All Posts By Michelle Buffardi

The Brown-Bag Challenge is Over, Are You Still Packing Your Lunch?

by in Uncategorized, October 7, 2011
brown-bag challenge
Have you put away your lunchbag, or have you continued to pack lunch?

The Brown-Bag Challenge has been over for a full week. The results? Amazing. The challenge turned out to be not-so-challenging after all, thanks to a wonderfully supportive community of healthy lunch-packers. Reading everyone’s posts, emails and tweets was incredibly motivating. And several of Food Network co-workers took the challenge along with me so not only did we eat together in the office and share lunch ideas, we didn’t encourage each other to eat out (like we often do).

I intended to celebrate a successful month by treating myself to a restaurant lunch this week, but I ended up with a lot of dinner leftovers, so continued to brown-bag instead. Next week though, I think I might get myself some Thai food.

What about you? Have you eaten out since the challenge, or are you still packing your lunch?

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Advice from the US Surgeon General on Healthy Families: Have Fun

by in Food News, September 28, 2011
surgeon general dr benjamin
Dr. Regina Benjamin, US Surgeon General

The US Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin was in New York City last week for the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases, and for the Food Insight Global Diet and Physical Activity Communications Summit. In layman’s terms, Dr. Benjamin was in New York to meet with some important global leaders to discuss the prevention of non-communicative diseases (also called NCD’s) : cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases and diabetes. These diseases are responsible for three in five deaths worldwide, but medical research has proven that they can be prevented through proper diet and exercise.

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Brown-Bag Challenge: Week 4 Round-Up

by in Uncategorized, September 27, 2011
lentil salad
Chez Us's Lentil Salad. Image by Chez Us.

Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

So an important question has come up during this challenge. If lunch is provided at work — sandwiches ordered for a meeting, a Friday pizza party — does that count for the challenge? Is it cheating if you eat a lunch at work that someone else purchased?

I will say that yes, it does count. If you eat food provided at work, you are still a successful challenge participant. But I say this because I’m guilty. In a 2 hour meeting yesterday that fell smack in the middle of lunch, I ate a sandwich off of the sandwich tray in the conference room. I justified it because I didn’t buy it, and I chose one of the healthier options: raw vegetables and hummus on whole grain bread. I didn’t feel guilty at all.

But did I cheat? What do you think? Have you eaten lunch provided at work during the Brown-Bag Challenge?

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Brown-Bag Challenge Day 16: Burritos

by in Uncategorized, September 23, 2011
burrito
Burrito, unwrapped.

Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

There’s a Chipotle right near my office. I could walk over there, order a vegetarian burrito and be back at work, ready to eat in under a half-hour. For $8.50, I could have myself one tortilla, filled with rice, beans, salsa, guacamole, cheese and sour cream. Then the next day, I’d have to go back, there or someplace else, to spend another few dollars on another lunch. Over the course of a week or a month, dining out like this gets pretty expensive. But I really like burritos.

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Brown-Bag Challenge: Week 3 Round-Up

by in Uncategorized, September 20, 2011
thai chicken wraps
Ambitious Kitchen's Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps With Sweet Mango-Cilantro Salsa Photo by: Ambitious Kitchen

Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

Three weeks into the challenge and we’re still seeing lots of variety in everyone’s lunch bags. Sure there are sandwiches of every variety, but how about this meze platter from Cooking With My Kid? Soup is starting to be quite popular as the weather cools down — check out All Things Splendid’s Wild Rice Soup and the Coupon Chef’s take on Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower and Cheese Soup. It’s hard to be bored at lunch when you can enjoy Quinoa With Peas and Spinach, Tart Pizza and Tofu Pesto Sandwiches or Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps (pictured above), and for dessert: Apple-Cinnamon Muffin Cake.

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Brown-Bag Challenge: Week 2 Round-Up

by in Uncategorized, September 13, 2011

brown-bag challenge

Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

Week 2 of the challenge was quite an eventful one, despite Monday being a holiday. Everyone involved has been consistent in sharing excellent lunch-packing advice, recipes, snack ideas and photos. We had a twitter chat last Thursday where dozens of brown-baggers chimed in with their lunch ideas. One question we asked, “Any ideas for tasty sandwich spreads besides mayo?” got quite a response. Here are a few of the mayonnaise alternatives offered by our twitter friends:

@lisalibrarian goat cheese, mustard, mashed avocado

@Health_Bean pesto!!!!

@LetsTalkandWalk hummus or mustard

@CarleneFutureRD what about roasted garlic! It gets creamy and spreadable not to mention flavorful.

@JennaReed1 olive tapinade is so tasty on sandwiches instead of mayo!

@zachcrock hot sauce if you like it, I use it in place of mayo.

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Brown-Bag Challenge, Day 5: Appetizer Platter

by in Uncategorized, September 8, 2011

hummus platter

Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

It’s day #5 of the Brown-Bag Challenge. When this all started, I was worried that I’d run out of lunch ideas and would spend the last half of the month eating PB&J at my desk. But that’s not the case at all — I’ll run out of days in September long before I run out of lunch ideas. Last week I made Curried Potatoes and Chickpeas and ate the leftovers for two days. I’m already planning ahead for next week; I’m going to make a Cornmeal-Crusted Roasted Ratatouille Tart this weekend to bring for lunch on Monday.

This week has been a busy one — Monday was a holiday and short weeks always seem a bit crazy. But I made a big batch of hummus on Monday night and cut up some vegetables I picked from my mom’s garden over the holiday weekend. I brought it all to work along with a few hard-boiled eggs and a box of Wasa crackers and made a vegetable platter for myself to eat at my desk each day. It was a little fancy-looking, a lot like a restaurant appetizer platter, but super easy because I did the prep once and ate for three days.

What’s the best brown-bag lunch you’ve eaten this month?


Top Picnic Posts for Labor Day

by in Healthy Holidays, September 5, 2011
labor day
Are you cooking out today?

Happy Labor Day! It’s time to have one last picnic before summer officially ends. Of course you can still cook out before it gets cold, but it’s the last long holiday weekend where you’ll have an extra day to relax and entertain. To get you ready for your end-of-summer bash, a round-up of our most popular picnic posts:

Summer Picnic Menu

Which is Healthier, a Hot Dog or a Hamburger?

5-Ingredient Broccoli Salad

Top Picnic Salads

Host a Healthier Cookout

Potato Salad, Lightened Up

8 Grilling Safety Tips You Need to Know

Safety Tips: Packing Food for Your Cookout

Labor Day Cookout Menu

How are you celebrating the last weekend of summer?

Brown-Bag Challenge Giveaway

by in Giveaway, September 2, 2011
lunch pot
You could win this!

Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

It’s a brown-bag challenge in name only, we don’t actually expect everyone to tote their lunches in a paper sack each day. It’s fine if you do, but don’t you want to carry your healthy lunch fare in something cute, compact and washable? Of course you do. And now, you have a chance to win this adorable lunch pot from black+blum.

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Brown Bag Challenge: Day 1

by in Uncategorized, September 1, 2011
curried potatoes and chickpeas
I like to take my lunch out of the container I packed it in and eat it from a nicer bowl.

Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

Confession: I bought lunch yesterday just because I could. I walked over to Taim, my favorite falafel place in the whole city, and I bought a falafel for lunch. I have no idea how much fat or calories the sandwich contained, but the sandwich was large so was likely not very diet-friendly. I justified the splurge because I’d been to the gym that morning, and because it was the last day I could eat a restaurant lunch before the Brown-Bag Challenge. This splurge cost me $8.

Today’s lunch is smarter in so many ways. When I was searching for recipes, I was looking for something healthy to make with potatoes, because I have a whole bunch from my CSA that I wanted to use up. I found this recipe for Curried Potatoes and Chickpeas from Food Network Magazine; it’s from a story they did last year on using leftover crunchy onions — those things that go on top of green bean casserole. It looked quick and easy enough to make on a busy weeknight, and Toby, one of our resident dieticians, confirmed that it meets our Healthy Eats nutritional guidelines; it has 290 calories per serving and 15 grams of total fat (saturated fat = 7 grams).

I had potatoes, spices, limes and jalapenos at home, so I bought the following at the store:

Cilantro: $1.99

Chickpeas: $1.79 (I bought the 29-ounce can even though the recipe calls for 15 ounces. It was a better value, and I’ll use the leftovers to make hummus)

Fried onions: $2.89

Greek yogurt: $1.25

My grocery store total was $7.92. I spent nearly the same amount on all the ingredients for an entire recipe as I did on one lunch. And since the recipe makes 6 servings, that comes to $1.32 per serving. Less than two dollars per serving. Makes my $8 falafel seem pretty frivolous.

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