Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: Bring Your Lunch

I'm so excited over this cookbook, guys. I've been having the hardest time lately with bringing healthy, satisfying lunches to work.  I help take care of baby twins, and it's imperative that I stay energized.  Believe it or not, my lunch and afternoon snack makes a huge difference in how my day goes. So, when I saw Bring Your Lunch: Quick and Tasty Wallet-Friendly Lunches For Grown-Ups on NetGalley, I was intrigued.  When I finally got my fingers on a digital copy, I was overjoyed to find that this cookbook was everything I hoped it'd be and more. 

The cookbook is divided into seven sections: Essential Equipment, Shop and Prep, Last-Minute Lunches, Leftover Leitmotifs, The Freezer Is Your Friend, Ditch the Vending Machine, and The Lunch Larder.  

The Essential Equipment section was actually pretty helpful, and I found myself reading it instead of skipping it over.  It goes over the different containers you can store your lunch in, in order to keep your lunch at its freshest. It is thorough. It also keeps in mind the USDA's guidelines regarding food spoilage, because nobody wants to eat a funny tuna sandwich. Another cool thing about this section is how Califia Suntree recommends containers by brand name and provides hyperlinks for the products.  It makes visualization and shopping a breeze.

Suntree continues to shine in the Shop and Prep section.  Really, I usually treat these introduction sections in cookbooks like flyover pages, but I was really impressed here.  Suntree goes over all the types of foods that travel and wait well — and those that don't.  She advises you use certain, sturdier greens for your salads, which is a really great tip.  How many times have I eaten a gross, limp salad for lunch? No more! She also notably goes over the best bread for sandwiches and how to keep your sandwich from getting soggy. (Assemble right before eating. YES.)  

In our next section, the recipes begin, with Last-Minute Lunches. There are fifteen recipes which can be assembled quickly, and are also unique and healthy.  (Suntree loves produce.)  I made the Mediterranean Tuna Salad.  It was, indeed, very quickly made.  It's a no-mayo tuna salad that is incredibly hearty and healthy with a great zing to it.  You'll need to pack mints with this one. (It has raw onion and garlic, tuna, and juice from a whole lemon.)

I also assembled the Kale Salad Argodolce, which was tasty and made me feel healthy and
virtuous.  It didn't take nearly as long to prepare as I thought it would, mainly because I "discovered" how to de-stem kale lightning fast — ditch the knife and just tear with your hands.

The following section, Leftover Leitmotifs, focuses on lunches you can make with leftover dinners.  Weirdly, she inserts a recipe using leftover lamb. (???) I made the "Chinese" Chicken Salad, so called because the recipe was actually invented in San Francisco.  It was great... the night I made it.  The next day, when I ate it for lunch, the oranges had gotten mushy and the red cabbage had stained the chicken this scary grey color.

 I think this particular dish would be a solid dinner option, to be eaten immediately.

I did not make any of the recipes in the next three sections, but I plan to eventually. As soon as I track down miso paste, I'll be making Zucchini and Carrot Ribbons With Miso Dressing. I'm also interested in the Cajun Slaw, Smoked Salmon "BLT", and Pumpkin Curry. 

Additionally, at the end of the book, there are a number of recipes for universal-oriented salad dressings.  I made the Toasted Sesame Dressing that goes along with a number of recipes in the book.  It wasn't too much trouble to make and was very versatile.

One thing I will say, is I wish the Ditch the Vending Machine (afternoon snack) section had more healthier options.  I already know how to make peanut butter cookies and brownies. 

Overall, I was really pleased with this cookbook, got inspired, and ate some great lunches. The digital copy is $3.82 on Amazon. If you experience stress and duress because of lunch, namely the absence of good lunch, look into this cookbook.

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