Lunch Box News

Day 1 - The Veggie Bagel!

As promised, today is the first day of a full week of lunchbox recipes dedicated to the Sandwich, with perhaps one or two that bend the official rules as set out by the Qdoba vs. Panera Sandwich Lawsuit of 2006 that I alluded to in Friday’s post.  Starting off the week is a recipe I found on the web for a fairly healthy, certainly vegetarian sandwich using a bagel instead of regular sandwich bread.  Here’s the recipe in its original form:

  • 1 tbspn coarse-grain brown mustard
  • 1 bagel, sliced in half
  • 1 leaf, romaine lettuce
  • 2 (1/4 inch thick) rings green bell pepper
  • 4 slices cucumber
  • 2 slices tomato
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 slices red onion
  • 1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

I’m not a big fan of onions, although I don’t hate them either.  I prefer a hint rather than the full monty, so I subbed an onion bagel instead of a plain bagel and a mixture of onion sprouts and alfalfa sprouts for the straight all-alfalfa variety, then omitted the onion slice.  I also used a 50-50 pre-chopped baby spinach and mixed green salad concoction for the 1 leaf of romaine lettuce.  Okay I’m lazy…so sue me!  Besides, this way I can have a salad tonight and get about 1000 times the greens I normally get in a day.  Finally, I subbed spicy deli mustard for the coarse-grain brown variety.  I’ll admit, I do love mustard (and it’s fat free!) so maybe one of these days I’ll do a mustard comparison test.  But I digress. 

The sandwich took about 5-7 minutes to put together after all the slicing, toasting, and assembling.  Here it is just before the final alfalfa/onion sprout topping was added (and yes, that is my very own hard-to-find Weezer lunchbox.  I’m pretty sure the store is sold out of these, but they do have my other favorite band, Tenacious D).

Veggie Bagel in mid-assembly with my Weezer lunchbox in background.


I cut the cucumber slices a little small – I think next time I might go for a little bigger to keep them a little more under control.  The last step was the sprouts and just pushing the two halves together.  Oh yeah, and back to the mustard, I made sure to spread it on both halves of the bagel.  You can never have too little mustard in my opinion.    So, here was the finished product before it left the house this morning:

 So I get to work and I just downed it about 20 minutes ago.  Pretty good, I have to say.  Although much of the taste came from the bagel itself.  It reminded me of when I was a kid and couldn’t swallow vitamins or medicine.  My mom would hide the pill in a Ding Dong.  I guess the veggies can be considered that same sort of good-for-you medicine that you just don’t like taking straight. 

The Veggie Bagel. Mmmmm.

Hey, whatever works.  It tasted good, it was very cheap (I can probably make at least 2-3 more on the $9 I invested in all the ingredients and still have plenty of most of them leftover – I think everything but the bell pepper and tomato, which were each about $1.25), and I can feel good about having a somewhat healthy lunch.  Why somewhat?  Well, bagels get a pretty bad rap out there for their poor nutritional content, but I think having one every now and then is okay, especially when you’re loading up on all the nutrients from the veggies.  And this version of the veggie bagel uses no cheese and no mayo, so you save a lot of fat and calories that way too.  Here’s to the version of the Veggie Bagel!

Irish Lunches are Smiling

Apparently the gospel of taking lunch to school or work in creative and useful packaging has reached clear across the Atlantic.  Over the weekend, the Irish Times (Ireland’s official Newspaper of Record) published a story about the Built NY insulated lunch bags – they didn’t specify the Gourmet Getaway or the Tortuga but they did smartly point out that they can be obtained at (at the time we were known as,  Here’s raising a pint of Guinness and toasting the Irish Times!  (actually it’s a little too early in the day for that…right now it’s more like the fresh spring water in my cool Samurai Sprit SIGG bottle)  !Slainte!

Sandwich Wars

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about THE lunchbox food.  And by that I mean, what pops into your mind first when you think of the food inside your lunchbox?  You might say Peanut Butter & Jelly, but let’s think outside the lunchbox here, people.  (okay I know that was bad, but I couldn’t resist)  Really the first thing out of someone’s mouth is probably going to be “Sandwich”.  Be it a PBJ or a ham & swiss or a turkey and lettuce with mayo on wheat (ughhh…day after day of this!!) like my mom used to make, it can be argued that the sandwich is the quintessential lunchbox food.  So I thought I’d snoop around the web for some scoop on where this amazing entree comes from, where it’s going, and what legal battles might be waged over it.  (more on that last part later)  The earliest reference to anything remotely resembling the sandwich is the famous rabbi Hillel the Elder in the 1st Century BC.  Apparently Hillel came up with the idea of rolling a mixture of chopped nuts, apples, spices, and wine (and, if you believe Wikipedia, meat from the Paschal lamb and bitter herbs) into a matzoh and chowing down.  This symbolizes the bitterness of slavery in Egypt and the hasty exodus from Egypt by the Jewish people so many years ago.  Later, in the Middle Ages in Europe, people made a habit out of using coarse, stale pieces of bread as plates to eat off of.  (Hey, don’t make that face.  If I had a nickel for every time I ate off a day-old slice of cold hard pizza in college…okay that’s a story for another time)  By the time a medieval diner finished off his main course, the juices and sauces would become absorbed by the bread and would usually be fed to dogs, beggars, or, if the diner was hungry enough, himself.  Here, here!  It’s the original waste-free dishware!  By the 18th Century, we have a few theories about the origin of the modern-day sandwich, including one from Grosley’s Tour to London book from the 1760s, which notes that card-game players would eat meat between two pieces of bread so they could dine without having to leave their game.  The sandwich finally arrived here in the USA in 1840 when Elizabeth Leslie published a cookbook that had a recipe for ham sandwiches.

Okay so now that we know how sandwiches came to be, my next idea is to try a week’s worth of creative sandwiches that I found around the web.  I’m planning a slew of recipes dedicated to THE SANDWICH, with a grand finale harkening back to a legal battle over what “officially” constitutes a sandwich.  Yes, you heard right.  Panera Bread Company and Qdoba Mexican Grill actually had to slug it out in court to determine whether or not a burrito is a sandwich.  The verdict?  NO!  But that won’t stop me from being inspired to create an awesome lunchbox sandw- errr…creation.  Stay tuned!

Deluxe Lunch Chiller

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