Thursday, October 7, 2010

Grab 'n Go: Cottage Cheese, Crackers, Cookie, Apple, Coconut Water

Friends! Readers! I've been absent, I know. But I have a really good reason. Possibly the best reason there could be. I done got me a job! I'm working with Spoons Across America, a non-profit that aims to teach kids about cooking and healthy eating (which is basically my one true jam - yay!) And I'm primarily working on their social media content, which hasn't left a lot of time for generating content here. But I'll figure out a balance, don't you worry! Meantime, check out their website, blog and follow us on Twitter!

Speaking of time, I'm also excited that working in an office again will allow me to personally relate to the "no time the night before" dilemma that you guys selected as the number one reason (55%) that it's hard to bring a healthy lunch in my poll a few weeks back. Since I can't magically add time to your evenings, I decided to create a new feature, "Grab 'n Go" in which I, with all my professional studying-to-one-day-be-a-real-dietitian knowledge, balance out a lunch consisting of ingredients that you can literally just drop into a paper bag on your way out the door (or, say, five paper bags you stash in your fridge on Sunday night).

The main trouble with grab and go items is that, other certain fruits and maybe yogurt, most packaged items are highly processed and don't pass my healthy food sniff test. And in my experience, they don't always satisfy the "real food" craving that tends to pop up when lunch rolls around. But I'm going to do my best to scout out products that will work - if you have any suggestions, definitely let me know!

For today's meal, I selected:

Grocery list

I thought it would be interesting to check out some nutritional and financial stats. In total, the meal has:

  • Calories - 415
  • Fat - 7 grams
  • Sodium - 675 mg
  • Carbs - 74 grams
  • Fiber - 9 grams
  • Sugar - 42 grams
  • Protein - 14 grams
  • Cost - $4.66

Not too shabby. The sugar content seems high, but keep in mind that the apple packs about 13 grams of fruit sugar, and you'd be drinking more than 42 grams of added sugar if you downed a regular soda with your meal anyway. The main reason I've been so obsessed with coconut water recently is that it only has 14 grams of sugar, which is way less than other fruit juices. Plus, at least psychologically, the electrolytes provide a great mid afternoon boost without all the sodium of a sports drink. Sodium is also bound to be an issue when eating mostly packaged foods, but 675 mg in this meal is around a fourth of the recommended max of 2400 mg (for a 2000 calorie diet), so I think that's pretty good too.

I think $4.66 is definitely a good deal considering most lunches out cost around $8-10 (in my experience) but you're definitely also paying for the convenience of pre-packaged products. Clearly you could cut down the total cost by packaging the crackers and cottage cheese yourself, but I guess that would kind of defeat the purpose of grab and go!

Yield: 1 lunch
To bring: paper bag

Questions about the cooking method? Please let me know in the comments!

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