Category Archives: lunches

Salads Made Easy: Tricks of my Trade (Lemon Rosemary Edition)

It all started because I really just wanted my sliced avocado to stay nice and green until lunchtime! Staring into a packed-lunch salad full of scattered brown chunks seemed extremely unappetizing at 7 a.m. (In previous attempts to preserve the prized avocado I’ve simply packed it separately and done the peeling and chopping at the office.). The key is citrus, yes?


Image source.

According to guacamole recipes everywhere, YES. I sliced a lime in half, squeezed it all over the salad, snapped on the lid and gave it a good shake. Voila! Stay GREEN, little avocados!

It works. As do lemons. And all of a sudden I realized that making homemade salad “dressings” just got even easier.

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There’s no magic secret here, and I’m not blowing any minds by sharing these two tricks, but because it took me a good while to figure out I thought they just might change someone else’s salad-making world. You never know!

1) Every salad I make at home is now dressed with a drizzle of olive oil & a squeeze of lemon OR lime (you can go crazy and combine them if that’s your thing). That’s it. Salad game-changer: discovered.

Of course you could go the traditional route & drizzle some balsamic vinegar in there, too. You can do whatever your taste-buds want. The point being that there’s no need for bottled anything, or shaking different vinegars or being fancy. There’s no need for 5+ ingredients or any knowledge of how to pair this, that and the other thing.

Salad dressings should be simple – let the toppings (veggies, nuts, seeds, greens, etc.) do the talking!

2) Add in fresh herbs! You’ll never look back.  Rosemary & basil happen to be my favorite, and mint is next on the list.

kitchen herbs
Lemon Rosemary Salad

Above: the newest addition to the kitchen, a pot growing fresh oregano, rosemary & basil. Below: the latest lunch-salad creation that benefited from the above-mentioned “tricks”.

Lemon Rosemary Salad

2 cups mixed organic salad greens (spinach, arugula, etc.)
1/2 orange pepper, sliced
2 tbsp red onion, chopped
1/4 cup baby white mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped
1/4 avocado, chopped
1 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 lemon, squeezed for juice
Drizzle olive oil
1 tbsp fresh rosemary

Combine all ingredients, shake well & grab a fork!

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Are you a frequent salad-maker?

Any tricks of your trade you’d like to share?

6 Comments

Filed under food, lunches, Nutrition, recipes, vegetarian

Strawberry Spring Salad

A week ago I was running with ear warmers, gloves & my fleece-lined lululemon pants (i.e. the best piece of running gear I’ve ever purchased. Hands down.). This morning, Kate & I headed out at 6 am in shorts & tees, taking pictures like this:

Cherry Blossoms Jefferson 1

Swoon.

Spring has arrived! This means a lot of things – my favorite season is finally here, for one – and the grocery store shelves are reflecting the shift. Thanks to our CSA last year, I know all too well that strawberries must be purchased in season or not at all. Once you taste them fresh off the vine, first thing in the morning at the office, you’ll never go back.

Before this week’s 90* days hit, I hoped I could passive aggressively force spring into action by taking advantage of a fruit sale at TJ’s. On sale? Organic? In April?! PLEASE TASTE GOOD & bring warm weather with you.

Spring strawberry salad 1

If you bring a tasty salad to the menu, too, that’d be great.

Strawberry Spring Salad
Makes 2 servings

5 medium strawberries, sliced & chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 cucumber, halved & sliced
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Salt/pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinaigrette
2-4 cups organic mixed greens
Optional: chickpeas (or lean protein of choice ), squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Grab a fork, sit on a deck/porch, in a park or right near a window as the sun shines in, and enjoy!

8 Comments

Filed under DC, lunches, recipes, vegetarian

Spaghetti Squash & Hummus Lunches

Winner of the LOVE Grown Foods Hot Oats Giveaway: Sassy (Lauren)!
(Picked by Random.ORG number generator.)

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One thing I learned about the spaghetti squash recently is that its volume shouldn’t be underestimated! I offered to cook dinner for some friends, and picked up two of said vegetable to feed three people. The recipe du jour was P&TY’s spaghetti squash pad thai (three thumbs up!); we were left with no more pad thai (that goes quickly), but an entire spaghetti squash’s worth of “noodles” unused.

Hello, lunch:

Spaghetti squash salad lunch

That whole squash was enough for two of us to make lunches for most of the week – file that under quality Sunday-night meal prep!

My preferred combinations (staples) :

1-1.5 cup spaghetti squash
Kale
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 carrot, grated
2-3 tbsp Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil hummus
Seasoned with: salt, thyme

1-1.5 cups spaghetti squash
Kale
1/2 orange/red pepper, chopped
1-2 tbsp. yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp. raw pepitas
1 tbsp. Trader Joe’s Cilantro Jalapeno hummus
1/4 – 1/2 cup black beans
Optional: squeeze of lime juice

1-1.5 cup spaghetti squash
Kale
1/4 cucumber, sliced/chopped
1/2 roasted red pepper, sliced
1 tbsp raw pepitas
1/4 avocado, sliced
2 tbsp salsa OR roasted red pepper hummus
Optional: 1/4 – 1/2 cup chickpeas or black beans.

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Do you dine on squash for lunch? What flavor combo would you add in there?

The versatile “noodles” can wear many hats – the week of lunch experiments proved tastefully successful.

8 Comments

Filed under lunches, Meatless Monday, recipes, vegetarian, what to eat

Eggplant & Tofu Tacos

The grocery cart got a little overzealous last week, resulting in some new menu items and enough goods to actually take us through a weekend. If last year’s CSA taught me anything it’s that eggplant is partial to Maryland’s summer weather, but Trader Joe’s would have you thinking otherwise. It was in abundance on their shelves, and my taste-buds have had a long enough break to be okay with it.

We needed a fresh approach, and when there’s an avocado on the verge of browning you only have one choice: guacamole, it is.

Eggplant and tofu tacos

Eggplant & Tofu Tacos
Serves 2

Corn tortillas
1/2 block tofu, cubed
1 Tbsp. oil
1 red pepper, sliced
1/2 eggplant (cut length-wise), sliced
1/4 tsp. each – cayenne pepper, cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Guacamole*

Heat oil over medium in a deep skillet; add tofu and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add eggplant, red pepper & seasonings. Cook until eggplant and pepper softens, and tofu begins to brown.

*Guacamole: 1 avocado, garlic powder, salt/pepper, cayenne, freshly squeezed lime juice. (Optional add-ins: chopped tomatoes, onion and/or jalapenos.)

Warm the corn tortillas in the microwave or in the oven, until softened. Line with the good green stuff (guac) and fill up with the eggplant & tofu mix.

Fold & enjoy!

5 Comments

Filed under dinners, food, gluten free, lunches, Meatless Monday, recipes

Friday Four: Feats of Breaking Habit

In this week’s headlines, we have online dating hoaxes, Lance out and honest along with Obamas gearing up for putting another day in the history books. In this little world, we have small feats breaking big habits:

1) Oatmeal, take the bench. We have a new starting bowl in town:

egg & kale breakfast

We experimented with a few new cooking sauces this week (see #3), and while this breakfast bowl would’ve been just fine without the drizzle, that flavor bump made all the difference.

Scrambled Eggs + Kale + Almond-tahini sauce + salt/pepper

Just as easy to put together as my usual bowl o’ oats, and just as filling. Eating kale first thing in the morning seems to provide that defiant “I’m doing something awesome!” feeling. Super green + breakfast = winning. Eggs’ protein has the highest bioavailable value and that almost-tahini sauce added in a dose of healthy fats. Can’t go wrong here!

2) Sunday (Spicy Veggie) Slow-Cooker Stew
Say that five times fast.

It may take a little extra planning, thinking about dinner four hours before you want to eat dinner, but needless to say it’s worth it. This week I just threw in what we had on hand – no plan or recipe in mind – and voila! Dinner + lunch leftovers for two days*:

crockpot veggie stew

In the mix: cubed baby purple, red & gold potatoes, kale, orange pepper, diced fire-roasted tomatoes (with green chiles), diced red onion, vegetable broth & water (enough to cover all veggies), red pepper flakes, garlic powder & cumin.

*Let those red pepper flakes & green chiles sit and your mouth will burn. There’s your warning.

3) Pour on the special sauce

We’re branching far away from the usual balsamic vinaigrette, BBQ sauce & salsa toppings. D blended a few things together this week and officially spoiled our tastebuds. (My understanding is that it was something like: tamari, almond butter, raw almonds, salt/pepper, olive oil & fresh garlic.) I tested out Emily’s Tahini salad and have officially confirmed that it’s all about the special-sauce.

tahini sauce cauliflower salad

4) Be scared. Keep climbing.

To use up our 15 day pass and really get in some good practice, we headed back to Earth Treks last night for a post-work climb session. This time my hands actually reached the 40-ft top on 4-out-of-5 attempts. I could get used to this panicked-but-adrenaline-rushing feeling…

Climb step 1 Climb step 3

Climb step 4
Nope, safety was not compromised in the taking of these photos. I was all of 3-4 ft off the ground.

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what would you do if you weren't afraid

What habit are you ready to break?

3 Comments

Filed under dinners, food, Goals, lunches, new things!, recipes, strength train too!, things that happen at the Gym