Lunch. On weeknights, packing something to eat for lunch is more of a nemesis to me than cooking dinner.
Back in the “olden” days (I don’t really think they were that long ago) teachers often didn’t get lunch breaks at all. Now contracts guarantee that teachers get to take a “duty-free” lunch that’s the same length of time that their students have to eat. 20-25 minutes. You know, plenty of time.
I know, I know, that last statement makes it sound like I’m bitter over the length of time that I get for lunch. The honest truth is that I choose not to take a lunch break at all. Sometimes when you teach preschoolers or other children that need to be carefully monitored at all times, it’s just easier to not worry about trying to figure out when you can escape to the teachers’ lounge to scarf down a PB & J.
Nay nay, my problem is this: I don’t have time to run out to grab anything to eat, which is what most people do when they didn’t feel like packing a lunch the night before. Not packing a lunch = not a choice for me these days. Since I try to avoid packaged foods, there are no Lean Cuisine pizzas either. And I’m not a huge fan of a made-the-night-before sandwich. This results in much wailing and gnashing of teeth each night after dinner as I try to decide what to eat. Usually my lunch includes my Klean Kanteen, half an avocado and some cheese. The other items are wild card items depending on what kind of mood I’m in. Anyway you toss the dice, packing my lunch makes me long for my first teaching job, where meals were provided for us as we were expected to eat with the children (to provide a role model for appropriate mealtime behavior). But those days are gone, so I suppose I’ll keep packing a lunch.This week Presidents’ Day brought an opportunity to put a little more thought into what I was going to eat for lunch that usual. You’ll have to forgive me for the neon pictures. These were taken with my phone at the cafeteria table right before I ate….
I cooked some black beans, washed a head of lettuce, and made some salsa. When I was ready to pack my lunch, I chopped some lettuce and put it in a reusable bowl, topped it with a cup of black beans seasoned with salt, cumin, and chili powder and some crumbled queso fresco. I included a halved avocado (wrapped in plastic and stuck in the bowl) to be scraped out onto the salad right before I ate it, a bag of tortilla chips to be crumbled on top, and my “dressing”, a couple of tablespoons of salsa mixed with a spoonful of sour cream. Now that was a good lunch!
This is what I had Thursday and Friday: 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, 1/4 cup rinsed chickpeas, 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, 1/2 avocado, 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds, and 1 tablespoon chia seeds, plus Ak-Mak crackers on the side.
Monday I made an amazing kale salad from The Smitten Kitchen cookbook, with a couple of twists of my own based on what was available in my kitchen. Kale is a funny green, one that many, many people say they don’t like. I wouldn’t be surprised if they changed their mind after trying this salad……
Kale Salad with Dried Cranberries, Pecans, and Sunflower Seeds
|Prep time||30 minutes|
|Cook time||5 minutes|
|Total time||35 minutes|
|Allergy||Milk, Tree Nuts|
|Meal type||Lunch, Salad|
|From book||Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman|
- 2 tablespoons pecans (very coarsely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- 2oz kale (the original recipe calls for )
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 1/2oz queso fresco or feta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon spicy brown or Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- salt & pepper to taste
I adapted this recipe to provide one serving, but of course it's easily multiplied to feed more people! Most of the thirty minute prep time is "marination" time for the kale leaves.
|Heat a small skillet (not nonstick) over medium heat. Place the pecans and sunflower seeds in the skillet and heat until lightly toasted, tossing or stirring frequently. Remove to a small bowl and set aside.|
|Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.|
|Wash the kale and dry it by pressing it between paper towels. Cut the ribs from the kale then stack the leaves and slice them into very thin ribbons. Place them in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Allow to "marinate" for twenty minutes to slightly tenderize the leaves.|
|Toss the dressed kale leaves with the cranberries, pecans, sunflower seeds, and cheese. Transfer to a serving bowl and eat immediately.|