Monday’s Lunchbox: With a Little Help From my Friends

by Gena on October 15, 2012


Coming home from a memorial service is no way to begin any week, but it was harder than usual to get into the swing of things on Sunday for two reasons: first, I had a genetics exam this morning, and second, the plumbing in my kitchen was kaput. As I waited for the plumber to visit today, I wasn’t able to cook (not without running the risk of a whole lot of dirty dishes piling up). As if by magic, my friend Valerie must have sensed that I was a bit on edge, and she intervened with the most considerate and thoughtful gift I could have asked for:



And not just any food, but my food! Yes, Valerie whipped up:

In other words, enough food to squeeze into several packed lunches, and to rescue me from a temporarily defunct kitchen.


Now, Valerie assured me that she’d have made a lot of this stuff for herself, to have through the week, and that my kitchen dilemma simply inspired her to do it all in one night, rather than over the course of several nights. But even if this is true, it’s still extraordinary that Valerie put so much effort into preparing homemade, nutritious food for me, and incredibly sweet that she prepared three of my own recipes! “When things are really stressful,” she said, “you kind of just want your own food, don’t you?”

It’s true: when I’m busy or emotional, I do gravitate toward some of my “tried and true” recipes. So I’m doubly grateful that Valerie made a bunch of them.

This morning, I woke up and threw together a bowl of quinoa topped with my cinnamon spiced aduki bean dip and a chopped bosc pear. It was delicious: why do I not make this bean dip more often?! I could eat it solo, with a spoon. I do eat it solo, with a spoon. And I love it every time.


For lunch, I packed up a salad of arugula, radicchio, aduki beans, celery, and broccoli, along with some Flackers and a bunch of my chocolate walnut maca balls (thanks to all those of you who have tried them and raved about them so far!).



The salad was so crispy and green!


And it was nice to revisit my creamy red pepper, chickpea, and tahini dressing. Sometimes I forget how much I love old recipes—I’ll have to do a better job of reusing a lot of mine.

I can’t possibly say how much of a help it was to have so much food at the ready today, as I crammed for my exam. You can see my notes on Robertsonian translocation peeking out from behind my tasty breakfast!


Valerie, thank you for making my life just a little easier. Only a true friend would be so abundantly thoughtful!

Speaking of friends, I wanted to mention that just over a week ago, this lovely lady was visiting DC, and I got to squeeze in two quick, but uproarious, lunches with her:

photo 5

At SweetGreen, of course:

photo 2

photo 4

In response to my request for more limericks and haikus (be careful what skills you brag about, Hannah), Hannah just devoted an entire post’s worth of chocolate reviews in haiku form to me. Much needed levity in a heavy week! You can check out Hannah’s mastery of 17 syllables here.

I’m always grateful for my friends, but I’m feeling especially grateful for them tonight. And for great food, of course. I’ll see you back here tomorrow!


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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine (The Raw Project) October 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Such a sweet post, so nice of Valerie! Love the quick meal inspiration here and so true on having good friends!


Valerie @ City|Life|Eats October 15, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Aww. Happy to help :)


Janae @ Bring-Joy October 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm

What a blessing to have a friend swoop in & make your day better & brighter. I love your lunch–your food is definitely my style of cookin’ (or non-cooking, as the case may be).


Janae @ Bring-Joy October 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Also, somehow I didn’t know until know that you were at Georgetown! My husband was accepted there for law school & we almost went, but in the end we chose a more tuition-friendly school. Awesome, school, though, from what we had learned when we were considering it.


Lisa @ The Raw Serenity October 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm

That’s a true friend :)


shopping discount glasses frames October 15, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Wow very healthy food. I love veges!


Kathleen October 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Now that is a friend!! Hope your plumbing is on the mend.


Molly October 15, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Has SweetGreen always offered kale as an option?! Either way, my weekly salads are sorely missed :(


Lisa @ Rohtopia October 15, 2012 at 11:06 pm

Oh what a beautiful story, and what delicious ideas to get going in the kitchen myself :-)


Shannon October 16, 2012 at 8:13 am

What an amazing gift! Thank goodness for wonderful friends who can cook!


the delicate place October 16, 2012 at 9:26 am

how sweet! i have been digging back into my recipes lately too. some of them i haven’t had in a couple years! if it ain’t broke. . . :)


Christina October 16, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I love that you’re adding what you bring for lunch now! So very helpful to see what other folks combine to make a complete meal. Thank you!


Jennifer@The Foodery October 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm

What a wonderful surprise! How lucky to have such a thoughtful friend (who also loves your style of cooking!) This is really such a thoughtful, heartfelt, meaningful gesture from a friend that really knows you. This made me so happy, and I didn’t even taste any of your food, haha! :D


Hannah October 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I would’ve stolen you every single day during my time in DC, dear Gena, if I could have. Thank you for allowing me two precious golden (and, yes, hilarious and soul-enriching) lunchtimes. And phew, thank heavens I didn’t brag about my ability to juggle teapots whilst doing the macarena!



Rebecca October 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Aw, friendship and love are definitely key ingredients to healthy digestion. Glad to see your friends are spoiling you since you do so much for others, you deserve it!
Perfect timing as I am heading off for a few days and was looking for travel-friendly items to bring. Just wondering, how long do you think the butternut squash purée/spread will keep? (it will be a hybrid with French “potimarron” mini pumpkin can’t wait to try! :) And what about cooked quinoa or other “grains” like wild rice etc? How long do you usually keep those? Merci beaucoup, dear and good luck with everything!


sarah October 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I always think its such a nice treat to have someone cook the food you are accustomed to without having to prepare it yourself! Especially when you’re stressed! It’s the best gift!


Lia October 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm

That is so nice!! Remembering the true good in humanity just makes my heart swell. I’m really glad you got some love and a bit of an easier time. Keep up the good work and awesome focus!


hannah October 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm

If you EVER want a guest post on re-discovering your back catalogue I could def share my favourites! I was thinking just today about how I am re-making the same things lately and they seem to be yours! Made your sundried tomato cashew cheese today ready for a quick dinner tomorrow (I get back from my arabic evening class at like 9pm) and was thinking how long it’s been since I made it!


Cat October 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Oh that’s so thoughtful!
Valerie sounds like one of the best friends a girl could have :)


Michelle@HappyHeart October 17, 2012 at 6:48 am

That is one healthy and extremely tasty looking lunch box!!! It’s the type of lunchbox we should be packing for our kids! So much variety, what kid wouldn’t love the maca balls! Also the aduzki bean tips sounds fantastic!!!


Tanya @ Playful and Hungry October 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm

What a nice and green lunchbox! =D


aptamil October 17, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I have been eating too much instant food and snacks this last week. A drive thru at McDonalds and some other fast food chains.

Too much unhealthy food that my body craves for just even of your salads. Proper nutrition is really a lifestyle and if we never watch it our food choices and lifestyle might have taken for the worst.

At first its starts with driving through fast foods with your car to beat the morning meeting with a quick breakfast, then it becomes a daily fare until you never know it, its already a habit and your now obese.

its time for me to make a turn around a prepare my own salad packed with celery, broccoli and lots of green and less on mayonnaise.


Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie October 29, 2012 at 7:41 am

Such a great post! Thank you for the inspiration to spend some time in the kitchen prepping healthy, tasty meals. I included this post in my Links You’ll Love round up this week – Keep up the good work!


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