Uncommonly Good

Welcome to Brown Bagging

BLT Soup

Right after New Year’s Day, many morning news shows fill spare air time with variations on the theme, New Year’s Resolutions. In January Dr. Oz filled one of those slots on Good Morning America and listed the top ten things you can eat, or change about your eating habits, to be healthier this year. Number one on his list was  “avoid saturated fats.”

My weakness is salty, savory foods rather than sweets, and in particular I love French fries and potato chips. Going out to lunch, usually to a fast food joint, meant I was eating a lot of burgers and fries. My weight was also creeping up and add all that to the unexpected she-should-have-died heart attack my mom had two years ago and I decided it was time for me to make some changes.

Spinach Strawberry Salad

Spinach Strawberry Salad

I decided to start with Dr. Oz’s “avoid saturated fats,” primarily my favorites: French fries, greasy burgers and potato chips. But in order to do that, I needed to change my lunch routine without breaking the bank. The logical thing to do was to make my own lunch. So that’s what I’ve been doing for more than a month.

Every single day.

In one month I’ve saved about $160, and lost one pant size. W00t!

Since I started brown bagging, I’ve had lots of salads, some soups, and a few sandwiches. I’ve had some leftovers: spaghetti, roast chicken and rice, things like that. I’ve also stocked my desk with filling, good-for-me snacks.

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

While I’m doing this to eat healthier, I’m also broke. It’s much cheaper to buy at the grocery store than at a convenience store so I’m on a zero tolerance policy when it comes to “extra” spending.  I take coffee from home. I buy milk by the gallon and liters or half-gallons of juice and take it to work in recycled bottles. I make my own “iced” herb tea to have with lunch.

I have some to-go salad containers with good lids I saved from my fast-food days that work great for salads. I do the final salad assembly at my desk to keep them crisp and fresh. The same with sandwiches. I heat the soups in the microwave and take the garnishes in separate containers.

Mushroom Potato Soup

Mushroom Potato Soup

I have another blog, Larrupin, with details and recipes—some good for brown bags, some not so much—but this one will be more how-to. I’ll share the plans and lists and how I go about doing this every day. I’ll also show you the bowls, containers, bottles and bags I use to get it there every day. That part is still a work in progress.

So far I’ve been eating at my desk, which is not much of a break. But now that I’ve established the habit of taking my lunch and the weather is improving, I’ll take it to the park, just three blocks from my office, or eat at my desk and then take a walk.

What do you usually do for lunch? Where do you go to eat and how much do you spend? Do you eat healthy, or scarf down a fast lunch of burgers and fries? And if you’re a fan of brown bags let me know how you do it and what your favorites are. And while you’re at it, click the box to get email updates when I create a new post. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.


April 18, 2010 Posted by | Brown Bag, Soup | , , , | 2 Comments

How to Make French Toast with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

French toast is one of the easiest breakfasts you can make. It can be as simple as dipping sandwich bread, even whole wheat, in a beaten egg and browning it on a hot griddle. It’s sort of “like” pancakes, but faster to get on the table. It can also be a decadent and elaborate brunch covered with whipped cream and fresh fruit.


  • French Bread
  • Eggs
  • Milk or half and half
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Strawberries
  • Whipped Cream
  • Maple Syrup
  • Powdered Sugar

Slice a loaf of French bread on the diagonal into as many slices as you plan to prepare.
Put a griddle or skillet on medium high heat.

Prepare the egg batter by using one egg for each person that’s eating, unless you’re cooking for kids, then adjust it according to their appetites. Add a little milk or half and half to the egg.
Flavor it with a splash of vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Beat it with whisk or a fork until it’s well blended. Dip a slice of bread in the egg mix and use a fork to turn it and soak the other side.

Put a pat of butter on the griddle and smear it around. Then put the soaked bread on the hot griddle. Be sure and put it on the “hot spot” so it will cook evenly. It won’t take long before it’s ready to turn. It’s done when it’s the right shade of golden brown. Drizzle with maple syrup.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and add a dollop of whipped cream.

Top it off with fresh strawberries.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | Breakfast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lucky 13 Lunch Salad

I came home for lunch yesterday and put together healthy green salad. I counted 13 ingredients, not counting the dressing, thus the name.

  • Lettuces and Spinach
  • Romaine & some stuff I don’t know the name of from the “salad bowl” I bought at the Farmer’s Market Saturday. (See below)
  • Red Cabbage
  • Strawberries
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow Squash
  • Red Pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Grated Hard Cheeses
  • Feta Cheese
  • Croutons
  • Cucumber
  • Almonds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Janz Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • You can see I tore up the green stuff, sliced the zucchini and yellow squash really thin. I didn’t peel the squash, (I scrubbed them thoroughly since I wasn’t going to peel them)but I did peel the cucumber. I sliced very thin layers from my red cabbage, and thin slivers from a red pepper.
    The strawberries were HUGE, so they were quartered and then sliced.
    The nuts are in a plastic bag in the freezer, so I just grabbed a handful for the top. The croutons were fresh, in my toaster over, so those topped everything off.

    The strawberry is a very surprising addition to a green salads. I saw it somewhere about a year ago and really like the pop of tartness you get in the midst of the other ingredients. Of course the strawberries have to be fresh—frozen would be mushy—so I do this when they’re in season. I’ve also used blackberries and blueberries. As I ate it I wondered about adding banana slices. It would have to be a firm banana, but I’ll try that while I can still get fresh strawberries and see how it goes.

    About the “Salad Bowl”

    A vendor at the Cleveland County Farmer’s Market sells pots full of mixed lettuces. This one was $2.50 I think. I put it on my porch on Saturday and let it get too dry and Sunday it was droopy and completely limp. Thank goodness a good soaking brought it back to life. We had a thunderstorm on Sunday night and on Monday it was back to full crispness.

    May 27, 2008 Posted by | Salad | , , | Leave a comment


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