Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What's For Lunch?

I dont think I am all that bad about making the same dinners over and over again, but when it comes to lunch I do repeat the same pattern over and over again. Leftovers from the night before or a sandwich/salad. I don't actually mind it all that much, but I am not only cooking for myself so I try really hard to make sure my husband does no get the same packed lunch with him to work every day.
And I bet I am not the only one that have difficulty having to come up with something new for both dinner and lunch so will share a few of the greatest hits I have made lately.
What about You out there? What do You prefer for lunch and what criteria does a nice lunch have to live up to?
For me, it has to store well. 
At the moment I have the luxury to be able to make my husbands lunch box in the morning, so everything just have to get through the morning, but once I get back to school/work I will have to do things that will store well over night.
Second it has to be filling but no heavy. Don't you know that feeling after lunch where you just want to take a nap if you had a stew or a greasy burger? I rarely get that feeling if I eat a salad...

I think these 3 options checks both boxes as well as being tasty.

White Bean Cheese Muffin, Fried Egg and Curry Fried Chickpea Salad

White Bean Cheese Muffins

200 gram ready to eat white beans (quite sure most beans will work here)
1 big carrot - grated
1 Egg
1-3 Tbsp Whole Wheat Flour
Salt, pepper and a herb (Rosmary, Thyme or Sage works well)

Oil for the muffin pan

Cherry tomatoes
Cheese (I used good quality Mozzarella Cheese)

Heat the oven to 175C.
Blitz all the ingredients together and adjust the consistency with the flour. You are looking for a thick porridge consistency.
If it is to dry you can add milk or water.
Grease the muffin pan with oil - even if you use the "easy slip"  kind I would grease it because the isn't any fat in the "dough".
Top every muffin with cheese and tomato and perhaps some of the herbs and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until firm and golden on top.

These muffins freeze really well but I would reheat them after freezing them. They do keep well in the fridge.

Curried Chickpea Salad

Ready to eat Chickpeas
Carrots, cut into chucks
Onion, sliced
Spinach, washed and spinned
Curry, Salt and Pepper

Heat up the oil in a pan and fry the curry for 1 minutes or so. Curry always taste best if it is fried in fat since that realizes the fat soluble flavors.
Add the onions, carrots and chickpeas and fry until the onions are clear.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Put the spinach in a bowl, add the slightly cooled ingredients from the pan and toss.  

I choose to serve this up with a fried egg - sunny side up - but it would taste great on its own. 
I have packed fried eggs in lunches before but if you think it is to messy opt for a soft boiled egg instead.

Baked Sweet Potato With Mexicans Inspired Kale, Corn, Black Beans And Beef Stir Fry

I felt so great and healthy eating this. The flavors were balanced and the colors just made me happy - don't you agree?

If you are serving this as a lunch I would definitely make it the day after I had served baked sweet potatoes since that is the part that will take you the longest.
My husband got this for lunch and apparently could not cope with the long line in front of the micro wave and reported that it tastes really well cold - very  nice to know when talking about lunches.

1 baked sweet potato (one big one was enough for me and hubby to share)
Ready to eat black beans
Kale, washed and sliced however you like it
Freash or tinned tomates, chopped
Onions, sliced
Corn (I perfer fresh of the cob but frozen and canned will do fine here)
Cumin, Cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, sugar and fresh coriander
Minced beef (can easily be left out)

To serve - Fresh coriander, lime and/or greek yoghurt

The baked sweet potato
Just in case you have not baked a sweet potato before, it is basically the same as baking a regular potato.
Rince the spud and wrap in tin foil - I like to add a bit of oil, salt and pepper an well.
Bake in a 200 C hot oven for a least 1 hour, sometimes more, depending of the size of the potato.
I like my baked sweet potatoes to be fairly soft, but if you like it any other way go with your instinct.

The stir fry
Fry the onion and the minced beef in a little oil. I used some already cooked leftover mince from the night before and actually very little of it. 
It gives a very nice beefy flavor, but the vegetables are the stars here and you already get proteins from the beans so it is optional.
Add the kale, corn and black beans and fry until the kale has has wilted.
Add the tomatoes and season. I like this one to have a bit of a kick, but you might not agree. 
I only add a pinch of sugar to bring out the tomato flavor. You do not want it sweet, especially because the sweet potato is sweet enough.

If you have any other vegetables in the fridge - by all means - add to the stir fry. Bell peppers would work well, so would carrots and zucchini.

Kale Salad With Carrots, Oven Roasted Chicken And Crispy Parma Ham - Hummus And Vegetables - Baked Berrie And Bread Pudding - Greek Yoghurt with Berries And Ceriel - Peanut Butter Banana Sandwich

Now you are probably thinking - what the heck kind of a head line is that?
Well - this is what my husband would eat during a day at work. People who knows my husband will have noticed that he eats ALL THE TIME. Not a lot at a time, but little meals very often.
I do the same - but since I eat alone most of the time, people just don't notice.
This works really well for me. It rearely get too hungry and make poor food choices and I don't have huge up's and down's during the day due to blood sugar spikes.
If you feel this is something you tend to do, you should give it a go.
You might look at the headline or the picture and think "that take way to much time to prepare" but with good routines and a bit of planning its not that much work.

Kale Salad With Carrots, Oven Roasted Chicken And Crispy Parma Ham

Kale, washed and spinned dry
Vinaigrette of salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice
4-5 slices of oven roasted chicken
Carrots in small chances
Crispy Parma Ham

First add the kale to a roomy bowl and add the dressing. Massage the dressing into the kale for as long ad you have time to - at least for 1 minute.
This brakes down the though texture of the kale and makes it smooth. 
The hard texture is also one of the reasons why kale is a good choice for a salad you need to make the day before - it will hold up with our getting soggy even after adding the dressing.
Once your kale is smooth and silky top with the other ingredients.

Berrie And Bread Pudding

This is kind of a mix of french toast and bread and butter pudding.
I think I made it as a late night snack or a breakfast and just decided to send the rest with my husband to work as a treat.

Slices of whole grain bread (stale is best)
Vanilla extract
Berries (fresh or frozen)

In an oven safe dish add some berries. If you got a sweet tooth or just some very sour berries add some sugar.
Make a mixture of milk, honey, vanilla extract and eggs. 
Rip the bread into big chucks and place them on top of the berries and poor over the milk/egg mixture.
You want to make sure that the bread can soak up most of the milk/egg mixture so you might want to mix it up or push the bread down.
Put a few dots of butter on top (and perhaps some sugar) and set aside for as long as you got time for - preferably 20-30 minutes but I have let it sit as little as 5 minutes.
Then bake it all in a 175C hot oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.
It keeps well a few days in the fridge.
This treat tastes really really good with apples and raisins as well.


Ready to eat chickpeas
Greek yoghurt
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Blitz the chickpeas in a blender and add olive oil and greek yoghurt until you get a smooth texture. Add the rest of the ingredients to taste.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top and a dash of smoky paprika and eat with sticks of vegetables.

It is really easy to prepare beans and chickpeas your self and they all freeze really well. I really recommend you to take the time once in a while to soak the beans over night and cook them in salty water for 1-2 hours instead of buying the tinned versions.
It is cheaper and you get less sodium.
But if this step is what is holding you back from using beans in your cooking go ahead and buy them tinned.
They are filled with fibers and are a good source of protein - really good reasons to include them in your diet.

The snacks are kind of self explanatory so I wont tell you how to make them, but a good idea is to take a day in your week to prepare them so they are easy to grab on the go.
Here are some of the things I would recommend to have on hand.

Vegetables sticks. If you for some reason don't use them as snacks you can always use them in your cooking and cut down on the prep time.

Ready made bags with a mix of nuts, dark chocolate or dried fruits. I try to keep one of these in my car/handbag at all times so I am not tempted to buy something I shouldn't just because I am on the go.

Hummus and other bean mousses. They last a week in the fridge easy and you can flavor them in different ways so you don't get bored. I like roasted pepper hummus!

Greek yoghurt (or regular yoghurt/Skyr in Denmark. The small tubs make an easy "on the go" snack if you have a bag of cereal with you. And at home I would eat it with honey and almonds, fresh fruit/berries or flavor it with peanut butter or vanilla.

I always keep peanut butter on hand. It is great in smoothies and dressing, but most of all it is such an easy snack. Try it the traditional way in a sandwich with jam (I prefer fresh berries or banana instead) or use it as a dip for apples or vegetable sticks. My all time favorite is peanut butter with chunks of 70% dark chocolate to dunk my apples in.

Salmon Burger With Rice Vinegar Marinated Vegetables And Salad

Ok - this one is not really anything amazing or complicated but some days you just can't handle anything else and this was kind of a "what can I whip up with what I have" day.
And it checks a lot of the boxes. Protein - check (and checked one of the "fish 3 days a week" box as well). 
Whole Grain - check. 
Vegetables - check. 
Sometimes that is enough.

Salmon burger

Salmon fillet
Spring onion
Salt, pepper and lemon juice

Blitz the ingredients together in a blender and for into patties.
If you can't get them to hold together - try adding an egg.
Cook on a skillet - not to much heat and not to long. If you are starting to get that white stuff coming out of the fish (you probably know what I am talking about) it is a sign that the fish has gotten to much heat to fast - As you might be able to see on the picture that happened to me.
So don't overdo it!

Marinate thinly sliced vegetables(I used radishes and carrots, but cucumber and zucchini would also work well)in rice wine vinegar with a bit of salt, sugar and pepper for at least 10 minutes.
Serve it as a side to the salmon patty in a whole wheat bun with some salad.
The sour moist vegetables was enough for me this day, but avocado or mayo would really put the "dot over the i" here.

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