Inside My Lunchbox + Carrying Food to Work

With all of my prepping for the week, I fully intend to bring my lunch to work 4 out of 5 days per week. I usually allow myself a treat on Friday, like a Chipotle bowl or a big chopped salad from the local market.

To be honest, I don't have much variety in what I bring to work. I typically pack up the following for the day:

breakfast - oatmeal, a make ahead burrito, an egg sandwich or frittata

lunch - a salad, an apple with a scoop of peanut butter and a string cheese

snack - a banana, cut up with a scoop of peanut butter

Usually this gets me through the day without a problem! But it isn't much diversity admittedly.

I cart it all to the office in my trusty little Built lunchbag.

I love this thing. It's a neoprene material and that means it's sturdy and stretchy. It usually fits all of my breakfast and lunch goodies. Let's take a peek inside at yesterday's lunch:

The only thing not pictured is a tiny Tupperware with about 2 Tbsp of peanut butter inside. I think the key for me is having lots of sizes of Tupperwares. I use at least 3 per day (for salad, dressing and pb) but sometimes more if I decided to bring carrots and hummus, for example. I love having some really small ones which take up very little space in the bag.

Sure, I probably look incredibly dorky toting a lunchbox down the street. In fact, I pass by a church preschool on my walk to work and sometimes I feel like I'd fit right in :)

But in all honesty, this totally works for me. It's usually not super heavy. The handle slides over my wrist so that I can still hold onto the handrail on the train or put my hand in my pocket while walking. And for those days when I want more of a shoulder situation? I simply pack up the lunchbox and drop it into a tote bag, like my purple Burberry sweetie:

I especially use this guy when I also want to bring a pair of heels to the office (though admittedly I keep like 3 pairs of shoes at work at all times...don't tell Shaun because he already thinks my collection is out of control :)). I simply throw in the lunchbag and heels and I'm good to go. Usually I don't find it to be too heavy to carry this on one shoulder and my purse (with wallet, kindle, lipstick(s), lip balm(s) and more) on the other.

So that's how I get my daily lunch done and my tips for getting it all to the office unscathed. So far, so good!

Questions of the Day:

Do you bring lunch to work?

How do you pack it up and cart it around?

Black-Eyed Pea + Kale Soup

Don't forget to enter our blogoversary giveaway! You have until 6pm EST tonight! Enter to win a copy of Rocco DiSpirito's Now Eat This! cookbook, one of my personal favorites. And it has nothing to do with the many photos of an attractive-looking Rocco strewn throughout the book.

Shaun and I are still going strong with our meat-free eating. I’ve been downing lots of fruits, veggies and Chobani yogurt, not to mention very lightly salted fresh popcorn for snack. On the morning of day 4, I’m starting to realize a few things:

1. Today I’m heading to Philly for a business trip and was initially wishing for a Philly cheesesteak. I know Shaun is secretly hoping I’d bring some home for us.

2. I don’t really miss meat. You know, aside from the above.

3. I’m very hungry. I had zumba and pilates on Tuesday night (which rocked my world) but yesterday I was ready to chop up my desk and start downing it, Cookie Monster-style.

4. I have significantly less energy. Though I think this is caused by the overall lack of protein, aside from some beans and Greek yogurt. Whew! I knew I made a mistake by not accounting for the lack of protein I’d be getting, but I swear, getting out of bed yesterday I thought my legs were filled with lead.

5. I’m kind of into the less meat thing and once I get some of the kinks worked out (like wanting to nap all day long), I feel confident that this might actually work.

So that aside, I’m excited to share another delectable recipe that I got from my Food Network Magazine. It was chock full of great stuff this month!

I had been wanting to experiment with kale so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. It’s kind of like spinach but...different. Leafier. But tasty. I also love black-eyed peas (not to be confused with my hatred for actual peas). I whipped up this soup on Monday evening so that the man and I would have lunch for a couple of days. And guess what? It was good! And filling! And meatless! We all win! Hurrah!

Black-Eyed Pea + Kale Soup
*Adapted from Food Network Magazine
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped with ribs & seeds removed
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ teaspoon paprika
2 14 oz cans low-sodium vegetable broth
1 pound kale, ribs/stems removed and roughly chopped
1 can black-eyed peas
Parmesean cheese, for serving if desired
Brown rice, for serving if desired

In a large pot (I used my big stockpot, though an oversized saucepan would work too), heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the flour and mix until combined and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, pepper, celery garlic, 3 tbsp water, ¼ tsp kosher salt and few hits of black pepper.

Continue cooking on medium heat until the veggies are very tender, about 7-8 minutes. Add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and paprika, stirring to combine. Add the 2 cans of vegetable broth and mix altogether, scraping up the brown bits of delicious on the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil.

I used this opportunity to rinse and chop up the kale. I simply ran my knife along both sides of the stem to remove the leaves and then bundled it all up to give it a nice rough chop.

Add it to the soup along with a can of drained black-eyed peas. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with the lid slightly ajar so that steam can escape. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

To make the rice, I simply cooked it in some veggie broth and put a little scoop into the soup to serve. Shaun had the idea to put a few parmesean shavings on top.

So there it is a soup-er dish. Did I take it too far? It's not overly brothy, so if you want it that way, I recommend adding more vegetable broth during the cooking. In the shot above, most of the broth sunk down over the rice - but it was pretty fabulous this way. So what do you think? Have you ever tried kale? And any tips to share about getting more protein sans meat?

Dushi Bagels of Aruba

One of my favorite places to eat in Aruba is Dushi Bagels/Charlie's Grill, a sweet little spot in front of the Playa Linda on Palm Beach. The outdoor eatery is famous for not only the Dushi Bagel breakfast (perfect for morning fare), but also their Charlie's Grill burgers (holding it down for the lunchtime crowd). Gotta love a spot that multi-tasks.

Though I touched on my favorite Aruban breakfasts after last year's trip, I unfortunately didn't snap a photo to capture the serious yumminess of the Dushi Bagel. While they aren't quite New York bagels (but what is?), they are pretty darn close and still way ahead of the frozen/Lender's bagel movement. Loaded with scrambly fried eggs, slices of ham and stringy cheese of the seemingly Swiss variety (what kind precisely, I haven't quite figured out yet), this bagel sandwich is the perfect way to start the morning, especially after a jog in the extreme Aruban heat.

And if that mouthwatering photo isn't enough to get you going, check out their serious cheeseburger lunch, served complete with French fries on a wooden board. Talk about making a $9 lunch feel super special and decadent to boot.

So there you have it. A quick round-up of my favorite breakfast and lunch spot, Aruba-style. Just pass the coffee with evaporated milk, and I'm set to tackle any day...if only this were acceptable on a daily basis here back in the States...