Easy Lunch Idea: Veggie-Packed Lemon Tofu Sandwich

One of my favorite types of sandwiches to make is a hummus and veggie sandwich. They are easy to put together quickly, are always delicious, and always guarantee satisfying and healthy meal. My sister packed me a delicious variation of a hummus and veggie sandwich  for dinner the other day, and it was so delicious, I thought I should share.

This sandwich was full of veggies and had a nice punch of flavor with the addition of some fresh lemon juice.  My sister, Sami actually thought of this addition, so I can’t take the credit. Not only was this sandwich super delicious and fresh tasting, it was also super easy to pull together and filling with the addition of some pressed tofu (which is optional if you don’t like tofu… you could also add another protein source if you’d like).

I highly recommend you try this out!

Ingredients (for one sandwich):

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • cucumber (2 slices)
  • radish (2-3, chopped)
  • kale (leaves of a small stalk, shredded into bite-sized pieces)
  • zucchini (2-3 slices)
  • mushrooms (4-6 pieces)
  • hummus (1-2 tbsp)
  • squirt of lemon (1/4 of a lemon)
  • sprinkle of pepper
  • 1/8-1/4 block tofu (pressed, sliced into thin strips)… or another protein source (ex. a piece of grilled chicken, tempeh, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Press tofu (if using) to remove liquid (approx 30 minutes) – this can be done with a tofu press or with paper towels/dish towels and heavy objects…. (see Ashley’s post for a good tutorial) and can also be done ahead of time (I pressed mine over the weekend)
  2. Once pressed, slice block into quarters, reserving 1/4 for the sandwich and refrigerating remaining 3/4 (for more sandwiches later in the week!). Slice the 1/4 block of tofu into thin strips
  3. Spread 2 slices of bread with hummus (1/2-1 tbsp on each slice)
  4. On one slice of bread, add sliced tofu and veggies
  5. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top of the sandwich half with the veggies and sprinkle a little pepper
  6. Add on other slice of bread, cut sandwich in half, and pack in tupperware/tinfoil for an easy, healthy, delicious lunch (or dinner…)!

This sandwich was so good! I ate it while studying for a Bio test, and it made  studying  so much more enjoyable. Tofu and veggie sandwiches are great for a quick and healthy meal. Plus, they are so versatile! You can always switch it up with different veggies and condiments/spreads….

Options:

  • You could substitute any veggie with what you already have on hand (shredded carrot, pepper, tomato, etc. would all be delicious)
  • You can substitute plain hummus with another flavor or hummus or with another type of spread (I am a fan of using Trader Joe’s lentil masala spread as a sandwich spread)
  • You can omit tofu or add in another protein choice of your choosing

What is your favorite type of sandwich to pack for lunch?

I hope you have a great day!

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!

How I make lunch packing quick, cheap, and exciting

About a few months ago I had the idea to start up a lunch making service. I thought I could create a “menu” of a few different options, charge enough to cover the cost of my ingredients (and enough to make some profit), and show people that eating vegetables, whole grains and “out-of-the-box” protein sources is fun and delicious.
 
I know a lot of people HATE making their lunch for work/school, so why not put my love of organization and veggie chopping to good use?
 

Unfortunately, my current schedule doesn’t exactly permit me to take on such an undertaking (working 40 hours/week plus being in school 10+ hours a week isn’t exactly ideal for a lunch making service…).

So… even though my business venture isn’t exactly attainable right now, I still love packing myself healthy and fun lunches, and I still have the desire to show people how delicious vegetables are and how easy it can be to incorporate them into daily life.

I mean, food is an important part of life. We eat at least 3x a day. Why not make meals as exciting (and nutrient-packed) as possible (even when they are in Tupperware containers)?

lunch and dinner packed for today

Since I feel like the issue with lunch packing is less about what to do, and is more about how to do it, I thought I could share a few tricks and habits I have developed over the last couple years that allow me to pack healthy, quick and delicious lunches for myself on a daily basis.

I truly believe it is possible to be busy and make time for your health and well being as well.

One thing I try to do on Sundays is prep lunch/dinner ingredients to use through out the week. It literally saves so much time and makes meal packing so much easier.  Yesterday, for example, I had about 30 minutes of time to spare, so I prepped a lot of things for the week to make meal packing a little easier:

1. I made some grains for fast lunch/dinner making

quinoa and whole grain pasta

 This is something I try to do every Sunday, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to save some time during the week. It is such an easy way to create a variety of quick and healthy meals without waiting for anything to cook (or relying on packaged bread or wraps).

There are so different many grains to try out. They also store pretty well and are easy to prep. Some of my favorites (with cook times):

  1. Quinoa (20 minute approx.)
  2. Brown Rice (ranges depending on the type… I personally like the quick cooking kind which takes 10-15 minutes)
  3. Barley (30-45 min)
  4. Whole grain pasta (15 minutes)… I love to make make-shift “pasta salads” 

2. I prepped my protein sources (beans, tofu)

One thing I try to keep in mind when meal planning is incorporating good protein sources into my meals. I know opening and rinsing a can of beans doesn’t seem that difficult, but for some reason, I hate having to do it when packing my lunch. By rinsing a few cans at once, I have now have 2 different protein sources waiting for me to use. When it comes to quick meal packing, the more convenient, the better.

I also pressed a block of tofu with my tofu press while I opened the beans. I LOVE my tofu press. It makes tofu-making so  convenient. I used to avoid making it because of the the whole paper towel/dish towel/book stacking process (which isn’t so bad, it just takes a bit more effort)… this makes it SO easy.

Other easy protein sources I like to use:

  1. Any type of canned bean (kidney, black, white, chickpea)
  2. Edamame (perfect for “Asian” inspired meals… I buy prepackaged, individually-sized bags at the grocery store that are located in the freezer section).
  3. Canned tuna and canned salmon
  4. Tempeh/Tofu
  5. Veggie burgers

1. I premade trail mixes

dried fruit, mini chocolate chips

almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios

 This is the first time I ever took the time to pre-make some mixes, and it literally took 5 minutes. I don’t know why I don’t do this more often. Packing snacks is something I rarely think to do ahead of time, which usually leads to me eating a lot of granola bars and almonds as a snack, or spending a few minutes every day putting some “fun” mixes together.
 

While I don’t mind packing snacks everyday, doing it all at once was pretty simple, and it was actually pretty fun to mix and match my different “ingredients.” I even rediscovered  some things I forgot I owned (pistachios and dried mango!). I love that I have a variety of mixes waiting for me to grab. This is such an easy (and cost effective!) way to ensure you have a fun, healthy, filling snack available when hunger stikes.  

So, I guess the first step of healthy/fun lunch making is all about the prep work. It might not be the most “fun” thing to do, but I promise it is worth it when you have something delicious to eat everyday (that took almost no time to prepare). I also have some tips on making food “pretty” (you eat with your eyes first!), but I think I am going to save that for another day….  
 
I hope you have a great Monday!
 
Do you pack your lunch for school/work? How important is it for you to pack healthy/delicious meals? Any barriers to doing this?

WIAW (January 25, 2012)

So normally, I would be posting my  packed meals for the day (I have a long day of work and school today), but I have been reading blogs for a pretty lengthy amount of time – about 2.5 years(?) – so I thought I’d participate in a trend I have seen time and time again (and always thought I’d participate in if I ever started my own blog)…. What I Ate Wednesday!

(these are actually my meals/snacks from Tuesday. I figured it would be more exciting since I didn’t have school and my meals are more “normal” – also everything won’t be in tin foil and tupperware…)

Breakfast

6:00 am

I have been really into the “yogurt bowls” recently. For breakfast I had plain greek yogurt (sweetened with a little stevia), with a raw oat/cereal mixture,1/2 banana, strawberries, a sprinkling of both flax and raisins, and peanut butter about 1 tbsp?). This breakfast is always so good. I love have everything in its own section and picking what to eat for each bite.

Snack 1

9:30 am

For my mid-morning snack I had a cereal/nut/dried fruit mixture that included apricots, raisins, Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal, walnuts, almonds, and cashews. I love having mixtures like these to pick at while I work through the morning.

Lunch

12:15 pm

For lunch I had a big salad with kale/spinach, carrots, peppers, chickpeas and quinoa. I had a spicy hummus dressing on top (that I made with hummus, apple cider vinegar, a little water, and a little sriacha) and also ate a Pink Lady apple.

Snack 2

3:00 pm

As a afternoon snack I had a Clif Z bar in the Honey Graham flavor (my second choice of flavor now that I have discovered Iced Oatmeal Raisin Cookie).

Dinner

6:00 pm

For dinner I made myself a stir fry of bok choy (just bought this for the first time this week and I am a big fan), celery, peppers, mushrooms and snap peas. I sautéed everything with salt, pepper and a little dried ginger. I topped it off with some crispy tofu (sprayed pan, let cubed tofu cook 5 minutes each side – a trick I learned here  – then mixed in some teriakyi sauce), gomasio ( a really good sesame seed replacement), and mixed in some quinoa on the side.

Snack 3/Dessert

I forgot to photograph this one (remembering to do this is HARD), but I had some chopped strawberries with chocolate sauce and a sprinkle of some granola on top.

So that concludes my meals for WIAW. Thank you Peas and Crayons for letting me participate!

Did you eat anything delicious yesterday/plan to eat anything delicious today?

 I hope your have a great Wednesday!

All about teamwork

Whenever my sister is busy or I am busy, we tend to help each other out, especially with meal planning/packing.

sandwich, veggies, apple, seltzer

Today, for example, my sister made my lunch for me. I don’t know why, but sometimes things taste so much better when you don’t make them yourself. Why is this? I literally would have made myself almost the same exact thing, but, for some reason, my lunch was extra delicious today (Thank you Sami!). 

I particularly enjoyed my sandwich, which contained tofu, spicy mustard, romaine, and pickles. I love the combination of tofu, mustard and pickles, it never disappoints.

So I know a lot of people aren’t into tofu, but I swear it can be delicious if you prepare it the right way. It has a very mild taste that can take on whatever flavor you want.. I like to think the options are endless… (which is similar to chicken, no?). They key for me is making sure it is pressed for long enough so it gets firm (I recently got a tofu press for Christmas which makes this so easy now!).

Anyway, I must get back to work, but I hope everyone is having a lovely Thursday! Hopefully you had a delicious lunch today as well!

Questions: Do you ever help out a roommate/sibling/spouse etc. with meal planning/packing? Why do certain foods taste better when you don’t make them (this is more rhetorical but Id love it if anyone had a good reason)? What did you have for lunch today?