Both my young adult children have busy lives with work, play, and whatever else they do. We have many discussions about their trying to eat healthier. I am constantly getting phone calls asking…”Mom how do I make this” or “Mom I love this, is it healthy for me?” But most often the talk is…”Mom I want to eat healthier, especially bringing a healthy lunch to work”. Yes…I did well by my children, I am proud to say they both have a conscience and strive to be better citizens. Seriously, mind, body and souls.
Ok… so yesterday, I had a talk with my daughter. When the, “I don’t have time” issue came up, I suggested she prepare a cup or so of uncooked quinoa, whole grain rice, whole grain couscous or any grain she likes on a Sunday or whenever she has time. My suggestion was to portion the cooked servings into half cup packets…then freeze the packets. That took care of the carb component. Next, I explained that she can make beans or even open a can of beans and portion those out into 1/2 cup portions…then freeze them. That took care of the protein. I instructed her to keep some organic corn, peas, kale, or other leafy green and coloured frozen vegetables in the freezer. And I suspect you know where this is going. It’s a good idea to always have onions, small grape or cherry tomatoes, plain low fat yoghurt and a jar of salsa on hand. Put them all together with some seasonings and you’ve got a full nutritious lunch with all the food groups! A yummy colourful whip together Mexican Lunch Salad in no time at all when you have no time at all!
Frozen vegetables are processed at their peak of growing perfection. Their nutrition is excellent and they are extremely convenient. Kale or spinach (you can use fresh spinach for this recipe..or even fresh greens) are good ones as they don’t take very long to prepare. You only need to slightly thaw the corn. And the flavour profile is sweet from the corn and savoury with all those yummy vegetables. If you don’t like tomatoes, try a variety of colours of bell peppers.
Put it all together by grabbing a frozen packet of quinoa… a frozen packet of beans, measure out a serving of kale (or eyeball it). Season with maybe a pinch or two of ground chili and/or cumin, course kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Put them in a sizeable bowl for one and microwave for about 3 minutes at 80% power or until warmed through. Top with a little onion, fresh tomatoes, and dollop or two of yoghurt, a couple of spoonfuls of a zesty salsa… squeeze some lime and voila! A tasty nutritious lunch or light dinner is there in literally minutes. I like to sprinkle fresh cilantro or chopped basil…if you have time. For a cold salad alternative, you can throw it together without the cooking and take it to work…by the time you have lunch, the frozen components will have thawed. It makes a nice cold Mexican salad.
Here’s the recipe for those who want to give it a grab n go! Let me know how long it takes you to throw together.
Mexican Lunch Salad With Quinoa 1 serving, multiply for more people
½ cup pinto beans, cooked or canned (black beans, chickpeas or mixed beans work well too) ½ cup frozen kale 1/3 cup frozen corn ½ cup quinoa, cooked 1/3-cup low fat plain yoghurt 5 fresh grape tomatoes, quartered 2 tablespoons salsa, any kind…spicy is best 1 tablespoon sweet onion, small dice 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, optional ’cause Cori doesn’t like it Fresh jalapeno to your taste, optional Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper ground chili or cumin, optional fresh lime for squeezing, optional
In the microwave, heat the frozen ingredients until hot for about 4 minutes.
Layer the other ingredients.
Season to suit your taste and enjoy!
Variations: fresh diced or sliced avocado, orange slices…if you don’t like beans…leftover chicken, tofu, low fat feta…use your imagination.
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