Little Lunchbox for October – Pumpkins everywhere!


Pumpkin lunchbox #1 — Mandarin orange pumpkin, carrot & raisin salad, hummus pumpkin sandwich, olives, and dried mangoes.

The carrot & raisin salad is super simple. Just mix a spoonful of mayo (Just Mayo is the one we have on hand most of the time) with a little bit of maple syrup till it is slightly sweet. Most of the time, I just make enough dressing for the individual servings.

I made a whole batch of the Mandarin orange pumpkins for Little Miss’s class snack this week, too. Such a simple, healthy, allergy friendly snack for school, soccer games, and parties. Tiny pieces of snap peas work well for the stems, too.


Pumpkin lunchbox #2 — Freeze dried corn, broccoli slaw and green beans, pasta and olive pumpkin with tomato, white bean, spinach, and red pepper sauce, and a ghost pear.

I will put a pumpkin face on anything in October. Start thinking about what you can turn into a pumpkin with a cookie cutter, olives, raisins, etc., and I am sure you can find all sorts of festive ideas!

When it comes to pasta sauce, I will through whatever veggies I have on hand into a pan, saute them, and puree them to make a sauce.  It is a simple way to use up odds and ends and get veggies into my kids that they might refuse otherwise.  Leafy greens are a difficult vegetable to get my kids to eat, so I primarily use them in smoothies, pasta sauces, and soups so that the texture does not bother my little peanuts.


Pumpkin lunchbox #3 — Hummus “pumpkin patch” with sungold tomatoes, snap peas and cucumber ghosts, grapes and raspberries, pumpkin tortilla chips, olives, and a few chocolate chips.

The cucumber ghosts are made with the ghost cutter out of this mini holiday set.  These cutters are very small, sturdy, metal cutters, and the set includes ones for several holidays. They also have a nature set and a sweet treats set. At this size, they are perfect for tiny fingers, and Little Miss adores them! I had a hard time getting enough cucumbers cut for her lunch, because she wanted to eat them all!


Pumpkins made into another school snack this week.  I sent in Mandarin orange cups with faces drawn on with a Sharpie and Halloween bat and pumpkin pretzels.  These are another healthy, simple snack!

Little Lunchbox – Elephants & Bears & Broccoli – for October 2, 2015


3 year old’s lunch – grape tomatoes, Asian pear elephants, broccoli slaw with goddess dressing, teddy bear hummus sandwich, white beans with pickle elephants, and animal crackers. Oddly enough, the sandwich came home uneaten and the broccoli slaw was all gone! Random little person pickiness is of the many reasons why I try to give her such a variety each day. If she eats even a few bites of several things, she is getting at least some of the nutrients she needs. Small amounts of each thing means we don’t waste much food if she doesn’t like a new item or just decides that she isn’t in the mood for it.  We don’t force her to clean her plate at home, and I am not upset if something comes home from school uneaten, as long as she is eating a balanced diet most of the time.

Maybe she just thought the sandwich was too cute to eat! These cutters are an incredibly easy way to add a lot of character to the lunch box. Save odds and ends of bread to make homemade bread crumbs later for zero waste!

Little Lunchbox – Trader Joe’s Adoration – for September 30, 2015

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3 year old’s lunchbox –  carrots, Asian pear pigs and orange, grape tomatoes, puffed multigrain crackers, tomato basil hummus and a peppermint.

We used to live less than 10 minutes from a Trader Joe’s, and I became fairly addicted to several of their products. Now we live about 35 minutes from TJ’s, so anytime I head in that direction, you better believe I am that crazy lady filling two freezer bags full of TJ goodies! One of my favorite spreads prevegan and now is TJ’s tomato basil hummus. I can eat this savory dip by the spoonful!  These little peanuts better know they are loved, since I am sharing this goodness with them!

Little Man loves these fruit bars from Trader Joe’s, and they are a great, healthy snack with only 2 ingredients, 2-3 grams of fiber depending on the flavor, and only 90 calories!

I am not being compensated in any way by Trader Joe’s, but if they would like to supply this hummus addict and her fruit bar addicted son with a lifetime supply, I wouldn’t complain. : )

Little Lunchbox – Penguins on Parade – for September 29, 2015


Take 1


Take 2

Tonight was a lesson in why it is nice to have two lunchboxes.  I made a great kale, basil, and walnut vegan pesto based off of Chef Chloe’s recipe in Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen (one of my favorite cookbooks ever!), and both kids enjoyed it so much that they were eating it by the spoonful with and without pasta!  Whenever we have leftovers that were such a hit, I try to incorporate them into the next days lunchbox, so Little Miss Peanut and I used the pesto pasta in not one but two lunchbox compartments!  We added Asian pear penguins, Chao original slices with carrots and tomatoes, and a peppermint.

I had just put the lunchbox in the fridge and was cleaning up the kitchen when it hit me . . . two kids in Little Miss’ class have peanut and tree nut allergies and her whole preschool is tree nut and peanut free.

Time for take 2!  I transferred the side items to the other lunchbox and tossed some extra leftover pasta with tomato sauce.  Phew!  Glad I didn’t send any of her sweet classmates into anaphylactic shock!

We are lucky that our little peanuts are not allergic to any foods, peanuts or otherwise!  My mother in law is allergic to corn, carrots, shrimp, and chocolate, so with our vegan diet and her allergies, cooking Thanksgiving dinner should be an adventure!  What allergies do you have to worry about when you feed your kiddos at home or school?

Little Lunchbox – Butterfly in a Grape Sky– for September 25, 2015


3 year old’s lunch – Hummus and shredded carrot butterfly sandwich, Thomcord grapes, bread and butter Bubbie’s pickles, tangelos, and coconut milk creamies for a treat. Baby brother has the same stuff, just cut up a bit.

I used a butterfly cookie cutter and added the carrot body with a little extra hummus. I love mixing shredded veggies like carrot, sweet peppers, cucumbers, or broccoli slaw in with hummus or vegan cream cheese for a sandwich or wrap filling. Many kids will pick out big pieces of veggies but happily gobble up veggies that are mixed into a creamy spread. You can also use a piece of one of those other veggies for the butterfly body. Both big sister and baby brother love these little vegan coconut milk treats from Happy Baby, and they provide a little dose of probiotics and Vitamin A

Little Lunchbox – Cat Sandwich – for October 1, 2015


3 year old’s lunch – Mandarin orange cup, pumpkin o’s, cat hummus sandwich with olive eyes and nose and carrot whiskers, grape tomatoes, black olives, and pickles.

I made the cat using a cat outline cookie cutter, and I added the pieces of olive and carrot with a bit of hummus, pressing them down into the bread a bit. Use whatever your kiddo likes to make the features, maybe pretzels and chocolate chips with a nut butter sandwich, celery and raisins with a nut butter or cream cheese filling, or broccoli slaw and sunflower seeds with hummus filling.

The cat cutter is from a huge miscellaneous bunch of cookie cutters that I snagged at an Old Time Pottery.  Here is a similar set.


Little Lunchbox – Cats and Mac and Cheeze -for September 23, 2015


Little Miss’s (3.5 yo) lunch – butternut squash mac and cheeze made with Oh She Glows recipe and zoo pasta, cat watermelon with Thomcord grapes, fava beans and black olives, and a dark chocolate covered graham cracker treat!

This lunch was pretty successful, both in the making and the eating.  Little Miss and I put it together after dinner, using the leftover mac and cheeze from our dinner.  She had already helped make dinner by stirring the sauce and the pasta and pouring measure ingredients in the pan.  The butternut squash mac is wonderful way to get some healthy veggies into a picky eater.

She loved using the cat cutter on the watermelon, and she kept trying them out on the extra pieces.  We used these cutters, and they are great, because they are small but sturdy and not too sharp for littles to use.  They worked well on the precut chunks of watermelon from the grocery store.

The Thomcord grapes are a fun change from the more commonly found green or red seedless grapes.  They are smaller and intensely flavored, and I had to stop myself from polishing off the pack before they made it to the lunchbox!

Black olives are a frequent addition to our meals, since they are one of Little Miss’s favorite foods, since she was around a year old!  What foods are you surprised that your children just adore?

Only the fava beans and a bite or two of pasta made it home.  When I asked her about lunch on the way home, Little Miss’s only comment was, “I ate my chocolate . . . yummy in my tummy!”

Little Man (15 months) went to preschool that day, too, and his lunch was similar to big sisters.  I used plain pasta for him, and of course, I chopped his olives and grapes up a bit.


Little Lunchbox – Pattern Power – for September 16, 2015

Little Miss Peanut is obsessed with Team Umizoomi right now, so when we decided to create a pattern with her grapes and cherry tomatoes, it instantly became a “pattern power” lunchbox.


In addition to the grapes and orange cherry tomatoes, she had tofu from the miso soup I made for dinner, black bean hummus, sunflower seed crackers, a CLIF Kids bar, and a thermos of rice milk.

Lunchbox came home with all of the tofu and crackers and most of the grapes and tomatoes eaten.  This hummus was not a favorite, since it pretty much all came home.  The CLIF bar was demolished!

We are struggling to find a plant based milk that she likes to take to school when she wants something other than water.  She is an almond milk girl through and through, and her preschool is peanut and tree nut free.  Rice milk was a bust, so we will be trying flax or coconut milk next.  What is your little one’s favorite drink?