Tag Archives: how to

Packing Lunches Like a Pro and “Yumm Sauce” Recipe


Happy September! With school in full swing for some and just around the corner for others, I wanted to talk about how to pack healthy and energy sustaining lunches like a pro! But first…

I’m excited for two reasons today. The first reason is simply that it’s September. I didn’t think I’d ever say such a thing, but I’m over summer. Fall is the best time of the year and I can’t wait to enjoy all the colors, smells, tastes, and crisp breezes that go with it. My favorite things to cook are usually “fall” themed. My favorite things to wear are usually “fall” colored. And who doesn’t love Halloween?

The second reason I am excited is that my sister is coming to Portland for the holiday weekend! She arrives this evening. It will be her first time in Portland and she only has a few days so I plan on staying pretty busy!

Anyhow, the topic of this post is not actually me gleefully rambling about how much I love fall and my sister and when my sister comes to visit me in the fall (although, if you didn’t pick up on it, I do love all those things 🙂 ). The topic I wanted to cover is how to pack a killer lunch.

I started school Monday, which means I will be eating even more lunches away from home. I already pack lunches for work of course and I also pack lunches for Andrew. It may sound old fashioned and anti-feminist, but I prefer him to eat healthy food to fast food and its cheaper, which saves both of us money in the long run. So really it’s partly because I’m sweet and partly because I’m selfish :).

Lunches get packed the night before, during or immediately after dinner.  I hate packing a lunch in the morning because it uses up my precious little time!

An on-the-go lunch has to be portable, should be nutritious and filling enough to keep me full 3-4 hours without being “stuffed” and sleepy, and should be delicious because if I’m at school or work all day, I need as many things to look forward to as possible. I almost always employ leftovers from dinner and also frequently make things specifically for easy lunch making such as hummus, cooked grains like quinoa to make my salads filling, and for Andrew I make egg salad.

For work, since I bike and want to keep my bag as light as possible, wraps are super handy.


The keys to a sturdy wrap: put a little sauce or spread such as hummus on the edge to help it seal and stay put. Wrap up, then fold the edges in by pushing them into the wrap. I like to use foil because it keeps everything from falling out in case my wrapping job wasn’t very successful!

Hummus, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, chevre, with drizzle of my knock-off "yumm" sauce

Wraps full of veggies might get a side of portable fruit such as an orange or apple or maybe some of these delicious cherries packed in a pyrex:


But some wraps might be on the sweeter side, such as this guy filled with cookie dough dip and banana:


This one would logically get a side of veggies, with perhaps a dressing, hummus, or yumm sauce to dip.


Truth be told, wraps may be handy and super portable, but I prefer ginormous salads for lunch. My lunch salads most often consist of:

1. A bed of greens (spinach, arugula, the awesome mix that my CSA has been delivering)

2. Leftovers from dinner (favorite choices are roasted or grilled veggies, stir-fried veggies, cooked quinoa or brown rice, cooked and cubed tofu or tempeh, falafel, or taco fixings)

3. A good protein if not included in the leftovers (garbanzo beans, sprouted lentils, cottage cheese, tofu, almonds, chevre)

4. A good dressing such a tahini-miso, balsamic, yumm sauce, or a generous amount of salsa

Falafel Salad! Falafel patties with cucumber and tzaziki sauce on a bed of spinach

Here’s one packed in a pyrex for work consisting of leftovers from an Asian inspired quinoa salad with shredded carrots and cabbage in a sesame dressing that has been topped with sliced snow peas:

(The flowers come in my CSA salad mix and are edible!)

This one was a home lunch in which I made my own version of a “Yumm Bowl” like they serve at Cafe Yumm by topping some greens with quinoa and garbanzos as well as cucumber slices and tomato and drizzling with “Yumm Sauce.”

...plus some minced red chile for those who like it hot!

Are you curious about this Yumm Sauce that I am obsessed with as of late? I just happen to have an Andrew approved recipe for you! My first try was good, but not great. The second try was terrific!


“Yumm Sauce” Knock- off:

(which is actually a knock-off of another imitation yumm sauce by Mama Pea)

*1/4 cup cashews (you can also use almonds as Mama Pea does but I think cashews make the creamiest sauces)

*1/4 cup garbanzos

*1/4 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil

*1/4 cup water

*1/4 cup nutritional yeast

*1 large garlic clove, chopped roughly

*2.5 tablespoons lemon juice

*3/4 teaspoon curry powder

*1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (not a part of the original recipe flavors, but I found it to be a welcome addition)

*1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

*1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Combine first four ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Then add everything else and blend some more. That’s it! Now scrape it into a container and get ready to put it on everything you make.

It will keep in the fridge 7-10 days.

What are you favorite portable lunches? Do you pack a lunch for yourself, your spouse, or your kids?


La Cocina Encantada


The Charmed Kitchen

Finding the right name can be one of the most difficult parts about starting a blog. Or buying a kitten for that matter. I originally wanted to use the “lick the bowl” title as a… descriptor of my zest for cooking and eating! Also because you can find me greedily licking the bowl clean after cooking most things.

But onto La Cantina Encantada. My husband, Andrew, and I dream about someday opening a restaurant. He has proposed many names for it, a few of which are in Spanish to reflect the Latin infused cooking styles that would undoubtedly be in place. “Siestas” was a recent one… I told him that sounded too blah. Who wants to go to a restaurant named after a nap? But the other day he came up with Encantada Cantina, mostly because of the pleasant way these words roll off your tongue. I loved it! It was backwards of course, and cantina refers to more of a bar,  but Andrew doesn’t really speak Spanish…

I just cant seem to get this “charmed” or “enchanted” kitchen idea and how much I love it out of my head. Why do I like this title so much? Let’s make a list:

1. To begin with, the title is in Spanish, a language I love, attempt to speak, and feel a strong connection in my roots to.

2. I have always viewed the kitchen as somewhat of a magical place. As I child I made both cookies and potions in my kitchen. You didn’t make potions as a child? That’s odd.

3. My potion making days may be over, but I still think that the kitchen has a lot of power to heal and promote all over well being. Scientists are discovering more and more about the way foods affect us and can be more powerful than medicine to prevent and treat illness.

4. I feel like this title invites the image of the domestic goddess (or witch?) that I have always fantasized about being “when I grow up.” Providing nourishing meals for people I love brings me joy. Baking bread makes me feel sexy. Too much?

5. I really do just like how these words go together…

6. I like lists.

On a side note, I wanted to share something my father taught me last time I was visiting home.

How to Cut a Mango  Like You Mean it:

Slice one side right before it hits the pit
Slice this portion into a grid pattern
Bend it back so the pieces pop up and slice away! Repeat with the other half.

Maybe you already knew of that cool trick, but it was new to me! So much neater than peeling before slicing.

xo/ Nikita