Book Review: Lunch Boxes and Snacks

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Posted by Petra Hildebrandt

When I was looking for more simple yet delicious lunchbox ideas to pack into bentos in the future, I discovered this neat little hardcover book by Annabel Karmel, who is a food author specializing in cooking with and for children.

Lunch Boxes and Snacks: Over 120 healthy recipes from delicious sandwiches and salads to hot soups and sweet treats

The book is dedicated to
all those parents who can't face making yet another peanut butter sandwich, myself included.

She had me grinning there, I admit :-)

In most parts of the world the new school year is starting or already in full swing, and many parents are desperate for quick and simple foods their children will eat, not only for lunches but also for dinner, and this 128-page book comes in handy for both purposes. It is on sale for (used) less than two dollars, I bought mine in Europe for about 5 Euros, and these are wisely invested bucks by any means.

The six sections of the book are
  • the creative lunch box
  • special sandwiches
  • savory specialties
  • crunchy salads
  • super soups
  • sweet sensations
Karmel offers a wide range of foods, from classics such as BLT or coronation chicken, to more funky items like ramen noodle salad, or spinach salad with mango and strawberries. You'll find simple tomato soup and alphabet minestrone, homemade real-fruit popsicles, trail mix bars, muffins, cookies, Chinese rice salad or chicken chunks on a stick. The blend of well-known favorites with a new and fresh approach, and simplified fusion cooking, is very convincing.

What is even more appealing is the simplicity - you can cook all those dishes in short time and even with your kids, because the preparations are simple, and easily adaptable to your needs and tastes. Any of the handful of recipes I have tried so far (the ramen noodle salad named "mummy's ramen noodles" was an instant fave at a picknick recently) lent itself to easy adaptation and was as tasty as rapidly prepared.

I will make many more of the recipes in this book, without doubt, although most of them will probaby not end up in a lunch box. And if you are looking for great sandwich ideas, the sandwich chapter will bring new zing to your palate.

The initial chapter about packing lunches and how to bring your kids to eat new foods (directly related to Dharms article on raising picky eaters) is full of great tips and insights - can you imagine, that 84 % of all lunches contain potato chips and other salty snacks, and 94% feature sandwiches? It is high time to bring more variety to the palate by packing luscious lunches, and this little book is a great helper for that goal.

There's one thing I don't like about the book, though: it relies heavily on carbohydrates and grains, and if you need to watch your carb intake, or if you react to grains as I do, most of the offered ideas are not for you, unfortunately.

Still, I love the variety of new and traditional food ideas offered in the more than 120 recipes in Lunch Boxes and Snacks. Back to school? You and your children will at least be enjoying your meals.

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Petra from FoodFreak in Hamburg

5 Tips for Preparing Children for a Move

Friday, August 29, 2008

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

One of our new features for the Daily Tiffin is inviting Guest writers and bloggers to contribute to this blog. Today we have Joseph Ho from uShip . Joseph contacted us with the idea of giving his expertise tips for moving with kids. We hope you enjoy the article.

Every year, one out of five American families moves. This could be for any number of reasons - maybe your family needs to relocate for a job transfer or financial matters, or perhaps you are just moving into another house in the same town. No matter what the reason, moving can be a hard time for children, who often thrive in an environment of familiarity and habit. Read on for a few tips on how to ease their anxiety about moving.

  1. Tell your child about the move ASAP: From the time you consider moving to the time you finalize the move, let your child know what is going on. Being “in the loop” not only makes your child feel like they are part of the decision making process but also gives your child more time to prepare himself/herself for the move.
  2. Listen for their opinions: Depending on their age and personalities, your child may have issues about the move that can evoke a variety of feelings, and it is your job to lend an ear to these issues. Preschool children are usually worried about being left behind, separated from their parents, or losing toys. Preteens are often concerned about not being able to participate in familiar activities or visit familiar places. Teenagers are the toughest group, and they are almost always most worried about the change in their social lives, as they have invested a significant amount of their time finding a niche in their current social environment.
  3. Maintain an optimistic outlook: Much of the fear of moving to a new place is drawn from not knowing what life will be like in the new environment. Another factor that contributes to this uncertainty is that a move is often combined with some type of significant change in your professional or personal life, like a job transfer or change in marital status. Even if you are not happy about certain aspects of the move, keep a positive attitude about it. Your child will be looking towards you for reassurance.
  4. Document the past: Assist your child with obtaining the contact information of current friends and playmates. Before you move, take a few trips to your child’s favorite spots around town and take plenty of pictures or videos to preserve fond memories. Another good idea is to take pictures of your child’s room in order to be able to recreate parts of it in your new home.
  5. Set up future activities: Give your child information about the opportunities in the new town, especially opportunities related to activities that he/she is already participating in. If your daughter is taking ballet classes in your current city, take her to visit the local dance studio in your new city. Also show your child around the recreational areas of the new city.

The prospect of moving to an unfamiliar place with different people can be a very intimidating experience for your child, but good can come from this change. Use this shared adversity as an opportunity to take more of an active role in your child’s life and bring your family closer together.

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was contributed by Joseph Ho from uShip

Cookbooks for kids

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Posted by Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

The most popular cooking classes I offer give children a chance to come to my kitchen, with their parents, and learn to cook delicious, healthy, real food.

Most often it’s the kids who are more interested in cooking classes, and no matter how often we cook (usually every 5-6 weeks), they want to come more often. In class, each child works part of the time with his or her own parent, and then I mix them up, so sometimes the kids are working together, and sometimes they are working with another adult. This way, we all learn to respect each other in the kitchen, to make decisions together, and even to help each other with cleanup.

I let them suggest dishes they’d like to learn to make, and they do research in my cookbook library to get inspiration. Among the hundreds of cookbooks I own are many great cookbooks geared to young cooks of all ages.

If you have a child who’s starting to get interested in cooking, it's never to soon to buy your daughter or son a very first cookbook. Here are some of my favorite cookbooks for kids. (Note: all of these books are available on

Nobody does illustrated cookbooks for the preschool set better than Mollie Katzen:
Salad People, by Mollie Katzen
Pretend Soup, by Mollie Katzen

For ages 4-8:
Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids, by Rachael Ray
Williams-Sonoma Kids in the Kitchen: Fun Food, by Stephanie Rosenbaum
What’s Cooking? A Ratatouille Cookbook for Kids

For ages 6-10:
Gadgetology: Kitchen Fun with Your Kids, Using 35 Cooking Gadgets for Simple Recipes, Crafts, Games and Experiments, by Pam Abram

For ages 8-12:
The Children’s Quick and Easy Cookbook, by Angela Wilkes
Children’s Step-by-Step Cookbook, by Angela Wilkes
Spatulatta Cookbook, by Isabella Gerasole and Olivia Gerasole
Honest Pretzels, by Mollie Katzen
Emeril's There's a Chef in My Soup! Recipes for the Kid in Everyone, by Emeril Lagasse
Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook, by Georgeanne Brennan
Kids' Baking: Over 60 Delicious Recipes for Children to Make, by Sara Lewis

For teens, two great books by two sisters and their mom:
Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat, by Megan, Jill and Judi
Teens Cook Dessert, by Megan, Jill and Judi Carle

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Lydia from The Perfect Pantry

We've got the look!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

If you've just dropped by and are wondering if this is the right blog - let us reassure you: Yes this is the Daily Tiffin in all it's newest glory.

What do you think?

For the past several weeks we have been changing, moving, organizing, de-cluttering and re-structuring many things behind the scenes. We've created a "back office" team who is responsible for various tasks like new design, organizational issues, events and marketing to name a few. It sure is a lot of work managing a team blog and I would like to thank everyone on the team for all the effort they have put into keeping The Daily Tiffin going.

One person in particular has spent an enormous amount of time and effort. Suganya was the driving force behind this wonderful new layout. The rest of us pitched in with ideas and suggestions, but it was Suganya who spent hours tweaking the template and designing this gorgeous layout.
Suganya, on behalf of the entire Daily Tiffin Team, I would like to thank you for all your efforts.

Suganya is off on a well deserved vacation now and the rest of the back office team will be tweaking a few things here. So, if you find things wonky or out of place please excuse us and do drop us an email or leave us a comment if you are viewing something that does not look right.

In the meantime, it's business as usual and we'll be posting great articles you enjoy reading.

Take care!

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?

Tiffin Tuesday: Keep it simple

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Posted by Petra Hildebrandt

I do love to look at themed bentos, character bentos, kawaii stuff - but given a choice between colored rice and nori, and simple yet nutritious food, I'll usually opt for the latter. Keep it simple is my credo when it comes to lunches - usually I won't spent half a day in the kitchen for a lunchbox, and the food chocis reflect this mantra:

Plain rice, pressed into a roll mold, sprinkled with black sesame, plus carrot flowers (a good metal cutter makes these a snap) steamed and seasoned with gingered butter. The chicken is a little more elaborate, but not fancy: chicken breast is pounded flat, and stuffed and rolled up (a little wasabi and a scallion just in the middle), wrapped in cling foil and aluminum foil to form a roll, and cooked in water until done. Something you can do together wih last nights pasta or potatos. Once cooled you can unwrap your chicken "maki" and slice it into rounds.

Below is a handful of fresh strawberries (I chose tiny ones to fit ino the box), a pice of carrot chocolat cake (wrappe din foil so it won't get soggy), a few cucumber pieces and a tiny bottle with (hmemade, but go for bottled) hot pepper sauce for the chicken.

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Petra from FoodFreak in Hamburg

Spices- The cornerstones of cuisines - II

Monday, August 18, 2008

Posted by Dee

My previous post has the details of spices from A-C. Here are some more with reference to their origin , remedies etc.

Clockwise: Cumin, fenugreek, curry leaves, mustard and Indian coriander seeds.

Coriander : It is a small annual herb , commonly grown in the Mediterranean and warmer climate , the leaves are known as cilantro and the seeds are called coriander. The seeds have a sweet pungent smell and used to spices up vegetables to meat and also used in cakes, also commonly used in the pumpkin spice mix and vanilla pie filling. The Moroccan seeds are commonly available but the Indian spice is much sweeter and lighter in colour. The seeds are commonly used to treat digestive problems. the crushed seeds are a good addition to lemonade.

Cumin: A native of middle east , most commonly used in turkish , greek and Indian cooking , cumin will grow in any warm , sunny position in rich, well drained , sandy loam. It grows about 2 feet long with slender stems and tiny pink or white flowers. The most common ingredient in the famous Indian spice blends garam masala and tandoori masala , cumin in India comes in 2 varieties white and black. The black variety is difficult to find outside India and has a more subtle flavor.Normally expectant mothers who suffer from nausea are asked to chew cumin seeds and sometimes it does help them feel better.

Curry Leaf: Curry leaves grow only in tropical regions and is not really suited to temperate climates unless it is grown in a greenhouse.The leaves resemble small bay leaves and are used on the stalk. In India and Srilanks , they are used to increase and add a deeper flavor.Great for digestion and commonly used in south Indian spice blends.

Dill Seed : A familiar and much loved herb, dill is also grown for its seeds that are quite strong tasting, pungent and warming, with a taste similar to caraway.Dill is native to southwest and central Asia, commonly used to flavor breads, potato dishes , also as a pickling spice with vinegar . Because the flavor lingers in the mouth, the seeds can be used as a breath freshner, Like dill weed, the seeds can be used as a digestive aid.

Fennel: Fennel is extremely versatile. The crushed seeds can be used for refreshing teas.Its difficult to say where it originated from , but it was well known and much used by the ancient Chinese, Romans , Greeks, Britons, Indians,Egyptians and Persian. Fennel is carminative and used as a diuretic .It is also used commonly for bronchitis as it has expectorant values.

Fenugreek: Fenugreek is grown because it can add nitrogen to soil and often used as cattle fodder in the east. It is a great source of protein and makes it a useful spice in vegetarian and vegan diets.It was recognized in the seventh century BC. In Egypt , it is sold as hilba and used in embalming lotions. The seeds can be infused and used to treat gastric inflammation and digestive disorders.

Galangal: Known by the Arab world, it was introduced to Europe by returning crusaders in the 13th century. In medevial times, it was used in cooking and as an ingredient in perfumes. However it fell out of favor by the 18th century. It is also known as Siamese ginger, the most well known varieties of Galangal are greater Galangal and lesser Galangal. The greater Galangal rhizomes have an orange red skin and pale flesh. Lesser galangal has brown skinned rhizomes with orange flesh. Medicinally it makes a warming digestive and is used to treat gastric upsets. Popular in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and used in curry pastes. To store wrap it in plastic wrap and keep in the pantry or refrigerator for upto a week.

Ginger: Undoubtedly one of the worlds best known spices, it was first mentioned in Chinese herbal medicines 2000 years ago. The flavor is warm, biting, sweet and woody. The young rhizomes of the plant are used for fresh ginger and preserved candied stem ginger. While dried ginger tends to come from older more pungent rhizomes. The flowers of the plant are used in Southeast Asian cuisine. Ginger tea is said to settle the stomach and ease morning sickness.

Juniper: Considered to be a magic plant for warding off evils and evil spirits. It was often burned in rooms occupied by the sick, to fumigate the air and drive out demons. Today the berries of this tree are well known as the spice that flavors gin and other cordials. Juniper goes well with the flavor of purple fruits such as damsons, plums, blackberries and blueberries. The leaves can be used fresh of dried with broiled fish, and the wood and leaves can be used on a barbecue to give a subtle flavor to the meat. In medicine, Juniper is used in the treatment of urinary tract infections and for gout and rheumatism. It can reduce inflammation of the digestive system.

Kaffir Lime: In Sri lanka and Indonesia kaffir Lime is used as an insect repellent and a cleansing hair rinse. IT can be grown as a conservatory plant. This small tree is a sub species of the citrus family called Paepeda. The lime green fruits are not sweet enough to eat on their own, but the bitter rind and the very acidic juice are used in cooking. Like bay leaves, you should discard the leaves of kaffir lime before serving.

Lemon Grass: This comes from Southeast Asia and the leaves when crushed add a delightful fragrance to soaps and perfumes. It is sometimes found under the Indonesian name Sereh. Its rich lemon flavor and fragrance make it a tangy addition to many foods. The bulbous base of the grass stems is most widely used part in the kitchen. Lemon Grass can be taken medicinally as a digestive aid and to relieve feverish complaints.

Licorice: It has a sweet distinctive flavor and is widely used in confectionery and medicines. Its name means sweet root and it was once used as a cooking sweetener because it is said that it has 50 times the sweetening power of ordinary sugar. The root can be chewed or sucked to relive sore throats and ease other cold symptoms. It also has gentle laxative properties and is a popular agent in cough syrups used to disguise other less pleasant tasting ingredients.

Mace: Mace is the bright red shiny fiber that covers the nutmeg seed inside the fruit of the nutmeg tree. The flavor is refined rich and warm. Mace is mainly used as a sweet spice which should be added just before serving. In fact a little mace can be freshly ground and sprinkled over the top of any cooked dish. Medicinally it is used to treat stomach disorders.

Mustard: This is easy to grow and thrives in temperate climates. Mustard has been used for so long that its origins are lost but it probably came from the eastern Mediterranean where it grows as a weed and is used for feeding horses. There are two types of mustard seed - brown and white. The brown ones are more aromatic and tasty while the white ones are larger and hotter. All mustard blends are combinations of these two types of seeds.

More to come , in the last of the series in my next post. Also don't forget to check out the Enspiceopedia at What's for lunch Honey ?

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Dee from Ammalu's Kitchen

Reconnect Over Mealtime

Friday, August 15, 2008

Posted by Kristen - Dine & Dish

(photo courtesy of Food For Talk)
One of my biggest passions in life is encouraging parents to make family mealtime a priority. I believe one of the easiest ways to connect as a family is to sit down for family mealtime each night. Turn off the television, the telephone and any other electronic distractions and focus on the members of your family.

Julienne Smith, author of Food for Talk, a boxed set of conversation starters, is also a huge advocate for making family mealtime a priority. “The benefits to children of family mealtime are extremely positive and powerful. The University of Michigan study of children's time found that more meal time at home was the single strongest predictor of better achievement scores and fewer behavioral problems in school. Meal time was far more powerful than time spent in school, studying, church, playing sports, and art activities.”

With Julienne’s conversation starters, you can get your children to open up by using one of her conversation starter questions each night as you sit down to eat. The Food for Talk conversation starters help parents to get past the only question some can think of each evening, ”How was school?”, and creates an environment for a dynamic, open and interesting dialog between you and your family.

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Kristen Doyle from Dine & Dish.

Are you raising a picky eater?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Posted by Dharm

When my brothers and I were young, my parents were very particular about our eating habits. This is not to say that they were particularly worried about what we ate but rather worried about what we Didn’t eat! Yes, That's right. We were allowed to eat anything we wanted - in moderation of course. What was a cause for worry was not finishing our food.

We were never allowed to leave the table without finishing what was on our plates. A grimace or grumble about the taste of certain foods would earn us a reprimand or a quick rap on our knuckles. There was no such thing as “I don’t want that” or “I don’t like this.” That was simply not allowed. So much so that we grew up eating anything and everything.

That was good because that meant that food was never an issue with us. We could eat anywhere and my parents would never have to worry about what food the kids were going to eat. I can still remember my father smiling proudly whenever other parents used to pass comments about how “good we were” because we ate everything without complaining. Hey, you’d eat anything too if you knew how strict my father was!

I remember him regaling us with stories of how children in other parts of the world were starving and that we should all be grateful that we had food on our table and how by not eating our food we were depriving starving children of a meal and yes, you get the idea. I also remember thinking that my father’s argument didn’t really make sense as even if I didn’t finish my food, there was no way that a child in another part of the world could get my food anyway. Yes, very logical but completely selfish.

That childhood ‘training’ has stayed with me till today and there is nothing that I will not eat nowadays. Sure, I have my preferences but I still eat everything. I find it very difficult to actually pinpoint a food that I will not eat. I can tell you a lot of food that I don’t particularly like, but there is nothing that I will not eat.

I’m trying to pass that on to my children and that is why I was rather upset the other day to find that my son was picking onions out of his food. When I chided him, he gave the excuse that “onions make me feel like vomiting.” I found that rather hard to believe because he has enjoyed breaded onion rings before and has also never complained when eating food with chopped onions in it. This was apparently an aversion to ‘visible onions’ and had nothing to do with making him feel like vomiting. I insisted that he ate every piece of onion on his plate and when he looked at me with his doe like eyes, I immediately started on that age old story about starving children in other parts of the world.

I have a whole host of nieces and nephews who are also picky about their food. Some wont eat any meat other than lamb. Talk about rich tastes! Most of them refuse to eat spicy food or at least whine a lot when it comes to eating food with chilli in it. Fortunately my own two kids relish the spiciness and piquancy of curries and other Malaysian goodies. My own kids also will usually eat anything that is put in front of them.

This just reinforces my belief that children will eat what they are exposed to. I firmly believe that it all lies in their upbringing. If from an early age you allow your children to be picky eaters, they will always be picky eaters. However, if you insist, bearing any allergies, that they eat everything and anything, then they will always be happy to try new foods and will never have any trouble eating anything.

It may seem harsh to ‘force’ young children to eat what they don’t like but I think this just builds character and also imparts a valuable lesson that we should be grateful for whatever food we have to eat – regardless of whether we like it or not. There are too many people, both children and adults alike, that don’t even have enough food for their daily meals to allow us to let our children be picky about what they eat.

I also believe that if you try something often enough, a soon as you get used to it, you will find that its really not so bad and you may actually wonder why you disliked it so much in the fist place. Who knows, you may even start to like it.

So the next time someone tells you that their child is a picky eater, ask them how their child got that way. Same thing too if you, yourself think that your child is a picky eater. How did they get that way? Picky eaters are raised and not born. Expose your kids to all sorts of foods and insist that they eat everything on their plate. That way you can be assured of NOT raising a picky eater.

That’s what I think anyway…

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Dharm from Dad ~ Baker & Chef

How To Prevent Osteoporosis?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Posted by Mansi

If you are a woman in your early 40's or higher, you've probably experienced aches and pains in your bones, at least at some point in your life! I'm barely 30, and I still experience a shooting pain in my knees when I play a lot or go for a long and steep hike! Osteoporosis is an age-related disorder in which bones become gradually thinner, more porous and less able to support the body. This condition attacks both men and women, but women usually suffer more severely because bone loss accelerates rapidly after menopause. By the time a woman reaches the age of 70, she may have lost as much as 30 percent of her bone density! Osteoporosis is largely preventable for most people. Prevention of this disease is very important because, while there are treatments for osteoporosis, there is currently no cure for this ailment!

Building strong bones, especially before the age of 30, can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis, and a healthy lifestyle can be critically important for keeping bones strong. Lack of exercise, calcium and vitamin D deficiency,
prolonged use of drugs, alcohol, caffeine, high-phosphate soft drinks, or smoking, are all factors that can contribute to deteriorating bone strength. And though you may not realise it now, Osteoporosis is something that will manifest itself at a very later stage, and by that time, it may be too hard to overcome it!

So try these healthy changes in your lifestyle to prevent the pain of Osteoporosis:

Get plenty of exercise:
Weight-bearing exercises can help prevent bone loss and may encourage bone growth. Specific exercises to twist, bend, stretch and compress bones are needed to strengthen the common sites at risk: the upper arm at the shoulder, the forearm at the wrist, the thigh bone at the hip, and the spine. This process is known as "bone loading", and is extremely important.

Before beginning any exercise program, always consult your physician. If you're given the go-ahead, start slowly and build up over time. An ideal program should include bone-specific, aerobic weight-bearing exercise three days per week, as well as standard cardio and endurance training as a part of your regular workout.

Get More Calcium
Calcium is needed for the heart, muscles and nerves to function properly and for blood to clot. Inadequate calcium is thought to contribute to the development of osteoporosis. National nutrition surveys have shown that many women and young girls consume less than half the amount of calcium recommended to grow and maintain healthy bones.

According to NOF recommendations, adults under age 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium daily, and adults age 50 and over need 1,200 mg of calcium daily. If you have difficulty getting enough calcium from the foods you eat, you may take a calcium supplement to make up the difference.

Load Up on Vitamin-D
Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, you will be unable to absorb calcium from the foods you eat, and your body will have to take calcium from your bones. Vitamin D comes from two sources: through the skin following direct exposure to sunlight and from the diet. Adults under age 50 need 400-800 IU of vitamin D3 daily, and adults age 50 and over need 800-1,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D that best supports bone health. It is also called cholecalciferol. Vitamin D can also be obtained from fortified milk, egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver and supplements.

Get a Bone Density Test
A Bone Mineral Density test (BMD) is the only way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine your risk for future fracture. Since osteoporosis can develop undetected for decades until a fracture occurs, early diagnosis is important. A BMD measures the density of your bones (bone mass) and is necessary to determine whether you need medication to help maintain your bone mass, prevent further bone loss and reduce fracture risk. So ask your doctor about one before it gets too late!

Regular exercise and a balanced diet are important components for preventing osteoporosis. By taking care of your bones now, they will stay strong enough to carry you safely through a lifetime of health and activity. Remember, Prevention is Better than Cure!

Related Articles:
Beware of Artificial Sweeteners
Online Guides for Health Awareness
Are Nutrition Supplements Safe or Necessary?

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Mansi from Fun and Food

Tiffin Tuesday - berry time!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Posted by jokergirl@wererabbits

Left side: Homemade veggie wontons and one storebought veggie dumpling, tamagoyaki with nori wrapping, a condiment cup of wild raspberries, blueberries and lingonberries* and a tube of organic fairtrade sugar for the berries.
Right side: Two onigiri (one with mixed rice and furikake, one with plain white rice), raw red bell pepper slices, and some chanterelle mushrooms fried in butter.

The berries and mushrooms are picked in the forest. It's berry-picking time! :D

* For the readers who aren't from Europe, lingonberries are a tart little berry about the size of a blueberry. It is almost, but not quite, like a cranberry. Smaller, for one.
I had for ages translated them as cranberries, but the Swedes are quite insistent it's not the same thing...
They are quite delicious in marmelade, which is often served with meat (instead of ketchup) or cheese.

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by jokergirl from WereRabbits.

Vegetarian Kids

Friday, August 08, 2008

Posted by Meeta K. Wolff

Summer Berries boxes 01 by MeetaK

As more and more people are turning towards vegetarianism, we need to pay special attention to the children in our lives. Vegetarianism is becoming more popular as many have come to realize the health benefits behind a vegetarian diet.

Many parents may wonder if kids can safely pursue a vegetarian diet and still get all the nutrients required for growing up healthy and strong. At first the idea of avoiding meat may sound like a bad idea, after all it offers the much required protein growing kids require. However, most dietary and medical experts will agree that a well-planned vegetarian diet can actually be a very healthy way to eat.

To set the record straight here, I am not a vegetarian and neither is my family. However, the last 12 months has seen us completely change our weekly meal plan to incorporate more vegetarian meals. Putting it into numbers, I would say 75-80% of our weekly meals are vegetarian. I do not need a study to show me the advantages or disadvantages of eating vegetarian. I see the effects in person.

My husband says he feels better – more energy and simply “lighter”. I see exuberance in 6 year old son’s face and his high spirits are all signs that show me, the slight change in our diet is working for the positive. Personally, I have lost a bit of weight and I feel my skin glowing and energized throughout the day.

Special care must be taken when feeding kids a vegetarian diet. If you have chosen to also omit dairy and egg products, as with any diet, you'll need to make sure that your child is getting enough of all the necessary nutrients. Furthermore, you will have to take some time and understand the nutritional needs of children because as they grow their requirements change.

To get you started you will find the introduction to vegetarianism very helpful.

If, like us, you have decided as a family to incorporate more vegetarian meals into your diet to enjoy a healthier lifestyle, you will be surprised at the variety and creativity vegetarian meals will bring.

Important, especially for children, is that the meals need to be nutritious. Children should be offered a variety of foods, which provide enough calories and nutrients to enable them to grow normally. Many pediatric experts are of the opinion that a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet is a healthy choice for most children.

I was always very particular about my fruit and vegetables and have paid special attention that my son gets his 5+ servings of fruit and vegetables a day. A few great tips to get you started here.

The place I started was making sure I added at least two portions of fruit and one portion of vegetables to his lunch box. You’ll find several creative and very scrumptious ideas here. Making the food look colorful and fun will always appeal to your child and soon you’ll be seeing empty lunch boxes. RiceGrainsCereals 01 framed

The next step for me was integrating more grains, cereals and nuts. I found myself becoming creative with ingredients like bulgur, couscous, quinoa, amaranth and co. Light stir-fries or steamed vegetables and fresh salads incorporated with some bulgur or couscous were the way we began to enjoy our dinners. I’ve always made my own granola, but here too I experimented with cereals like spelt flakes and popped amaranth, adding amounts of chopped nuts and a mixture of dried and fresh fruit.

Here are a few great ideas for you to try out:

Next I needed to tackle the protein and being an Indian I know the best place to get them is in legumes. Before you start giving me excuses that your child will not eat lentils or beans take a look at these great ideas and then tell me your child will not eat beans and lentils!

It has always been very important to me as a mum not to raise a picky eater. Soeren and I have a pact – if he eats his 5+ portions a day he can have one sweet or dessert. To help him see this visually we made our own fruit and vegetables chart. With the help of this list and the nutrient information here, we printed a daily chart. For every fruit or vegetable he ate he got to color a box in. If 5 boxes were colored, he got to choose his sweet or dessert for the day. This was a huge motivation for him in the beginning. What’s more having the list in front of me I could see where I could improve myself and offer more variety.

At first I kept the food simple. There was nothing too fancy or extravagant that might be refused. I substituted rice and pasta for bulgur or quinoa, mixed lentils in with pasta sauces, left out the salami on pizzas and added spinach and feta cheese instead. Slowly discovering if his tastebuds would warm up to the new meal plan. I often use pasta made with spelt or buckwheat flour, which we found nuttier in flavor. Once it was clear which foods he was enjoying I started to be more creative and experimented more.

I do allow snacking! As vegetarian diets are high in fibre and low in calories, a child's stomach will become full quite quickly without having had the chance of taking in the required amount of calories needed to meet their energy level. But we snack cleverly with nuts, dried fruit or bread sticks. Soeren eats 5 smaller meals a day, which keeps his energy level on a balance throughout the day.

I am not fighting any fat cells with my child. He is extremely energetic and very slim. The percentage of North American children who are overweight has reached the point where childhood obesity is now considered a major health problem. In Europe too many experts and nutritionalists are warning parents about the health and psychological issues childhood obesity carries with it. I am doing something about it early because I want my son to grow up being carefree and enjoying every aspect of his life. 

Don't you?

Note: I am not a certified dietician, nutritionalist or a doctor. I am a mother of a 6 year old boy, who is full of energy and life. I have written this article purely based on my experience over the last six years of motherhood.

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?

Eating better and maybe even saving a buck

Monday, August 04, 2008

Posted by Mike of Mike's Table

Once the care-free days of college were over and the real world began, I encountered the grim realities of a monthly budget. With this in mind, I used to think I was being good by eating lunch at my employer's cafeteria rather than going out to restaurants. While that much is true, it didn't take long to realize that (1) the cafeteria food is awful and (2) I could still do (a lot) better. So, eventually, I started to make my own lunches. When confronted with this new weekly chore, I did what most people would do: I started visiting the deli so I could make sandwiches from the seemingly infinite variety of flavored, sliced meats.

This got me by for quite some time...until Thanksgiving rolled around. With every Thanksgiving, there's turkey (far too much of it), and so for the several days following Thanksgiving, there are many creative ways of repurposing turkey to get through the leftovers before anything spoils. All of us who have done this song and dance have surely had some form of leftover turkey sandwiches and we've all come to appreciate how these are simply some of the best sandwiches you could have all year--moist, flavorful, comforting, and...well, pretty cheap! Then, we all just as quickly run out of leftovers and never have it again until next year. Why?

As soon as I had to return to deli meat, I was disappointed and wondered if this is what I had been eating all along--it was so bland, loaded with sodium, and well...its kind of slimey (blech!). I wanted more turkey, and I mean real juicy, flavorful, meaty turkey! And so this began a new era of lunches for me--I swore off deli meat. I just kept buying turkeys, roasting them, shredding the meat (no thin, slimey deli slices for me!), and freezing them in week's-worth-of-sandwiches sized portions, defrosting a bag each weekend as I needed. Using one bird, I could have sandwiches for 4-5 weeks--talk about minimal effort and cheap! Of course, eventually, one just might get tired of turkey (and they can be a bit harder to come by throughout the year), so then I simply switched to roasting whole chickens (which cover about 2 weeks of sandwiches for me).

This whole process is amazingly simple--rub a bird with some oil/butter, salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings suit your fancy, roast it until cooked through in a roasting pan (much easier than disposable tins, I promise!) in your oven, let cool a bit, and then shred up every last bit of meat, promptly freezing what you won't get to right away. In total, this probably costs you about 30 minutes of your focused time in the kitchen (not even once a week), saves you money (compare $/lb for a bird vs deli meat), and tastes so much better than deli meat. Multiply this by every working week throughout the year, and this adds up. All you need to do each week is thaw out the meat and assemble your sandwiches as you normally would.

This got me thinking about my other meals and how I could not only improve them, but save money in the process. Why not make my own granola bars for breakfast rather than buying pre-made, for instance? Or starting a simple herb garden rather than shelling out $2+ for a small bunch every week? Using the frequently roasted bird carcasses/drippings as a base for stock rather than buying by the can? Or eating with the seasons and local specialties in mind? Buying chicken thighs instead of boneless breasts? Whipping small amounts of leftover cream to use as whipped cream rather than buying a big can I'll never get through? So many admittedly small things, but done all together, the savings really do add up week to week.

Do you, reader, have any tips or tricks for things you fall back on in the kitchen to make your food money go further? I'd love to hear from you.

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This Post was written by Mike from Mike's Table

Tiffin Tuesday: Tamago box

Friday, August 01, 2008

Posted by jokergirl@wererabbits

A pretty little box to sweeten my return to work after a long (and needed) vacation.

The smaller layer (in front) contains stirfried Japanese broccoli in soy and pad thai sauce, miso flavored tamagoyaki with spinach, breaded tofu and a fishy with chili, vinegar and soy dressing for the tofu (which didn't get salty enough in my opinion - going to have to try marinating it next time! I heard teriyaki dressing works well, or garlic).
The lower layer contains a mix of brown and jasmine rice with egg furikake and black sesame, handpicked raspberries and red currants from the garden. Can you tell it's berry season?

The BF's bento features a starfish onigiri made with a sandbox set I bought a while ago and have been itching to use. If you don't have a way of getting cute onigiri shapers, small sandbox shapers are actually quite useful! Just be sure to moisten (and wash!) them thoroughly before use and have patience - it might take a little while but in the end the star slid out perfectly shaped even though the shaper didn't have a hole!
Otherwise it is the same food as in my box, but he gets a bunch more tofu and slightly less rice than me. Yay proteins!

Were you in a location to see the eclipse today? You can watch a partial eclipse easily and safely without astronomical equipment by spotting the shadows on the ground. When light filters through foliage, it will leave sharp, stenciled spots on the ground. Normally they are round, but during an eclipse, you can see the shape of the covered sun disk instead!

Warning: Never look at the sun with the naked eye or through a lens, even when looking through foliage. You can seriously hurt your eyes!

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by jokergirl from WereRabbits.