Tag Archives: time saving

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?


Staying Healthy for Busy People


On making time for health:

As I sit at my computer writing this, I have just put the finishing touches on a paper for school and am feeling relieved (I still have to leave early to print in though- no printer here L) The paper has pretty much been my main focus the last few days- though I have many roles and hobbies, I consider school a top priority. I am a full time nursing student and spend about 20 hours a week just at school and my clinical site, not to mention time spent on homework. I work between at least 16 and sometimes up to 26 hours a week as a nurse’s aide. I also have a husband, apartment, and cat that need daily attention!

Most of us are juggling multiple roles in our lives: students, employees, homeowners, spouses, parents (how do you do it?!). With all these responsibilities, good intentions of making time for ourselves and our health can easily go by the wayside.

For me, healthy eating and an active lifestyle are important. They make my body and mind feel good and balance the effects of stress in other areas of my life. When I make healthy meals, I am exercising my creative side and aim for aesthetics along with flavor and nutrition. A healthy dinner is also a relieving break from a homework-a-thon and can be a motivating factor for getting something finished by a certain time.

Here are a few things I do to ensure I can stay healthy when working or going to school all day:

*Pack a lunch the night before. This also saves money! My usual method of doing this is to throw together a “leftover salad” as I’m putting dinner leftovers away. I simply mound some spinach or mixed greens into a container, top it with leftovers (roasted vegetable dishes and stirfrys lend themselves especially well to this- soups, not so much), and take a tiny container of dressing if needed. Throw in a piece of fruit and you have a nutritious and filling lunch! And it takes less than five minutes longer than just putting away leftovers would. When there are no leftovers or I wont have access to a refrigerator, PB&J with some carrot sticks is my go-to.

*Either work out in the morning or bring gym bag. I love morning workouts because they are an energizing start to the day and free up my evenings for relaxing or… homework. And yet… I tend to have a hard time fitting them in. I usually have to be somewhere in the morning between 7 and 9 am, and quite honestly don’t like waking up any earlier than 6:30. I have trouble falling asleep at a decent hour, and tend to favor a full nights sleep over a morning workout. So for me, the key is usually throwing the gym bag in my car. If I go to the gym right after work/school it saves me the time of going home and hassle of going home and back out again and also prevents me from going home and getting occupied with something else.

*Slow cookers! I love my crockpot dearly… unfortunately it was recently left oo close to a burner on the stove and suffered third degree burns… not sure yet if it will be ok L. Slow cookers are great for busy people though, especially when you wont be getting home until late in the evening and know you will be hungry! Some of my favorite things to make in mine are lentil or split pea soups, chilis, and spaghetti sauce. I like to chop some extra vegetables while I prepare dinner the night before, then in the morning before I leave I can just literally throw everything in the pot and have dinner ready when I get back! I also like to make big batches of beans (black beans, pintos, garbanzos, and white beans most commonly). I soak them overnight, cook them in the slow cooker all day, then have them ready for use by dinner time. The ones that I don’t forsee being used within a week get portioned into containers and stored in the freezer- another great time saver when I need it!

*Plan meals for the week before grocery shopping. I don’t always stick to this plan exactly, but it saves me time wandering around the grocery store and ensures I will have ingredients on hand for a weeks worth of healthy meals. I don’t really have a limit on buying seasonal produce, and tend to just buy what looks good and is a good price whether I have a definite plan for it or not. I figure it is good for me to be challenged to include more produce!

*Have a handful of quick meal ideas on hand for busy nights. These are usually things that come together really quickly like a frittata or that have some premade portion like the tortellini salad I made last night. I had dinner ready in less than 30 minutes last night with this simple recipe:

Lemony Artichoke Tortellini Salad

Lemony Artichoke Tortellini Salad:

One 10 oz package refrigerated tortellini (I used pesto filled)

15 oz can artichoke hearts, quartered

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced into rings

1 small zucchini, thinly sliced into half moons

Handful of fresh spinach, torn (optional)

2-4 Tbsp. vegetable broth or cooking water from pasta

2 Tbsp. grated parmesan

2 Tbsp. crumbled chevre

1 small lemon, zested

Salt and pepper to taste


Slice onion first, and heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt. Fill a large pot up with salted water and place on the stove top to begin boiling while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Slice the zucchini and add to the onions, then slice the artichokes and add them to the sauté. The pasta water should be boiling by now, so you can throw the tortellini in and cook according to package directions (should be around 4-6 minutes). During this time, you can zest the lemon and get the cheeses ready.

Once pasta is finished cooking, drain and toss into the pan with the veggies. Add the broth or cooking water if it seems a bit dry. You could add more olive oil if you wanted also. Add the cheeses and about 1 Tbsp. or juice from your zested lemon and toss everything to coat.

Serve topped with lemon zest and additional cheeses if desired. Enjoy!