Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad

Chunks of roasted sweet potato, and squeaky, salty haloumi fill this salad with flavour and personality. A hearty dish to serve by itself for a light meal, or alongside the protein of your choice for something more substantial, this salad delights tastebuds, and keeps tummies full with healthy proteins and complex carbohydrates.

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chris and I are off to the beach tomorrow! After three days of feasting, family, and long digestive naps we are leaving our cares behind, packing our sunscreen, and heading up the coast road for a few days of sun, sand, and nights under the stars. I am looking forward to long walks along the beach, and simple, laid back meals that can be eaten one handed while I’m reading a book in the sunshine. What are your plans for the rest of the holiday season?

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeIn preparation for our trip I made a big batch of this salad to take with us for quick, light lunches and dinners that will keep us sustained for trips to the beach, but won’t weigh us down. The fried haloumi makes this salad indulgent enough for the festive season. Each squeaky golden cube is a bite of savoury delight. The roasted sweet potato and quinoa keep this firmly on the healthy side and the salad is rounded out with soft buttery lettuce leaves and toasted walnuts. I kept the dressing interesting but light, and the surprise ingredient may shock you – raspberry jam! It may sound strange, but the sweetness of the jam contrasts perfectly with the astringent balsamic vinegar for a simple but flavoursome vinaigrette.

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI made this salad recently for our family Christmas gathering and it was a hit on the smorgasbord spread. Luckily I salvaged the leftovers for my lunch the next day. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. The haloumi definitely has something to do with that! If you are vegan, you could replace the haloumi with extra firm tofu, but if you do eat dairy I recommend spoiling yourself with some of this. Yes, it is indulgent, but every now and again a girl just needs fried cheese in her life, and because it is surrounded by complex carbohydrates (sweet potato and quinoa), healthy fats (walnuts and olive oil), greens (butter lettuce), and lean proteins (walnuts and quinoa) – I still feel good about eating this before I put on my bikini and head out to the beach.

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeSweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad

Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Serves 3-4 as a light meal | Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to three days.

Note: I used a tri-colour quinoa mix, but you can use whatever colour you have on hand.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 500g / 1lb)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 180 grams (6 oz) haloumi
  • 1/2 head butter lettuce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon raspberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.
  2. Peel sweet potato and then dice into medium size cubes (~1.5cm / 3/4inch) and place on baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes or until the centres feel tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. In the last ten minutes of baking the sweet potatoes, spread walnuts across the tray to toast. Remove tray from oven and allow sweet potatoes and walnuts to cool to room temperature.
  4. Place quinoa and vegetable stock in a medium size saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil. Allow quinoa to boil for 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain thoroughly, and allow to come to room temperature.
  5. While quinoa, sweet potato, and walnuts are cooling, dice haloumi into small cubes. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Fry haloumi until golden. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature while you make the dressing.
  6. To make dressing: whisk together balsamic vinegar, raspberry jam, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  7. Tear butter lettuce leaves into large pieces. Add quinoa, sweet potatoes, walnuts, and fried haloumi. Pour dressing over and toss gently but thoroughly until all ingredients are mixed and coated with dressing.
  8. Serve at room temperature.

Sweet Potato, Haloumi, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Desktop Dining: An iPhone Ode to Lunch Hour and Tips!

This week we are in the middle of some big meetings. Mostly, I am trying not to fall asleep, and to remember to keep everyone well fed so that they are amiable in the boardroom. Also, I count down the hours to lunch, which I think is most people’s favourite hour at work. At the moment I am trying to read some of my latest book during lunch, and I also like to take a little walk in the sunshine, just to warm my bones and remember what the beautiful midday winter sky looks like. Friday lunch hours are reserved for an outing to a local sushi place or coffee house for lunch with my friend Jess – best lunch of the week! On the other four days where I eat at my desk I try to pack something healthy and filling that will fuel my brain for the rest of the afternoon and fuel my body for an afternoon workout. Sometimes these lunches are leftovers from dinner salads and other times they are quickly thrown together creations from the night before. Today, I would like to share with you some inspiration for dining at your desk. No recipes, just simple suggestions for spicing up your lunch hour. Warning, there are a lot of photos coming up. Hope you’ve had your lunch!

Let’s start with leftovers from dinner:

A recent recipe from the blog – Moroccan Roasted Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad. Transports well and stays fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Moroccan Pumpkin Salad

I love fritters for an easy ‘breakfast for dinner’ recipe. Just add bacon for Chris and avocado for me. These are my Summer Vegetable, Herb, and Cheese Fritters. Still a common visitor at our dinner table.

Fritter bowl

This one is perfect for summer barbecues, and a favourite in my lunch box all year long: Quinoa, Chickpea, and Capsicum Salad with a Lime-Honey Dressing.

Quinoa, chickpea and corn salad

Soup is one of my favourites in winter, and on chilly air-conditioned days in the office too.

Nothing like leftovers from Mum’s Pumpkin Soup (recipe coming this winter!) with a cup of tea and a good old-fashioned murder mystery. Add some crackers or gluten free toast and you’ve got a feast for mind and body.

More book and soup

This kale, chickpea, and brown rice soup was a recent recipe trial and while it lacked enough flavour and pizzazz for me to share with you it did make a good solid lunch for a rainy Monday.

Soup and book

Next up: lunches that can be made from the leftovers of another meal:

This one is leftover roasted sweet potato with the last of some baby lettuce mix, a half can of chickpeas, and sprinkle of feta and olives. Add some balsamic, salt and pepper and say hello to savoury perfection.

Sweet potato and chickpea salad

One of my favourite roasted vegetables (beetroot) paired with nearly the same ingredients as the salad above, and some toasted almonds sprinkled on top for good measure.

Beetroot and feta salad

Let’s move on to lunch salads that can be made in a tiny office kitchenette with the help of a corner store visit or desperate morning fridge raid.

First up: the simplest of them all. Rice crackers that I always keep in my drawer enjoys the company of vegetable draw leftover avocado, half a punnet of tomatoes and the remains of the rocket and spinach mix that is omnipresent in our house.

Avocado thins with salad

The next level of convenience store dining: olives from the deli counter meet chickpeas, tomatoes, avocado and lettuce. One quick shop before work meant two days of easy lunches made in 5 minutes.

Pesto and antipasto salad

And some days you just need to do this: treat yourself. Take a book and order yourself a cold beverage. Just breathe.

Solo restaurant lunch

 Now, a few tips for a successful, healthy and yummy lunchtime:

  • Keep some staples in your desk drawer. I always have ‘fancy salt and pepper’ – I found a grinder at the supermarket that contained pink salt and black pepper and it has saved many, many lunches. I also have a packet of rice/corn crackers; tins of baked beans; a variety of tea; peanut butter; and vegemite just in case.
  • Stock up at the beginning of the week. On Sunday night put 10 pieces of fruit into a bag along with a few small tubs of yoghurt and some carrots – snacks for the whole week! Maybe add a box of healthy muesli bars too.
  • When you bake up some healthy muffins or quick bread at home, wrap some individually and then put them in the freezer at work. 30 seconds in the microwave and you’ll have the comfort of a freshly baked treat all over again. Bonus: the scent of sugar and spice (or cheese and herbs) wafting from your desk will make your co-workers very jealous.
  • Know where the healthy lunch spots are in your area. I work in an industrial estate so there are many trucker friendly options, but not so many good choices for a gluten free vegetarian lass like myself. However, a quick scout around and I located a sushi shop only 10 minutes away! Perfect for the days when I just want to escape for a little while.

I hope that this post was a little helpful or provided some inspiration. Tell me dear reader, what are your tips for a quick healthy and delicious lunch? Anyone favourite lunchtime treats?

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket (gluten free, vegan)

Do you ever hold onto things that you know you need to let go of to live a healthy, authentic, and truly nourished life? Something that you know isn’t helping you to be the healthiest and happiest version of yourself that you just can’t seem to lay to rest?

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

A few weeks ago I made a decision to let go of something I had been holding onto for a long time; something that I was trying to shape my life to fit around; something that was making me feel unhealthy, tired, and worthless. In a moment of abrasive clarity I realised that I needed to let go of this goal that I had been trying for so long to achieve, because it wasn’t really a goal at all: it was a wall to hide behind rather than confronting the work needed to bring my real dreams to life. And so, I let go. I bundled up the unkind thoughts that had been running through my mind, the stress that was making me unable to sleep, and the anxiety that was affecting my relationships with the people I love, and I just let it all go. Almost instantly I felt better, lighter, happier. Over the past couple of weeks I feel a change within me, and a change in the way I am approaching the dreams that I wanted to work towards all along.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

My decision was to graduate early from my post-graduate study. I am stopping here for a while, taking my graduate diploma, and choosing to leave my Master’s dissertation in order to pursue the goal that I have harboured in my heart for so long. I am giving myself over to the pursuit of my dream of writing and submitting a manuscript for a cookbook. This is the dream that I had in my heart when I started on the road of further study, and I have learned so much during the course of my study. It fed me and sustained me while I was going through some other changes in my life, and now I have reached the end of my journey with this degree and I am ready to take the leap into putting into practice what I have learned. I will work for this dream, and I know it will be a long road with rejections and frustrations along the way. When those frustrations arise in the way of a goal you are passionate about then you can find the energy to work through them and they make you stronger in your pursuit. Here is to letting go, finding the strength to set myself free and set myself on the way of my true dream. Sometimes you just need to be brave enough, and kind enough to yourself to let it go.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This salad is something that I made to fill my lunchbox this week. I am lucky that any of it survived taste testing though because I couldn’t help but keep diving in for ‘just another taste’. The quinoa and rocket are the backbone of this simple, but exciting, lunchtime meal. Quinoa is a gluten free seed (not a grain!) and contains plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates to keep you powered through the afternoon. The salty black olives are balanced out by the sweet roasted onion and zucchini, and walnuts provide the all important ‘crunchy’ factor as well as some important omega 3 fats. This salad makes enough for two decent lunches, but can easily be multiplied if you want to make it for a larger gathering. I can imagine this being passed down the dinner table at a summer barbecue later this year, or accompanying some roasted chicken at a winter family dinner. And it is naturally gluten free and vegan, so even guests like me will have a satisfying and delicious option on the table.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad

Serves 2 but easily multiplied | Gluten Free | Vegan

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (salt reduced)
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pitted black olives
  • 3 large handfuls rocket leaves

For the dressing

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Set aside until needed.
  2. Place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse thoroughly. Tip quinoa into a small saucepan along with vegetable stock. Place over medium heat and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, put lid on the saucepan, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and rest quinoa for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Transfer quinoa to a big bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, chop zucchini into ~1cm (1/2 inch) thick slices and place on lined baking sheet. Halve and peel onion and chop each half into 6 pieces. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil across. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until onion is softened.
  4. In the last 5 minutes of the vegetables baking, roughly chop walnuts into large pieces and sprinkle across sheet to roast. Remove everything from the oven and allow to cool.
  5. Make the dressing by combing all ingredients in a small bowl and whisking thoroughly.
  6. To assemble the salad: halve the olives and add to the cooled quinoa along with the vegetables and walnuts and rocket leaves. Drizzle dressing over the salad and using freshly washed hands or salad servers toss the salad thoroughly until everything is mixed through.
  7. Serve, or store in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Quinoa, Olive, Zucchini and Rocket Salad | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad with Mustard Dressing

This salad is a fancy plate salad. If we were at a restaurant where you could order this salad I would probably be wearing a dress, and perhaps a hat. In my fancy lady fantasies I am always wearing a hat. We would be sipping on something bubbly with fruit in it, and talking about what we are going to do in the summer. The tablecloths would be starched white linen and the plates rimmed in gold and painted with colourful flowers. The waiters would go by in their pressed shirts and black bowties and the sound of a grand piano would be drifting in the background as the perfect accompaniment to our light and fancy lunch.

Apple Celery Walnut Salad 2

It’s worth dreaming isn’t it? In reality I ate this salad while sitting on our back porch with a winter breeze tickling my knees and a bright patch of sun warming my back while I looked out at the ocean and listened to a podcast. Not a bad alternative to a fancy plate place in my opinion. The second helping will be eaten at my desk at work, hopefully followed by a walk along the dusty industrial estate sidewalk outside my office. But in my mind I will be sitting on a breezy verandah with starched tablecloths and fancy plates.

Each bite of this Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad brings something different and each mouthful is filled with crunch. The apple and celery provide salty sweet fresh dynamic with the lemon juice balances it all out with some acidity. The roasted walnuts are my favourite part of this salad, that and the mustard and yoghurt dressing that finds its way into the crevice of every soft buttery leaf of lettuce.

Apple Celery Walnut Salad 1

Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad with Mustard Dressing

Serves 2 | Gluten Free | Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 apple of choice (I used a Sundowner)
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 4 cups chopped butter lettuce
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon seeded mustard
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Spread walnuts over a sheet pan and roast at 180C (350F) for ten minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Core apple and dice into small chunks. Chop celery across stem into medium slices. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Add half the lemon juice to the apple and celery and toss to coat well.
  4. Roughly chop walnuts and add this to the bowl along with the lettuce. Toss until completely mixed.
  5. To make dressing whisk together remaining lemon juice, yoghurt, seeded mustard, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
  6. Divide salad among plates and top with dressing.

photo (2)

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad

The past three weekends have been majorly food-centred: weddings, birthdays, Easter…to be truthful it’s been going on for the past two months…or maybe there hasn’t been a break since Christmas… In light of the season of skinny jeans and tight sweaters I am feeling the need to lighten up a little.

Let’s have a little more balance around here readers, a few weeks of salads and complex, vitamin-filled nutritious stuff, shall we?

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

I’m not talking crash-diets, fad diets, or paleo anything; rather, I am talking about reducing my dessert every night habit to a once a week treat. I am talking about increasing my incidental exercise, squeezing in a few more weights sessions, and being more mindful in my food choices.

Don’t worry, this is not about to become a weight loss blog – I have a coconut ice recipe coming your way on Friday – I am just getting back on track to a thoroughly nourished life in the most delicious way possible of course.

This salad came at the beginning of the Easter feasting. Luckily, because I ate more than my fair share of brownies, cookies, and peanut m&ms… This Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale salad is filled with crunchy green kale leaves and raw capsicum, soft baked sweet potato and salty cashews. Everything is coated in a spicy thai-inspired dressing that soaks into every fold in the frilly leaves. I felt bright and light and full after finishing my lunch. The protein from the chickpeas and cashews keeps you full for hours. You could add some leftover cooked quinoa for a bigger protein boost and to make this a more substantial meal for dinner.

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad

Gluten Free. Vegetarian. Serves 2-3. 

If you do not like kale try another dark leafy green or even baby spinach would work. To make this vegan replace the honey with agave syrup.

 Ingredients

  • 1 medium bunch of kale
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 small red capsicum
  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber
  • 400 gram tin chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup roasted cashews

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons Gourmet Garden Thai  Seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400C). Peel and dice medium sweet potato. Spread out on a baking paper lined baking tray and roast for 30 minutes or until soft all the way through when pierced with a toothpick. Remove sweet potato from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Rinse kale well and pat dry with paper towel. Cut thick rib out of each leaf and then roughly chop the leaves. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Chop capsicum and cucumber into a large dice. Place into bowl with kale.
  4. Rinse chickpeas well and add to bowl.
  5. Once sweet potato is cool add to kale mix. Toss all ingredients well.
  6. To make dressing place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk vigorously.
  7. Add dressing to bowl and toss well so that all is coated.
  8. Sprinkle cashews over the top and serve.
  9. This salad will last well overnight in the fridge but will become softer as the dressing soaks into the leaves.

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten FreeChris is definitely not a kale fan, which is fine by me because I get it all to myself. Are you a kale salad fan? No? 

Anyone else trying to lighten up a little after Easter feasting?

Lunchbox Love: Blueberry, Chickpea, and Kale Salad

Warm summer days with plenty of sunshine means tables laden with produce every Saturday at the farmer’s markets. Which, naturally, means that I am enticed into buying beautiful vegetables that I don’t necessarily always cook with, or know how to get creative with.

Wandering through the colourful stalls last weekend I picked up a thick curly bunch of kale.

Oh kale, purveyor of so much healthy goodness. Held up and praised for its anti-cancer potential, high levels of calcium, flavonoids, fibre, and vitamins C, D, and K – and most importantly for me: high levels of iron.

A well-balanced vegetarian diet can provide the daily requirement for iron, but if you have funky blood like I do, which doesn’t absorb iron really well, you need to pay special attention to getting as much iron in your diet as possible.

Iron from vegetable sources (called non-haem iron) is helped in its absorption by pairing it with a source of Vitamin C – the technical term is ‘increasing bioavailabilty’. Fancy nutrition stuff, huh.

So, I may know about kale’s deep green secrets, but when it comes to inspiration for getting it from my fridge to my belly I need to consult one of my favourite bloggers.

DSC01078

Today’s salad was inspired by Tracy from Shutterbean. Tracy lives in San Francisco (my favourite place in the world), takes awesome photos, makes my favourite listen-to-while-running podcast (with her cool best friend), and conjures up amazing food for her family. I have been inspired by (in no particular order) Tracy’s baked donuts, her Instagram feed, and her tasty salads.

DSC01086

Tracy knows how to wrangle kale from pretty flower looking stalks into delicious, moreish recipes. So when I was looking for some Lunchbox Love this week, I was inspired by Tracey’s Broccoli Kale Slaw, which become the Thoroughly Nourished Life Blueberry, Chickpea, and Kale Salad.

DSC01083

Blueberry Chickpea Kale Salad (gluten free, vegetarian)

Inspired by Tracey’s Broccoli Kale Slaw from Shutterbean

Serves 4 and keeps quite well for 3 days in the refrigerator. I made this at the beginning of the week and had a delicious, healthy packed lunch all week long. You will need a very large bowl for mixing this salad. This salad can be made vegan too. Just leave out honey, or replace with maple syrup or agave nectar. If you can’t find dried blueberries, you can use dried cranberries instead. I found my blueberries at a health food store.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 250 gram bag rainbow salad (also called ‘beetroot slaw’)
  • 4 cups finely chopped kale
  • 2 spring onion stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 x 400 gram tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Method

  1. Empty rainbow salad into your very large mixing bowl. Add finely chopped kale, spring onions, blueberries, and sunflower seeds.
  2. Add well rinsed chickpeas and using salad servers (or freshly washed hands) toss salad to disperse all ingredients.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and salt and pepper.
  4. Add dressing to bowl and toss very well so that everything is coated in dressing.
  5. Serve, or divide between airtight containers and store in refrigerator for up to three days.

See – healthy lunches can be quick and easy! Come and be part of my cool lunch crowd, won’t you?

Lunchbox Love: Springtime Beetroot, Asparagus and Feta Salad

Saturdays in Spring call me outside. They whisper of the delights of the increasing heat of the sunshine and the new green shoots poking out of the earth. They tell me to put on my prettiest dress (without winter tights) and brush my hair and gather some of my favourite ladies together for a lunch date where we can laugh and drink sparkly bubbly things and talk about the important and unimportant facets of life. On Saturday just passed my sister and I went out on a lunch date with our grandmother (Mormor as we call her). We sat at an outside table of a local cafe and my sister and I sipped Diet Cokes while my grandmother enjoyed a well-earned glass of Moscato (she just had her second knee replacement five weeks ago and she has already ditched her walker!).

Mormor and Me

Mormor and Me

My grandmother is an interesting and inspirational woman and I was so thankful for our Saturday lunch. Two generations of women learning from each other’s individual experiences and wisdom and feeling blessed for the shared time and the spring sunshine. We talked about men (boy talk!), and love, and babies and marriage, and politics, and how great it was just to be together. I had an amazing salad for lunch (good job updating your menu Coffee Club) and I wanted to recapture the feeling of freedom and spring in my weekday lunch box. With a few little tweaks I made it my own and now I am sharing the Lunchbox Love with you.

DSC00772

Springtime Beetroot, Asparagus, and Feta Salad (Vegetarian, Gluten Free)

Packed in individual containers for lunches this will last 3 days in the fridge. If you want to ensure that your lettuce doesn’t get soggy, put dressing in a small container and dress the salad just before eating. That being said, I am partial to soggy lettuce every now and again – please, don’t judge me.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pre-cooked baby beets (find them in the produce section)
  • 4 packed cups of mixed salad greens
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 400 gram can butter beans
  • 75 grams Greek Feta, crumbled
  • 1/2 small salad onion, finely diced
  • 1 small bunch asparagus
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper

Method:

  1. Dice baby beets into dice-sized pieces and place into a large bowl with mixed salad greens and walnuts.
  2. Drain butter beans and rinse thoroughly and add to the bowl along with crumbled feta and salad onion.
  3. Chop the woody ends off the asparagus and slice into 3-4cm long pieces. Place into a small microwave-safe bowl with a splash of water and microwave for 90 seconds. Immediately remove from the microwave and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and add to the salad mix.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper.
  5. Dress salad, toss well and serve.

DSC00779

 

Tell me dear reader, what sort of Springtime Adventures have you been on? What’s on your Spring ‘To Eat’ List? 

And tell me, please, did anyone else jump up and down when they saw the first locally-grown asparagus available in the supermarket?

No? Well…okay then….I’m off to eat my salad….

Lunchbox Love: Sweet Potato and Broccoli Frittata

My lunch box has come back to life! After my post last week I gave serious consideration to what I felt like for lunch this week. I knew that it would have to be filling enough to keep me away from the big purple Cadbury charity chocolate box bursting with Twirls, Freddo Frogs, Caramello Koalas, and (my favourite) Flakes, but still light enough that I didn’t want to curl up under my desk for a post-lunch siesta. 

I finally settled on a Sweet Potato and Broccoli Frittata. I baked it on Sunday night (it doubled as a light Sunday dinner too) and along with a big green salad I packed it for lunch on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. With minimal preparation time, and a short baking time, this frittata can be put in the oven while you are making dinner, and then cut and wrapped for lunches the next day. A great alternative to sandwiches for school kids too, or a power snack for after school. 

Frittata for a light dinner

Frittata for a light dinner

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Frittata

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (packed) grated sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup (packed) chopped broccoli
  • 2 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon brown rice flour

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Line an 8-inch square baking tin with baking paper.
  2. In a non-stick frying pan cook sweet potato, broccoli, and spring onion for 2-3 minutes until they soften slightly. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, oregano, brown rice flour, salt and pepper.
  4. Once vegetables have cooled add to eggs along with cheese and stir until well mixed.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes or until set in the middle.
  6. Cool slightly and slice. Serve with a large green salad.
Frittata for a packed lunch

Frittata for a packed lunch

So, dear readers, what has been in your lunchbox this week? Anyone else a fan of Flake bars?

Lunchbox Love: Recipe Round-Up and Inspiration

I have fond memories of my school lunches. Peanut butter sandwiches (before good old PB was banned from the schoolyard), Vegemite sandwiches, carrot sticks, muesli bars (my favourites were choc chip or apricot and yoghurt), almonds, little tubs of yoghurt, a homemade treat. My lunches were never boring and always contained a balance of everyday foods and sometimes foods. My sister and I started packing our own lunches (for the most part) when we were about nine or ten, but the days when Mum or Dad would pack our lunches were a little more exciting – with Mum there was always a little extra treat –a slice of cake or a cookie – and my Dad makes the best curried egg sandwiches on the planet (his secrets: fresh white bread and lots of butter and curry powder).

I was never the kid who swapped her lunch in the playground, but sometimes Caroline (who I have known since we were twelve!) would bring me some homemade garlicky, spicy Indian chutney that I would spread on my white bread and ham sandwiches in a blend of Danish-Indian culture that was delicious.

When I was working at home there was no need to think ahead about lunch. Whatever I felt like when midday struck is what I would conjure up. Usually some variation of salad, or in the winter a huge bowl of steamed vegetables with mustard (or cheese…). Now that I have rejoined the full-time workforce I don’t have the opportunity to make whatever I would like, and given my picky stomach I can’t rely on the local sandwich/ hot food bar when lunchtime rolls around. I am also quite conscious of making the healthiest, most nourishing decisions whenever I can because I need to fuel my exercise correctly, and I have room for cookies/cake/m&ms/cheese/chocolate…

After a few weeks of ‘just winging it’ when it comes to my lunch I have noticed an increase in the number of times I have reached for a carton of low-fat cottage cheese and some crackers or a carton of microwave soup. As someone who loves her vegetables I am missing my midday veggie fuel, and as someone who also likes to have a bit of routine/planning in her life (ahem), I have decided that I need to get re-inspired to love my lunchbox again.

I have rounded up my favourite lunchtime recipes from Thoroughly Nourished Life, and a few for inspiration to get me going. My aim is to share something new and delicious with you all every week and inspire you to love your lunchboxes too.

From the archives:

Tomato, Butter Bean, and Brown Rice Salad – Two lunches from one cook!

Butter bean, tomato, and brown rice salad

Roast Pumpkin, Mushroom, and Brown Rice Salad with Soy-Sesame Dressing

Big batch of salad.

Roasted Tomato Thyme Soup – Pop into a plastic container and reheat at work. Sprinkle cheese and onions on afterwards.

DSC03933

 

Summer Vegetable, Herb, and Cheese Fritters – Two days worth of lunches  (without the egg of course)

DSC00170

Inspiration from around the internet:

And, a little something sweet…

Or maybe one of these…

DSC00692

 

Okay readers, hopefully that should provide all of us with some inspiration for our lunchtime nibbles. I can’t wait to share some lunchbox love with you all in my next Lunchbox Love post.

Tell me dear reader, what is your favourite work day lunch? Weekend lunch? 

Any memories of school yard lunches?

Lunchbox Love: Roast Pumpkin, Mushroom, and Brown Rice Salad with Soy-Sesame Dressing

This salad is absolutely delicious. Please forgive my immodesty, but I have a deep and abiding love for the soy-sesame combination, and for anything with roasted pumpkin in it. Not only is this salad delicious; not only does it last three days in the fridge (cook once, eat lunch all week long); but it’s also full of healthy, energy-enhancing, tummy-filling ingredients. Given my semi-nomadic lifestyle I even had the chance to test the appropriateness of the salad in different locations.

I had it for dinner on Tuesday night after a long night at university talking about travel writing and the dirtiness of Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale. I ate it curled up next to Chris while watching The Colbert Report and reading A Clash of Kings (so in love).

I packed this lunch on Wednesday when I headed into my internship at the Australian Writer’s Marketplace and ate it at my desk while I lost myself in articles about the winner of the 2013 Stella Prize (Carrie Tiffany), the daily routines of famous writers, and dealing with being a book abandoner (I got most of the way through Gone Girl but I just couldn’t finish it).

I packed this lunch on Thursday when I went to work at the research centre and it powered me through data analysis, meetings, and talking to patients (along with a cookie and a coffee), and gave me the energy to go running after work and make orange and poppyseed cupcakes for Chris to take to work.

Wherever you find yourself eating lunch, remember to take a moment to pause in the middle of the day and breathe. Be thankful for something that has happened in your day already, and think of all the adventures that still await in the post-lunch world.

Dear reader, what does your favourite lunch spot look like? Do you like to secret yourself away and read during lunch, or are you a social butterfly?

Big batch of salad.

Big batch of salad.

Roast Pumpkin, Mushroom, and Brown Rice Salad with Soy-Sesame Dressing

This salad is gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, and tastes wonderful made ahead. My omnivorous friends might want to try this with some shredded roast chicken. 

Ingredients:

  • 400 grams peeled and diced butternut pumpkin
  • 1 cup small mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 400 gram tin brown lentils
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 210C (410F). Line baking tray and spread out diced pumpkin and quartered mushrooms.
  2. Roast pumpkin and mushrooms for 15-20 minutes or until pumpkin is soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the brown rice as per packet instructions. Allow to cool.
  4. Drain and rinse brown lentils well.
  5. Mix pumpkin, mushrooms, rice and lentils with baby spinach in a large bowl.
  6. Pour over sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Toss salad well.
  7. Allow to rest in the fridge for a few hours as the flavours will develop even more.
Dig in!

Dig in!