But what would Frodo eat?

Easy lunch box ideas: Candied bacon and cream cheese on a whole-wheat wrap; apple with peanut butter and granola; and a yogurt. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Parker has been a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings books for a couple years. But he never wanted to watch the movies. He figured they’d scare him.

But this weekend he finally decided he was ready. Which was a perfect excuse for us to snuggle on the couch for a while during the long weekend before I head out today for a business trip.

And by work I mean eating everything not tied down in New York City.

But while we watched the first two movies in the series, we needed to eat. So I made Parker a cream cheese and candied bacon wrap using bacon left over from a party we had this weekend.

He requested another for dinner.

And in the process… I made an extra and shoved it into today’s lunch.

At some point, he also needed a snack — because that’s what hobbits do — and I sliced up half a large apple and smeared it with peanut butter.

The other half also go peanut butter, but also got dunked in granola. Keeps it yummy and keeps it from turning brown.

No school, but how about that chocolate hummus recipe?

Easy lunch box ideas: Chocolate hummus. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

No school means no packed lunch!

But I’ll share that chocolate hummus recipe.

So good! Try it.


Start to finish: 10 minutes
Makes 2 cups

15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup honey or agave syrup
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt

In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until smooth, stopping the processor to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use immediately or refrigerate. Tightly wrapped and refrigerated, the hummus will keep for up to a week.

Nutrition information per 2-tablespoon serving:
 75 calories; 25 calories from fat (33 percent of total calories); 3 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 2 g protein; 90 mg sodium.

Let’s see what he does with a little bit of sage on that bacon

Easy lunch box ideas: sage, bacon and Parmesan toasted on whole wheat; a muffin; and fruit. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Truth is, he may not eat today’s lunch. At least not gleefully.

But boy did it smell great while I made it!

Still scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of food. Still haven’t had time to shop.

So this morning I fried up some more smoked bacon. And I swear I only nibbled off two tiny pieces. Purely to even out the strips. I know how much my son appreciates uniformity in his bacon.

Then I shaved some Parmesan on a couple slices of whole-wheat bread and tossed the bacon on that.

But then I decided to mix it up a bit. Because why the hell not?

So I threw some fresh sage leaves on it. Then some butter in the skillet. Toast away!

Oh my. It smelled SO good.

We’ll see if he gets totally freaked out by the sage.

Add some fruit and a muffin I found in the freezer — I have no idea what’s in it!

Good. Enough.

Even I felt guilty about packing this lunch…

Easy lunch box ideas: brie-honey-smoked bacon wrap in a whole-wheat tortilla; and whole-wheat bread with cashew butter and chocolate hummus. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Going to be on the road a lot next week. And that means this week is a lot crazy.

Which explains why I’m running out of food in the house.

So this morning’s lunch packing fumblings were a bit random. And once I had everything assembled, it sort of left me feeling I was setting my kid up for a coronary.

I started with smoked bacon, which I browned in a skillet. Rather than simply dump the bacon in a container, I smeared a whole-wheat tortilla with brie, then dumped the bacon on that.

But wait! There’s more.

A few dabs of whipped honey would be nice. So… a honey-brie-bacon wrap. Pretty delicious…

Next up, a piece of toast topped with cashew butter and chocolate hummus (recipe is coming tomorrow).

Then I took this picture and starting packing his lunch up. And then it hit me.

No produce. TONS of fat and carbs. Even I was bothered by the lopsided lunch.

Then it got worse. Some of the hummus got on my hand. I licked it. It tasted off. Damn!

So that sandwich landed in the trash.

Back to just the bacon-brie wrap. So I quickly grabbed a handful of (stale) tortilla chips and dumped them in a container by themselves. Then some salted apple wedges.

No time for a new picture.

Some days, you just have to say good enough.

How to fuel a 10-year-old runner?

Easy lunch box ideas: beef short ribs and horseradish sauce on a whole-wheat tortilla with cream cheese; whole-wheat toast topped with brie and whipped honey. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

I know carbs are traditional. But I also know my little guy prefers protein and fat.

Parker has a cross-country meet after school today, so I wanted to make sure his lunch had a few extra calories to keep him going.

And so while marathoners might like their pasta, Parker gets sliced up leftover beef short ribs with horseradish sauce rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla with cream cheese.

For a side? A slab of whole-wheat bread lightly toasted and topped with a heavy smear of brie, followed by an equally heavy smear of whipped honey.

And of course he’ll still be starving by the end of it all.

Which is good. Because Wednesday is his help-me-make-dinner chore day. And tonight we are making chicken curry.

Finally! A recipe by Melissa d’Arabian that my kid will eat!

Easy lunch box ideas: slow cooker beef and chickpea stew; cider-glazed Parker house roll; and cheddar apple pie. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

She knows I’m just kidding. I think.

But Parker does have a rather spotty history with Melissa, star of Food Network’s “Ten Dollar Dinners.” I’m pretty sure she won’t mind me reminding the world why. Particularly since this update has a much better ending.

It started about five years ago.

That’s when I got this “brilliant” idea for a new way to entice Parker to eat vegetables. I asked food television celebrities to develop recipes just for him, recipes designed to bring him to a table of produce.

It kind of worked. Though not really. You can read the whole sordid account of it here. It was a fun story.

All of the celebs were given basic rules — no hidden veggies, etc. — and told to come up with something that would appeal to my kid. And I made sure I warned them — Parker hates anything green.

Well, Melissa apparently skimmed over that line. She offered up a creamed spinach recipe.

Parker’s reaction to it was captured in this is the picture, which ran all over the country.



Despite Parker’s rude response to her recipe, Melissa and I became buds. She also now writes for me at AP. And that’s why these days we regularly cook Melissa’s recipes here.

And why I often offer them to Parker.

For the record… Melissa is on a total winning streak.

He loved last week’s healthy orange-chocolate pudding (get the recipe here). Ditto for the honey applesauce cake (recipe here). He even liked her baked cod dinner (recipe here).

But his favorite by far? The slow cooker beef stew with chickpeas we tested and shot yesterday. I’ll share the recipe when it runs in a week or so. It was really incredible.

Suffice to say, I think Melissa finally has diluted her association with spinach.

The rest of today’s lunch — cheddar apple pie and a cider-glazed Parker house (appropriate!) roll.

How about some caramelized applesauce?

Easy lunch box ideas: steak with taco fixings; and applesauce with chocolate chips. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Actually, that wasn’t the plan.

Last night, I decided to use up a glut of apples Parker and I had picked by making sauce. Unfortunately, I got a bit distracted.

I’m still trying to clean the burned bottom of the pot.

Oddly, it didn’t harm the applesauce. Actually, it has a bit of a caramelized flavor that’s pretty tasty.

Not that I recommend this approach.

So that and some leftover steak taco fixings made today’s lunch.

Oh, and here’s the article about Parker in Boys’ Life magazine! Love it.


Chili is my new favorite food (for lunches and dinner)!

Easy lunch box ideas: veggie-rich chili with sour cream; and salted apple wedges with chocolate hummus. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Not because I like chili, though I do love it.

But because I have discovered I can put pretty much anything into a chili and Parker will eat it without question.

But offer him any of those ingredients on their own, no way!

Last night’s dinner was a tomato-bean-butternut squash-sweet potato-onion-bell pepper-ground beef chili. And he asked for seconds. Despite all those vegetables.

Had I given him even one of those vegetables on its own? No way!

But last night he never even questioned it.

Clearly I need to experiment with how far I can push this chili thing.

So today’s lunch is more of last night’s chili. Add some more chocolate hummus and salted apple wedges and we’re good.

The chocolate hummus recipe will come next week. And meanwhile, I’m going to perfect an over-the-top veg-rich chili and see what happens. Stay tuned.

Sometimes the best lunch is an uneaten breakfast

Easy lunch box ideas: steak and cheese mini quiche cups; and apple slices with chocolate hummus. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

Still smarting from yesterday’s failure to launch, I decided today I’d be on top of things.

I got up promptly at 6:30 and started making Parker his favorite mini quiche cups — this time with steak and cheese because I had no ham.

This is one of the best breakfasts because I’m usually able to pack the extras in his lunch.

Except today, Parker bounded down the stairs (Do 10-year-old boys ever walk? Ever?) and declared really the only thing that could get him going today would be apple slices smeared with peanut butter.

He got apple slices smeared with cashew butter, but it worked.

The good news is I had plenty of quiche cups for his lunch (he ate only a couple for breakfast).

Add in some homemade (I’m cracking the code!) chocolate hummus (stay tuned for the recipe) with apple slices for dunking, and that should suffice.

Speaking of apples, it’s probably worth mentioning again — the best way to preserve cut apples and keep them from turning brown is a brief bath in lightly salted water.

I mix maybe 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt with a couple tablespoons of water, splash the apples in it, then drain. Very little salt taste, but no browning.

Parker reminded me to do this after I packed him a whole apple a few weeks ago. He ate half of it at snack and wanted the other half at lunch, but by then it was too yucky. That’s when I remembered it’s best to slice and slosh (with salt water).

Oh crap! My kid needs to eat, doesn’t he?

Easy lunch box ideas: steak and cream cheese on a whole-wheat tortilla; salted apple slices; a yogurt; Parmesan. http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com

You’d think that after five years I’d have this down, right?

This morning, I was just cruising along. Things were going grand. Parker was ready for school early. I was even having time to read yesterday’s paper.

It never occurred to me to question why I was having such a great morning with so much spare time.

Until it was time to leave.

“Parker, get your backpack. Where’s your lunchbox?”

“I don’t know.”

Turns out, neither did I.

Because I hadn’t made it.

Somehow, I’d forgotten. How is that possible?

Well, I don’t really have an answer.

Somehow… It just didn’t happen.

So that’s how I found myself at 8:05 a.m. rushing to find something to pack for my son’s lunch…

Because it’s not as though I’ve been blogging about his lunches for what? Five years or so?

Anyway, I quickly pulled together a steak (left from last night’s dinner) and cream cheese wrap on a whole-wheat tortilla, some apple (in a bag, because I couldn’t quickly find the usual jar), a yogurt and some Parmesan.

And out the door we go…!