It is “back to school” for some but it is “on the go” for most of us all the time for work or pleasure. With a little planning, an elegant and healthy Take-along-Meal is better for you than fast food and easy and ready to go when you are.
More and more people now have dietary preferences or restrictions, mostly by personal choice. No to fat, no to carbohydrates, no to meat, no to preservatives, no, no, no. But this need not severely limit your meal options. Most recipes can be changed to accommodate your needs. Experiment and have fun on your own and learn not to depend on specifically designed “no fat or no meat, etc.” restrictions. No fat is easy, so is no meat, but no or low carb takes some thought. For example, here’s a solution to a spaghetti craving: replace the spaghetti with finely shredded blanched cabbage and toss with your favorite sauce. You’d be surprised at how good it can be.
Okay, let’s leave the drive-thru window routine. No matter your needs–be it diet, convenience, cost, variety or just plain fun–let’s BROWN BAG it, at work, at play and at school! Mind you, these are not your grandmother’s brown bag lunches.
Your home-prepared meal just might become the highlight of the next trip whether by plane, train or automobile, business or pleasure or even a school field trip. Unless it is fine dining, personally, I’m done with on the road food. In schools, hospitals, corporate cafeterias, I say NO to fast food and quick stops! We deserve better.
As always, we start with ingredients. On the global fish front, Tilapia and Mahi-Mahi are gaining popularity, because of their mild flavor and affordability. Imitation crabmeat has always been a tasty budget stretcher and Calamari steaks cook quickly and transport easily. September, October and November offer the end of the summer, beginning of fall harvest. This is one of the best times of year for produce. You can take full advantage of vine-ripened tomatoes, green beans, various peppers, eggplant and herbs while they last (see Tip 2 for preserving herbs). A new onion crop is in! Gourds and squash are here and pumpkins are next. Oh, the choices… explore our new recipes, experiment and Enjoy!
Tip 1. Transporting
Travel safely; insulated carry units are available, I highly recommend using them. Keep perishables cold. Carry lots of chilled water to avoid the soda stops.
Tip 2. Properly Storing Herbs
Gather premium herbs and choose your method of preservation. Here are two fat free options: dry them by hanging them in small bundles stem up, leaves down in a dry place that is pleasantly warm and full of fresh air. When they are dry (it only takes a few) seal them in airtight containers: zip lock bags, jars, etc. The other fat free method is to make ice cubes. Puree the herb in a little water and freeze in ice trays. When frozen, pop them out and store in the freezer in zip lock bags. The method that I use is to puree the herbs in a bit of oil and keep in a jar in the refrigerator. It is the procedure that I have used for years and it is just part of my routine. I feel it maintains the truest flavor and color in the herb. Process each herb individually; you can also mix small bits and pieces of several types of herbs together for a combo blend. You will have your own special herbs to use any time through out the year!