Sunday, September 18, 2011

Eating Omily: Autumnal Brown-Bag Delights. Second in a series

Oh my, it seems that crisp-Autumn weather is coming to NYC whether we like it or not!

So do we?

Ok, I won't lie, I wouldn't mind just a few more weekends of beach weather...but oh, I can just taste that hot apple cider spiked with brandy and a cinnamon stick...I love all the seasons so much!!

I think today can be the first Fall Eating Omily post of the year! In fact, the first Fall Eating Omily post ever! Yay!!

In honor of Food Network's Healthy Eats' Brown Bag Challenge, I'll offer some tasty Autumn-inspired bring-your-own-lunch options!
Earlier this week, I got a little evangelical about eggs, and why not? They're delicious, nutritious, and even ethically sound, they're affordable! Before ticking off some more great options this week, I want to take minute to discuss the benefits of packing your own lunch for work or school, rather than buying:

The most immediately noticeable dividend, perhaps, is economical. The cheapest lunch you're going to find is probably not going to be less than $5. That's $25 a week; that's $100 a month; $1,200 a year! That's new clothes every month, a weekend trip every few months, or a classy dinner out at an ethically sourced restaurant every couple weeks! Piano lessons if you prefer; drinks with the girls/guys, that new trinket you've been about a professional-quality chef's knife?? The list goes on and on. If you're spending more like $10 to $15 a day on lunch, double or triple that weekly-monthly-yearly total...and try not to have a stroke! Aren't there things you'd rather be spending your money on?

Another important benefit is, nutrition. Odds are good that sandwich you're eating isn't on whole-grain bread, and who knows where those anemic tomatoes on your salad came from?? You want better for yourself. You deserve good food for your body, and the only way to be sure you're getting it is if you are the one choosing the ingredients. Make yourself a delicious sandwich with all your favourite ingredients, wrap it up tight and chill over night, letting the flavors mingle. Pop it in a brown bag or a lunch box and go enjoy the fresh, Autumnal air on a park bench!

Of course, even if you can be confident your bought-lunch choices are good for you body, you can't be so sure they're good for the planet. Do you suppose that corner deli is obtaining its meat from small, responsible family-farms? Really think iceberg lettuce grows in Jersey in January? We all bury our heads in the sand from time to time, and pretend we can assume restaurants share our concern for the earth and its inhabitants, but we can't afford to be that naive on a daily basis. You know if that turkey came from the Farmer's Market if that's where you bought it! You know steamed kale is the Autumn-Winter sandwich green of choice!

These important benefits combine to provide another, and perhaps the best of all: pride in yourself that comes from knowing you're doing whats right for you and for others.

So...what's good in Fall? Thanksgiving doesn't fall this time of year for nothing! Ever put sliced apples on a sandwich? Baby, don't waste another second! Get your bread from the stands at the Farmer's Market, and you'll never go back! How about a warm salad, starting with roasted butternut squash? Add mushrooms, some of those red peppers you've been roasting and freezing this month, a hearty splash of balsamic vinegar...yum! Why not give a raw kale salad a try? Knead it through your hands with an acid (how about some apple cider?) to soften it, then add some crunchy toasted nuts, a handful of pickled onions, maybe some roasted garlic, or chopped apples, oh how perfect does that sound??

Don't forget wild rice salad: so easy to make a big batch ahead, and of course, as the weather gets colder, and our thoughts turn to hearty stews and heavy cassaroles, keep in mind these are awesome things to take to lunch! Heat up your soup and take it in a thermos, or just take it cold and microwave it on location, if you have that option. It's so easy to do double-batches of soups and casseroles for later, not only as a good lunch option, but a great weapon in your arsenal if you're devoted to not giving in to the idol of take-out.

I would love to hear about your go-to packed lunches! What tricks to you have for keeping the process clean, simple, and pleasant instead of stressful? Not just foods of course, but methods and tools. If you haven't already taken the pledge to brown-bag your lunch for the month of September, why not jump in now? If it's going well in the next two weeks, keep it up right into October! You'll never look back.


1 comment:

  1. Hey, thanks for visiting my blog!
    If you do try it with whole wheat flour, please let me know how it turns out, i try to bake with that as much as possible, but it gets so heavy sometimes and this batter is already so thick I was scared lol
    there were no nuts in the recipe, but a little nutty crunch on top sounds great.
    How's your BB Challenge going?