Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tater tots on a sunny day

Ryan: 1/2 Sunshine Burger on whole wheat bun; cucumber slices; blood orange slices; baby carrots; tater tots & a container of ketchup.
AJ: baby carrots; cucumber slices; sunflower butter & jelly sandwich on a whole wheat bun; tater tots & a container of ketchup (which he licked clean).

Yet another blog giveaway is happening on the cute kids bento blog Maisie Eats Bento in celebration of her 100th bento pic. The winner gets a bunch of loot from Ichiban Kan, perfect for a bento beginner.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hot Dogs & Curry

Ryan's lunch: strawberries; Yves Good Dog hot dogs w/ketchup & mustard; a Tirosh sandwich biscuit; marinated mushrooms; balsamic zucchini.

AJ's snack: biscuit
& hot dog.

Yep, out of time this

Since my instructor at the
Y was on vacation, I used
the time to pick up groceries
at Asinayo, the local asian
market in town. They were
out of the teensy gel cups I
usually buy for Ryan for a
treat in his lunches, but they
had this huge bucket super
cheap so I thought I'd give
them a try; there are four
flavours: strawberry, mango,
lychee & grape. Ryan is dying to try them but I'm making him wait for lunch!

This afternoon this blog hit 2,000 hits per month. Yahoo!

And in other fun, there's still time to enter the giveaway over at Lunch In A Box for a Kids Konserve lunch set. Kewl! There are many great places online to buy stainless steel lunch products now.

And here's Nate playing
with his castle while I
cooked dinner...when he
wasn't busy trying to
remove outlet covers to
plug in a LiteBrite or
ransack his brothers'
Bionicle collection.

Along with basmati rice
& a chick pea curry, I
wanted to use up some
potatoes...so I created
this recipe...

Lemon Curry Potatoes

3 medium potatoes, peeled,
2 cloves garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
1 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
a pinch of ground red pepper
1 T. lemon juice

In a small saucepan, boil potatoes until soft, about 15 minutes. Add garlic, cook another 2 minutes, remove from heat. Drain. Allow to cool somewhat.
Add olive oil & cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just another weekend

Balsamic Zucchini

2 shallots (or 1/2 a small
onion), chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 T. olive oil
1 T. walnut oil (optional)
3 zucchini (&/or summer
squash, sliced
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
(I used both red & green)
1/2 tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
1 T. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh, chopped)

Saute shallots & garlic briefly in olive & walnut oil over medium heat. Add zucchini, bell pepper, salt, pepper, vinegar. Stir and cover. Reduce heat to med-low and cook 10 minutes. Uncover, add basil, stir, and cook for a few more minutes until zucchini is soft but not mushy.

I served this with an almond rice pilaf. Amazingly my husband declared it "very tasty" and said it didn't need extra salt & pepper...which happens rarely...his family are salt-a-holics with low blood pressure.

In other news, Maia has
just about outgrown her
infant seat in the car. I
never remove it from the
car, but the sunshade is
handy. She's fit in the seat
twice as long or longer than
any of her brother's did!
Girls definitely seem to be
genertically smaller than boys, at least in our families.

Maia is also enjoying the spring
weather, getting outside in the
yard and discovering the grass.

Ryan made some interesting
clay sculptures of salamanders,
newts, frogs & tadpoles, & their
eggs, at a class about amphibians
at the Garden In The Woods.
They also went on a rainy day
hike and found quite a few live
creatures to observe.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Restaurant Review: Boloco

Boloco, Natick, MA

Last weekend after a visit
to the Lego Store at the
mall, we went nextdoor to
the burrito restaurant
Boloco. It is sandwiched in
between The Container Store
and Ben & Jerry's with an
unmistakable red facade.

Inside the ceilings are high
and the decor is dark, all red
and black. For a restaurant
that families frequent I sure wish it were more cheerful and comfortable. Too bad its location doesn't allow for outdoor seating on a beautiful spring day.

The menu consists of 8 various
burritos, or you can create your
own. Vegetarian fillings include
organic tofu, fajita vegetables &
guacamole. (There is a complete
downloadable PDF version of
the menu available online.) The
kids and I ordered the Summer
burrito with mango salsa and
added some organic tofu. I thought
this was a tasty combo; even Maia
enjoyed the bits of mango,
along with some rice & beans.
Wheat tortillas and brown rice
are available for the burritos.
The boys enjoyed some blue
corn tortilla chips & a side of
guacamole for dipping.

Boloco also offers a wide array
of smoothies (some include soymilk and sorbets). There is also a vegan House Salad. Even peanut butter & jelly is available for ultra picky kids. The breakfast menu is small though, with no vegan options (but they don't open til 11am so who cares). Check out their website for nutrition and allergy info.

Boloco is a certified green restaurant with locations around MA, NH & VT (you can also order ahead online). They have won 2 Best of Boston awards. This Boloco is located at 1265 Worcester Road (rt. 9) in Natick, MA, 508-907-7286. Lots of shared parking, though many people use the lot as overflow parking from the Natick Collection mall.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bottom of the Barrel

This is lunch-packing on a day when I really needed to go grocery shopping! The fruit bowl was empty & we were completely out of bread.

Ryan's lunch: mini gel cup; baby carrots; mashed potatoes; steamed broccoli; almonds; mixed fruit cup. Side car of biscuit w/grape jelly.

There was one (smushed) gel
cup left in the fridge, 1/2 a bag
of potatoes, and a leftover fruit
cup from a trip a few months
ago. I felt like Rimmer on Red
Dwarf in the episode "Marooned"
listing off the edible supplies left.

I had bought this Heart Smart
Bisquick a while back when I
saw it at the supermarket,
figuring it might be worth
experimenting with some day. What better occasion that when I'm pressed for time with no food in the cabinets!? I made 10 biscuits and spread one with Earth Balance & grape jelly (all we had left) for Ryan's lunch. The boys thought they were great. I've always been reluctant to buy Bisquick because I don't buy products with hydrogenated oils except on very special occasions, so their new Heart Smart version looked great. I just mixed it with some almond milk, kneaded it momentarily on a floured cutting board, pressed it flat & cut out circles to bake. Ten minutes later, voila, biscuits. Not bad.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Something Fishy

Every year the New England Aquarium in Boston brings ocean animals to visit the boys' preschool. Today was their annual visit, so I made appropriate lunches/snacks. Ryan fondly remembers his preschool days and didn't want to be left out of the fun.
Nate and AJ looked at (and touched and held) snails, mussels, clams, starfish, etc. There actually weren't any fish, but I don't have a clam cookie cutter, hahaha.

Nate's lunch: Tofurky & soy cheese roll-ups; steamed broccoli; baby carrots; cucumber slices; orange pieces; steamed asparagus; wakame onigiri w/rice cheese "fish".

AJ's snack is much the
same, but with a plain
rice heart.

AJ said he liked holding
the clams the best. Nate
was honestly more
interested in his teacher's
ocean animal shirt than
the aquarium animals. Ah well!

Ryan's lunch was also very similar. He had 2 yellow rice balls (colored with tumeric & nutritional yeast) as well as some soy cheese "waves".

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gastly, Pokemon #092

Today's bento features the ghost/poison Pokemon called Gastly. After this initial stage it evolves into Haunter and eventually Gengar. Gastly are found in old buildings or cemeteries.

Ryan's Gastly lunch: grilled nutritional yeast chreese sandwich; rice cheese letters; soy cheese & tomato Pokeball; multigrain flax crackers; Gastly made of purple potato, purple cabbage, soy cheese & a bit of tomato for the mouth; steamed asparagus; meatless meatballs.

I wish I had the time to create more intricate bentos for Lost night, like Pikko at Adventures in Bentomaking! Her weekly Lost bentos make me eager for Maia to get past the baby stage so I can spend more time in the morning (or the night before) planning and prepping cool kyaraben and oekiben. Some day! Ever since visiting Oahu I've fantasized about making a really nifty Lost bento. Sigh. Maybe I'll have time to make something stunning for the series finale next year...waaahhh!

Speaking of Adventures In Bentomaking, there are still a few more days in March to enter to win a stainless steel bento from Life Without Plastic on her blog!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Food Swap across the pond

Ryan's lunch: Thermos of Soy Boy ravioli verde; cinnamon raisin rolls; steamed asparagus; strawberries & kiwi (& a piece of orange).

AJ & Nate had the
same as Ryan, however
AJ does not care for
strawberries or kiwi, so
he has all oranges, and
Nate could eat a truck
full of strawberries, but
kiwi is hit or miss but I
gave him some anyhow.

I decided to try a food swap on The Vegan Forum with someone from the UK. I hope it works! I tried to pick a variety of items for my swappee from local sources as well as other US-made favourites.

Here's what I'm sending...
- Robert's American Gourmet veggie booty
- Old Bay seasoning (it's great for flavouring things other than seafood!)
- New York Style everything bagel chips
- Wicked Natural Island Fruit & Corn Salsa
- Annie's berry patch bunny fruit snacks
- Boston Cookies lemon poppyseed cookie
- Liz Lovely cowboy cookies
- Fantastic vegetarian chicken noodle soup bowl
- Enjoy Life mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 365 organic cherry fruit strip
- Simply Organic french onion dip mix
- Road's End Organics dairy-free shells & chreese

I chose things reminiscent of my past, items made in Massachusetts, Vermont & New York. And some of the kids' favourites, like Veggie Booty, Annie's fruit snacks, and plenty of cookies & chocolate (also my fave). I had to be careful not to choose many heavy items that would make the parcel weigh too much. I think it's a yummy dozen goodies that will hopefully make the journey across the Atlantic unscathed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kids Meals

Ryan sometimes tells me about food served in the school cafeteria. The one "meal" he has been asking me to serve is "Super Nachos". So I am going to try to occasionally imitate some of the nacho toppings for him to have at school. He absolutely loved this one today...

Ryan's lunch: white & blue corn Green Mountain Gringo tortilla strips; soy crumbles; salsa; guacamole; my chili chreez sauce (minus the cornstarch so it's better for dipping); baby carrots; strawberries.

And of course when AJ
saw Ryan's lunch he
just had to have the
same thing for his snack!

Spring is here, so we had
lunch at the picnic table
yesterday: sesame tofu;
orange slices; steamed
broccoli; cucumber slices;
whole wheat english muffin.

And I was so involved in yard work that I just threw together a muffin tin dinner for the boys:
row 1 - cucumber slices; Tings; blue corn tortilla strips; meatless meatballs.
row 2 - blueberry waffle wedges; strawberries; S'mores Luna bar pieces; banana slices.
row 3 - green beans; almonds; carrots & celery sticks; vegetable crackers.

This evening's dinner:
peas; a carrot; blanched
mixed greens; orange
slices; pasta shells &
chreez sauce.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lock & Lock giveaway winner!

And the winner is...


May you find many
blackberries to pick
this summer to use
in your new Lock &
Lock box!

Here's AJ picking out the winner from the 28 entries.
Cory, I will be contacting you soon to get your shipping info. Congratulations!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Restaurant Review: Lotus Blossom

The Lotus Blossom is one in a
group of four Zagat rated asian
restaurants in the MetroWest
area. The furnishings are more
elegant than a typical chinese
joint, the staff are very attentive,
and of course the prices a bit
higher. But the food is better
so that's okay. And you can
order take-out as well if your not
in the mood for upscale dining.

A beautiful asian rock
garden seems out of
place along busy route
20, but we've enjoyed
it many times while
waiting for the place to
open at noon for lunch.

I brought Ryan here on
St. Patrick's Day for our
monthly Mama Date.
Since it was just the two
of us we ordered the
sauteed seasonal greens
(asparagus), szechuan bean
curd, and some rice. We
tried to make some tiny
sculptures with the clay Ryan brought while we waited for our food, but the service was so fast we barely got started!
We enjoyed our food, but skipped the complimentary dessert sadly because it was ice cream and a banana & milk chocolate fried spring roll with whipped cream & fruit sauce, beautiful, but alas not vegan. Ryan was content eating both our fortune cookies.

We had come here just recently as a family and enjoyed the spinach fried rice (without the egg), and a Chinese New Year special dish with rice cakes & bean sprouts that was fantastic.

The kids receive water cups
with crazy bendy straws,
always a hit.

My husband and I are forever
a bit sentimental about this
restaurant because it is where
we officially became engaged.
We ate here while we waited
for my ring to be resized
smaller at the Jewelry Exchange
just down the road; we decided
to have lunch while we waited, and ended up here. The room we ate in has since been remodeled and the sushi bar added. There is also a buffet at certain times.

Lotus Blossom is located at 394 Boston Post Road (route 20) in Sudbury, MA, 978-443-0200. There is always plenty of parking in the lot surrounding the building.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Spring!

for a
I had
I ended
up using
lots of
some of
my plans when everyone kept bugging me in the kitchen. It's not easy to get things done with a 2 year old rolling around on the floor under your feet.

Then it was off to the
YMCA. Twice a week
Maia & I go to postpartum
aerobics class. I've been in
the class on and off for
almost 6 years! I don't
know what I'll do when it's
time to be done later this
year. Sigh.

Last night's dinner before
Ryan's school art show:
row 1 - green beans, peanut
butter, thai peanut tofu,
apple slices.
row 2 - baby carrots, pear
slices, red bell pepper, flax
waffles wedges.
row 3 - caramel nut brownie
Luna bar pieces, pickles & cucumber slices, orange slices, cashews.

AJ also likes to show off
his Lego buildings. It's
sometimes hard for him
competing for attention
with Ryan since they're
only 15 months apart in

Thursday, March 19, 2009

cheap cheap

Nope, it's not spring yet! But many bento contests are popping up around the web, including mine that I posted over the weekend.

To celebrate Mardi Gras as well as her upcoming 200th bento, Not Exactly Bento is giving away a green Natural Lunch set (as sold at Ichiban Kan). You don't have to make anything for this contest, just comment to win!

Over at the Lunch In A Box forums, this month's contest is "Cost: How Low Can You Go?". The prize, donated by member LauraBento is an adorable bunny picnic bento!

Here's my entry for the Cost contest:
Ryan's lunch: cucumber slices embellished with a bit of purple cabbage; apple slices; rice & beans.

AJ & Nate's food:
baby carrot; cucumber
slices; rice & beans;
sliced black olives;
apple slice for AJ &
dried apricots for Nate.

Yesterday I only had to
pack a snack for AJ. The
left school before lunch to
visit their cousins for the

AJ's snack: sesame
pretzels; soy cheese
cubes; baby carrot;
mini banana blueberry muffin; cucumber slices.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Restaurant Review: Einstein Bros. Bagels

Einstein Bros. Bagels has long been my favourite bagel chain outside the NYC area. They make great bagels and tasty hummus. But I hadn't been to one in almost a year simply because I was all bagel-ed out after my last pregnancy. I had hyperemesis gravidarum, and bagels--specifically Einstein Bros sundried tomato bagels--were one of the very few foods I could reliably keep down!

It was time to return there
for a Mama Date with AJ.
We went on a sunny sunday
for lunch the morning after
changing the clocks to
daylight savings time.

AJ chose a cinnamon-raisin bagel,
as is, nothing on it. He also got a
large fruit cup. What's nice here is
that they have a lot of kid-sized
drinks to choose from, along with
Nantucket Nectars juices and
homemade blackberry lemonade!

I got my old standby sundried
tomato bagel, but toasted with
hummus. Everything here is
very reasonably priced in my

I used to buy the baker's
dozen box of bagels on the
weekends before havings
kids and I'd precut and
freeze three-quarters of
them. They're great for
breakfasts, sandwiches,
bagel pizzas and more.

Check out the "Lucky Green"
bagels for St. Patrick's Day:

This Einstein Bros. Bagels is located in Wayland, MA at 44 Main Street (rt. 27), 508-655-6420 . There is ample parking in the plaza it shares with a pet supplies store and a Starbucks. Seasonal outdoor seating, but plenty of indoor tables as well. There is also a wonderful wood play area nearby, the Hannah Williams Playground. (But AJ chose to continue down to rt.9 to visit Pet World instead to see the cats in their Kitty City.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patty's Day

Ryan's lunch: oatmeal date scone; steamed broccoli; brown rice edamame salad; more edamame; shamrock sugar cookies.

I may not be very Irish, but
my husband's family sure is.
Add that to the fact that we
live near Boston, and you HAVE
to like St. Patrick's Day here.
Ryan wore his Celtics hat and
a green shirt to school.

I packed Ryan an extra
cookie for his afternoon
snack just in case his
class did something special.
He politely refused the
Lucky Charms marshmallow
bars that a teacher had
brought. But apparently all
of his friends sitting at his
table had also brought cookies of various sorts, so it was a good call. Usually their snacktime is very brief--enough time for a few crackers or a fruit roll--so it's not something I usually photograph.

AJ's snack: edamame;
steamed broccoli; a pickle;
oatmeal date scone; a
small shamrock cookie;
sesame pretzel sticks.

Dada was parent helper
in Nate's class today.
Part of the snack included
shamrock cookies of course!

Nate's lunch: steamed
broccoli; edamame;
shamrock pita sandwich
with Tofutti cream cheese
& cucumber; pickles; sesame
pretzel sticks.

Maia's first St. Patty's Day!