National Brown Bagged Wine Day - Kidding! Sort of... (and Hummus Chicken Salad!)

Every so often, I get curious about what "National Food Holiday" has rolled around, in a too-late attempt to eat festively for more than just the major holidays. So, even though I have long since had my meal plan set for this week, I decided to check out what today and tomorrow celebrate before choosing the recipe to share with you today. Well, today was National Escargot Day, and although I have a burning desire to taste this notorious upscale food, I shockingly do not have a recipe that involves escargot, snails, or even seafood in any capacity. So, I moved on to tomorrow, which is both National Wine Day and National Brown-Bag-It Day. Does anyone else find that amusing? I just picture someone staggering around with a bottle of wine semi-concealed in a brown bag from the liquor store. Of all things to celebrate on the same day!

Anyway, I don't have any wine recipes in my arsenal either, but I can offer you a suggestion for a brown-bagged lunch. I just posted a quick tip on chicken salad on Twitter, so hopefully this isn't too monotonous, but have you not picked up on my love affair with unconventional chicken salads yet? You really should not be at all surprised that I find this versatile meal to be excellent for brown bagging it. Some varieties require refrigeration which may not be an option for some people who pack their lunches, but this particular Hummus Chicken Salad should be relatively stable, especially with an ice pack or a fairly insulated bag. 

This recipe for Hummus Chicken Salad is flavorful, light, and textural. I'm talking smooth red peppers and tomatoes, crunchy onions and bell peppers, creamy hummus, and savory chicken. Stick it inside a whole wheat pita or bring a separate container of salad greens, and you have yourself a killer, refreshing lunch! Plus, like every chicken salad recipe, you can switch it up based on what you have in your pantry, so at 10pm at night when you're getting ready for work or school the next day (or, you know, 7am when you're getting ready and need to leave at 8), you don't have to feel panicked if your pantries don't seem to have everything on your ingredient list.

Hummus Chicken Salad, adapted from Aggie's Kitchen
Yield: 1-2 servings*
(printable recipe)

The Ingredients
1/2 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
4 cherry tomatoes, chopped coarsely
2-3 tablespoons diced onion
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons roasted red peppers, chopped coarsely
1/3 - 1/2 cup hummus
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
dash each: garlic powder, garam masala

The Method
Place all ingredients except the hummus, lemon juice, and spices in a bowl and toss lightly. In a separate bowl, mix the hummus, lemon juice, and spices. Add the hummus mixture into the chicken mixture, and stir to coat well. Serve in a pita or over salad greens.

*I made and ate this as one serving, but looking at the picture, I'd say it's more appropriate for 1-2 servings - especially if you plan to put it into a pita, which I always find tough to stuff. I don't have any indications in my notes that the amount of food was inappropriate, but the Floptimist's mind is not always the most rational one. I'm working on it.

Over the past year, I've become pretty familiar with the brown-bag scene, with full-day classes that required me to either bring food with me, or deal with whatever salty, fatty, overpriced concoction Aramark decided to provide my University with that day. Keep an eye out on Twitter tomorrow for some lunch-packing tips I've picked up along the way, but for now, I'd like to leave you with a link to a website that has made my packed foods more sustainable, conscionable, and - let's face it - cuter, too! Last year I bought reusable snack and sandwich baggies from a company called Lunchskins. I haven't yet found a full-on lunch bag that I like, but these little guys have made my life a lot easier, and my trash can a lot emptier. True, they don't seal shut like a ziploc bag does, so some things if packed too far in advance may not stay their absolute freshest (my cereal this morning that I packed yesterday evening lacked its typical crunch), but that anecdote is by far one of the only examples I can think of, of drawbacks of these bags. Oh, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that sat out for over 12 hours and then was stored overnight and then some in the fridge...that got dried out. But I don't point my fingers at the bag on that one - that was all me. 

By the way, on an almost completely different note, I've been thinking a lot about giveaways, and this post about Lunchskins makes me pine to give some away. Truthfully, though, my ego gets worried that if I were to have an ego, my blog isn't yet visited enough to get any response. Also, let's face it - an unemployed college kid doesn't have too much spare cash around to be sending gifts to strangers. A little selfish, perhaps, but realistic. I'll keep working on it, though, and pondering it, because I'd love to be able to share with you guys the things I love, more than just via the written word. 

So how will you celebrate National Brown Bagged (Wine) Day? Do you pack your lunch (or breakfast, or dinner...or snacks!)? What are your favorite foods for the proverbial brown bag? Favorite containers to replace it?

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