A week’s worth of salad ideas

Since I started photographing my meals (especially my lunches), it has come to my attention that I eat A LOT of salad – at least one a day to be exact. I LOVE loading up on fresh foods early in the day and salads are the perfect way to do it. They are filling, healthy and are SO easy to switch up on a daily basis.

I know that a lot of people hate packing their lunches and especially avoid making things like salads because they seem to be too time intensive, but I am determined to show the world (or at least the lunch packers of the world) that it is not only possible, but easy to pack fun and delicious meals everyday. Lunch doesn’t have to be boring!  Wouldn’t it be nice to look forward to lunch and know that you are doing something good for your body/wallet on a daily basis?  It is a myth that lunch packing has to be tedious or monotonous. A weeks worth of various vegetables/grains/proteins can actually provide a limitless amount of fun lunch (salad!) options…..

My lunches of the week….  (including what I had to work with):

(side note: I share all of this food with my sister… just so you are aware that I don’t eat 8 cups of beans by myself in one week)

Vegetables:

  • spinach (1 tub)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 big bag of baby carrots
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 bag each of kale and arugula (the tub of spinach I bought on Sunday which was NOT packed very full… (such a rip off!), so I had to replenish my greens mid-week – which is usually not the case)
  • radish (a few leftover from last week)

Grains:

  • quinoa (I made about 2 cups worth on Sunday night for the week)
  • brown rice spiral pasta (made about 2 cups worth on Sunday night as well)
  • whole grain bread (I will usually eat a slice on the side with my salad if I don’t add a grain into the mix)

Protein:

  • 1 can pinto beans (3 servings a can)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can bean salad
  • lentils (I made 2 cups worth on Sunday when I made the quinoa and pasta) –  enough for approximately 4 meals

Additional items (things that I needed to use up or ingredients that I usually have on hand):

  • goat cheese
  • sunflower seeds
  • blueberries (the last of a pint from last week)
  • radishes (from last week)
  • various vinegars/sauces/dressings

Monday

Fruity spinach salad with quinoa and blueberries

  • spinach
  • quinoa (1/2 cup)
  • pinto beans (1/2 cup)
  • chopped carrots
  • chopped zucchini
  • chopped broccoli
  • chopped radish
  • sprinkle of blueberries (the last of a container from last week)
  • dressing: Trader Joe’s Muscat Orange Vinegarette

Tuesday

Indian-inspired salad with lentils, spinach, quinoa and goat cheese

  • spinach
  • lentils (1/2 cup)
  • quinoa (1/2 cup)
  • chopped carrots
  • chopped broccoli
  • chopped zucchini
  • goat cheese
  • dressing: Trader Joe’s curry simmer sauce/marinade

Wednesday

BBQ sweet potato, kale, and black bean salad

  • kale
  • zucchini
  • sweet potato (1/2 of a medium-sized potato, microwaved and cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • black beans (1/2 cup)
  • quinoa (a small sprinkling of whatever I had left in the fridge… maybe 2 tbsp?? )
  • dressing: Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce diluted with a little water to thin it out

Thursday

Arugula bean salad with sunflower seeds (enjoyed in the sun!)

  • arugula
  • bean salad (1/2 cup)- in a vinegar-based marinade which served as my dressing
  • chopped carrot
  • chopped broccoli
  • sunflower seeds

I also ate a slice of bread on the side with this.

I bought this canned bean salad (with string beans, kidney beans and pinto beans) a longgg time ago and finally used it as a salad topper this week. I loved the vinegar-y and tanginess of this mixture and it felt so light and spring-y. I am inspired to make my own… and may need to make this recipe from Tone It Up in the near future….

Friday

“Pasta salad” with arugula and pinto beans

  • arugula
  • pinto beans (1/2 cup)
  • brown rice pasta (1/2 cup)
  • chopped zucchini
  • chopped carrot
  • chopped broccoli
  • dressing: Trader Joe’s Muscat Orange Vinegar

So there you have it….. I hope I (maybe?) showed how a weeks worth of vegetables can be made into different salad/meal options! I love how  a few basic ingredients can be switched up so easily to make a completely different meal. What can I say, I love my salad.

Do you eat a lot of salads for lunch? If so, how do you keep them exciting? I like to switch up dressings everyday so I never get bored, and I also try to add “fun ingredients” (like blueberries or sweet potatoes) to keep things exciting.

What is your favorite salad combination? I love the mixture of quinoa, goat cheese and broccoli together in salads and have also been loving to add fruit to my salads as well these days

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Best Thing I Packed this Week: BBQ Lentil Kale and Sweet Potato Salad

Hi guys, happy Friday!

I have some more delicious meals to share with you all… I was on a roll this week with making delicious and healthy lunches. 

Best meals I packed this week:

In case you missed them, here are some of my past weeks of “Best thing I packed:”

Veggie-Packed Tofu salad with  Poppyseed Dressing

I ate this for lunch on Thursday, and it was especially delicious. I basically tried to add as much color/texture as possible to my Tupperware container by packing as many fresh veggies as I could into my salad.

Since veggies alone would keep me full for about 20 minutes, I added in some tofu and whole grain rotini pasta for some protein and whole grains (and staying power). 

I used a new to me dressing (Drews Poppyseed dressing) on top, and I loved it. I feel like I am always talking about this brand of dressing, but I have yet to try a variety I don’t like. I guess I am a big fan….

This salad was so filling, and I loved all the different components. My favorite salads always tend to be the ones with a lot of different ingredients thrown in so my taste buds never get bored… I also love including cold pasta in salads. It always soaks up the dressing and is so good (try it!). This particular salad contained:

  • kale
  • cucumber
  • radish
  • carrots
  • beets
  • cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 block tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • whole grain rotini pasta (1/2 cup)

Dressing: Drews Poppyseed dressing

BBQ Lentil Kale and Sweet Potato Salad

This was another delicious lunch combo I concocted this week. It contained:

  • chopped collard greens
  • mushrooms, chopped
  • spicy roasted sweet potatoes
  • brown lentils (about 1/2 cup)… I made them over the weekend using the method I talked about here

Dressing: BBQ sauce

I loved the mix of the BBQ sauce (I love using condiments as dressing!) with the collard greens and the lentils. The spicy sweet potatoes were also a fun addition. I made the sweet potatoes over the weekend by roasting 2 cubed potatoes in a mixture of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and onion powder for about 40 minutes (flipping halfway through) in a 400 degree oven. I made them for dinner on Sunday, but the leftovers served as a great salad topper.

Again, this was so filling (probably because of the lentils and potatoes) and so satisfying.  My taste buds were very happy. I have been loving BBQ/spicy foods these days.  

I hope everyone has a great day and eats some delicious food!

 What is the best thing you packed/ate this week? (I love hearing about your delicious creations/meals!)

Best thing I packed this week (March 2, 2012)

Good morning and Happy Friday!

I am SO excited for this weekend. My stepbrother is coming to Pittsburgh today, and I can’t wait to see him/hang out with him(I haven’t seen him since December!).  As always, I must first be productive and go to work and go to school, so lets hope that these things go quickly so the weekend can start!  I better not have a long chem lab tonight….

Are you doing anything exciting this weekend?

Best thing I packed this week

Now lets move on to food…. and the next installment of  “the best thing I packed this week.” This week was full of delicious packed meals, so it was hard to pick a favorite. I did a lot of good prep work last weekend:

  • I made a grain salad
  • prepped lentils
  • made barley

that resulted in easy/delicious meals and made meal packing a breeze.

BBQ Lentil Wrap

I believe I have found a new favorite vegetarian protein source: lentils. I made a big batch this past weekend by:

  • Rinsing  1 cup dry red lentils
  • Placing them in a saucepan with 2 cups water
  • Letting them simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (until all liquid was absorbed)

I did this while I was making dinner on Sunday, so this was so easy and resulted in a big Tupperware full of lentils (about 2 cups) to incorporate into lunches throughout the week. I need to remember to do this more often because lentils are

  1. so good for you, and
  2. so cheap!

I have been searching for new ways to use them and have been enjoying them in my lunches this week in wrap/sandwich form.  On Wednesday night before class, I enjoyed a delicious wrap that contained:

  1. BBQ lentils (1/2 cup lentils mixed with about 1/8 cup Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce)
  2. spinach
  3. more BBQ sauce + nutritional yeast

This was a simple, yet delicious and filling meal that I most likely will be making again. I also had a variation of this on Monday night (an Indian-spiced lentil wrap) by combining the lentils with some Trader Joe’s Curry Simmer Sauce. I may be on a new lentil kick….

Anyone else a fan/have good ways of preparing them? I’m looking for ideas!

Other notable meals of the week:

I also really enjoyed my Lemon Dijon Kale and Barley Salad on Monday for lunch

and  had some leftover Red Kidney Bean Curry soup/stew on top of some kale that was rather delicious (I need to post the recipe for this soup… it’s so good).

tastes better than it looks...

 
What was the best thing you packed/ate this week?

WIAW #5 (February 22, 2012)

Hi there, happy Wednesday (and HAPPY BIRTHDAY JON)!

I thought I’d switch things up this week and show my meals from Monday. Since I am on the go literally all day, I thought it might be interesting to show a day of my packed meals/snacks on one of these days vs. the days when I am less busy. I also always love to see what people pack to eat (I love easy/healthy meals!), so I am hoping/assuming others feel the same?

Breakfast 7:00

On Monday I literally ate every meal away from home, which usually isn’t the case. I usually always eat breakfast at home. It is actually one of my favorite parts of the day, and I have a whole routine of reading blogs, watching the news, etc.  during this time. Breakfast is what gets me up in the morning (I brainstorm what I will make/eat pretty much as soon as my eyes open…).

On Sunday night though, I somehow set my alarm to the wrong time (1 hour late!) so I somehow magically woke up (thank god) with it with just enough time to get ready and pack myself something quick to eat for breakfast at work.

I ended up going with a pumpkin yogurt +oatmeal + peanut butter combo.

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 c plain greek yogurt (approx) with a spoonful of pumpkin mixed in – sweetened with a squirt of honey
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 banana
  • small sprinkle of raisins

Snack 1: 10:00 am

Since I ate breakfast a bit later than usual, I wasn’t as hungry for my mid-morning snack. I just grabbed a handful of walnuts and almonds before I had to do some testing at work.

Lunch: 12:30

For lunch I packed myself a big salad that included every vegetable I could find in my fridge. I also added some kidney beans and veggie spiral pasta (I love adding pasta to salads!) for some staying power. I wasnt ‘expecting  much out of this salad, since it is one of my more normal combos, but, for some reason, this was SO good. I love eating big, delicious salads full of fresh veggies on Mondays to start the week off on the right foot. This creation contained:

  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • mushrooms
  • carrots
  • red kidney beans (about 1/2 cup)
  • Trader Joes veggie spiral pasta (about 1/2 cup)

I also especially liked my dressing choice of the day: Drew’s Rosemary Balsamic… It soaked into the broccoli and pasta really well and made everything very delicious.

To end things on the sweeter side, I had my daily apple (a Fugi… if you were curious) with lunch.

Snack 2: 3:00 pm

 Before leaving work  to head to class I was feeling a little hungry, so I snacked on 2 clementines and a small handful of almonds

Dinner: 5:00 pm

On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have Biology at 5:30, so I usually will eat my packed dinner around 5 in the student cafeteria/study area. On Monday, I was trying to get some studying done before class (I have my first Chem test on Friday), so I took a quick study break to eat dinner. I packed myself a whole wheat wrap that contained:

I also had some carrot sticks and sugar snap peas on the side.

Again, I didn’t think this would be anything special, but it ended up tasting soo good to me (maybe I was missing vegetables in my life over the weekend?). I love the wraps I have been buying (they are a whole wheat variety I buy at Costcos) – they are so doughy! – and the combo of black beans + hummus + nutritional yeast was especially delicious for some reason. I love mixing hummus and nutritional yeast together. It is such a cheesy/creamy combo.

Snack 3: 7:00 pm

After class I had a plan to go to the gym, so I snacked on a Honey Graham Clif Z bar on my ride there.

Dessert: 9:00 pm

And lastly, when I got home from the gym, showered, packed up all my things for Tuesday and settled in to watch the second hour of the Bachelor with a few friends, I decided I wanted something sweet to end the day. I ended up having some cottage cheese with chopped strawberries, raisins, and a few chopped walnuts sprinkled on top.

And that concludes a day of packed meals/meals-on-the-go.

I hope you have been enjoying some delicious food this week as well! I’m excited to go check out what other people have been eating and get some new ideas!

Best thing I packed this week (February 17, 2012)

Hi everyone, Happy Friday!

I am pretty excited because I have the day off of work today! I still have chem lecture + lab from 5-10 tonight, but I refuse to let that dampen my day. It’s so nice to have the morning/afternoon free! What should I do with myself? I’m not used to this freedom…..

Anyway, moving on…. Since it is Friday, I have another installment of “the best thing I packed this week.” I hope you guys are fans of eggs because my favorite meals revolved around them this week. For some reason I was craving egg salad last weekend (which is odd because I rarely crave eggs), so I decided to do something about it. I buckled down, decided to be my domestic self, and I made some hard-boiled eggs (I had no idea what I was doing and had to look up directions... it ended up being really easy, by the way).

Me and eggs have a weird relationship. I either love them or hate them (and there is no in between). I was definitely on the “love” side of the spectrum this week so I just went with it and had some egg-inspired meals….

The best thing I packed this week: Hard-boiled egg edition:

Best Lunch: “Cobb”-esque Salad

For lunch on Monday, I made myself a “Cobb-esque” salad (I am calling it that since it contained no bacon, chicken, or tomatoes like a typical cobb salad, but did have the egg and cheese components…). My salad contained:

  • romaine lettuce
  • carrots
  • cucumber
  • celery
  • mushrooms
  • snap peas
  • a slice of cheddar cheese (cut into squares)
  • 1 chopped hard-boiled egg
  • Dressing: homemade honey mustard dressing made with apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey and pepper

I loved all the different textures and tastes in this salad and the cheddar cheese was a fun addition (I have a similar relationship with cheese as I do with eggs…. love it or hate it). I guess I am in a dairy loving mood this week?

I think I was inspired to make this after seeing a Cobb salad on Pinterest the other week… I have been loving getting food inspiration from the site (side note…. I really want to try to make these apple pies in an apple…).

Best Dinner: Healthy Egg Salad Sandwich

Keeping with the egg theme, my favorite pre-class packed dinner this week was a egg salad wrap that I had on Wednesday night. I made the egg salad by combining (enough for 2 sandwiches):

  • 3 eggs (chopped)
  • 1-2 tbsp greek yogurt (I just eyeballed this)
  • a squirt of dijon mustard (maybe 2 tsp?)
  • pepper
  • a sprinkle of paprika

I made my wrap by combining half the egg salad mixture with some romaine lettuce.

This ended up being so good and definitely satisfied my egg salad craving. Not only was it a protein packed wrap with the addition of both eggs and greek yogurt, it was also a bit healthier than the standard mayo-heavy egg salad you would find in most deli’s or supermarkets.

I was a little nervous to use greek yogurt  as a mayo replacement (I usually use it as a sour cream replacement), but it turned out really well! This tasted  spot on to the mayo-heavy egg salad I remember eating as a child, only this version was so much less dense and calorie heavy! I know some people are against using greek yogurt as a substitute for other condiments, but I am a big fan. It’s just so versatile.

Other notable meals/snacks of the week:

Tofu sandwich with Trader Joe's Lentil Masala dip, cucumber and spinach

Snack of cottage cheese and pumpkin topped with craisins, raisins and a sprinkle of cinnamon and raw oats

 What was the best thing you packed this week?

Have a great weekend!

WIAW #4 (February 15, 2012)

Hi there, Happy Wednesday! One day closer to weekend….

And also time for another What I ate Wednesday!

This WIAW post documents everything I ate yesterday (2/14). I was going to show you Monday’s meals this week, but I figured my Valentine’s Day-inspired meals were a bit more exciting to share….

Breakfast: 6:15 AM

For breakfast yesterday, I decided to get in the Valentine’s day spirit by having a chocolate inspired breakfast (that I previously showed in yesterday’s post). I had a Fitnessista-inspired breakfast cookie made with the following:

  • 1/2  oats
  • 1 tbsp pb
  • 1 tbsp Hershey’s Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 banana
  • splash soy milk
  • topped with 2 chopped strawberries + strawberry jelly

I LOVE breakfast cookies as a quick, delicious oatmeal alternative in the morning, but I go through phases where I forget about them.  I might need to start bringing them back into a normal rotation in the mornings. They are super easy to throw together the night before, and it’s so nice to have breakfast waiting for you in the morning. I especially enjoyed the chocolate addition in yesterday’s breakfast.

Snack: 9:45 am

I got a little hungry before a meeting I was scheduled to have at 10 am yesterday, so I snacked on a  little trail mix/cereal mixture that contained:

  • Kashi Honey Sunshine (about 1/2 c)
  • raisins + golden raisins
  • walnuts + almonds

Lunch: 12:15 pm

I usually eat lunch around 12, but I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from the front desk at work  saying that a package had been delivered to me:

My boyfriend, Jon, sent me flowers! I was so surprised (I have never had anything sent to me at work before)! I had no idea he was doing it… and am quite impressed with his sneakiness. He’s the best.

For lunch I had a tempeh, cheddar, spinach and jelly sandwich on a whole wheat sandwich thin (a combo I have been meaning to try out for a while!), with some carrot sticks, celery and snap peas on the side.

This particular sandwich  combo ended up being really good! I loved the sweet jelly mixed with the salty/savory tempeh and cheddar cheese. I love eating tempeh in sandwiches, and I am just loving the sweet/salty combo these days…. (side note, if you’ve never tried tempeh or need some new ideas check out Meghann’s post… she has a lot of great suggestions!). I also had  a Fugi apple with lunch as well.

Snack: 1:30 pm

My coworker, Amanda, was so sweet and baked/brought in some Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies for the office yesterday in order to celebrate Valentine’s Day . She found the recipe on Pinterest (we bound over our mutual love of the site), and I must say, these brownies were pretty delicious. It served as the perfect afternoon Valentine’s Day snack.

Dinner: 7:00 pm

we were extra classy and put our seltzer and pepsi in wine glasses....

Jon and I decided to made dinner together yesterday to “celebrate.” We made Sautéed Citrus Salmon with roasted potatoes (tossed with basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, thyme and garlic) and garlic green beans (we sautéed them with minced garlic, salt and pepper).

This meal ended up being pretty simple to make (fish-making always intimidates me a little and I don’t know why… it’s easy), and the salmon turned out so well. It was really good. I found the recipe on Pinterest (notice a theme here….), and I would highly recommend it.  The lemon peel and lemon juice added a really nice flavor to the fish and it had plenty of crispy edge pieces (my favorite part!). I am pretty sure this is one the best meals Jon and I have made together. It’s one of those meals you want to go back and eat again (or have dreams about eating… anyone else have this happen to them? I can’t be the only one that thinks about delicious food all.the.time.).

Dessert: 8:00 pm

For dessert we had some chocolate mousse that I made on Monday, topped with some whipped cream and strawberries. I can’t even describe to you how good this stuff is. I wish I could swim in it… I even debated having another glass full of it when I finished the glass above. It is so chocolatey and delicious. I am totally making this whenever I  have a dinner party (since I do that so often?…one day) or want to “impress” guests (it is so “fancy,” but so easy to make). Go make this. You won’t regret it.

Overall, I must say that I had a great day of eating yesterday.  Everything I ate was amazing…. I don’t think I could even choose what the best meal of the day was, I enjoyed them all.

What was the best thing you ate yesterday?

Best thing I packed this week: week 2 (February 10, 2012)

Happy Friday! Anyone doing anything exciting this weekend?

So the time has come again for “The best thing I packed this week” (here is week 1 in case you missed it)!

Best lunch: Roasted brussel sprout, sweet potato and black bean salad (with BBQ hummus dressing)

I can’t take credit for this delicious combination (my sister made it for me), but it was definitely the best thing I ate for lunch this week. Sami (my twin sister who is a busy grad student and lover of healthy packed lunches as well) and I tend to help each other out during the week and make each others lunches on certain days (she usually packs my lunch for Thursday, since I don’t get home until 9:30ish, and I tend to help her out Tuesdays or Fridays). It definitely makes my life a little easier, and I appreciate her SO much for helping me out. Thanks Sam!

This salad contained so many delicious things, I didn’t want it to end. My favorite salads tend be (1) ones with a lot of various ingredients to pick at and taste, or (2) ones that contain different or “less typical” ingredients than the standard salad (think carrot, cucumber, tomato, etc.), This salad definitely fell into the second category with the addition of brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes. I am a BIG fan of both (I love roasted brussel sprouts!), and while I typically eat these types of veggies for dinner, it was fun to enjoy them in the middle of the day. 

 I ate around the spinach first (I usually always save the best parts for last in salads) and left all the brussel sprouts, beans and sweet potatoes for last. This salad contained:

  • spinach
  • sweet potato cubes
  • roasted brussel sprouts
  • black beans
  • quinoa

Dressing: Homemade BBQ dressing made with:

  • BBQ sauce (approx 1 tbsp)… I never really measure these things
  • apple cider vinegar (approx 1-2 tsp)
  • a drop or two of water – to thin it out

I love making my own dressings, since I typically don’t tend like many bottled options, and I like to be in control of how much of certain ingredients I use.  Sami is actually a pretty talented dressing maker and is always whipping up some delicious combinations. My favorites of hers include:

  • BBQ (and BBQ Hummus)
  • Honey Balsamic 
  • Honey Mustard-esque dressing

Making your own dressing is really easy, and I find that they taste just as good (if not better!) than many bottled kinds (I HATE that artificial taste in certain types of dressing). Since a dressing can make or break a salad, they are definitely an important feature of my daily meals. What are your favorite kinds of dressing?

Other notable meals of the week….

kale, goat cheese, kidney bean and veggie "pasta" salad

olive tapenade, hummus and kale on whole wheat

So that concludes the “Best thing I packed this week.” I hope you have a great Friday/weekend!

What was the best thing you packed this week?

WIAW #3 (February 8, 2012)

Good morning! Can you believe its already Wednesday! This week is going by quickly…. and I am not complaining.

So today is a rather busy day for me  between work, class and lab (I have my first Bio test today ahhhh), but I am going to try to remain as positive as possible. I am feeling a bit sleepy at the moment (never a good sign…) but its nothing that a grande Starbucks coffee can’t fix. Does anyone else ever feel like they are on crack when they drink it (or what I assume crack would feel like)? It makes me so productive/talkative….

Anyway, since it is Wednesday, it  is time, once again, for another installment of WIAW! These are all my meals/snacks  from Tuesday, and since I had the day off from work yesterday (which was SO nice!), my activities were a bit more varied and you may see more photos that were taken other places than my office….

Pre-workout snack: 5:45 am

I planned to take a 6 am BodyPump class yesterday (to incorporate more strength training into my life), so I got up at 5:30ish, ate half a banana with some peanut butter and headed to the gym only to find out the class was cancelled! I was a little disappointed, but I did stick with my weight training goal of the month and did 20 minutes on the elliptical (2 miles) and 35 minutes of strength work + abs (!) that looked like this ( I did each move for 15-20 reps and repeated the sequence 3x):

  • Bicep curls (10lbs, 15 reps)
  • Lateral Raise + shoulder press (10 lbs, 15 reps)
  • Chest press (12 lbs dumbbells, 20 reps)
  • Back rows (12 lbs, 20 reps)
  • Tricep extensions (12 lbs each side, 20 reps)
  • Lunges + lift (15 each side – 1st set), squats (30) + alternating lunges (15 each leg – 2nd set) alternating lunges ( 15 each leg – 3rd set)

Abs: random moves for 5 minutes that included bicycles, reverse crunches, a plank, crunch pulses…. I always just try to stay moving for about 5 minutes

I won’t lie, I was pretty pleased with myself for sticking with the weights. I usually struggle to do 3 consecutive sets (which is why I love BodyPump for pushing me past my usual stopping point) but I pushed through and stuck with it. It felt SO good to have my workout completed by 7:00 am.

Breakfast: 8:00 am

I have been loving yogurt these days so I decided to have a yogurt bowl with some “fun” things added in for breakfast. I had:

  • 1/2 c greek yogurt sweetened with a squirt of honey
  • 1/3 (?) c pumpkin
  • 1/3 c oats
  • 1/2 banana
  • almond butter (1/2-1 tbsp)
  • raisins
  • cinnamon

I am still loving pumpkin and don’t see it ending anytime soon….

Snack(?) 11 am

I went to a baby shower for an old boss and picked at a few different things while I was there. I didn’t take any photos since I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos in the big group (maybe one day….?).

I had:

  • 4-5 bites of chocolate cake (butter and egg-less…. my friend/former co-worker Maggie’s go-to cake recipe)
  • a small scoop of quinoa salad (made with quinoa  and chopped raw veggies)
  • fruit salad
  • a bite of a cake pop… it was too cute not to try

Lunch 1:30 pm

After the shower I headed to the library to study for my Bio test. I packed myself   an “Asian-themed” wrap to eat while I studied. It contained:

  • edamame
  • veggies: spinach, cucumber, mushrooms
  • sesame seeds
  • a little teriakyi sauce.

I also had some carrot sticks and apple on the side.

The wrap was a little overstuffed (I always do this! I need wrap folding help…) so I ended up eating the insides out with a fork and then eating the wrap by itself afterwards (which ended up being pretty good since it soaked up the teriakyi sauce.)

Dinner 5:30

For dinner I tried a new to me veggie protein, TVP (Textured Vegetarian Protein)!  While I try to limit my intake of soy proteins to a couple times a week and don’t like rely on it too much, I do love eating tofu and tempeh from time to time and am always up to trying new things. I have heard of TVP before, but I never really had the urge to try it until I stumbled upon a recipe for BBQ TVP the other day. When I was at the store yesterday and saw it in the bulk bins, I figured it must be fate, and I might as well give it a try. Now or never, right?

Please excuse the unattractive photo. I had issues making this look appetizing... annnd my BBQ sauce exploded out of the container

I followed the recipe exactly, only adding some additional s+p and chili powder to the spice mix. I served it on top of some quinoa and had some sautéed kale (I love sautéed kale) on the side as well.

While it wasn’t bad, I found it to be a little bland… I think I maybe used too much liquid? I was unsure of how much I would like the texture (I usually don’t like “meaty” soy proteins), but it definitely grew on me as I ate it.  I am not going to say I am a huge fan, but I am not giving up on it quite yet. I loved the BBQ idea and it was really easy to make, so maybe I need to try again….Anyone  have some tips for me?

Dessert: 7:3o pm

I was really craving chocolate after dinner yesterday so I warmed a Chocolote Brownie ZBar for 30 seconds in the microwave, added a little almond milk, and ate it out of a mug… It didn’t look too appetizing so I’ll spare you and show you a picture of the wrapper. It ended up being delicious and exactly what I wanted. I love it when that happens.

So there you have it. I feel like my day was rather random yesterday, but I guess that’s what happens when you have a random Tuesday off….

Have a great day everyone!

You eat with your eyes first – How to make food look “pretty”

Last week, I shared a few tips on how to make meal packing fast and cheap. Today, I thought I’d share some tips on how I make my packed lunches/meals look “pretty.”

This might seem like a pointless tip or something that isn’t worth your time, but I am a firm believer that you eat with your eyes first. Food that looks better, tastes better… I promise.

Now, I know when lunch packing already seems like a hassle, the last thing you  probably want to think about is, “How can I make this look “pretty?” or “How can I make this sandwich look better?”” I realize it can sound ridiculous, and I know it is definitely easier to throw things in some tinfoil and plastic baggies and call it a day.

I am not saying that it is necessary to spend hours upon hours on food presentation everyday, but with just a few extra seconds each day, it is possible for all of us average joes and Tupperware  packers to have Whole Foods salad bar worthy food(or insert your own “best looking food I can think of here”) .

I find that when I focus more on how my food looks, I focus more when I actually eat it (and don’t just shovel food into my face). Food becomes more important. It tastes better, and I appreciate it more. The simplest foods can taste amazing when you take the time to make them look nice.

So without further ado, here are some of my tried and true ways to make food look appealing. Please come back and tell me when you get asked where you bought your lunch…

1. Focus on color!

Colorful food is more exciting to look at and to eat. When you focus on adding color to meals, you are also guaranteed to be eating more healthy/nutrient dense foods as well (it is an idiot-proof way to incorporate more veggies in your diet!). I always try to include at least a few colors in each meal.

One way way I do this is by trying to add something green in my lunches and dinners (whether it be spinach, kale, broccoli, celery….).

2.Put food in “sections”

I do this all the time, and it is an easy way to make food look more “pulled together.” I always get compliments on my meals when I do this (and sometimes get asked where I bought them!), so this definitely works.

I usually will chop everything I am using at once ,and I then just put each item on the salad/concoction that I made in a different area. It is an easy, instant way to look like you are a meal packing pro.

3.Don’t underestimate the power of mix-ins/additional “fun” items

This is the fun part. A meal automatically looks better and tastes better when fun and/or “themed” items are thrown into the mix. If you make an “Asian-themed meal”, add sesame seeds or sriacha (if you like spicy foods); If you are making a more basic salad with veggies and beans, add some dried fruit and nuts to make it “fancier.” If you have a few extra items on hand you can really make any meal look and taste more exciting with this simple step. Some “extras” I like to have on hand:

  • a variety of nuts
  • seeds (pumpkin, sesame…)
  • dried fruit (apricots, raisins, currants, mango) I love to go to Trader Joes and the bulk bins at Whole Foods for stuff like this
  • additional veggies (my sister and I like to add “fun” veggies to our meals like roasted brussel sprouts, jicama sticks, shredded carrots, chopped peppers, chopped green beans, beets, cubed sweet potato chunks… the options are endless)
  • other (wasabi peas, a small sprinkling of cheese, crackers, condiments…)

4. Invest in simple, well-sized Tupperware containers

Your salad/sandwich only looks as good as the container it is in. It seems silly, but it is true. I used to HATE all my Tupperware and could never find what I was looking for when I was packing my lunches. As soon as I bought a 4-pack of salad-appropriate containers and a 4-pack of dressing containers, meal packing became SO much easier. Plus, it was so much easier to make my food look more appealing. It is hard to make a salad look good in an old yogurt container… trust me.  This applies to plates and dishes too. A simple, white square plate will make your food look better than a cracked, beat up plate any day. I love to go to Target for cheap dish options.

5. When in doubt… layer

I like to think that layering is always a fancy way to make food look nice. I mean, parfaits always look good, so why not apply the concept to other foods? I tend to do this with salads or with dinners. In a salad situation, I will prep all my ingredients and then just place them on the plate one at at time. For example, Ill lay out 1/2 my lettuce base, then add 1/2 of the veggies one at a time, then  1/2 of the beans, then 1/2 of the “extras”… then just do it all again. Its fun to do and always makes a meal look a little more “special.”

So, there you have it, some of my tried and true ways to make food look and taste better. I swear this is an important part of meal packing and in the enjoyment of meals – and it is so easy to do! Let me know if you try any of this out (or have any other tips to add to the list).

Do you focus on how your meals look? Do you think food presentation is important?

Best thing I packed this week (February 3, 2012)

So for a couple of weeks, I was showing and photographing all the meals and snacks I packed for work and school.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

I wanted to do this to:

  • Show how it is possible to pack easy and healthy food  when you are on the go (It is possible to eat plenty of fruits and veggies on a daily basis!)
  • To avoid getting into a food rut and packing the same things all the time

Well, after doing this for a while, I have found that  my current method of showing everything I pack is a  little monotonous and not very useful in helping me brainstorm new meal packing ideas. I find myself taking more time photographing everything than actually focusing on what I care about – making fun/delicious food (This also gives me a whole new respect to the 3x a day bloggers out there…. they are good at what they do)!

Anyway, I think I have come up with an alternative. Instead of showing everything I pack, I plan to showcase or “spotlight”  the most notable or delicious meals that I pack throughout the week. This way, I can focus more on the food and less on documenting my not so beautiful array of Tupperware containers and tinfoil.

So to start things off, here are the “best things I packed this week:”

Best Lunch: Citrus Romaine Salad

This salad was kind of a odd mix of ingredients thrown together that ended up tasting really good.

The star ingredient in this salad concoction was some spaghetti squash that I decided to use last minute.  I usually only think to use this type of squash in Italian-themed dishes because of its “noodle-like” consistency, but the flavor of it is so mild, it worked rather well in this  less “traditional” way. While I am definitely  not one to shy away from weird food combinations, but I swear this was good! The squash soaked up the dressing very well and tasted delicious when paired with the clementine segments that I also added to the mix.

This particular salad contained:

Veggies/Fruit

  • spaghetti squash (it was on the bottom of the container so you can’t really see it)
  • romaine lettuce
  • yellow and orange pepper
  • carrot
  • clementine segments

Protein/Grain:

  • black beans
  • quinoa

Dressing: Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar

Best Dinner: Sweet + Savory Pita Sandwich

I actually forgot to take a photo of this, but lets just say it looked like this (just pretend the chicken is tofu…)

For dinner before class on Wednesday, I packed myself a sandwich using an Arnold’s 8 Grain Pocket Thin (a new product that I heard about from my friend that works for the company!). I saw the Pocket Thins at the store this past weekend and, even though I would probably buy them for myself anyway, I, of course, had to support my friend and pick up a pack.

I packed myself 2 halves (the serving is 100 calories for 1/2…. but I needed a bit more for a meal) with 2 different types of filling; One sweet, one savory.

Half #1 = savory

  • tofu
  • broccoli sprouts
  • cucumber
  • Trader Joe’s lentil masala spread

Half #2 = sweet

  • goat cheese
  • balsamic strawberries (I soaked some chopped strawberries in balsamic vinegar overnight…)
  • spinach

This dinner ended up being so good! The Pocket Thins are so soft and doughy (they have the same sweet/doughy taste that I love so much about sandwich thins), and I loved having two different sandwiches in one.  I ended up eating the savory half first and then the sweet. It was like I had dinner and dessert all in one!  I will most likely be doing this again….

What was the best lunch/dinner/snack you packed (or ate) this week?