Category Archives: Work Lunch

Work Lunch: Roasted Tomatillo Black Bean Soup

WorkLunchThis is a continuation of my new series, Work Lunch, where I’m sharing the simple, creative and delicious things I’m making and eating for lunch. 

Usually, my Sundays are no nonsense.  I spend them getting stuff done. I typically spend hours making snacks and meals for the work week so that I can spend weekday mornings getting in the workouts and breakfasts I enjoy. I find that a balanced, peaceful start contributes to a balanced, peaceful workday.

Photo (28)Some Sundays though, I have other priorities and need to get my work week prep tasks done in less time. It’s on Sundays when I spend the bulk of the day prepping my garden beds for the fall and winter seeds I ordered that I need something easy to cook for the week. Enter roasted tomatillo black bean soup. When you’ve got the goods on hand, this soup is crazy easy – takes about 1/2 hour to put together. It’s super delicious and is especially filling when combined with short grain brown rice. It’s just another easy work lunch to add to your repertoire.

Roasted Tomatillo Black Bean Soup

Makes about 3 – 4 lunches

* Click the links for recipes for my super easy “compost” veggie stock and roasted tomatillo salsa!

~ 5 cups black beans, cooked (or about 3 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 cups veggie stock
1 cup roasted tomatillo salsa (I happen to love tomatillo salsa, but you could use any salsa here)
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan. Let simmer for about 10 minutes in order to give the flavors a chance to meld a bit.

Scoop out about half of the soup and blend until smooth in the blender.*

Return the pureed soup to the blender and stir to combine. Add salt to taste and pack it up for lunch!

*You probably already know this, but blending hot food can lead to a mini food volcano in your kitchen. No good. To prevent said food volcano, let the soup cool slightly and then blend. Or use your Vitamix, which has incredible food volcano prevention super powers.

For work, pack about 1 – 1 1/2 cups of the soup in a microwaveable glass container.

Also pack about 1 cup short grain brown rice in a container that you can heat. I like to heat these two components up separately so they heat evenly. Add the rice to your soup.

Bring along some garnishes to add extra flavor and flair to your soup. Here are just a few black bean soup garnish options:

  • cotija or feta cheese
  • avocado
  • tortilla chips or tortilla strips (like you’d make for tortilla soup)
  • raw pumpkin seeds, toasted in a dry skillet
  • extra salsa
  • sour cream

Pack your lunch, eat, and be merry!

Work Lunch: Brown Rice Sushi Bowl

WorkLunchThis is a continuation of my new series, Work Lunch, where I’m sharing the simple, creative and delicious things I’m making and eating for lunch. 

I love a good meal in a bowl. It’s my preferred style of eating really, a bunch of delicious elements and flavors melding together in a big bowl. Likely, if there’s an interesting bowl-type meal on a menu, I’ll order it. So it’s no wonder I’m excited and inspired to make myself “bowls” for lunch.

I got the idea for this brown rice sushi bowl while trying to take a nap. While Eric snoozed beside me, my mind was restless, crafting my next work meal. Turns out, my sushi bowl idea is delicious and naps are overrated.

photo 3 (2)Quick Tips for “Bowl” Meals:

Use Short Grain Brown Rice – For this bowl recipe and the ones that follow (I told you I have a thing for this kind of meal…there will be more!), my biggest suggestion is to use short grain brown rice. It’s denser, more chewy, and more filling than long grain rice and is what most restaurants and cafes tend to put in their bowls. It’s extra satisfying somehow.

Pack Warm and Cold Ingredients Separately – I like to pack the parts I’m going to heat up a bit (rice/grains/legumes/protein) in a large container, which will serve as my big bowl. In smaller containers or mason jars, I pack the cold ingredients (raw vegetables/garnishes) that I add to the bowl container when it’s warm.

Simplify and Make Ahead – When something is deliciously satisfying, I can eat it for days without getting sick of it. I spend several hours on Sunday prepping everything I need for four or five lunches and snacks. I make double and triple batches of the ingredients and divvy them out into containers and jars so that in the morning, I can just grab my lunch stuff and go.

photo 1 (4)This Week’s Bowl: Brown Rice Sushi Bowl

Makes about 5 work lunches

Sushi rice recipe inspired by Emi Kazuko from Easy Sushi

photo 1 (3)For the sushi rice:

2 cups short grain brown rice
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt

Whisk together the vinegar, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Set aside.

Meanwhile, add the rice to a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes or until the water has evaporated and the rice is fluffy and tender.

Turn the rice out onto a shallow dish or cookie sheet. Sprinkle the rice with the vinegar mixture and fold to incorporate. Divvy the rice up into 4 or 5 large containers, putting about 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups of rice into each “bowl.”

photo 2 (3)For the protein:

1 package of extra firm tofu
Peanut oil

Drain and pat the tofu dry. Cut into bite-size cubes. Saute until golden. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

IMG_4620For the toppings:

4-5 medium-sized carrots, washed and shredded
~ 2 green onions, white and green parts, finely chopped
2 daikon radishes, washed and shredded

While you prep the rice and other ingredients, put the shredded daikon in a bowl with a tablespoon of rice vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix together well and let it marinate for at least an hour before packing it up for lunch. This ends up being deliciously flavorful and reminiscent of pickled ginger. So good!

Pack the veggies in 1/2 pint mason jars, keeping the raw vegetables apart from the rice and tofu that will get heated up. I added about 1/4 cup of carrots and 1/4 cup of daikon to each jar. I topped them off with a small handful of green onions.

photo 2 (4)For the final touch:

Take a couple sheets of toasted nori (about 1/2 sheet per meal) and chop into small pieces. Pack in a small mason jar.

In another small jar, pack some black sesame seeds.

Bring the mason jar of sesame seeds and the jar of nori to work on Monday and leave them there so you can add them to your bowls throughout the week.

photo 3 (1)Assemble your bowl:

Warm your bowl of rice and tofu, not too hot. Dump your mason jar of veggies onto the rice. Add a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds and a hefty pinch or two of nori bits. Mix, happily devour, and share the recipe with your friends!

Enjoy!

Work Lunch: Taco Salad

WorkLunchToday is the first in a series I’m calling Work Lunch! Each week, I’ll share something I’m making for lunch. I’m hoping it will inspire you and me to keep work lunches creative and satisfying!

photo (27)Lately, we’ve got a lot of greens to eat, so I find myself eating a lot of salad. I start with a large plastic container – mine’s just over 6 cups. I like to pack it up with greens, other raw veggies and whatever dressing I’m using. Since it’s a large container, I end up with enough room to toss things around when I’m ready to eat. I pack my dressing in a 4oz mason jar and stick it in the salad container so that if it happens to leak, it will leak onto my greens and not into my bag.

IMG_4525When I prep my salad, I put all the greens into the big container and use kitchen shears to give it a few chops. It saves me a little time and a few extra dirty dishes. Plus, it quickly reduces my greens into bite-size pieces.

IMG_4526In order to make the salad something that will sustain me until my afternoon snack, I add lots of protein and grains to my salads. For my taco salad, I pack a pint jar full of brown rice and black beans. I pack those apart from my salad greens in case I want to heat them up a bit before I add them to my salad bowl. I love this salad when the rice and beans are warmed so they wilt the greens ever so slightly.

Instead of a dressing for this one, I opt for a generous squeeze of lime, a sprinkling of salt, and some spoonfuls of homegrown roasted tomatillo salsa. To top it off, I add some slices of avocado. I learned somewhere that the pit of the avocado helps keep the avocado from turning brown, so I keep the pit in as long as I can. Either way, the skin of the avocado helps serve as natural protection when it’s making its journey to work with me. If we happen to have some tortilla chips, I bring a little bag of them along with me. I especially love to smash a handful of tortilla chips over my salad bowl. There’s something magic about the salty crunch.

 

Back-to-School Granola Bars with Cacao and Cranberries

image (10)After a whirlwind of a summer, during which I finished planning the wedding I spent four months putting together, I officially became Mrs.Davison! (You can expect an extremely detailed recap of all the wedding goodness…as soon as all those beautiful pictures come in!) A few days after that, I came home to start my new job as an instructional mentor. So, if you’ve been wondering why I’ve been MIA as of late, that’s why. It’s exhausting keeping up with so many huge life changes.

photo (24)That being said, I am in full-on work mode at this point – the time of year when I spend half of the day on Sunday prepping lunches and snacks for the work week. There’s something grounding and comforting about this weekly routine of mine, especially when I can get Eric to keep me company while I cook.

photo (26)This recipe for naturally sweetened homemade granola bars has been a solid snack resource of mine for a couple of years now. These bars are versatile as there is room for adaptations when it comes to the add-ins. Coconut flakes, golden raisins and cardamom (instead of the cacao or cinnamon) is a stellar combo. So is dark chocolate bar pieces, sour cherries, and chopped pecans. I have a feeling my Ayurvedic guru, Nicole, would say these would also be an excellent vehicle for the super root, maca! The options are really limitless. It’s just that now that I’ve eaten my latest version, the recipe below, I don’t know if I’ll be in the mood to experiment for awhile. They’re that good.

Give them a try, change ’em up, and let me know what you came up with!

photo 2 (2)DIY Granola Bars with Cacao and Cranberries

Adapted from this recipe by Diana at My Humble Kitchen

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats, uncooked
*1 2/3 cups dried fruits and nuts (For this amazing combo, use: cranberries, chopped pecans, raw pumpkin seeds, golden flax seeds and mini-chocolate chips)
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon raw cacao powder (or 2 tsp cinnamon or cardamom, depending on the flavor combo you’re creating)
1/2 tsp salt

*You need a total of 1 2/3 cups of extras, not exact totals of each, so be flexible and be creative! I simply take the 1 cup measuring cup and fill it up with a combo of goodies and then dump it into my dry ingredients bowl. I repeat a second time, filling the cup about 2/3 of the way full. It doesn’t have to be hard and fast – have fun with it!

Wet Ingredients:

1/3 cup raw honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil (heat slightly if it’s in a solid state)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush a 9×13 pan with coconut oil. Remember to grease those pesky corners too!

2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

3. Mix together the wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then add them to the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold in until all the dry ingredients are evenly moistened.

4. Press the granola bar mixture into the pan with your hands. This is a messy, not-so-easy process, but it’s worth it! It’s a little less sticky if you press with damp hands.

5. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.

This part is critical. When I follow these steps, exactly as written (thank you, Diana, for leading the way!), my granola bars come out beautifully. When left in the pan for too long at one of these stages though, I sometimes have to fight to get them to come out and have ended up with granola. So, take care at this stage.

6. Remove the granola bars from the oven and allow them to cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Then, when the timer goes off, loosen the edges with a spatula or knife.

7. Allow the bars to cool for another 15 minutes. Then, slice into bars and gently (this can be especially difficult with the first two or three bars until you have room to maneuver) transfer them onto a rack to cool completely.

8. When cool, store the granola bars in an airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper so they don’t stick.

9. Take them to work and enjoy a happy snack during the day or on your commute home!