Fitness, GF Recipes, GF Resources

Guest Post! The Gift of a Lunchbox

15 Comments 05 April 2011

Guest Post! The Gift of a Lunchbox

Today, I am opening a special gift that I’d like to share with you.  It’s the gift of a lunchbox from Valerie, a new friend from City|Life|Eats.  I hope her guest post inspires you as much as it inspires me!

Hello Gluten-Free Cat readers! Heather guest-blogged a wonderful lunchbox completely suited to my various food intolerances and restrictions last week on my blog, so I am thrilled to be making her a lunchbox today. There is one catch, in that we do not live in the same city, so sadly I cannot actually give Heather this lunchbox to take with her to work, but I hope it still provides inspiration for her and all of you.

Switching to a gluten-free diet, whether because of a Celiac diagnosis or non-Celiac gluten intolerance, entails so many changes –  scrutinizing labels, reinventing old favorites, reorganizing kitchens and pantries –  but I think for many of us, one of the biggest changes is eating out, especially when on-the-go, whether on your lunch break or out on the weekends.  I know before switching to a gluten-free diet, I brought my lunch to work almost every day, but I also knew I could rely on local lunch places if need be.  This is no longer the case since discovering I am intolerant to gluten, dairy and chicken eggs and also choosing to avoid refined sugars and a few other foods that do not agree with me. Yes, I can and do eat out, but it requires time, forethought and asking questions, and is not usually compatible with a short lunch break.

So now I pack my lunch and snacks without fail. Last September, I started writing a series on my blog called Today’s Lunchbox, thinking my lunchboxes might interest some of my readers.  I vastly underestimated the interest people have in this series.  What was initially a week-long project became month-long, and has now passed its six-month mark.  I mainly write about lunchboxes I bring to work (which generally include a lunch and a couple of snacks) but also weekend lunchboxes and travel lunchboxes.

As you know from reading Heather’s blog, she has a pretty packed schedule between teaching elementary school all day and leading intense exercise classes (see, the Accumulator) so her main requirements for a lunchbox are that it be gluten-free  and high enough in protein to sustain her energy.   My job is much more sedentary but I think we can all relate to wanting a nutrient-dense and energy-packed lunchbox.  This is the lunchbox I came up with for Heather and one I enjoyed thoroughly last week:

  • Veggie-full Breakfast Hash from Ricki Heller’s new book Good Morning! Breakfasts without Sugar, Gluten, Eggs or Dairy. This e-book came out yesterday, but I actually was a recipe tester, so have been making this hash for a couple of months now.  It is technically a breakfast recipe, but I love it as a lunchbox staple.  While the recipe calls for tempeh or black beans, I use both to up the protein, and because I love the combination of textures of the tempeh, beans, sweet potatoes and vegetables.
  • Sides of roasted carrots and steamed kale.  I like how well steamed kale holds up in a lunchbox and it is a vegetable with a comparatively high amino acid profile, so I make sure to include it often in my lunchboxes.
  • A Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin from Carol Kicinski’s upcoming book Simply… Gluten-Free Desserts (reviewed here).  This muffin is made with almond flour and eggs (I substitute duck eggs for the chicken eggs) so packs quite a protein punch. I love this as a late-morning snack.
  • Pumpkin Chia Pudding – I am a huge fan of this recipe by Gena from Choosing Raw.  It has protein, healthy fats and some fiber, not to mention all the goodness from pumpkin and cinnamon.  I like chia puddings generally because they are easy to digest, have protein and are nutrient dense.  I often include a chia pudding in my lunchboxes and have made numerous variations, whether from other bloggers or variations of my own.

Packing a lunchbox requires forethought and time, but it is worth it to me.  I generally rely on leftovers and recipes such as the hash and the chia pudding that generate multiple servings.  I also like to rely on staples that are similar but not identical (like hummus, bean dips, or nut-based dips) which are easy in that the food processor does most of the work, and can be used to supplement a lunchbox (as a snack with veggies and/or crackers), or be the central component of a lunchbox (in wraps).

Valerie blogs at  City|Life|Eats about food, life, work, and living with food allergies and a modified diet. Her lunchboxes and recipes are gluten-free,  dairy-free  and often, but not exclusively, vegan.  You can subscribe to City|Life|Eats via RSS or email or connect with Valerie via Twitter or Facebook.


Your Comments

15 Comments so far

  1. Ricki says:

    Great post, and some fabulous tips for those of us who bring lunches (and follow a GF diet). And so glad you’re still making the breakfast hash and enjoying it! 😀

  2. Hi Heather – It is a pleasure to guest blog for you :) I hope to get a raw lunchbox for you by the end of the month or early into May after I come back from vacation :)

    • Heather says:

      Thank you, Valerie! My real lunchbox was a little bland today, so I’m especially grateful for the virtual lunchbox you made for me. 😉 Can’t wait to try it out for real!

  3. as always, a great lunchbox! I am so excited about Ricki’s new book after seeing all your different posts with the recipes.

  4. Gigi says:

    I love the lunch that Valerie made for you, and anything from Ricki is fabulous! This is the first time I’ve gotten over for a visit, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the site! I’ll definitely be back!
    (fellow cat lover…we have 3) :)

    • Heather says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Gigi! I enjoy reading your blog!!!

      I’d have three cats myself if it were up to me. But the Husband has a very strict “Cats should not outnumber people” rule. :)

  5. Alta says:

    I love Valerie’s lunchboxes. I have plans to make that breakfast hash – is it as tasty as it looks?

    • Heather says:

      So do I! Valerie’s lunch boxes are so inspiring, and I’m honored that she made one for me! I haven’t had a chance to make that hash yet, but it is high on my list as soon as I’m done with my raw challenge! :)

  6. Lauren says:

    Great recipes and resources. Love that pudding too. While I am totally in favor of lunchboxes for all, do you really feel there’s no take out options (salads etc) that you can rely on?

    • Heather says:

      I WISH I could enjoy a take out salad, because there are wonderful options out there! As a teacher, we have exactly 30 minutes to eat from the time we drop off kids at the cafeteria to the time we pick them up. Throw in a quick bathroom break and a trip to the office and there are 15 minutes to quickly wolf down a meal. No time to get take out. Lunch boxes just fit my career of choice!

      I seriously fantasize about life in the real world, especially NYC…stepping out your door and finding exotic options all up and down the street. Even just the chance to have a quick conversation with someone that has nothing to do with grading, testing, or students for 2 minutes would be nice.

      (Can you tell we’re getting close to summer break, but not close enough? Ha!) Thanks for your comment, Lauren. What are your favorite healthy take out places in NYC? We’ve just planned our next trip!


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A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, fitness fanatic, gluten-free foodie, high-raw vegan, and Mama Cat living in NYC. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. While I'm not 100% vegan, it's my favorite way to eat, and making and sharing raw foods makes me giddy. Living in the City has its joys and challenges, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

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