Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lunch Shuttles

[Disclaimer: I was sent two Planetbox Shuttle boxes and bags for review]

I've coveted the Planetbox systems ever since I first laid eyes on them. Something about the compartmentalized stainless steel is like a siren call to my inner bentonatrix! The price can be a deterrent, but if you think about it, long-term they're a great investment! Not only are you saving money by not having to keep replacing broken or lost plastic boxes and lids, but you're also avoiding all the health issues from potentially harmful chemicals that are released by even some of the "safe" plastics! And of course packing in any compartmentalized lunchbox system has the benefits of saving money and avoiding waste from all the disposable bags; encouraging healthy eating from packing a variety, built-in portion-control, and avoiding convenience food options!

[This post contains affiliate links.

While I love our Rovers, and jealously covet a Launch, the Planetbox Shuttle is the perfect size for a large snack, or for a regular-sized lunch for my little pipsqueaks!

Kindergarten Shuttle
Earth Balance PB Popps, brown rice and hemp hearts with lime oil; and organic snap peas, carrots, and apples
Tuesday, 5/28/14 - I was flat out of gluten-free bread, so I had to get a little creative with lunches! I had some brown rice left over from a recent dinner, and mixed in some hemp hearts for protein. Z loves this lime "butter" I made from lime zest and coconut oil, and enjoys it mixed into rice, noodles, or steamed veggies. So I mixed some in as well. Nom!

Toddler Shuttle
Earth Balance PB Popps, brown rice and hemp hearts with lime oil; and organic snap peas, carrots, tomatoes, and apples
I found these layered flower muffin cups at Home Goods, and pretty much ran squealing to the register to buy them! I'd never seen them before, and can't find them online, and don't remember what brand they were (sorry!) You can get a similar effect with some flower muffin cups lined with these slightly smaller muffin cups, with a mini muffin cup inside that though.

Other than the general shininess and undefinable lure of the Planetboxes, one of my favorite things is that the lid compartments are raised so that I can pack high with fun picks or details. And they're attached, so I never have to worry about them getting separated and frantically search for a matching lid and bottom! And did I mention they're dishwasher safe? What's not to love?

Tools of the Trade


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Edible Flowers for Lunch

Monday, 5/5/14 - As part of our organic farm share the week before, we got a bouquet of flowering chives! Ironically, I had just been searching the internet for edible flowers the day before. The girls went wild for these, squabbling over who got to eat the best ones! I put the rest of them in a vase of water, and the rest of the buds blossomed nicely. So I decided to pack a few in their lunch. So pretty!

Flowers for Kindergarten
Roasted organic broccolini, organic chive blossoms, organic raspberries, rice noodles with lime "butter," dolmas
My girls both love roasted broccolini at dinner, and I had a little bit left over, so decided to try sending it cold for lunch. I tucked the chive blossoms in as an enticement to try it.
Since I already had a flower theme going, I arranged the raspberries in a flower-y formation in a flower muffin cup
The gluten-free rice noodles were also left over from dinner, and I added some dairy-free lime-infused butter to keep them from clumping, and also because she looooves it.
I've been really lax, but my goal had been to pack a heart in every Kindergarten lunch. I actually remembered this time, and stuck a heart pick into a dolmas (seasoned rice wrapped in grape leaves. These were from a can at Trader Joe's. They taste like pickled rice, so were a big win with my little pickle fiend!)

Toddler Bouquet
Organic hummus and tomatoes, GF Van's Everything crackers; organic raspberries, grapes, carrots, and chive blossoms 
I find the chive flowers have a too-strong flavor for my tastes, but this little one is a rabid flower-eater. She'd eat the whole bouquet in one go, if I allowed it.

I gave her some hummus in a butterfly cup to use for dipping her veggies instead. And some whole-grain crackers. She loves crackers!

Tools of the Trade

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Gutsy Chewy - A Friend to your Gut, Naturally!

[Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet™ program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meets™ blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product.]
In my quest to keep our household free from artificial petroleum-derived ingredients, I am always on the lookout for dye-free and naturally-flavored medications and remedies... that actually work. I suffer from acid reflux, IBS, and other fun GI issues, and my oldest routinely complains of a tummy ache (although less so all-around, now that we're all gluten-free and I went dairy-free!) So I was eager to try the Gutsy Chewy digestive aid.

Ironically, I had a hard time reviewing these. Not because they don't work, but because I seldom have gut issues now that I've changed my diet! But I do get accidentally "glutened" or eat something that has dairy in it without looking first (I'm looking at you, Glutino oreos!) And once in a while I just eat too much and feel a little "bleah" inside.

Gutsy Chewy products are available in two flavors, Citrus and Wildberry. Gutsy Chewy products are all-natural and made in the U.S.A.


  • Gluten-free, lactose-free, all-natural (no fake dyes or flavors!) and vegan-friendly
  • All Gutsy Chewy supplements contain a proprietary blend of apple cider vinegar, licorice extract and papaya extract (GiGs®). GiGs® has been shown to be effective in treating GutBurn™ and GutBloat™
  • The handy 8-pack tubes are easy to take on-the-go
  • Gutsy Chewy uses Xylitol to aid oral health, while calcium and magnesium are included to fortify the body's stores of these important minerals
  • They work! I definitely felt better when taking these for gut discomfort and nausea, too-rich foods, and the one time I had a reflux flare-up.

Gutsy Chewy On-the-Go!
I keep a tube in this little drawer in my car's dashboard, along with just a *few* other essentials... *cough* (Pen, mints, saved Starbucks drink plugs to use as bento picks, essential oils to apply to my Kindergartener before dropping her off at school, chewy bar, loose change, broken clip-on sunglasses... you know. The usual stuff...)

  • While the flavors and texture were far from inedible, they weren't my favorites either. I have no problem taking these to help ease symptoms, but I'm not making excuses to justify having another. On the plus side, my kids aren't lying about tummy aches in order to get more!
I prefer the orange flavor, but the girls don't seem to care which they get. The older one doesn't love them enough to lie about stomach pains, but the little one totally does. I let her have half a tablet, if I can't distract or stall her out of it...

The retail price for Gutsy Chewy ranges from $15.99 to $6.67 each, depending on volume purchased. Each order also has a cost of $4.99 to cover shipping and handling. 

The tubes also make a great brain-jog... whenever I need to remember to get gas or an oil change or air in my tires or whatever, I put something on the little ledge under my speedometer to remind me that I need to remember... something! These don't blow around like crumbled napkins do! And don't block my visuals, like balled-up kiddie socks or Happy Meal toys...

Check out the Gutsy Products website for more info and to buy, and be sure and check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

Gutsy: A friend to your gut with natural benefits.™
[Disclaimer: Always check with your physician before starting any supplement product and specifically Gutsy Products. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare professional prior to use if you are pregnant, nursing, taking any medication or have a medical condition. This product contains papaya and should not be used by people with a latex allergy. Keep out of reach of children]

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tomato Garden Salads

Over the Summer and early Fall, our weekly CSA farm share usually includes getting to fill a container of u-pick heirloom baby tomatoes. Red, orange, yellow, and "chocolate" round ones, plus yellow and red oblong ones. So fun! I love adding these rich colors to my salads!

Naturebox Pistachio Clusters w/Unreal candies, organic ground cherries, organic salad (red lettuce,
green cauliflower, heirloom tomatoes, hemp hearts, chia and sunflower seeds, rosemary vinaigrette)
Tuesday, 9/17/13 - Ground cherries are actually related to tomatillos, and come with little papery "wrappers" on each one. They have an unusual - but not unpleasant - taste, and are apparently very easy to grow! We got to gather a pint every week as part of our farm share, but only Mama liked them. So I had to eat them all!

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Corn Thins, The Good Beans Sweet Cinnamon chickpeas, roasted coconut chips, raw vegan Ranch kale chips,
organic salad (red lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, raisins, hemp hearts, chia and sunflower seeds, rosemary vinaigrette)
Monday, 9/23/13 - I'd just gotten the Corn Thins sample at VegFest in Portland the weekend before. Loads of yummy new samples to try!

Organic ground cherries, The Good Beans Sweet Cinnamon chickpeas, coconut chips, Peeled Snacks berry apple clusters, organic salad (red lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, hemp hearts, chia and sunflower seeds, rosemary vinaigrette)
Wednesday, 9/25/13 - I like making my own snack mix with whatever random crunchies I have on hand. The Peeled Snacks clusters came in a monthly foodie box of some kind. I love curated box subscriptions. So many fun surprises!

Organic English cucumber, gourmet macaroons, organic salad (romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, orange and green cauliflower, raisins, hemp hearts, chia and sunflower seeds, rosemary vinaigrette)
Friday, 9/27/13 - I got the chocolate-covered macaroon and PBJ macaroon in a gluten-free Cuisine Cube foodie box. Yummm!

Organic English cucumber and ground cherries, kiwi berries, organic salad (romaine lettuce, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, raisins, hemp hearts, chia and sunflower seeds, rosemary vinaigrette)
Monday, 9/30/13 - Everything garden! All fruits and veggies, other than the salad toppings! And those are all plant-based as well!

Tools of the Trade

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Easy Summer Dishes Fit for a Princess! With Park's Finest Frankfurters from Ball Park

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.
Fun and easy Summer dish fit for a Princess! Merida, Rapunzel, and Elsa hot dogs with Park's Finest Franks!
Did you know that during "Hot Dog Season" (Memorial Day through Labor Day,) Americans eat around 7 billion hot dogs? (Yes, I totally said that in my head like Dr. Evil. Beeellion!) Some evenings I just need quick and easy dishes, and sometimes I like to give them food I know they'll love, for putting up with all the "blecchy" veggie dishes they're stuck with most nights. Hot dogs fit the bill on all counts! Plus, if you fire up the grill, you won't turn the whole house into an oven while making dinner on those hot Summer nights!

I chose Park's Finest Frankfurters from Ball Park because there are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and no added nitrates! Win! Plus they're made with 100% beef - no cheap fillers! I don't buy hot dogs often, but when I do, finding ones without these ingredients are my main criteria! (Note: I was VERY excited about these, as I've always had to go to specialty stores to find no-nitrates-added meats before. This is the first brand I've ever seen at the "regular" grocery! What a great find!) They even have four flavors available (although my Safeway only had two;) including Signature Seasoned, Cracked Dijon Mustard, and Slow Smoked Hickory.

I will warn you - these dogs are huge! HUGE! I almost couldn't even find them on the shelf - they're so long, the package won't stand up properly, and I was too short to see that shelf well. Luckily I had brought along a little hot dog aficionado to help me find them!
If it helps to ease the sting of being too short to find them without help, you can save $.55 on any ONE Park's Finest product by loading a coupon onto your Safeway Club Card! (Good 5/26-6/1/14)

To help me out, Ball Park sent me a whole list of hot dog grilling tips, and the one that stuck with me was "Dress the dog, not the bun." So I did...

I dressed them like princesses!

Eat Your Fate!
easy Brave Merida hot dog
For my Princess Meridog, I spiralized a carrot and spread the curls out on a foil-lined baking sheet. I spritzed the carrots with olive oil and roasted them at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. The gluten-free buns went in for the last 5 minutes to toast up a bit (and then were broiled for an additional minute after the carrots got pulled out.) 

Easy and delicious! I didn't even need ketchup! The hardest part was waiting until I had the girls' dogs ready before I could eat it!

Queen Elsa "Frozen" Hot Dog
My Kindergartener went wild for this cheesy Elsa dog. I used sliced goat cheese and a steak knife to hand-cut a rough Elsa hairstyle, and a tiny craft-clay cutter to make "snowflakes." I glued everything on with mustard. I had thought about using sauerkraut to make Elsa's hair, but I couldn't find my jar in the fridge. Honestly, I'm amazed I can ever find anything in there...

All the faces were dabbed on with mustard and a toothpick. 

Tangled's Rapunzel Hot Dog!
According to a study, 98% of hot dogs are eaten with condiments of some kind, with mustard being the favorite. So who am I to buck tradition? With a fun "twist," of course! (Ha ha!)

Rapunzel is definitely my favorite of the bunch! And the easiest! I just bloobed mustard around in a vague hairstyle on top, then made it look like it was winding around the rest of the hot dog. (I even messed it up a little, and just rolled the dog over and started again!) More mustard dabbed on with a toothpick for the face, and some edible purple chive flowers to complete the look! (My toddler loooooooves eating chive flowers! Any flower, really. She ate a whole bouquet of tulips not too long ago. And she's constantly checking to make sure she can still eat the dandelions and clover...)

We love the simple classics here, so the girls just piled on more mustard and ketchup and went to town nomming on their princess dogs! They also shared the rest of the cheese scraps from making the Elsa dog.

*Blogger Note: I seriously considered making my kids change into more photogenic clothes (and wash their faces!) before letting them eat. It's a blessing and a curse, being a food blogger's kiddo!

#startyourgrill #collectivebias

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