Salad for Breakfast?! Red Pepper and Ginger Salad Dressing (vegan, raw, gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, peanut-free)

I don’t know about your kids, but my kids get tired of the same old breakfast. I admit that I buy and prepare the simplest things — oatmeal or cereal — because it’s so easy, it dirties the kitchen the least, and it takes no early preparation. My kids are very good eaters, but my 4-year old loves to keep me on my toes.

This morning, he asked for corn. Yep, just a big bowl of corn. Surprisingly, he wasn’t satisfied, so I threw together his favorite salad dressing since I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. Then I served up a little bowl of chopped lettuce with his salad dressing. He gobbled it up and wanted more. His second bowl was the same, and he wanted more. The third bowl I had run out of lettuce, so I gave him some chopped baby kale and dressing. He wanted a fourth bowl! This boy LOVES him some raw dressing! Without further ado, I am reposting this salad dressing with its own dedicated post that is a hit in our household, it makes a huge quantity that I am able to refrigerate for later use, and because I frequently search my own blog for my favorite recipes, and this is one of the regulars in my searches.

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Tait’s third bowl of breakfast salad.

Red Pepper and Ginger Salad Dressing by Cookie & Kate
Ingredients
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped into big pieces
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons raw local honey
  • ¾ inch piece of ginger or 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Optional: a dash of toasted sesame oil

Directions

Place all ingredients in the order listed above and process in a high speed blender until combined. Enjoy!

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Tait’s tiny bowl of breakfast baby kale with his favorite salad dressing.

 

Frozen Non-Dairy Yogurt Breakfast Parfait Popsicles (vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free)

I rarely ever buy non-dairy yogurt for my house because my kids eat all of it within minutes of bringing it home. However, when I found this recipe for frozen yogurt breakfast parfaits, I was thrilled to think that they’d last longer than a few minutes! I had to tweak the original recipe a bit to make sure they could still be made dairy-free and nut-free, but it could be done, and it was a success!

My main advice is to make them much smaller than the ones shown. The cups I used are approximately 8 oz, and I filled them 3/4 of the way full, but the serving was so large that they even made my adult-sized belly full, so they were definitely too big for my kids. But the fact that they couldn’t eat all of it in its frozen form compared to eating container after container of its refrigerated form made it worth it.

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Frozen non-dairy yogurt breakfast parfaits

Non-Dairy Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits

Recipe adapted from Regan @ OnceAMonthMeals.com

  • 1 16-oz container non-dairy yogurt, vanilla*
  • 1 16-oz container non-dairy yogurt, plain*
  • 1 package gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free granola
  • 1 package frozen fruit (I used blueberries and mangoes, but you can use mixed berries or strawberries, too! Fresh is always preferred during the summer months.)
  • 6 paper cups or frozen popsicle molds
  • 6 popsicle sticks

*I used So Delicious brand non-dairy coconut yogurt

Directions

1. Fill each paper cup or mold in the following order:

– 3 spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt

– a spoonful of granola

– a spoonful of first fresh or frozen fruit of choice

– a spoonful of second fresh or frozen fruit of choice

– 3 spoonfuls of plain yogurt

non-dairy vegan nut-free yogurt parfait

Layers of non-dairy vegan yogurt parfait. From right to left: (1) Layer 1: vanilla yogurt, (2) Layer 2: granola, (3) Layer 3: fresh or frozen fruit, (4) Layer 4: plain yogurt [not pictured}

2. Place paper cups or molds in the freezer for one hour.

3. Place popsicle sticks in the center of the frozen mixture, then allow to freeze overnight.

4. Remove from molds and wrap in wax paper. Place in ziplock storage bags and store in freezer until breakfast!

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Frozen non-dairy vegan yogurt breakfast parfait removed from paper cup mold.

Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, peanut-free, nut-free, vegan)

I am very fond of my neighborhood rosemary bushes. I have an ongoing relationship with my neighbors, and they give me a delighted nod every time they see me picking their rosemary without asking. I don’t know if it’s the rosemary that I love or if it’s the sense of community that I feel by eating local organic herbs harvested among friends.

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Holiday Cookies – Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread

A recipe for rosemary cookies came through my inbox recently, and after careful review, I decided to make it gluten free! I used the same principles I applied when I made homemade baked goldfish crackers gluten free by replacing the all purpose flour with three different gluten flours — two medium weight and one lightweight. The types I chose weren’t too scientific, they were basically whatever I had on hand.

I was actually surprised by how challenging this dough was to work with. When I make these again, I will make them a day in advance and wait at least an hour in between each rolling and cutting session. The cookies that were the sturdiest and had the best shape were the ones that were the hardest when using the cookie cutter and transferring them to the baking sheet.

Easily, these cookies were the hit of the party. It was wonderful eating seasonal herbs right from our neighborhood, but they were so simple and delicious that everyone raved about them. And to think, I only brought them so my allergy-ridden son would have a dessert option. That’s the stuff that makes me smile!

Sarah’s Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Recipe adapted from Sarah McMinn’s guest post on Keepin’ It Kind

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Baking sheet lined with chocolate dipped rosemary cookies

Shortbread Ingredients

  • 2/3 c oat flour
  • 2/3 c brown rice flour
  • 2/3 tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Earth Balance sticks
  • 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate Dipping Ingredients
  • 6 ounces Enjoy Chocolate Chips
  • fresh rosemary sprigs

Tools

  • rolling pin
  • parchment paper
  • baking sheets

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, salt and rosemary in a food processor and pulse a few times until well blended and the rosemary is evenly dispersed.
  3. In a stand up mixer combine butter and powdered sugar. Beat for a solid five minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Add vanilla and flour mixture and combine just until the dough comes together.
  4. Turn dough onto a floured piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top. Roll out the dough, using the parchment paper between the dough and rolling pin, to keep it from sticking. Place the flattened dough in the refrigerator for one hour.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and use a cookie cutter in the shape of your chocie to cut the cookies and place them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  6. Return to cookie cut outs to the refrigerator for 20-30 more minutes.
  7. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely before handling.
  8. For optional chocolate drizzle, melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave in 30 second increments until melted. Use a pastry brush to evenly distribute the chocolate along the side of the cookie you choose. Add two small sprigs of rosemary for decor.
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A couple tiny sprigs of rosemary added for decor!

Pumpkin Bread Muffins (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, peanut-free, vegan)

If you are looking for a muffin that you can’t possible screw up, this is the one for you. Rather than a muffin, it’s more of a banana-bread type consistency that I put in muffin cups. It cooks at a lower temperature and for a longer period of time than usual, just like a quick bread. It’s dense and hearty for breakfast or snacks, but sweet enough for dessert. You can even bake them in donut baking tray, and the kids will be thrilled to have donuts for lunch!

I have made this recipe six times now, and I have made it differently every single time. I have doubled it (WOW that made a ton!!), halved it, forgotten one of the three flours and only used two, forgot the flax egg, used honey one time then sugar another time, used half honey half sugar, used only pumpkin and used a combination of pumpkin and delicata squash, made mini muffins and full size muffins, and used a combination of oil and grass fed ghee. The only constant is that I’ve always used homemade pumpkin or squash cooked in my crock pot. I’ve made this by myself, with my kids, and with four sets of kids in the 2nd and 3rd grade. Every time, the results are magic. Without further ado, here is the recipe!

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Both recipes were made with brown rice flour, freshly ground oat flour, and tapioca flour. On the left: recipe was halved and made with organic cane sugar and delicata squash puree / On the right: full recipe was made with honey and pumpkin puree

 

Pumpkin Bread Muffins

Recipe Adapted from Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship

Ingredients

  • 2 flax eggs (each egg = 1 T. flax seed meal + 3 T. warm water)
  • ⅔ c. brown rice flour*
  • ½ c. buckwheat flour*
  • ½ c. arrowroot starch**
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. honey OR ¾ c. sugar
  • ½ c. melted coconut oil or Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
  • 1¼ c. pumpkin puree or any other winter squash (canned or homemade)
  • If needed: ¼ c. cold water

*You can substitute any other medium weight flour, such as oat flour (grind your own oats in your high speed blender if you don’t have them on hand!), buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, or teff flour. Try to use two different flours for each of the medium weight flours. But, this recipe is magic, so it may work just fine with only one type!

**You can substitute any other light weight flour, such as tapioca starch, potato starch, or even organic corn starch.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Make your flax egg(s). Warm your measured water in the microwave for 30 seconds. Remove, and add flax seed meal to the warm water. Stir and let sit for 5+ minutes, or until it has an egg-like consistency. Set aside.
  3. Add all of your dry ingredients to a bowl. Stir.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the top of the dry ingredients in the same bowl.
  5. Stir as few times as possible, just until dry and wet ingredients are combined. The more you stir, the tougher your muffin bread will be.

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    Oops – My 2nd and 3rd graders over-mixed their batch!

  6. Add up to 1/4 c. of cold water to the mixture if it needs more movement.
  7. Line muffin tins with muffin liners and pour the batter into each liner until it is 3/4 full.
  8. For regular sized muffins, bake for 42-44 minutes; for mini muffins, bake for 20-22 minutes.

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    Yummy finished mini muffins and mini donuts!

Cinnamon Bun Smoothie (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, vegan)

I couldn’t possible be more excited about my favorite time of year. Thanksgiving with family, our annual tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, putting up Christmas decorations, listening to Disney holiday music, and making festive meals, desserts, and drinks tied to the fall and winter seasons. On Friday night, I watched my three kids dancing around the tree, adding all of our ornaments to the only the bottom two feet while I brewed some homemade apple cider, and I literally sat down on the couch for a moment and thought nothing could possible beat this. (Actually, it could have been slightly better if it wasn’t Disney music that was blasting, but aside from that, it really was a spectacular moment.)

The following morning, I made one of my favorite festive morning smoothies that reminds me of the holidays: a creamy and divine smoothie that tastes and smells of frothy cinnamon.

Cinnamon Bun Smoothie (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free,nut-free, peanut-free, vegan) Recipe adapted from Kim McDevitt of Vega One

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
  • 1 frozen banana OR 1 room temperature banana with four ice cubes if you prefer your smoothie cold (Be sure to peel the banana before you freeze it!)
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower seed butter
  • 2 dates
  • ¼ cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maca powder

Directions

  1. Remove peel from banana and place in freezer. You can skip this step if you’re in a rush to make your shake and you don’t have a frozen banana on hand by adding a room temperature banana and 4 ice cubes.
  2. Add the nondairy milk to the blender, followed by the banana, then add the remaining ingredients. I prefer to add all of my dry ingredients at the end, so they don’t stick to the sides of the blender when I turn it on.

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    Adding the dry ingredients to the smoothie to keep it from sticking to the sides of the blender.

  3. Slowly turn on the blender, and once all of the ingredients are incorporated, turn the blender up to high until combined.

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    Creamy Cinnamon Bun Smootie (gluten-free, vegan)

  4. Enjoy!

No Bake Elvis Bars (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free option)

Finally, a new recipe for old, browned, and spotty bananas — and it’s not banana bread! You know the deal: You bought a bunch of bananas for lunches, smoothies, and after school snacks, and before you know it, not a single person in the house touched them all week, and you’re stuck with way too many old, gross-looking bananas. My husband immediately throws them out, but I always have the best of intentions to make banana bread. Often, I don’t even get around to that, either.

Behold the No Bake Elvis Bars. They actually taste like banana cream pie popsicles — OMG they are fantastically amazing — and I was able to throw them together with everything I had in the pantry! And a little bit goes a long way, so there is no way you’re devouring this recipe on your own in one sitting. It took our family of five a few days to go through all of them.

I was in the mood to put together some sort of bar, so I could test out my latest kitchen supplies that I’m super excited about — a pastry rolling pin and a perfectly square aluminum baking pan. Sounds lame, but I was hoping that these two items would make the difference between my bars and treats looking handmade versus homemade. The perfect square pan would eliminate the weird corners I usually get with rounded out glass pans, and the pastry roller would help me get perfectly level, compacted treats.

pastryroller squarepan

I found this yummy recipe, and it was a success! My daughter thought there was too much banana and thought I should reduce that layer by half. My son said there was too much chocolate (whaaaat?), and next time I should use more banana and no chocolate. What I heard from both of those comments is that they still loved it.

No Bake Elvis Bars by OhSheGlows

For the crust:
  • 1.5 cup whole almonds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut nectar syrup (I used raw, local honey)
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter (I used Sunbutter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt, to taste
For the middle layer:
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened slightly
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter or peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt, to taste
For the chocolate drizzle:
  • 3 tablespoons mini dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy brand)
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

Directions:

  1. Line an 8-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper (I one sheet of foil instead), one going each way. This makes it easy to lift out the bars later on.
  2. For the crust: Add the almonds into a food processor and process until a fine crumb forms, slightly larger than sand. Now add in the rest of the crust ingredients and process until the mixture comes together, scraping the side of the bowl as needed. The mixture should be a slightly tacky and should stick together when pressed with your fingers. If it’s not, add a very small splash of water and process again for a few seconds.
  3. Dump the crust mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth out evenly and then press down firmly and evenly into the pan. You can lightly wet your fingers if the crust sticks to them. Use a pastry roller to roll it very smooth, compacting it as much as possible. Place in freezer while you prepare the middle layer.
  4. Middle layer: Give the processor bowl a quick rinse. Add all the middle layer ingredients into the processor and process until smooth. Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the middle layer on top. Smooth out. Return to the freezer for at least 1-1.5 hours to set, until the middle layer is very firm to the touch.

5. Chocolate drizzle: When the middle layer is completely solid, prepare the topping. In a small pot heat the chocolate and coconut oil on the lowest heat, stirring to combine. When half of the chips have melted, remove the pot from the heat and stir until completely melted.

Melted chocolate drizzle sauce

    6. Remove the bars from the freezer. Lift slab out of the pan and slice into squares. Spread out the squares on a plate lined with parchment paper.


    7. Drizzle on the melted chocolate and return bars to the freezer until the chocolate is firm and the bars are solid. Enjoy these bars frozen, straight from the freezer. They melt very quickly so I don’t suggest leaving them out for more than a couple minutes. Wrap leftovers and store in the freezer.

New School Year, New Lunch Boxes & Containers

 

We’re in our last month of summer vacation, and it’s time to think about the latest and greatest lunchboxes on the market. We have used the same lunchboxes and containers for the last several years, but finally, with all of the reports about BPA-free products now containing chemicals that are even worse than BPA, I want to avoid plastic altogether. It’s not that BPA-free is bad, it’s that in order to make products BPA-safe, companies are now using other toxic materials that are just as bad or even worse than BPA since they are still low on the radar and not yet being tested. Refer to these articles for more information:

Tell the EPA: Stop the toxic chemicals that have replaced BPA:

A new study has revealed that the chemicals replacing BPA in most of our plastics are just as bad or worse for us than BPA itself – and all of them are especially dangerous for children. Stop letting companies replace one toxic chemical with another.

Detection of Estrogenic Activity in Plastic Cups and Plates

The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics

BPA Free? Just Another Plastic

These specific lines in the last article resonated the most with me:

Don’t be lulled into complacency over BPA-free water bottles and sippy cups. Plastic is not good for you or the environment. Don’t buy plastic bottled water. Don’t feed your children out of plastic containers.

It doesn’t get clearer than that. The last month has put me on a mission to find containers that meet mine and my children’s needs:

REQUIREMENTS

  • no plastic containers or lids – As a result of this, I’ve had to become okay with containers that aren’t 100% leak-proof, which leads to more spills, but at least the toxic plastic leaching into their food is no longer an issue.
  • stainless steel/lightweight – This is so much more lightweight than glass, although I prefer glass any day. The problem is the weight and the fact that it does break every now and then with a heavy throw of the backpack to the ground.
  • easy to open and close for big and little fingers
  • individual containers of differing sizes – This is the one requirement of my children. They do not have time to sit down, open a lunch box, eat from it, then property close it and put it away and still have time to play during recess or lunch. Instead, they want quick, easily accessible, separate containers that they can quickly pull out, snack from, and throw back in their bags. Sadly, this also leads to lost containers, so I write their names on the bottoms and lids from the start and make each child responsible for knowing exactly where their containers are at the end of the day.
  • one large compartment that has the option of staying big or breaking down into two smaller compartments, depending on the food, i.e. lots of pasta, a couple of enchiladas, or a just a half sandwich
  • not cheap – I identify cheap products found at the dollar store with having no rules or regulations, so even if it’s stainless steel, I still want it to be top quality and from a reputable company, not a no-name cheap brand.
  • 4 stars or more on Amazon – Let’s be real, I don’t want to get stuck with a product that other people don’t love, too

My search led me to a variety of products that I like, but not all of them met my requirements:

Kids Konserve mini containers, large containers, and nesting containers – leakproof, but they have the plastic lids I’m trying to avoid 😦

Kids Konserve

Kids Konserve

LunchBots Uno, Duo, or Trio – there is no secure way to lock the lid and make sure it stays in place through the day, and there isn’t much flexibility with the divisions of the containers

Lunchbots Duo

Lunchbots Duo

ECO Lunchbox Three-in-One – compartments aren’t small enough for snacking foods that kids can quickly grab and eat during recess or lunch. Instead, they need to take apart a stacking, interlocking system. Probably great for the office, but not great for busy kids

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ECO Lunchbox Three-in-One

ECO Lunchbox Three-in-One – I adore these, but the lids are plastic, and that defeats the purpose of a glass container when plastic is part of it. I’d rather use small canning jars with metal lids and rings if I’m going to use glass.

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ECO Lunchbox Three-in-One

Lifefactory Glass Food Storage in 8 oz, 16 oz – LOVE! But, these are way too heavy and way too big for any of my kids to take to school for lunch.  I do love the rubber coating that protects the glass from breaking. The lids interlock with plastic that lays on the outside of the glass, but it is a very small buttonhole closure that would also be difficult for kids to latch back together. It does concern me that the latch might break easily. These are perfect for me at work!

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Lifefactory Glass Food Storage in 8 oz

Stainless Steel Containers from Daiso, the Japanese Dollar Store – this fits the cheap bill. And I have no idea what the standards are in Japan for making products, so I find it hard to believe that a cheap product that my kids will be eating food out of is actually top quality.

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Stainless Steel Containers from Daiso

Tiffin Boxes 3 Tier Food Containers – These are sold at Indian grocery stores and on Amazon. My mother in law uses these often to transport foods, and I find them a little clunky and inconvenient. All three stack together, so there is only one lid, and the bottom of the container that stacks above it acts as the lid for the bottom two containers. I can only imagine the mess my kids would come home with.

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Tiffin Boxes 3 Tier Food Containers

Planetbox – I love almost everything about the Planetbox, but the lid does not seal completely, and the lunchbox it comes in puts the Planetbox on its side when you carry it, so everything falls to the bottom. We tried this for a month, but it did not fit our requirements because it was big and clunky to wash and it does not have separate compartments. This is probably a great system for kids who are in Kindergarten or younger who sit down and eat their entire lunch with friends before moving on.

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Planetbox

Laptop Lunches Bento Box – I am throwing this in here because this is what I’ve used for the past five years for my kids. When all the reviews about BPA came out, I was so proud we were still using BPA-free plastic. But now I do not even want to touch plastic, so I finally threw them all out. I did have a love affair with Laptop Lunches, though. I loved that the Upright Carrying Case allowed the bento box to sit on the bottom, and the handles were at the top for carrying, plus I could put an extra thermos or drink or extra snacks for a long day in the top zippered compartment. I loved the little tiny dipping containers and that all the containers were interchangeable and could be used with lids. My kids eventually did not like that they had to open the lunchbox to eat, so we did outgrow it at the same time I decided to go plastic-free. But I really did love this system, and it was so durable and long lasting.

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Laptop Lunches Bento Box

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Laptop Lunches Upright Carrying Case

Sooo, after all of that, which product did we decide on? This is what we use:

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag – Keeps food cold all day long during this summer heat, then we pop it in the freezer at night to get it ready for the next day. No messing around with frozen or defrosting ice packs

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PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag

To-Go Ware Stainless Steel Snack Containers – They seal well enough (not for liquids), and the proportions are perfect. The big kids get two of the Large Sidekick and my little guy gets two of the Small Sidekick. They are easy to open, yet still lock securely with a seal lined in the perimeter of the lid.

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To-Go Ware Stainless Steel Snack Containers

ECO Lunchbox Oval Stainless Steel Food Container – This is the versatility I needed. I can put a couple of enchiladas in here, a few tacos, a couple of sandwiches for a long day, a big salad, or pasta with veggies. Or, I can add the smaller stainless steel container inside of it to separate the foods if I have smaller proportions such as a half sandwich and veggies. I do not like that the smaller container has a plastic lid, but I usually leave the lid off, and the top seals decently enough with the large container’s lid. This container is large enough to hold a sizable amount of food, but small enough to sit upright in the PackIt Lunch Bag, so food doesn’t slosh around. It also has a locking lid that all of my kids can easily use, so it securely fits into place on top of the large container.

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ECO Lunchbox Oval Stainless Steel Food Container

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ECO Lunchbox Oval Stainless Steel Food Container

Whew, that was a lot of research and a lot of information! Which lunch boxes and containers are your favorites, and why? Please share in the comments below, or email me photos of your favorites.

Happy, healthy, and SAFE eating!