I'm not a vegetarian. But, I've found that eliminating meat before dinnertime each day helps keep my energy level up, and my weight down. It also helps keep snacking to a minimum by fueling my body with lots of good-for-you fiber and healthy proteins and fats.
Here are a few of my favorite lunches. They're all quick to prepare and can pack up to go or quickly assembled and heated up at home.
And don't forget about leftovers. Every four days I make one of these recipes to ensure that I'm never stuck without a healthy lunch option ready to go. This saves me time, brain-power and especially money. Stock up on olive oil, frozen brown rice and corn, cheeses, and spices when they go on sale. And switch out the vegetables by what's in season to get the freshest, most cost-effective produce.
Roasted Vegetables with Goat Cheese
This is not so much a recipe, but more of a technique. And the lunch that I eat most often because it's so simple. I typically buy three pre-cut vegetable packages (if you have a Publix in your area- lucky you) and roast them. Currently, I've been buying cubed butternut squash, sliced yellow squash and zucchini, and a ready-to-cook bag of broccolini.
Other great options include Brussels sprout, carrots, cubed sweet potatoes, green beans, beets, fennel, and cauliflower.
Raw Vegetables of Your Choice
Dried Herbs de Provence
Salt and Pepper
Goat or Feta Cheese
Place the desired amount of raw cut-up vegetables in a greased 9x13 pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs de Provence to taste. Roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and nicely browned. Top with goat or feta cheese when serving.
Corn and Rice Loaf
Adapted from Spirited Table
This recipe is a lunch make-ahead game-changer with a unique and delicious flavor combination. Filling and easy to put together, this might just be my favorite healthy lunch ever.
3 cup cooked brown rice (I use frozen brown rice, cooked per directions)
1 large onion, diced small (if you can find a Vidalia onion, use it)
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-1⁄2 cups corn (frozen then defrosted is fine)
1⁄4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1⁄2 cup dry bread crumbs (I use rice crumbs from Trader Joe's to make this gluten-free)
Juice of 1 orange
1 tsp salt
1⁄8 tsp red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.
Sauté the onions in olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the garlic for another minute until fragrant. Add in the corn, turmeric, and coriander and sauté for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool (especially important before adding raw eggs).
In a large bowl, mix together the cooked rice and vegetables. Stir in the eggs, cheese, bread (or rice) crumbs, orange juice, salt, and red pepper flakes.
Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 45 minutes, then uncover the pan and bake for 30 minutes more. Let the loaf sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Sure, Greek Salads are nothing new, but they are tasty and filling. Plus they use vegetables that are cost-effective and keep well in the fridge. Here's my favorite version.
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced in thin half-moons
1/2 lb. feta cheese, cubed
1/2 c. calamata olives
1 shallot, diced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
Place vegetables and olives in a large bowl with a lid and set aside. In a salad shaker or mason jar combine the diced shallot, Dijon mustard, vinegar, oil, oregano, and salt. Shake until combined.
Store the vegetables, cheese and vinaigrette separately until the day of use. 30 minutes before you are ready to eat lunch, combine your desired portion size of vegetables and vinaigrette and let sit to combine flavors.