The Tiffin Tin

What\’s in your lunchbox?

Archive for December 2006

Winter Interlude

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Hello TiffinTin Readers,

My boys are officially on vacation and we’re taking a little respite from packed lunches. If you’re looking for some holiday gift ideas, I’ve been posting about that on BlogLily. And if you’ve been thinking about how to make the holidays more about giving than receiving, I’ve posted something on that subject in my regular weekly post at the Daily Tiffin.

See you on January 2. Have a lovely holiday.

xo, Lily


Written by bloglily

December 18, 2006 at 12:47 pm

Posted in Christmas

What Can You Say About Trix Yogurt?

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I come to you today to talk about Trix yogurt — yogurt so colorful it hurts your eyes early in the morning when you put it in the lunchbox, yogurt that’s in a small container with gaudy decorations, yogurt that’s more expensive than the kind you usually eat because it’s in single serve containers. Yogurt Tiniest Tiffin loves. Going, as he does, to a school where a lot of children pack Trix yogurt in their lunch boxes, he naturally feels that he too would like it.

I’m not crazy about Trix.  It’s expensive, and has lots & lots of sugar in it and it comes in colors and flavors that are sort of icky.  The clash between what you want your child to eat and what your child sees other children eating and therefore wants to eat gets more difficult to negotiate as children grow older. I’ve reacted to it by being flexible about an item or two in the lunchbox, not making a big fuss about it, and saying briefly what the pros and cons of Trix yogurt are. It’s a small thing, Trix yogurt, but it’s not without significance:

  • you can talk about packaging. That empty trix yogurt container is going to sit in a landfill for a very long time.
  • sugars — you might want to look at different yogurt containers and talk about how much sugar you’ll find in it, and how much you want it to have. We do this with fiber — the Tiffin kids are aware that cereals and breads with less than 2 grams of fiber a serving aren’t doing what grains are supposed to do for you.
  • the trix rabbit is sort of cute, sort of not. It’s fun to discuss what might really be going on when he says trix are for kids but not for silly rabbits. The idea of having something exclusive and not sharing it is what lunch is all about sometimes.
  • flexibility. Your child needs to know that everyone enjoys a treat, and that’s what something like this is. A treat.

So what’s in those two lunches up there in the picture today? Left over tri-tip sliced very thin and placed between whole wheat bread. A piece of banana bread, a lot of tangerine slices (it makes a huge difference to them that the tangerines are peeled ahead of time, a job they’re good at first thing in the morning — they don’t have that long for lunch and sometimes they’ll only get to eat a fruit if it’s peeled already) and, of course trix yogurt.

Written by bloglily

December 12, 2006 at 8:11 am

More on the Great Vegetarian Conversion

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Turns out, it’s not that hard to feed the Tiffin Twin a meat-free diet because he mostly lives on air and water anyway, with the occasional infusion of chocolate or spice cookies. All of these items have never, as far as I can tell without doing any research, been involved in anything that was once alive. Plus, he loves soup and I like to make soup. And so today, he had a big thermos of lentil soup, some whole grain crackers, two spice cookies, and two of the chocolate balls St. Nicholas left for him a couple of days ago. The lentil soup contains veggies (carrots, onions, tomatoes) and all those yummy, protein-filled lentils. The cookies and chocolate counteract his habit of never eating, which is why he looks like a much, much younger, and handsomer Mick Jagger, if you can picture that.

Just in case your own child decides to walk the vegetarian road, I do want to give you a tip. It’s this. When a pre-teen makes the ethical decision to avoid eating animals, he will be filled with the fervor of the new convert. And this is as good a time as any to lay down an inviolable rule, one that will stand your family in good stead for all future ideologies and enthusiasms your children might take up. Here it is:

  • You may embrace the worldview you wish, as long as it’s not hurting you or other people, but you may not proselytise your family about this worldview.

In other words, when your brothers are eating stir fried brown rice with chicken and broccoli, you may not make gagging sounds and talk about the living conditions of factory farmed chickens. We know all about that around here, because we live in Berkeley, for heaven’s sake. And that’s why we buy Happy Chickens, which as far as we know have never been oppressed.

Written by bloglily

December 8, 2006 at 12:28 pm

What Does An Eleven Year Old Vegetarian Eat for Lunch?

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Yesterday, one the Tiffin Twins had to dissect a chicken, in preparation for mummifying it (good heavens, was all I could say about THIS science project).  He came home that afternoon and announced he is never, ever, ever eating any kind of meat ever, ever (did I mention he feels strongly about this?) again.

Okay, then.  So how about a piece of garlicky foccacia bread with some tomato sauce and mozzarella (aka pizza?), a couple of tangerines, an apple sprinkled with lemon juice and cinammon sugar and yes, dear reader, it’s true, I’ve actually placed marshmallows in my children’s lunches.  So sue me.  It’s the holidays.  Everyone needs to put a little bit of pizzazz into their lives.  Oh, and that’s holiday trail mix.  Peanuts and red & green M&Ms.  (See above for thoughts on pizzazz.)

I think I’ve got the important things here:  tomatoes, cheese, whole grain, protein/peanuts, fruit, marshmallows and m&ms.

Written by bloglily

December 7, 2006 at 11:29 am

Lentil Soup

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A heart warming lunch for a cold day — lentil soup, beets (yes, I know, they look like tomatoes, but they’re not!) with feta cheese, and some nice crackers.  I like this tiffin tin, by the way.  It’s pretty small — just right for my soup in the bottom and the beet salad in the top.

Beets are easy to roast, and when prepared as I’m about to describe, they’re wonderful.  These are not those scary salad bar beets.  Use golf ball sized beets for this, by the way.  Smaller beets are yummier. 

  • Cut off the top and the bottom, and place about six beets in a shallow baking dish.  Add a little water and cover the dish with aluminum foil. 
  • Roast at about 375 degrees until a knife pierces right through them, about 25-30 minutes. 
  • Peel your lovely roasted beets, trying not to burn your fingers as you do. 
  • And then, while they’re still warm, sprinkle them with a little red wine vinegar, some salt and toss with as much olive oil as you think appropriate. 

Cut them into whatever shapes you like and eat them any way that makes you happy.

Written by bloglily

December 5, 2006 at 3:28 pm

Holiday Spice Cookies

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We made these incredibly delicious spice cookies this weekend — they’re everything you’d want in a holiday cookie: they’re extremely simple, it’s easy to make lots of them, and, when drizzled with a bit of glaze, they look like they’ve been snowed on! The recipe comes from Sunset magazine and it’s a keeper. Enjoy them.  (And go check out that Sunset link — there are lots of other cookie ideas on the website.)

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (plus extra for rolling the cookies in)
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg (also at room temperature)
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinammon
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt, ground cloves, and nutmeg

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream 1 cup granulated sugar with butter until light and fluffy (about three minutes). Mix in egg and molasses.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and spices. Add to butter mixture and blend well.

3. Fill a shallow bowl with granulated sugar. Break off walnut-sized pieces of dough and roll into balls; roll the balls in the sugar. Arrange on greased cookie sheets and bake until golden brown, about ten minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

4. Make the glaze: Combine powdered sguar with water and stir until smooth. Stir in lemon juice. Drizzle glaze over cookies.

Written by bloglily

December 4, 2006 at 5:28 pm