Monday, January 12, 2009

Tucking In, Tucked Away

My job can be stressful and draining. I work with students who have behavior issues that prevent them from being in a mainstream elementary classroom. These behaviors are often simply inappropriate, but can also become dangerous to the students and/or those around them. The behavior can arise from poor or absent parenting, pre- and post-birth abuse (such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), trauma, Asperger's/Autism, ADD/ADHD, developmental disorders, attachment disorders, and so forth. It's quite a wonderful program that addresses these kids' problems, and I have already seen so much progress in our students since this September. It's amazing! What's more, the children are awesome. Whatever situations or issues they are grappling with at the moment, however inappropriate their behaviors and reactions may become at times, they are all great kids. I really enjoy them, and love working with them.

But, between emotional blowups and a seemingly unending barrage of testing and defiance, my job can become very stressful. So when my lunchtime rolls around, I am often more than ready for a break in a quiet place where I can recharge physically, emotionally, and mentally. Sometimes I eat in the main teachers' lounge, but that tends to remain fairly busy as it is a high traffic area. When I'm craving true peace and quiet, I eat in a smaller, less-traveled lounge. It is situated in the wing of the building that was part of the original, tiny version of my school, dating from 1930, and so it is much more homey feeling. From the many-paned windows to the overzealous radiator to the red-checkered tablecloth, it has become a true retreat for me.

If I were staying true to form, part of my midday recharge ritual would include a bento lunch. Lately, though, I have been bored by the items that I usually pack in Mr. Bento. Instead, I've been longing for the spices and flavors of Malaysia. Fortunately, I've found some products that help satisfy my cravings. The Good Food Store, our local equivalent of Whole Foods, carries frozen Indian meals from Tandoor Chef (they produce a decent frozen naan) and Ethnic Gourmet (my favorite is their palak paneer, or cheese in a spinach base with long grain brown rice on the side). While these microwavable entrees don't even come close to the real thing, the meals are fairly tasty, flavorful, and healthy. If your mouth is watering for some Indian food fast (and you live in a city like mine without it's own Indian restaurant, sadly), these will do in a pinch. Plus, they're convenient and portable. Perfect for a nostalgic lunch!

I've also been experimenting with some new yogurt to shake things up a bit. The yogurt you see in the photo here is goat's milk yogurt. I like goat cheese, although I can't have much of it because it's so rich. I wasn't sure what to expect from goat's milk yogurt, especially apricot mango, as this container was flavored. The yogurt is packaged fruit-on-the-bottom-style. The fruit part tasted fine, although I wouldn't have minded its absence. The yogurt itself, though, was amazing. So creamy, with just the right amount of tartness to it. Yum!

This meal, between the tandoori chicken and delicious yogurt, with some veggies on the side, was extremely satisfying and a nice change from Mr. Bento. It complemented my lunch retreat with the comics section of the newspaper perfectly. Do you have a lunchtime get-away that helps you recharge for the second half of your workday? Any rituals or favorite comfort lunches? Do tell! (And, while you're commenting, why not vote in our makeover poll?)


  1. I've thought about buying those Ethnic Gourmet or Tandoor Chef meals may have just pushed me over the edge!

  2. Jessica, let me know what you think if you do try them out! The palak paneer from Ethnic Gourmet is one of my favorites.


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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King