Tag Archives: Lunch

Salad Towers: Salmon, Squash, Seeds & Sesame Toppers

My brain and your eyes could probably take a break from all this incessant MCM talk. Today’s a mind-taper day, and a reminder that there’s another big aspect of training – well, life, in general – that has gone mostly unmentioned here. THE EATS.

Working from home allows for more flexibility with meals. If I were in the office, you’d still see a lot of pumped-up salads, they just wouldn’t be plated quite so nicely. And they wouldn’t be consumed in the backyard sunshine – my way of supplementing lunch with some Vitamin D. I choose a salad for lunch because it ensures a huge vegetable serving, is completely versatile for flavors and toppers, and gives me a high volume of healthy foods.

WIN, Win.

Let’s walk through a basic salad construction….

I don’t consume meat or poultry, but protein is always part of the salad equation here. I opt for one or more of the following: fish (usually leftover from the night before – baked/grilled), pumpkin seeds, chopped nuts, hard-boiled egg and/or avocado.

You don’t have to have “greens” to make it a salad, but I usually do. I buy the organic mixed greens from Trader Joe’s and may mix in some raw kale, arugula and/or spinach for extra nutrients. Then I pile on the rainbow! My goal is to have at least 3 colors in my salad, which may come from peppers, onion, carrots, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, dried/fresh fruits, avocado and/or leftover roasted veggies from last night’s dinner.

At the end, I go for a little flavor with a “dressing” of sorts. I never do a store-bought dressing, nor do I take the time to mix anything together. I keep it simple: fresh lemon squeeze, drizzle of EVOO or a drizzle of Sesame oil.

Here are a few salad towers I’ve created lately:

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The season hasn’t changed much here in California, but the display at Trader Joe’s suggests it may officially be fall. And therefore we have squash.

Tower toppers: leftover roasted salmon (seasoned with chili powder), roasted kabocha squash (seasoned with cumin, salt/pepper), chopped cucumbers, red peppers and carrots, sunflower seeds. Dressing: sesame oil.

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If there’s only one thing you takeaway from this post: you cannot have too much avocado on your salad.

Toppers: tomatoes (still farm-fresh at the farmer’s market!), cucumbers, avocado, red pepper and sunflower seeds. Dressing: lemon squeeze, salt & pepper.

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I like to have my salads with a side of brain-puzzle, too.

Toppers: baked Mahi Mahi (seasoned with dried green chile powder), chopped carrots, cucumber and pistachios. Dressing: drizzle of EVOO.

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What are some of your go-to weekday lunches?

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Filed under health, Nutrition, recipes, training, what to eat

Lunch’n Vegan: Pomegranate & Pumpkin Seed Salad

This recipe post is brought to you courtesy of Instagram and the attention that a lunch bowl can garner while people are hungrily browsing social media! All I did was calculate the leftovers in the fridge into amount of time I wanted to dedicate to lunch-packing after the Superbowl. I’m no chef, and “easy but healthy” could describe most, if not all, combinations posted in this space!

This came together easily, in approximately 5 minutes (thanks to Friday night’s dinner menu), and pleasantly surprised the taste-buds. And as it turns out, it’s ringing “healthy” bells:

pom   pumpkin seed lunch

Pomegranate & Pumpkin Seed Salad

2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
2 Tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 cup Sautéed kale
1 cup Roasted Brussels sprouts

Salt/pepper to taste. On the side: guac.

The measurements are estimates, since I rarely measure things but rather toss them in and give it a good look and think “Yep, that fills the Pyrex bowl”.

On the side you see some leftover guacamole from our game-watching party contribution (if you could call that a game?), which added a nice spice to the mix! It’s not intentionally vegan and gluten-free, but it is.

The Perks:

Pomegranate seeds are high in antioxidants and have been shown to lower cholesterol levels! Feisty little things. They can also be a good source of vitamins C and B5.

Pumpkin seeds make frequent appearances in my lunch, as they’re a complete protein and great source of manganese and magnesium, and an excellent source of zinc and iron. All good things in general, but especially for the veg-heads!

The seed-powered salad takes the win, here.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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