiches. It saves on trying to get jelly stains out later. I also do pb & honey, pb & nutella, and pb & fruit.” – Cleette Harrison

“Apples, Yogurt, turkey and cheese!” – Karin Klemm

Entree Tips

  • Use whole wheat tortillas to make wraps.
  • Use whole wheat bread without artificial preservatives, colors, flavors; and high fructose corn syrup (i.e. Nature’s Own).
  • Select meats that are nitrate and nitrite-free to avoid harmful chemical preservatives.
  • Select healthy peanut butter (hint: very short ingredient list without added sugar or oil), and 100% fruit spread for pb&j’s.
  • When the weather cools down, send hot leftovers in thermos containers, to offer variety.

Side Ideas

  • Greek yogurt s are a good source of protein (usually 13-20 grams, while standard yogurts average 5-10 grams).
  • Standard yogurts have their plus, too: they have two to three times the calcium of Greek yogurts (which lose some calcium in the triple straining process).
  • Snack-size hummus
  • Choose pretzels or baked chips over regular chips.
  • String cheese (tasty and full of calcium)
  • Boiled egg (package in insulated lunch bag next to frozen drink to keep cold).
  • Almonds
  • Grapes
  • Baby carrots
  • Bananas (seal in plastic baggie so its smell does not permeate other foods)
  • Oranges,  quartered and bagged
  • Apples
  • Unsweetened apple sauce
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Kiwi (slice it in half, and send a plastic spork for the child to eat it out “bowl-style”)
  • Melon
  • Clementines
  • Cherry tomatoes

For Fun

  • Organic fruit snack chews made with real juice and not containing artificial coloring (i.e. Annie’s)
  • Organic granola bars without artificial preservatives, flavorings, etc. (i.e. Clif bars, KIND bars) Select whole grain granola bars that are low in fat and sugar – take a look at the food label and choose the ones that contain less than 1g of saturated fat per serving and are no more than 35% sugar by weight. To figure the percentage of sugar per serving, divide the grams of sugar by the gram weight of one serving and multiply this number by 100.
  • Kettlecorn (again, look for a short ingredient list).

What should I buy organic?

According to the Environmental Working Group, produce pesticide exposure can be greatly reduced by buying organic in the following twelve foods, termed “the dirty dozen”:

  • apples
  • celery
  • strawberries
  • peaches
  • spinach
  • nectarines – imported
  • grapes – imported
  • sweet bell peppers
  • potatoes
  • blueberries
  • lettuce
  • kale/collard greens

For more detailed information on the dirty dozen and produce’s “clean fifteen”, see http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/.

*This is not a sponsored post.


The Kindness Challenge

At brunch yesterday, my friend Suzanne told me about how she is making a difference in her family this summer, and I knew we needed to share this idea. She has initiated The Kindness Challenge with her family this summer.

After a few rough first days of summer vacation, with kids (ages 10, 5 and 3) poking and picking at each other, irritating each other just because they could, Suzanne had had enough. It wasn’t going to be like this all summer. So she prayed and talked with her husband Tim to make a plan. Out of this moment of crisis came The Kindness Challenge – How 40 Days of Kindness Can Change a Family (Think of it as The Love Dare for the whole family).

Finding it easier to break the challenge into weeks, here is her plan (in Suzanne’s words):

Week 1 – Change starts at the Top. We as parents commit to always speaking kindly to the kids (and each other for that matter), to praying daily for each child’s specific needs, to having continuous daily conversations about kindness, and to doing small acts of kindness unique for each child.

Week 2 – Get big brother on board. It’s time to build kindness skills in the oldest child. Because there is an age gap between him and the other two, it is important to teach kindess lessons on his level. This includes daily one-on-one discussions on kindness, such as what the Bible says about kindness, why it’s easier to be kind to strangers than your family, and how to be kind to someone who isn’t kind back.

Week 3 – It’s a family affair. Blessed to have a full week with Dad at home, we are planning daily family activities with a focus on building family unity and encouraging kindness to one another. Activities include, picking berries (sharing in God’s delicious provision by working together), hiking (each child having a turn to lead), Lego building challenge (how big can we build if we use all of our Lego sets together), etc. Kids will each have a special one-on-one time with Dad during the week. We will also start learning Bible verses on kindness each week.

Week 4 – Kindness School. A full week of lessons and activities on kindness. Using Bible stories and other stories familiar to the kids, we will learn different ways to be kind and show kindness. Kids will work together to create a book about kindness.

Week 5 – Putting it into practice. Family members will draw a family member’s name each day and do a special act of kindness for that person. Family members will sign a Kindness Contract, committing to a lifestyle of kindness. Dinner conversations will  focus on recognizing kind moments shared that day.

Week 6 – Beyond our walls. Family will plan and perform service projects and kindness activities for others outside our family. On day 40, we will have a celebratory dinner and enjoy the fruits of our efforts – a kinder, more peaceful, loving family.

Some Bible verses on kindness: Proverbs 21:21; Proverbs 31:25-27; Micah 6:8; Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:12-13. 

What a great challenge to all of us to show kindness to our family members and then to reach out with kindness to others!

My family loves this healthy bread, especially toasted. With a breadmaker, it’s fast and simple to make.

Whole wheat bread freshly baked in my kitchen


1 pkg. yeast

1/8 tsp. ginger

2 1/2 C. bread flour

1 1/4 C. whole wheat flour

1/2 C. wheat germ

1 tsp. salt

3 T. honey

*1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk

2 T. lightly flavored olive oil

1/2 C. cracked wheat

1/2 C. boiling water


Cover the 1/2 C. cracked wheat with the boiling water in a small bowl. Stir and let cool.

Put the rest of the ingredients in your breadmaker in the order suggested by your manufacturer, then the cooled cracked wheat.

Select white bread and push “Start.” Slice bread after cooling.

*Do-it-yourself evaporated milk
No need to pay a premium for those little cans of evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is simply fresh milk that has had about 60% of its water content removed. You can make your own in two minutes or less.

 Just mix these ingredients:

  • 1 cup non-fat dry milk
  • 1  cup plus 2 T. water

 Yield: 1 1/2 cups (in place of 12 ounce can)

Note: Without a breadmaker, you can hand knead, let the bread rise in warm area until doubled, punch down, then let rise another 35 minutes. Bake in two buttered loaf pans at 375 degrees 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Slice after cooling.


This is a healthy bread that I like to make for my family. We love to use it for cinnamon toast and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches! It also uses that last overly-ripe banana.

 Takes 5-10 minutes to get the ingredients in the breadmaker, then let the machine work it’s magic.


1 tsp. yeast

1/2 tsp.salt

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 1/4 C. flour

1 T. non-fat dry milk powder

1/2 tsp. sugar

2 T. lite applesauce

3/4 banana

1 C. water

1/4 C. craisins

1/4 C. raisins


Put in the breadmaker in the order suggested by the manufacturer, press white bread, and “start”. Makes a 1 pound loaf.

Remembering Truth

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.                     Psalm 119:35-37

  • Beauty = you are a size 2 and have no wrinkles.
  • Having that thing will make you happy.
  • It’s all about you.

Lies. Lies. Lies. Our culture is lying to us every day. The deception is delivered through print ads, radio, TV, and more. There is really no escaping it.

But one thing we can do is combat it with steady doses of truth. Those might come through listening to praise music while working around the house, listening to a sermon podcast while taking a run, or reading scripture posted on a bathroom mirror.

One of the best ways to take in truth is by memorizing God’s Word, putting it deep into the heart and mind. A helpful tactic in memorizing scripture that I like to use is drawing fun pictures as memory aids. This is especially helpful in remembering the order of things when memorizing long passages.

Following are the verses we memorized in women’s Bible Study the last two weeks:

Isaiah 26:3

Psalm 19:14

Give it a try! Have some fun. Pick a scripture that speaks specifically to a struggle that you are in the middle of, and I can guarantee your stress level will decrease and peace level will increase.

Dear Father, help me to take delight in your Word. Turn my heart toward you and away from selfish gain. Show me how to focus my eyes away from worthless things and on to you and your ways. Amen.

Loving Chipotle at Home

 The homemade Chipotle night this week was a big hit with everyone in my family! I thought you might like to do the same.

Here’s how we did it: I bought the bake-your-own tortillas from the refrigerated section at WalMart. It’s a little more work, but they are so good fresh (like at Chipotle!) Also, I looked up the Chipotle meat recipes and they were way too involved for me. So I simply put 6 boneless chicken thighs in the slow cooker on low for 6 hours and added ½ jar salsa verde, and shook in some cayenne pepper and chili pepper to spice it up. Juicy, tender and tasty!

We filled our tortillas with rice, beans, chicken, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, corn, shredded lettuce, tomatoes and salsa (or pico de gallo if you have it!) I didn’t have the corn salsa recipe at the time (it’s listed below), but I will also spice that up next time with some onions, lime and cilantro. The key seems to be lots of LIME and CILANTRO in everything. I looked up how to make the lime tortilla chips and it was way too much work for me! BUT I recommend getting the Cactus Creek Margarita Lime Chips – they are delicious and only 99 cents a bag! I know Brookshire’s carries them.


Chipotle’s Basmati Rice Recipe
1 teaspoon vegetable oil or butter
2 tsp. fresh cilantro
2/3 cup white basmati rice
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Lime

In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, heat oil or butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Add rice and lime juice, stir for 1 minute. Add water and salt, bring to a full rolling boil. At boiling, cover, turn down to simmer over low heat until rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.

Basmati is a long-grained rice, with a fine texture. It can be found in Middle Eastern and India markets, as well as some supermarkets.
(Source: http://www.chipotlefan.com/index.php?id=rice_recipe#)

 Chipotle’s black bean recipe                    

You’ll love the versatility of this recipe. Match it with highly seasoned dishes such as beef or pork fajitas, or use it to add zip to a menu with broiled salmon, sautéed catfish, or a vegetarian roll-up. You can substitute regular salsa for the chipotle salsa if you prefer.

Yield: 2 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup) So, you will probably want to double this recipe!


  • 2  teaspoons  vegetable oil
  • 1/2  cup  chopped red bell pepper
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4  cup  bottled chipotle salsa (such as Jardine’s)
  • (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro


Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add bell pepper and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in salsa and beans; simmer 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro.

(Source: http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000000226447)

Chipotle’s Corn Salsa

Sweet, spicy, and delicious!

6 ears Sweet Yellow Corn
2 Poblano Chilies
1/2 Red Onion
2 Red Jalapenos
1/3 Cup Chopped Cilantro
1 Tablespoon Lime Juice
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

(Source: http://www.recipesecrets.net/blog/recipes/copycat-chipotle-corn-salsa/)

Girls Getaway

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make your own scrapbooking design