Tired of your same-old routine of eating the crust off your child’s PB&J and calling it lunch? Or sneaking some fries from their kids’ meal before passing the bag back to them in the drive-thru? Feeling upset with yourself when you hide in the pantry at 2 p.m. just to shovel some quick snacks in your mouth because you are starving?
Me either. I was asking for a friend.
In all seriousness Mama, you’ve heard it before – you are what you eat. I can definitely tell in my energy, mood and general well-being when I have failed to nourish myself properly at lunchtime. I seem to be able to get breakfast in just fine. Lunch is a different story, though. I end up super busy trying to referee sibling fights and get lunches on the table for the kiddos come noon-time. Because they are so hungry and eager to get back to their playtime, they scarf down their food and are no sooner leaving the table.
This hurried pace leaves me with no time for my own lunch. I end up eating their leftovers, throwing the dishes in the dishwasher, and hustling back to monitor the chaos. But, this lack of care for my body comes back to bite me in the late afternoon. I end up so hungry that I just grab for whatever is quick, and it’s usually a box of cookies and a granola bar.
In my renewed commitment to becoming a healthier version of myself, I knew it was time to change the way I do lunch.
After scouring Pinterest for some quick and easy Mom-fuel, I came across some ideas that I adapted for my busy life. Behold… the quinoa bowl. Quinoa is gluten-free, a good source of protein, and high in fiber, iron and many other important nutrients. Quinoa doesn’t have much flavor to it, so it is a great base that can be altered to your taste. It is also easy to make and doesn’t take much time or effort.
If you are new to quinoa, you would make it and use it just as you would rice. I usually make up a big batch over the weekend and it is ready to go for lunches for the week. I use it both cold and hot, depending on what I put with it. Below I have shared some of my go-to quinoa bowls that can be prepped ahead of time and left in the fridge. When lunchtime rolls around, simply grab and go.
These have been a lifesaver to me as I have recently returned to work. It takes the guesswork out of what to pack for lunch as well as saves me lots of time in the morning rush to get out the door. I hope you try one of these yummy options out and find something you love!
Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl
Make quinoa according to package directions. Allow to cool. Spoon out 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa into a bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Mix. Chop all your favorite veggies and mix them with the quinoa (I use celery, baby kale, scallions, artichoke hearts, and grape tomatoes). You could also use banana peppers, cucumber olives, roasted red peppers, chickpeas, etc. – the world is your oyster! Top with 1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese and enjoy!
Mexican-Style Quinoa Bowl
Make quinoa according to package directions. While still warm, spoon out 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa into a bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and the juice of 1/2 a lime. If you like cilantro, chop up a handful and put that in, too. Mix. Add 1/2 can black beans (rinsed and drained), 1/2 can sweet corn kernels (rinsed and drained), chopped red onion or scallions, and shredded Mexican cheese. For a spicy kick, add canned chiles (drained). Top with your favorite guacamole, salsa, and sour cream. YUM!
Roasted Veggie Quinoa Bowl
I love to use my air fryer for this one. I air fry halved Brussels sprouts and cubed sweet potatoes tossed in olive oil and salt. You could also use butternut squash, beets, radishes or any other favorite root vegetables. When finished, lightly dress them with balsamic vinegar and set aside. Make quinoa according to package directions. While still warm, spoon out 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa into a bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and mix. Add the Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. Top with any or all of the following: pecans, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese or goat cheese, and pumpkin seeds.
If you have a favorite quinoa recipe you’d like to share, drop it in the comments!