Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's the Plan, Stan?

Tell me that I'm not the only person that has the moments of "Wow! This week was amazing! I'm going to put this effort into every week." And then before you know it, the next week comes and then another and suddenly it's, hey self, remember that one time when you had everything so well put together? Well, I hate it when that happens.

I miss the ease of having a wonderful lunch to look forward to. A simple dinner to come home to. And a breakfast that yells "Let's get this day rollin'!". My lunches the last couple of weeks have been a bore. Breakfast has been a Fuel-Up Smoothie, which is a fantastic way to start the day. Dinner has been a big ol' plate of salad greens topped with roasted pumpkin seeds, dried blueberries and avocado. Delicious but a little lacking in the well-rounded dinner department.

So, what's the plan you ask? Well first, recall that the best way to fight a plan is with a plan! In order to stay focused throughout the day (when you're a food nerd), one needs to start the day with something fantastic, have a dreamy lunch to look forward to and then have a comforting dinner to await. Yes, ones world should revolve around the hopes of ones next meal.. Right? And if one is going to focus so much on the subject, each meal should greet you with anticipation, give you happiness and most of all, energy.

It's rather amazing how much time and effort it can be to assemble breakfasts and lunches for a family. But the nutrtional and monetary costs of not doing so, add up much quicker. And when lunch is already packed, you'll jump out of bed the next morning with much more excitement for the day. So let's get to the lunch box recipes for the rest of this week, shall we?

Artichoke Spelt Salad

1 cup spelt berries
2-1/2 cups water
1 can (15 ounces) cannelinni beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 ounces) arthichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the spelt and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool.
   In a large bowl, combine the spelt, beans and artichokes. Add remaining ingredients; toss well. Refrigerate until serving. Serve cold. Serves: 4

Almond Granola Bites

1/3 cup agave nectar
1/3 cup almond butter
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup Rice Krispies
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup sunflower kernels
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Combine agave nectar and almond butter in a large saucepan. Cook over low heat for a few minutes until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Let stand for about 5 minutes and mixture will become less sticky. Roll into 1-in. balls and flatten. Transfer to waxed paper and cool. Makes: 16

If you like, you could also dip an end in melted dark chocolate for a more sinful treat. And if you're feeling really crazy, you could dip the chocolate end in unsweetened coconut. Then refrigerate until set.

The granola bites will make a great snack mid-morning snack. For lunch, pair the salad with a cluster of red grapes. And for a mid-afternoon treat, pack along some hummus with strips of zucchini, sweet bell pepper and pretzels. I don't think two or three days of this would get old, would it..

One more tip, when preparing vegetables for any meal, chop all of them up while you're at it. It doesn't take much more time and you'll be more likely to use them up when they're prepped and ready to go. When prepping my zucchini and pepper strips, I sliced entire peppers and zucchini. I packed up what we needed for lunch today and the rest is ready to go for tomorrow's lunch or to be thrown in a stir-fry. Same thing with the onion in the salad, chop it all up and place in a jar - then you have onion on hand for a later use.

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