Lunch prep made easy! That’s what I need. Even though I enjoy looking at elaborate recipes, I inevitably choose something that’s quick and easy. I’ll make one or two recipes for a week’s worth of lunches, then I have healthy sustenance when I need it. Otherwise, my choices aren’t always great in the moment when I’m hungry.
Cheats that Make Lunch Easy
Do you know that Whole Foods sells frozen quinoa? And that many grocery stores sell frozen brown rice? Sometimes even my checker is surprised when she sees frozen quinoa on the conveyor belt, but buying frozen grains helps me make easy, healthy recipes for lunch.
Many grocery stores also sell canned lentils—and canned beans, of course. And hummus with clean ingredients is also available almost anywhere. I generated this recipe knowing I’d use a bag of frozen quinoa, a can of lentils and store-bought hummus. I’m halfway done cooking before I start working! So easy and healthy! Also, I can keep these ingredients on hand for a long time—a lot longer than fresh produce. I fall back on this lunch recipe whenever I’m short on time. Also, when I change my mind and eat something else for lunch, my ingredients do not go bad before I can eat them. The staples of this recipe last awhile.
A Little Bit about Complete Plant Proteins
Since I maintain a plant-based diet to keep my Rheumatoid Arthritis in remission, I get my protein from plant-based sources. It’s easy to get complete proteins from plants. For example, quinoa is a complete protein and a great base for any lunch recipe. Another complete protein? Rice and beans.
Let’s Talk about Plant Points
When eating plants, it’s important to get a variety. We can’t eat the same ten plants without any variety, or we won’t reach our optimal health.
Each plant counts as one point—as long as the fiber hasn’t been stripped from the plant. This list includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, whole grains and fresh herbs. One plant equals one plant point. The more plant points you get, the healthier you will be. You can’t eat the same plant twice in one day and count it twice. It counts for one point all day long. This lunch recipe has fifteen plant points. That’s a really good plant point number for one lunch!
Switching It Up
We all have our favorite, go-to foods, but our gut suffers when we eat the same thing week after week, month after month. The beauty of this easy, healthy recipe for lunch is that it is so versatile. You can modify it with whatever produce is in season or on sale, and experience new flavors. Using different herbs also provides new flavors (think parsley for Greek or cilantro for Mexican). Try a new hummus for a different taste. Swap out frozen quinoa with frozen brown rice and canned lentils with any canned bean.
You can purchase fresh vegetables for a specific flavor, or you can use whatever is left in your fridge, either works.
Remember: the more you switch it up, the more plant points you get, and the better your microbiome will be.
Easy, Healthy Recipe for Lunch
- 1 bag frozen quinoa (approx. 3 cups)
- 1 can lentils (approx. 1-1/2 cups)
- Juice from 1 lemon (or lime)
- 2-3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
- Salt, pepper and/or crushed red pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
- 1/4 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/4 cup bell peppers, chopped
- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
- 8 Kalamata olives
- 1/4 cup hummus (vary type for different flavors)
- Juice from 1 lemon (or lime)
- Almond slivers
- Chopped walnuts
- Heat quinoa according to instructions on bag.
- Open can of lentils and rinse thoroughly.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix the quinoa and lentils together. Toss with freshly squeezed lemon juice and salt, pepper and/or crushed red pepper flakes and stir in thoroughly.
- Mix in freshly chopped basil and chives and stir in thoroughly.
- While the quinoa is heating up, chop the bell pepper and green onions. Also, according to your preference, dice up the grape tomatoes and olives (or leave them whole).
- Add chopped vegetables to quinoa and lentils and stir in thoroughly.
- In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup hummus with freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon. Stir together until it is the right consistency. Add more or less lemon juice to preferred consistency.
- Toss dressing over quinoa, lentils and vegetables. Mix thoroughly.
Prep for Single Lunches & Garnish
- This salad can be eaten immediately after making it, or it can be stored in mason jars (or similar lunch container) for lunches for the week.
- Garnish with microgreens, almond slivers and chopped walnuts.