Lunchbox Series – A Week of Protein Packed Lunches – Day One – Rainbow Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
I just realized that this is my first post for the new year. A wee bit late but what better way to start than with some healthy lunchbox recipes. It’s always heartening to see the whole family get on a healthy streak versus a lone crusader (that would be me) experimenting with single serve “healthy” menus which has been the case for some time now. I’d still try to cook and pack healthy food for Nikhil but I have never wanted to force “dairy free” or “gluten free” or “grain free” menus on anyone, even on myself. Those have purely been weekly experiments to see the effect of elimination of some of these highly talked about diets, on my own body. And I have realized that some things that work for me may not work for everyone. To each his own. I have, for example, tried to eliminate milk, caffeine, white flour, white rice, white sugar etc. from my diet, I try to be gluten free once a month if I can, have introduced fermented foods like kefir and kombucha on a regular basis and have noticed quite drastic effects on my energy levels, skin, vision and even my outlook in general. I keep trying something new every month and it’s amazing to see the direct effects of food on the body and mind.
But I’m also not wont to spending hours catering to every diet need at home so this project meant that either everyone get on the healthy bandwagon or I jump off and “be normal”:) Save my green smoothies of course, which I have stuck on to – possibly for life:)
So it came as a pleasant surprise when last week G announced that he wanted to try packing lunches to work. And make it a rice-free but protein laden week. Like I said I have enjoyed packing lunches for Nikhil, something I would never have imagined I had in me, but I also love a good challenge. One of my favorite pastimes on weekends (call me strange) is creating healthy menus for the week ahead and it has been a blessing to have a planned food calendar for everyone in the house – removes the stress out of crazed weekday mornings, eradicates the eternal and annoying “what’s for lunch or dinner” questions and makes shopping easier.
And so we were on. Vegetarian, protein laden menus for the week, minus rice, pasta and heavy carbs. Here’s what it looked like:
I have been posting the daily lunchboxes on the Facebook and Twitter pages but do need to record the recipes somewhere for posterity and of course to share with those interested. So here goes…a daily recap of the #proteinweek #lunchbox.
Rainbow Salad with Boiled Egg and Lemon Vinaigrette:
Ingredients: (for one lunchbox)
- Romaine Lettuce – 2 cups
- Grapes – 1 cup, sliced
- Red apples – 1 cup, chopped
- Red Bell pepper- 1/2 cup sliced thin
- Carrot – 1/2, grated
- Red cabbage- 1/4 grated
- Sunflower seeds – 1/4 cup
- Boiled egg – 1, sliced (you may replace with tofu or tempeh or quinoa if you don’t eat eggs for other protein alternatives; even paneer or haloumi cheese if you don’t mind dairy)
- Kidney beans, 1/2 cup, boiled
Lemon Vinaigrette: (Epicurious.com recipe)
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
- 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, mustard, and fine sea salt, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the oil , whisking constantly until the dressing is well blended. Season with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. The vinaigrette can be prepared ahead and refrigerated, in an airtight container, up to 3 days.
Chickpea or Kabuli Chana Chaat:
- 1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight, boiled and drained
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 1 cherry tomato, chopped fine
- 1 tsp Jiralu powder or chaat masala (available at Indian stores)
- Salt to taste
- Juice of half a lemon
- a small bunch of cilantro, chopped.
Take the chickpeas in a bowl and mix the first 5 ingredients. Add the lemon juice and garnish with chopped cilantro.