A Week of Plant-Based Lunches (Jan 29th, 2017)

 

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Top left: Beet/Carrot.  Bottom Left: Potato, “sausage” brussels sprout, winter squash.  Right: Quinoa and Dal. Middle Right: My thumb.

 

I was inspired by a co-worker of mine who said that she not only prepared a week’s worth of lunches, but also made sure to put them in the staff fridge on Monday morning, along with disposable utensils!  As an elementary school teacher, the struggle is often real.

 

Last week, I took her up on that idea and prepared four days worth of meals.  That allowed me to take in something different for one day, and have everything on hand for the others.  Sunday afternoon, I made up four disposable take-away plates, packed them in a bag with chopsticks, and even took them over to the school (I was doing work on a Sunday at the school…like so many of my fellow teachers).  It was glorious.  As my Second Graders would say “So fuss, no buts, no coconuts!”.  Every day, I reheated, ate, and tossed it on my way out.  It helped me stay on plan, and is a key to success.

So.  It’s four o’clock on Sunday and I’ve been cooking since about 1 pm.  Don’t be fooled.  By “cooking” I mean slamming things into the Instant Pot pressure cooker and walking away for 90% of the cooking time.  So what’s on the menu?  This week, I offer you a fine pairing of whole food, plant-based offerings.  Today is all about the method, not precise measurements.

Dish 1:  Carrots & Beets.

I chucked whole beets (stems removed) into the pressure cooker with 1/2 cup of water.  I pressure cooked it  (Manual on an IP) at 15 lbs for 25 minutes.  When that was done, I peeled, and grossly chopped a large carrot.  I added that to the pot and put it back under pressure for 3 minutes.

When finished, I peeled and cubed the beets then tossed them and the carrots with lemon juice, 21 Season Salute (salt-free season blend from Trader Joes), and some “loose hummus.”

Loose Hummus

In a high-powered blender, empty a can of low-salt garbanzo beans and the liquid.  Add 1 tablespoon tahini, a clove of garlic, and about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.  Whizz it up!  It makes a nice, pourable hummus which is usable as salad dressing, or a simple sauce for a million things.

Dish 2:  Winter Squash, “Sausage,”potato and Brussels Sprouts

To the Instant pot, add 2 cups quartered Brussels sprouts, 1 tofu-based Italian sausage, 1 cup cubed winter squash and 1/2 cup water.  I seasoned it with a splash of Bragg’s aminos, a squirt of sriracha, and some salt-free seasoning.  Pressure cook on manual for 3 minutes.  When it’s done, release the steam, and swap over to the saute function to steam off the liquid.  I had two pre-baked Yukon Gold potatoes, so I decided to cube them and stir them in.  Simple

Dish 3:  Quinoa and Dal

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If you haven’t tried dal, close your computer and go to an Indian restaurant right now!  It’s like South Asian comfort food that also can be deliciously fat-free!

 

Quinoa:  my go-to quinoa recipe is 1 cup quinoa to 1.5 cups water for 1 minute at-pressure in the Instant Pot.  Then, I let it release pressure naturally.  It makes four nice portions.

Dal:  I make this multiple times a week, and it’s always a bit different.  The basic is to take 1 part urad dal (black split gram lentils) to 3 parts water and pressure cook it for 13 minutes.  This can be seasoned any way you want!

Today, I wanted it looser so I used 1 cup lentils to 4 cups water.  I seasoned with a chopped up shallot,asafoetidaa, mustard seeds, and about 1 TB prepared curry powder (Dal Makhani), 1/2 cup cashews, 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds.   Stir in a few handfuls of raw spinach and a small handful of golden raisins and let sit to thicken.  It made 5 portions of 1/2 cup each.

 

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Behold, the stack of SUCCESS!

I packed them up in take-out containers (thank you, local restaurant supply store) and they’re ready to go to school tomorrow.  Phew…now to go do dishes.

 

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