My case of of chronic babysittercancellitis turned acute this past week, so lunch has been a wacky free-for-all: a handful of this here, a bite of that there, and some speedy slurps in between.
But after a day or two of fretting, I realized that my bits and pieces approach to lunch was both filling and satisfying, and, so long as I kept my wits about me and resisted the Starbursts (oh how I love you, Starbursts), nutritious to boot.
I'll refrain from advocating this approach to all (which, after all, works best in conjunction with the 36-pound baby squat & heave workout plan), but I will venture to suggest that making an assortment of simple options, available in the a.m. for packing, or at noon if you work at home, can keep the the lunchtime doldrums at bay.
Flavorful, healthful, less-than-ordinary dips and spreads always make me happy come lunchtime. I've shared a few favorites in previous posts (edamame dip, enlightened hummus, and roasted red pepper dip), but this is a new addition to my repertoire. It's easy, economical, and belies its humble ingredients in flavor (big) and texture (velvety). It's especially appealing if the thought of another baggie-ful of baby carrots makes you weepy. Try accompanied with pita bread, low-fat chips, vegetables, or spread onto bread or bagels.
Second up, a tried and true favorite that's ridiculously easy to make considering how great it tastes: white bean salad. I happen to loathe tuna fish, so I prefer a can of white chicken meat instead (or no added fish or chicken at all) but you can take it in any direction you choose. It's so easy, so good, lasts 3-4 days, and becomes even more delicious after day one.
And finally, to the oven. The heat prostration cannot keep me away; I must have some baked goods to keep my sanity. I devised these for Nick, but given they make ten per batch, there are plenty for me and Kevin, too. They freeze really well, or keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. Happy grazing!
White Bean Salad with Tuna (or Chicken) and Lemon Dressing
2 15-ounce cans cannellini or other white beans, drained, rinsed
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
2 seedless cucumbers, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded, diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons hot water
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 5-ounce cans water-packed tuna or white meat chicken
Place beans into a large bowl with onion, cucumber, tomato and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl whisk the lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic and hot water. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over salad. Toss gently to coat. Stir in parsely and tuna or chicken. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition per Serving (1/8 of salad):Calories 268; Fat 4.7g (poly 0.8g, mono 2.9g, sat 0.8g); Protein 30.6g; Cholesterol 26mg; Carbohydrate 28.2g; Sodium 349mg)(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)
Cheddar and Pepper Muffins
1 and 3/4 cups white whole what flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided use
1 and 1/4 cups lowfat buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 10 cups of a standard muffin tin with nonstick spray (or line with paper liners).
In a large bowl whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in 1/3 cup cheese. In a medium bowl whisk the buttermilk and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Divide batter evenly among prepared cups. Sprinkle batter evenly with remaining cheese.
Bake 28- 30 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool muffins completely on a wire rack. Makes 10 muffins.
Nutrition per Serving (1 muffin):
Calories 154; Fat 5.6g (poly 1.2g, mono .9g, sat 2.8g); Protein 5.2g; Cholesterol 34mg; Carbohydrate 20.9g; Sodium 247mg)(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)
Camilla’s Note: You can freeze the muffins up to 3 months. Place the cooled muffins in heavy-duty zip-top plastic bags and freeze.
Lemony Spiced Carrot Dip
1 pound carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped (or use a pound bag of baby carrots)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Steam the carrots in a steamer over a large saucepan of simmering water for 30 minutes or until very tender.
Place the carrots, olive oil, cumin, paprika, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and cool completely. Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition per Serving (per 2 tablespoon serving):
Calories 43; Fat 1.3g (poly .5g, mono .7g, sat 0g); Protein 1.5g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 15.2g; Sodium 112mg)(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)