Feb 1, 2017

Soup and Salad: Healthy Lunches for the Week

Happily,  I can eat pretty much the same thing for lunch every day of the week without complaint.  

Well, that is as long as that same thing is delicious and to my liking.

As I have stated several times, I am dreadful failure at dieting.  I see all these people doing Whole30, and I feel inspired, I truly do.  

Then I think about it for about 20 seconds and feel a terrible sadness washing over me.  A life without cheese and milk and cookies and my daily Diet Coke just sounds awful.  I will just keep these ten pounds of baby weight for now, thank you very much.

Anyway, super restrictive and effective diets/resets/detoxes aside, I do enjoy eating my "5-7 Diet".  I'm able to stay at my happy weight while eating what I want, as long as I get five to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day.  

This lunch combo knocks out 3-4 just at lunch.  Both recipes are adapted from Ellie Kreiger's "The Food You Crave".  

I love a good veggie packed soup, and I upped the vegetable quantities in this one. 

Beef and Mushroom Barley Soup:

4 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 lbs beef stew meat cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 large yellow onion, diced
16 ounces button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
3 medium carrots, diced
head of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
8 cups low sodium beef broth
1 14.5 ounce can of no salt added diced tomatoes with its juice
1/2 cup hulled or pearled barley
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

  • in a large soup pot, heat two teaspoons of oil over medium high heat.  Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper and add to the pot, growing on all sides (about 5 minutes total).  Transfer the meat to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
  • Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pot. (I left the beef drippings in there for extra flavor)  Add the onion and mushrooms and cook over medium high heat, stirring until softened (about five minutes).
  • Add the carrots, celery and garlic and cook another five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the broth, tomatoes, browned meat, barley and thyme and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until meat is tender and barley is cooked- about an hour.
Season with salt and pepper.  I froze half of this, and ate lunches with the other half all week long.  It's a great mix of satisfying without being too heavy.  Its smells absolutely divine as well.

 Now for salad.  I generally don't like to eat salad made at home.  I don't know why, it just never speaks to me.  Plus I am not particularly wild about lettuce salads during the winter months, especially for lunch.

But a composed salad?  That I can always get behind.  This one is also a great way to use up leftover roast chicken.

Saffron Chicken, Lemon and Green Bean Salad

1 lemon (well scrubbed or unwaxed)
2 teaspoons of salt
pinch of saffron threads
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup good olive oil
3-4 cups cooked chicken cut up
1 lbs of fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon honey

  • Prick the lemon in 3-4 places with a fork and place in a small saucepan with 1 teaspoon of the salt and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the lemon is very tender, about an hour.  Drain and set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile mix saffron, mint, garlic, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of oil and a teaspoon of salt in a small bowl.  Pour into a large Ziploc and add your chicken.
  • Steam the green beans for 4 minutes.  After they cool, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Slice the ends of the lemon and slice it in half again length-wise.  Scoop out the pulp and toss it.  Slice the peel thinly and then again into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • In a large bowl, combine the chicken, lemon, green beans and thyme. 
  •  In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice and the honey, then whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. 
  • pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
This is so fresh and tasty.  It make the most of ingredients that are readily available in the winter, and is far more filling than a plate of lettuce.

Now, I must admit- both of theses recipes take a bit longer than making a sandwich.  However, taking an hour of active prep Sunday night gives you delicious lunches all week (and some soup for your freezer).  Plus, they are so yummy that I'm not tempted to run out and pick up something.  And, I'm getting my veggie on- something I need to actively pursue these days.  For some reason when nursing an infant, I just want to get my sweet tooth on instead. . . 

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