Easy Jar Lunch w/ French Lentils, Roasted Veggies + Quinoa

I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea that "you are what you eat" (from your head to your feet - heh). I've known that in a general sort of way for a long time, but the concept really hit me earlier in the semester when I started taking biology and learning more about cells and nutrition. I feel like the easiest way to break it down is to just say that the food you put into your body is LITERALLY what is feeding your cells and giving them the energy they need to make proteins and enzymes and all that good stuff that makes your body work. You are physically made up of what you eat, drink, breathe, and even the products you put on your skin. This is a quote that my nutrition teacher shared with the class and it helps to explain what I am saying: "The cause of nutrition and growth resides not in the organism as a whole but in the separate elementary partsβ€”the cells.” Theodor Schwann. If any science-y people are reading this, I apologize for the simplicity. I know there is a lot more to it than what I have said, but sometimes the simplest version of an idea is necessary to actually understand why knowing more about that topic is important. At least I think so. 

Anyways, part of the reason I've been thinking about this is because I haven't been eating the best food for my body lately. Working late hours (usually 3pm - 11pm) means that I need to come prepared with dinner. I fluctuate between being super on top of it and making healthy take-away dinners (like the one in this post), and buying shitty dinners while on break (READ: crackers, carrots and hummus OR tea and a bagel). It is not just about an abstract idea of "eating healthy" and I would never shame anyone for the food that they decide to eat, but I notice a really big difference in my energy levels and mental capacity when I eat a proper meal vs. snacks. Especially as I finish the second half of my shift, what I have eaten becomes more and more important - and apparent if it wasn't enough to sustain me. 

So, this post today is really about my ideal take-away work dinner (or lunch). This easy jar meal is filled with healthy calories, protein from the lentils and quinoa, roasted veggies, and a good tomato-y sauce with plenty of ginger and garlic. I can't even explain the satisfaction of pulling this out at my break and really enjoying a well prepared dinner. It means so much. My suggestion (for myself as much as for you) is to prepare the ingredients in large batches so that you don't have to make a lunch/dinner every day. I like to cook a lot of quinoa to keep in the fridge and try to have at least one kind of legume either cooked from scratch or in a can. Roasting the veggies hardly takes any time and then there you have it, a delicious and satisfying meal you can take to work or school with you! 

I hope you try this out, and I would LOVE to hear how you prepare food for the work week. What are your go to lunches/dinners? How do you stay on top of healthy foods at work? Love you babes xxxx

Easy jar lunch w/ french lentils, roasted veggies + quinoa

This works best if you prep enough ingredients for a few days worth of lunches. From there it is just pack, grab and go! The grains and veggies are my personal favourites and also what I had on hand, but feel free to substitute anything you like. The quinoa could easily be replaced by rice and most of the veggies are totally interchangeable. Customize this recipe and make it your own go-to easy lunch! 

*If you don't have cooked quinoa (or other grains) on hand, I recommend making at least 1 cup dried quinoa and storing the leftovers in the fridge for the next day. To do this place 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups cold water in a pot over high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes. 

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Ingredients

Lentils

  • 1/2 cup french (or du puy) lentils
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, diced

Roasted Veggies

  • apprx. 1 cup brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red potato, sliced into tiny cubes
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 
  • olive oil, salt + pepper

To Serve

  • 1/3 cup cooked quinoa*
  • optional: arugula or spinach to garnish

Β 

Notes

Preheat the oven to 400. Chop all the veggies and place them on a large baking sheet. Drizzle on olive oil and season with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until veggies are crispy and browned, rotating halfway. 

Place lentils in a medium sized pot and cover with about 2 inches of cold water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking covered for about 20 minutes, until soft. Drain the lentils and return the empty cooking pot (dried) to the stove. Drizzle about 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil in the pot and heat over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the oil is hot. Add the ginger and garlic to the pot and stir (sizzling) for about 5 minutes, making sure nothing burns. Add the lentils back to the pot and pour the crushed tomatoes in. Stir and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until hot. 

To serve (if taking to work for lunch) layer quinoa, lentils, and veggies in a jar or thermos. I like to do 2 of each layer (see pics) so that I don't have to try to mix everything when I finally want to eat it. This way you are guaranteed to get a bit of almost everything in each forkful. Enjoy!