Book Review: “31 Paleo Brown Bag Lunches to Go” by Mary Scott

Many of my FaceBook friends have asked about low carb and paleo recipes for brown bagging. With this in mind, I am recommending 31 Paleo Brown Bag Lunches To Go as an easy way to access recipes for lunch.

Before we go any further, let’s define “paleo diet.” According to mayoclinic.org:

A paleo diet is a dietary plan based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era, which dates from approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago.

A paleo diet typically includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds–foods that in the past could be obtained by hunting and gathering. A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago. These foods include dairy products, legumes and grains.

“Paleo Diet: What is it and Why is it so Popular?”
Author: Mayo Clinic Staff
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182

Adherence to this diet means no breads or pastas made of grain or legumes; and no dairy items like cows milk, yogurt, or cheese. Also, honey is used as a sweetener instead of cane sugar. Because of the absence of these food groups, the paleo diet will tend to be lower in simple carbohydrates and sugars than other meal plans.

Scott’s book includes paleo versions of sandwiches, salads and hot main dish meals such as chili without beans and taco salad without tortillas. Sandwiches are to be wrapped in lettuce, and at least one recipe for enchiladas substitutes collard greens for the traditional corn tortilla wrap.

Here are some examples of recipes listed:

  • Sandwiches: “Beef Lettuce Wraps,” “Ham Wrap,” Thai Chicken Wraps.”
  • Salads: “Kale Crunch Salad,” “Lemon Salmon Salad,” “Sweet Chicken Salad,” “Stuffed Tomatoes,” “Orange Salad.”
  • Hot main dishes: “Chicken Enchiladas,” “Beef Curry,” “Bacon and Beef Chili.”

While the hot main dishes will require the availability of an office microwave or Hot Logic device, there are also plenty of cold dishes that require less prep. I would strongly recommend that fillings for sandwiches be packed separately from lettuce wraps, to avoid unnecessary sogginess and mess.

Big plus: The author lists detailed nutritional info for each of the recipes.

You can purchase this book on amazon.com in Kindle ($5.99) or paperback ($7.99) form.

Book Review: “Beating the Lunch Box Blues”

I found Beating the Lunch Box Blues by J.M. Hirsch several years ago while looking for interesting ways to change up my brown bag lunches. I must say that this collection of recipes is quite a gem.

At the time of publication, Mr. Hirsch was the food editor for the Associated Press. He was also dealing with a picky nine-year old son who refused to accept PB&J’s every day for lunch. While acknowledging the limitations that most parents/full-time workers have in preparing lunches for themselves and their children, Hirsch came up with some innovative ways to make meals interesting and easy to prepare.

Pluses: Beating meets my primary requisite for a good cookbook: Lots.Of.Photos. Even better, Hirsch bubbles in useful comments and directions amid his artfully staged pics:

Another plus: Hirsch includes examples of dinner time meals that can be packed for lunch the next day. He is careful to describe # of servings for each recipe. Below, you can see Hirsch’s recipe for Roasted Chicken Thighs with Garlicky White Beans. Easy to make, and interesting ways to use the leftovers. I cooked this dish myself; it’s not bad.

Finally, I love Hirsch’s innovation in deconstructing classic sandwiches and remaking them into salads. Below is just one example of many:

Minus. Hirsch recommends using a heated Thermos for meats, pastas, and other relatively dry dishes listed elsewhere in his book. In my experience, even the most effective Thermos works best with liquidy foods like soup, stew, and brothy noodles. Otherwise, the food just doesn’t stay warm over a long period of time. I would suggest using a Crockpot Lunch Warmer to heat meats, pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, rice dishes, etc. in this book. Please see “Gadgets” under my Category section for information re: the Crockpot Warmer.

If you are interested in purchasing Beating the Lunch Box Blues, it is sold hardcopy on amazon.com.