Here we are already at the final installment for the Lunch Power series. Believe it or not, although I use these strategies in my everyday cooking and meal planning I've never put them down on paper, so sharing them with you has reinforced and formalized them for me. And I hope you are also finding useful ways to adapt them to your weekly meal planning and preparation.
Strategy #1: Prepare 1 or 2 bulk meals
Strategy #2: Stock your fridge with ready-to-eat staple ingredients
Strategy #3: Make a special high-flavor condiment
Today I want to share our new favorite lunch bowl that results from having two ready-to-eat staples in the fridge and a special high-flavor condiment prepared. For a complete protein profile and more staying power I often combine a grain/pseudo-grain and a legume to base a meal. Here I'm using quinoa (although it's already a complete protein on its own) and chickpeas. But there are endless grain/legume combinations, and I've listed some ideas in the recipe footnotes. The second ready-to-eat staple is really delicious balsamic-za'atar roasted vegetables. Here I use broccoli and sweet potatoes, but I've also used beets and Brussels which was my favorite. More options are listed below.
And finally the star of the show, the special high-flavor condiment that pulls everything together into one cohesive bowl meal: zesty, smoky avocado cream. Think hummus meets guacamole. It takes all of 5 minutes to collect the ingredients and whirr up in the food processor, and the payoff is huge.
I hope you enjoy utilizing these strategies and recipes in your own kitchen as much as I've enjoyed sharing them with you. And if you try any of them or put your own spin on them, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
The Worker's Lunch
*I am providing an adaptable outline for assembling the bowl. Use suggestions as your departure point, adjusting to what you have available.
- Grain/Legume Base
- Lemon juice
- Cold-pressed flax oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
- Balsamic-Za'atar Roasted Vegetables
- Zesty Avocado Cream
- Add a portion of the grain and legume base to a bowl (or glass to-go container).
- Drizzle in some oil, lemon juice, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Stir to combine.
- Top with some of the roasted vegetables and avocado cream. (If taking this to work with you, consider transporting avocado cream in a separate container so it stays fresher until ready to use.)
- 4 cups/623 gr. cooked quinoa (1 1/2 cups uncooked)
- 1 1/2 cup / 15 oz. cooked chickpeas
- Gently combine quinoa and chickpeas. If using canned chickpeas, rinse and drain well, first.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Other suggestions: quinoa + black beans; green lentils + brown rice; black beans + brown rice; farro or wheat berries + chickpeas; adzuki beans + green lentils; black rice or wild rice + mung beans
Balsamic-Za'atar Roasted Vegetables
- 1 large head broccoli, florets and tender stems chopped
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled (if not organic) and chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. za'atar (or 2 tsp. dried thyme + 2 tsp. sumac)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Coconut oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
- Preheat oven to 205°C (400°F)
- Spread vegetables out on a large baking sheet. Drizzle generously with oil, some balsamic, and sprinkle over za'atar, salt, and pepper.
- Roast for 15-18 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.
Other suggestions: Any vegetable that you enjoy roasted or steamed will work here. Beet, cauliflower, radish, asparagus, Brussels sprout, kohlrabi, fennel, carrot, parsnip
Zesty Avocado Cream
Notes: Leftovers will keep for 2 days. Discoloration is natural, but store with plastic wrap directly on the surface of cream to prevent further discoloration.
- 1 ripe (but not overly ripe) avocado
- 2 Tbsp. tahini paste
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 large scallion/green onion, dry ends trimmed away
- 1 red chili (or 1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes)
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- Juice from 1/2-1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- Heaping 1/4 tsp. salt
- Chop scallion (white and green parts), garlic, chili, and cilantro into large pieces.
- Add everything to a large food processor and process until smooth. You'll need to do this in two batches if using a small processor.
- Transfer to an airtight glass container and store in the fridge.