Seems like yesterday I was saying goodbye to my fellow teachers and heading off for a summer of gardening and traveling, spending time with my family and friends. But, alas, I have already had one week of in-service and nine days from today a new set of (hopefully) smiling faces will grace my classroom.
I am super excited but a bit apprehensive about my schedule. Not because I am super packed but because last year I got so caught up in teaching and working on the next thing that unless my students were cooking (I teach home economics), I either ate a peanut butter and jelly or not at all. I recognize this is not healthy. In order to combat this problem, I am going to come up with some great ideas for lunches that will please the adult palate as well while combining the ease factor.
Sandwiches are staples of the lunch diet in many people's minds and, believe me, I am not dogging the peanut butter and jelly. It's great, otherwise I wouldn't eat it; however, the best sandwiches are ones that have a little more creativity to them in my opinion. Here is a list of sandwich recipes I want to try this year:
Blackberry Bacon Grilled Cheese by Lemon Tree Dwelling
This one sounds especially delicious because I can use so much of my own goodies. The bacon and swiss will be bought at the farmers market and from a friend but the sourdough, jalapenos, blackberry jam, and even the butter can all come from my kitchen!
Before I started teaching, I worked odd shifts at a restaurant and many days I would eat lunch with my youngest daughter. I called my grilled cheese sandwiches “salads smashed in between two pieces of bread” because I added so many vegetables to my grilled cheese. This may be one way to recreate this sweet memory.
Honey Mustard Ham and Cheese Sandwiches by Lemon Tree Dwelling
I recognize that not everyone has the ability to warm up a grilled cheese sandwich and this recipe is baked but can still be served cold and be equally as delicious. I am a big fan of honey mustard and the fact that she makes it homemade gives me one ‘yeah' for her recipe and makes me that much more eager to try this recipe out!
Turkey Croissant Sandwich by Cooking with Curls
I absolutely love croissants, especially in sandwich form! And this one can be made the day before or the day you need it, and simply assemble it. Obviously, if mayonnaise is not your thing, the simply omit it from the recipe. I plan to make an avocado paste to add to it as well. Bacon, turkey, tomato, avocado, mayonnaise and a croissant roll seems divine to me. Add some of those chips that she pictures on the side and a pickle spear and it's lunch heaven.
Light Chicken Salad by Joyful Healthy Eats
My favorite sandwich from Panera Bread is their chicken salad sandwich. With pecans and grapes, it really soothes the soul (use the croissant bread, add the previously mentioned sides and, yet again, perfect lunch in my opinion). Naturally then, any recipe that can recreate a favorite of mine is one that I will be happy to take the time to make. Added benefit that I can make enough to last for two or three lunches throughout the week, making my prep time even smaller.
I will admit, I am not a big fan of salads unless they are bursting full of flavor. One with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes in the dead of winter (from the store), and cucumbers? Even with ranch, I think not. Here are some that are on my list of ‘yeahs' for the dear old salad.
Steak Burrito Bowl by Six Sisters' Stuff
I didn't eat a lot of steaks growing up and, honestly, didn't know what a bell pepper was until after I met my husband. He is a big fan of fajitas though and so our first year together I think I made it twice a week. Since then it's been an every week to every other week affair. I make sure to grow a ton of peppers and preserve them by dehydration. Add them to some water and they come back (to some extent).
This bowl puts me in mind of our fajitas, probably just because of the Pico and the fact that I add avocados to as many food items as I can. Dollop with sour cream and it's a Tex-mex heaven.
Honey Mustard Chicken Avocado Bacon by Cafe Delites
See, I didn't steer too far away from my love of avocados in this salad recipe either, although this salad goes in a totally different direction. The sweetness of the honey mustard combined with the creaminess of the avocado and this girl is sold. Although, I will omit the corn because since this summer I have developed a distaste for it.
Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad by Best to Eat
I chose this one because it's almost fall and I can feel my fall cravings coming on. After all, we are like two weeks away from pumpkin-spice everything and who can resist the taste of fall. It also uses baby spinach which is a fall item in my garden and it is easy to get apples in the fall as well (I bet you didn't know that) so this is a great recipe for me to use that includes some items from our garden.
One of the best quotes I have ever heard was from Michael Pollan's “Food Rules” in which he states that any diet aside from the Western diet (what most American's eat) will help you in different ways but all are beneficial compared to the one that is killing us.
So if you are on a low-carb or no-carb diet, this section is for you. If you are not on the low-carb or no-carb diet then I still recommend reading this section. If you are anything like me then you can get that carb overload feeling sometimes and can think “I just do not want ANYthing with carbohydrates in it” or you like the idea of eating spaghetti squash instead of the carb loaded spaghetti noodles because you know that veggies are good for you and we (or in my case- I) get too many carbohydrates.
Essentially, no matter who you are – read on, my friends!
Paleo Strawberry Mango Salad by Tastes Lovely
I, personally, adopt a local diet as much as possible and am for ten percent of my food to be from places that I might not be able to pronounce. Hey, we can't grow coffee beans in most of America and I might DIE without coffee. Anyways, the mango would be on my list in the spring just so I could make this recipe. De.lic.ous!
Low Carb Chicken Zucchini Enchiladas by Jodeze Home and Garden
I love the fact that we have gotten so creative with our diets that we can substitute vegetables for carb loaded foods. I adore eating spaghetti squash for dinner and knowing that I kept it close to my family's diet. This would be another way that I could make the same thing for everyone and just swap out one ingredient to make myself feel better. Added bonus that there are more vegetables in my diet now!
Shrimp Avocado Salad by Add a Pinch
This is one that I actually have tried already and can tell you it is one of my favorites. Probably because of the avocado. Though maybe it's the shrimp. I also put it over a bed of baby spinach so it combines several of my favorite items to eat and is perfect to eat cold (again, I would opt for this in the spring and summer time).
Insta Pot (or Stove Top) Loaded Low-Carb Cauliflower Soup by Kalyn's Kitchen
Whew! That was a mouth full. And yet I felt obligated to give you a low-carb recipe that wasn't something where I said “I recommend eating this in the spring or summer” nope. Late fall (or as is my sister's early fall) and winter is the perfect time to warm this soup up and send it in the thermos.
A Little Bit of Everything
Sometimes food just doesn't fit into any category. And in this case, they all (kind of) have to fit into the lunch routine but otherwise, nobody says it has to be low-carb, or a sandwich, or a salad. Maybe it's just something leftover from dinner the night before. Or maybe it's something that the person sitting next to you thinks is weird but, hey, it's your deal and here are some that I think would be perfect for the lunchroom.
Chicken Ranch Wrap by Gimme Delicious Food
This one reminds me of my high school days when I worked at Taco Bell. It was right after the grill wraps came out. I burned the lower knuckle of my thumb helping make one, crying as I handed it out the window. I still have the scar! Nevertheless, I love the wraps from there and (as always) would rather have a recipe I can make myself. This is the perfect way to do that, though I would add a few more ingredients such as chopped lettuce, tomatoes (in salsa form or pico), and avocados. You knew I was going there, didn't you?
Peanut Butter and Banana Roll Ups by Damn Delicious
She calls this a “snack box” but it looks like a pretty hearty lunch to me. This one is great for the person who is a vegetarian or a flexitarian who doesn't eat meat at every meal. I love the taste of bananas and peanut butter together and if you get (or make) a good tortilla roll that has a bit of sweetness to it, all the better. Combine that with the snacks/side dishes of your choice and you are good to go!
Taco Pop Tarts by Babble
The first time I ever made pop tarts, I made a paleo (almond meal based) strawberries and cream cheese pop tart. My family went wild over it, naturally making me feel like super mom. I love making the pop tart style foods now because it is fairly simple – make a dough, roll it out, add toppings, put the second roll on top, cut it into pieces, use a fork to seal together, add slits and bake. You can do any kind of filling you like and it is super portable. The perfect lunch item, no matter if it's pizza stuffed, taco stuffed, or veggie stuffed.
Ham Roll ups by Culinary Hill
Yet another great one for those who are low-carb and lovin' it. This one would satisfy my savory appetite that sometimes rolls around about lunch time. Plus it would look super cute in a bento box with some homemade cheese crackers and sliced apples or strawberries. I used to not like pickles but after my first pregnancy, I like dill and the spears are my favorite. This has a spear, cream cheese, and ham. Yum!
Just Eat It
Lunch is one of my favorite meals of the day (hey- I'm a culinary teacher by day) and one thing I have learned after having two kids is you have to be creative. My oldest stopped wanting me to put boiled eggs in her lunch several years ago. When I asked why I found out she was being made fun of because boiled eggs “gave her bad breath”! I did some research and found a place that makes egg shapers. I purchased them and we started shaping her eggs. None of the students knew what they were and magically she stopped having bad breath.
Get creative, think outside the boring sandwich mentality. Food is meant to be adored, not just to sustain us. I don't know about you but I'd rather enjoy every aspect of my time here on earth and that means there is no time for boring lunches!