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But what should I have for lunch?

What’s for lunch?

Isn’t that one of the most annoying and difficult questions ever?

And we’re not talking kid’s lunch, we’re talking about lunch for you, sitting in your cubicle, fingers on the keyboard, wondering how you’ll make it through the next 5 hours.

Sure you could go out and pick something up, but who has time for that? And it gets so expensive, lunch out every day. Now, you may be one of those people who doesn’t mind eating the same thing every day — who’s happy with bologna and American cheese on mushy white bread, or a small salad with a few bacon bits, or a boiled egg and some celery sticks.

For the rest of us, who don’t want to look at another rotisserie chicken salad sandwich or a tuna lettuce wrap again, it’s time to get creative.

We all fall into ruts — we turn to what we know, what’s easy and what gets the tummy filled temporarily.

Surprisingly, it takes some digging to find lunch recipes, at least ones you don’t have to cook and serve on the spot. How many of us have the time or inclination to go home and cook lunch? Sorry, not me. But I’m also bored to death with salads — some kind of green, some raw veggies, maybe a few olives, a little cheese — ho hum.

So I found a few ideas that use ingredients I know and have and take those ingredients to updated places. Believe me, I have wandered up and down the grocery store aisles racking my brain about what to take for lunch, and I get stuck in the same groove all the time.

This is not to count out leftovers, which often make a fine meal at lunch — if you don’t have them for 3 days.

Try these and see what you think.

Mediterranean Tuna Spinach Salad

1 1/2 Tbsp. tahini

1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. water

1 (5 oz.) can light tuna in water, drained

4 Kalamata olives, pitted

2 Tbsp. feta cheese

2 Tbsp. parsley

2 cups baby spinach

1 medium orange, peeled or sliced

Whisk tahini, lemon juice and water together in a bowl. Add tuna, olives, feta and parsley; stir to combine. Serve the tuna salad over 2 cups spinach, with the orange on the side.

This is considered one serving, but some may prefer to split it into two servings.

Eating Well

Hearty Tomato Soup with Beans & Greens

2 (14 oz.) cans low sodium hearty-style tomato soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 cups chopped kale

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)

1 (14 oz.) can no salt added cannellini beans, rinsed

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat soup in a medium saucepan according to package directions and simmer over low heat as you prepare kale — or buy a bag of pre-chopped kale.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add kale and cook, stirring until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Stir in garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Stir the greens and beans into the soup and simmer until the beans are heated through, 2-3 minutes.

Makes 4 servings. Top with Parmesan. You can easily reheat this soup. Just leave the Parmesan until it’s out of the microwave.

Red Lentil Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large carrot, diced

2 large stalks celery, diced

1 small yellow onion, diced

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup dried red lentils

4 cups water or low-sodium broth

1 whole bay leaf

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half a large lemon)

Olive oil, yogurt or other topping

Heat the olive oil in a medium (2-3 quart) saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the carrot, celery, onion and salt and stir to combine. Cover and let the vegetables sweat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the lentils, water or broth and bay leaf and bring up to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, covered, until the lentils begin to fall apart, about 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season with salt as needed. Ladle into bowls and serve drizzled with olive oil or topped with a dollop of yogurt.

Lentils actually improve with time, so this will reheat nicely.

the kitchn

Chicken Taco Lettuce Cups

1 leaf Bibb lettuce

1 pound cooked chicken breast, chopped

2 Tbsp. black beans, warmed

1 Tbsp. salsa

1 Tbsp. shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

Fill lettuce leaf with chicken and beans. Top with salsa and cheddar. Makes 1 serving.

To take this to work, put the cut up chicken breast and black beans into a separate container. Warm them in the microwave, then fill your lettuce leaf.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

2 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 medium cucumber, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 c. Kalamata olives

1/2 cup crumbled feta

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

For the lemon parsley vinaigrette:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl toss together chickpeas, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, olives and feta. Season with salt and pepper.

In a jar with a lid, combine olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, parsley and red pepper flakes. Shake until emulsified, then season with salt and pepper.

Dress salad with vinaigrette and serve.

Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Peanut sauce:

1/4 cup natural peanut butter

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. lime juice


1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 cup carrots, shredded

To serve:

Lettuce leaves (romaine)

Green onions


Shake together all peanut sauce ingredients in a jar until well combined. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large pan and add onions, garlic and red curry paste. Stir until red curry paste is heated through and mixed in evenly, 2-3 minutes.

Add ground turkey and cook, breaking it up with a spatula, for 5-7 minutes, until no pink remains and turkey is cooked through. Stir in shredded carrots.

Pour the peanut sauce evenly over the ground turkey and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

To serve, spoon 1/4 cup of the turkey mixture into a lettuce leaf. Sprinkle with green onions and peanuts.

To store in the refrigerator, allow the mix to cool completely. Portion out and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave and serve in fresh lettuce.

Sweet Pea and Saffron


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