Whether you realize it or not, the meal that’s possibly one of the MOST expected meals of the day is lunch!
Why? Because it’s right in the middle of your work day, and it gives you a much needed break from the computer screen or whatever your job requires you to do most of the time. This is why lunch is not simply about filling your belly, but also about helping boost your brain function in order to finish your tasks for the day. It must be filling, but light enough, so you feel energized rather than sleepy and uninterested in moving on with your daily routine.
But let’s face it, we’re all leading busy lives, and coming up with exciting lunch ideas for the whole week is not always easy. While eating out may be a tempting option, it can get costly. Indeed, Americans spend almost $3000 a year on lunches! Eating homemade meals instead of packaged processed foods can save you the unnecessary expense and calories. Going out to eat often is linked to an overall poorer diet and increased risk of obesity. If that’s not food for thought, we don’t know what is!
Apart from saving you a ton of money and being generally healthier, bringing your own lunch can also be more eco-friendly.
Steam the greens until tender and puree in a blender. Set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. fry bay leaf and red chili until the chili darkens. Sprinkle asafoetida on top of red chili. Stir in green chili, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cumin and salt. Add soymilk and cook until reduced to about half its volume, 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the pureed greens. Cover and place over low heat for 3-5 minutes to blend the flavors and heat the mixture through. Remove from heat. sprinkle peanuts on top.
Polka Pepper Pasta
1/2 cup margarine
3 fresh red jalapeno peppers, stemmed and thinly sliced
7 garlic cloves
2 large sweet onions, quartered and cut into thick slices
1 medium head cabbage, quartered, cored and cut into thick slices salt and pepper to taste
1 lb thin noodles
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil to cook the noodles. Melt the margarine in a very large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the jalapeno peppers, garlic and onions. Add the cabbage until the pan is full. You may not be able to fit all the cabbage in the pan at first, but you can add more as it cooks down. Sauté, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes or until all the cabbage is tender and transparent. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Cook noodles al dente, according to package instructions. Drain well and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the cabbage and mix well. Serve piping hot.
Rice, Vegetable and Tofu Soup
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
4 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 3/4 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups cooked brown rice
1 tsp grated ginger
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp kuzu dissolved in a little water
1 cup tofu, cut into small cubes
Sauté celery, carrots and mushrooms in the oil for 5 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
Mix the stock, rice, ginger and soy sauce together, Bring to the boil and stir in the kuzu.
When thickened, stir in the vegetables and the tofu. Bring back to the boil and serve immediately.
Mushroom and Tomato Risotto
1 large onion, chopped
5 tbsp olive oil
4 cups small mushrooms, sliced
2 1/2 cups long grain brown rice
5 cups boiling water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
Sauté the half the onion in half the oil, add the mushrooms and sauté for another 4 minutes.Add the rice and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes. The add the boiling water and simmer for 40-45 minutes.
In another pan sauté the remaining onion, adding the garlic after a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer gently until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes, adding a little water and the soy sauce.
Add the herbs a few minutes before removing the sauce from the heat, then combine the sauce with the rice.
Cover for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine, then serve.
Syrian Bulghur and Potato Pie
1 cup burghul (aka bulgur wheat)
3 cups mashed potatoes
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne
3 cups finely chopped onions
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
Soak the bughul for 10 minutes in warm water; then drain in a strainer, pressing out as much water as possible.
Thoroughly combine burghul, potatoes, flour, basil, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, 1 cup of the onions, salt and pepper. Divide into two even portions and set aside.
Heat 4 tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan and sauté remaining onions, garlic, cilantro and pine nuts or almonds over medium heat for 10 minutes. If needed, stir in more salt and pepper; then set aside.
Spread a portion of the burghul-potato mixture evenly in an 7×11 inch well-greased pan. Spread frying pan contents evenly over top. Spread second portion of burghul-potato mixture evenly over top. Cut into 2-inch squares; then sprinkle with remaining oil.
Bake in an oven preheated to 400F for 30 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Serve hot or cold.
3 medium zucchini (courgettes)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb tofu or vegetarian burger, crumbled
3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp garlic salt 1/2 tsp oregano
1 (16oz) jar tomato sauce
Slice the zucchini lengthwise and scoop out the pulp. Chop the pulp and set aside.
In a non-stick pan, brown the onion in the olive oil. Add the tofu or crumbled burger, chopped zucchini pulp, nutritional yeast, garlic salt and oregano.
Pour the tomato sauce into a 9×11 inch pan, place the zucchini ‘boats’ in the sauce and fill the boats with the tofu/burger mixture.
Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake 15 minutes more. Serve boats on plates and pour over some of the sauce.
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