Everyone who makes lunches—for themselves or their kids—knows what a hassle it is to make meals (every day!) that are well-rounded, healthy and most elusive of all…enjoyable to eat. Try as we may, time and creativity can be hard to come by in the midst of work, carpools, homework and other obligations.
Yet…the facts are in. School lunch is not something to be overlooked or undervalued. Among the many, many studies about school lunch, a recent paper out of U.C. Berkeley demonstrated that school districts serving healthier lunches had higher test scores. A direct correlation. If these districts can improve test scores by jacking up nutrition content, imagine what you can accomplish from your kitchen at home?
It All Starts With an Idea
As with most things in life, the first step is inspiration. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put together some great tips for cleaning up your school lunches in terms of ingredients and sustainability (zero-waste lunch, anyone?). Pinterest is a well-spring of innovative lunch items, as is this article on bento-box lunches, and this one from Bon Appetit. 100 Days of Real Food has loads of ideas for real healthy lunches, made with real clean ingredients. Peruse the articles, then come in to Rising Tide to stock up for the first few weeks of school. We’ve got a whole lot of back to school snacks and more on sale in August; you may find your child’s favorite new treat amongst them.
Not yet sold? This article from the NY Times does a great job illustrating how far a few solid, healthy school meals can go in the life of an impoverished child.
Here are a few more back-to-school recipes to get you started:
Carrot Applesauce Muffins
Creamy (Vegan) Tomato Rice Soup (Thermos lunches are the bomb! Or try our Lifefactory glass storage containers…on sale this month!)
Peanut Butter Stuffed No-Bake Cookie Bites
**Post and WIN!**
What’s YOUR favorite lunch to pack for work or school? Post it on our Instagram and you’ll WIN 2, 8oz reusable round storage containers from Preserve—perfect for all your on-the-go snacks. Just come in and show us your post…the containers are yours!
For omnivores, a traditional July 4th BBQ means burgers, hot dogs, and other meaty treats. Think out of the (butcher’s) box this summer, and you’ll be healthier for it.
You might have heard: grilling meat at high temps can cause nasty, carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to form. That char you love so much on your grilled chicken? Once your meat reaches that level of blackness, the protein has literally transformed into a whole different, cancer-causing chemical.
All You Need Is a Few Good Marinades
If meat IS on your summer grilling menu, there are ways to reduce its harmful byproducts. The simple act of marinating can reduce the concentration of HCAs by up to 99%! The trick is to choose a marinade without added sugars (store-bought commercial barbecue sauces are the worst), preferably one that’s thin and vinegar-based (beer and olive oil can also cut down on carcinogens). As an added bonus, add some herbs from the mint family (basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano and thyme); they’re rich in antioxidants that can counteract any carcinogens created by grilling. Check this out for more on safer meat grilling.
Or better still…go veggie this 4th! Grilling provides a smoky twist to seasonal produce (and man, is this season’s produce amazing).
And we’re not just talking veggies…grilling fruits is healthy way to soften, sweeten and bring out all their lovely juices. Having friends over? Provide a whole bunch of fruits (peaches, plums, pineapple, bananas and more) and let each person kabob and grill their own picks.
When deciding which fruits and veggies to throw on the grill, keep in mind the Dirty Dozen—those items plagued with the greatest amount of harmful pesticides.
NY Times Grilling Essentials
Tips for Grilling Veggies
How to Avoid Mistakes When Grilling Veggies
Best Fruits to Grill
Amazing Grilled Fruit Recipes
Whether it’s at the beach or a park or your own backyard, there’s nothing better than dining outdoors.
Here are some of the best places to lay your blanket on Long Island, along with some excellent tips for staging a terrific event.
DO’s and DON’Ts for the Perfect Picnic
DO choose a good location. If it’s a romantic picnic, select a spot with significance to the two of you, or a spot with a pretty view. For a family picnic, make sure there’s lots of room for kids to run around (preferably on a playground, field, etc.).
DO pick a theme. It will give both you and your guests a chance to get deliciously creative.
DO pack cheese, fruit, bread, crackers, salad, cold chicken, sweets, and other foods that will be easy to pack and serve.
DO organize a potluck picnic. Be sure to delegate so you don’t have five pasta salads or cut-up watermelons.
DO devise a meal plan ahead of time so you aren’t digging in your refrigerator at the last minute.
DON’T bring ice cream or foods that can easily spoil.
DON’T make it complicated, or bring anything with too many moving parts (i.e. nothing you have to cut with a knife!). Simple is best.
DON’T feel like you have to spend a ton of money to make a great picnic. Homemade dishes are your best bet for keeping costs down. Check out the ton of great picnic recipes below.
DON’T worry about having a fancy picnic basket. A cardboard box works fine, as does any insulated bag.
DON’T forget the vino! Rising Tide carries a 64oz HydroFlask growler that can hold two full bottles of rosé. Toast to summer with the taste of summer.
3 Themed Picnics from Mark Bittman
101 Picnic Ideas from the New York Times
Great Picnic Salads
Simple, Rustic Picnic from Ina Garten
More Easy Picnic Ideas
Margaritas, nachos, sombreros…here in the U.S. we make a big party out of this May holiday most of us know very little about.
Contrary to what a lot of us think, Cinco de Mayo does NOT celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain, but instead, Mexico’s unlikely victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla, 1862. Mexico’s actual Independence Day is on Sept. 16th and that IS a big party in Mexico. In fact, Mexico’s partying on May the 5th doesn’t hold a candle to the one in L.A., which hosts the biggest Cinco de Mayo bash on the globe. (If we’ve piqued your interest, click here for more facts about Cinco de Mayo.)
Taste of Mexico
History aside, we DO like an excuse to serve up great-tasting goodies, Mexican-style. Here at Rising Tide we’ll have all the organic avocados you’ll need to make a truly superb guacamole, along with tortilla chips on sale from Late July, Way Better Snacks, Lundberg Family Farms and more. If you don’t want to make your own guac, just pick up some from the Deli, along with homemade pico de gallo and more. And grab some of our freshly squeezed, organic Strawberry Lemonade; nothing is tastier when mixed with some good tequila!
The egg-heavy holiday of Passover (not to mention that pesky lamb shank!) is an opportunity for Vegans to get creative. If you’re also avoiding rice, beans and corn, you have to improvise even more, but that shouldn’t stop you from having a deliciously festive holiday.
First, let’s get straight what’s allowed and not allowed, according to Jewish law. During their escape from Egypt, the Jews didn’t have time to let their bread rise and instead ate unleavened bread or matzoh, so leavened foods (chametz) are off the menu. These include bread, pasta, and any foods made with yeast, wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats.
In addition to these restrictions, Ashkenazi Jews also stay away from other foods known as kitniyot. As mentioned above, this includes rice, corn, millet, peas, beans, legumes (including soybeans), peanuts and sesame, poppy and mustard seeds.
Even with all of these no-no’s, there are lots of ways for Vegans to go when preparing a Passover menu. Quinoa, for example, is not considered a grain (it’s actually a very versatile berry!), and can make a wonderful pilaf. Traditional pasta is no good, but veggie noodles are; get that spiralizer out for a delicious “noodle” dish everyone will love. Do without chopped liver? Never, when you can improvise with this savory mushroom cashew dip.
Check out these Vegan Passover primers from the NY Times and onegreenplanet.com, and a whole bunch of other recipes we think you’ll love. A Zissen Pesach (Happy Passover!) to you and yours. (Don’t forget your Passover staples! While you’re shopping for the ingredients to make your fabulous Vegan seder, pick up your organic Manischewitz Matzo and organic Kedem grape juice.)
Mushroom Cashew Dip (faux chopped liver)
Quinoa Veggie Pilaf
Noodles with Avocado Herb Pesto
Spinach Potato Matzah Gratin
No-Bake Chocolate Macaroons
Sweet Potato Kugel
As St. Paddy’s Day approaches, you might be thinking about how you can get festive, bright green foods on your table (and in the kids’ lunchboxes, etc.) without toxic food dyes (linked to hyperactivity, allergic reactions and tumor growth—and banned in Europe). Here are some fun St. Paddy’s Day alternative snacks, desserts and entrees, using naturally green goodies like spinach, avocado, kale and more (your kids don’t need to know what’s in them!), plus a DIY food dye that can be used in a million creative ways.
Kale Chips with Chile and Lime
Great, Green Potato Skins Appetizer
Vegan Basil-Walnut Pesto
DIY Green food coloring