Lunch Lately & A Super Easy Taco Bowl Recipe

Before I get to pictures of my lunches lately, a few PSA’s:

I announced a winner of my Food Should Taste Good giveaway! Was it you?

Remember my Muesli Protein Bars? They were selected to be a finalist in the Muesli Fusion Recipe Contest! Please click here to go to the Facebook Poll and vote for me! All you have to do is click “Muesli Protein Bars — Blonde Ambition Blog”. First place AND runner up get a prize! Thank you so much to everyone who has already voted!

Ahem. Back to our regularly scheduled programming 😉

Last month when I went to Park City to attend Blend Retreat, I often found myself the recipient of the question, “So what is your blog about?” In fact, I get this question a lot in everyday life. I think most people expect me to say that I think I’m some gourmet foodie, or that I make really elaborate dishes. The truth is, this blog is about making healthy living seem more accessible to busy twenty-somethings (or even just busy people in general!).

Now, I get that when I say “healthy living”, the image that comes to mind is someone who must be 100% preservative-free, organic-only, homegrown, or following the ever so trendy gluten-free diet. (“I’m pretty sure gluten is just anything that is bad for you” hahaha Seth Rogen in This Is the End) But I know that’s unrealistic for most people, myself included.

For me, one of the most important aspects of healthy living is limiting my meals out each week — especially lunch. There aren’t a lot of healthy options close to my work, and salads get old fast. So I aim to prep food on Sundays, or even throughout the week when I have time in the evening, so that I have quick grab-and-go meals to bring for lunch. On days that I’m not working out at lunch, I sometimes have time to bike home and cook a quick meal. I suppose that’s a luxury of living only 7 blocks away from my office 😉

But there are plenty of days when I have to grab an “emergency” burrito out of the freezer, or grab a salad or sandwich from La Bou. And that’s okay! I try to abide by the 80-20 ratio…80% good healthy eats, 20% indulgence. So if I go out to eat or mack on a frozen burrito one day out of the week, that’s not so bad.

Here’s what I’ve been making lately!

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My Lemony Rice & Spring Veggies – perfect for a non workout day, but could work for a workout day too…just add chicken!

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There was one week where I spent about 20 minutes on Monday night cooking up a few sausages and peppers, and had lunch for 3 days. One day I ate them on a tortilla with broccoli, another day with bread like a sandwich. Very versatile!

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Salad is super quick to put together either the night before or in the morning. This one had romaine lettuce, beets, broccoli, and bell peppers…I think some pinto beans were hiding in there too. Make or store your dressing in a mason jar and add when you’re ready to eat!

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You wouldn’t think so, but pasta is actually a great quick meal to make in the morning to bring to work…Especially if you use spaghetti (which cooks quicker than most pasta). Just cook the spaghetti, toss in some veggies like broccoli and kale, plus a squeeze of lemon and some parm…And you have a perfectly portable meal! Plus, the hot spaghetti will wilt the veggies.

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On days when I have time to go home and make lunch, my meals typically look like this. A bunch of sauteed veggies with a side of avocado toast. Can you tell there were beets in this stir fry? Haha.

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evol Burritos are probably my favorite frozen burrito. It doesn’t hurt that Grocery Outlet has been selling them $1 off for a good 2 months now 😉 They are a little heavy on the tortilla, but I read that evol recently took that feedback and changed their recipe to include smaller tortillas. This must be why Grocery Outlet has so many – getting rid of the old product! My favorite is the Bean, Rice & Cheese.

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Now that I’ve totally inspired you to make your own lunch everyday… 😉 Here’s a recipe for an easy lunch (and what I’ve been eating for lunch this week! These Chicken Taco “Bowls” are easy and quick to put together (you basically just layer the ingredients in a bowl/tupperware) and are a really hearty meal. They’re easily customizable, too, so if you don’t like the ingredients I included, sub in whatever you want! I made these Monday night in about 30 minutes, providing me with two grab and go lunches this week!

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Chicken Taco Bowls
makes 2 bowls (but is easily doubled!)

1 large chicken breast
juice of one lime
salt & pepper
chile powder
cumin
garlic powder
oil, for sauteing

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup black beans, drained
1 small summer squash
1 handful baby kale (if you use regular kale, you will probably want to cook it a bit with the squash. Baby kale is much more tender)

Combine chicken breast with lime juice and spices in a plastic bag. Squish around all the spices to make sure chicken is coated. Let sit while you prepare remaining ingredients. Cook rice according to package directions if not already cooked. Drain and rinse black beans, and cut squash into half moons.

Heat saute pan over medium-high heat. Add desired amount of oil, turning the pan to coat. Add marinated chicken to pan. Cook about 6 minutes, then turn. Once you have turned the chicken, add the squash. Cook an additional 6 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring the squash occasionally. Remove from heat and let chicken rest on a cutting board while you assemble the bowls.

In two tupperware containers, layer ingredients: 1/2 cup beans, 1/4 cup rice, small handful of kale, and half of the squash. When chicken is cooled, cut into cubes and evenly split between the two tupperwares. You’ll notice the heat from the squash and chicken will wilt the kale, eliminating the need to cook it separately. Store in fridge until needed, and microwave for about 1:30 on high before eating. Eat alone, or with a tortilla!

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20130619-092507.jpgWhat is your go-to lunch at work?

How often do you eat out during the week?

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How to Eat Well if You’re a Busy 20-Something

My dear blog, you have been neglected this week. My dear blends (blogfriends), you have been neglected as well. To make a long story short, work has been cray cray. And it will continue to be cray cray until our Legislative Symposium is over and done with on Wednesday.

As an apology, I offer you pictures of the food I have been enjoying. Because even with work being as busy as it is, I’ve mostly managed to eat a homemade lunch at least 4 days out of every week, and have eaten dinner at home just as often. (OK, so yesterday I had an Amy’s microwave burrito for lunch. Sorry I’m not sorry.)

Let these photos serve as inspiration! Join me – let’s prep our food on Sundays and eat well during the week. No slaving away in the kitchen necessary…unless you’re into that sort of thing 🙂

Breakfast

avocadotoast

Avocado toast. This one really got some mixed feedback on Instagram…apparently not everyone thinks avocados are the best thing ever invented EVER. Who knew? {on a related note, leave it to my family members to tell me my food looks gross, ha!} Prep time: 5 minutes.

overnightoats

These are last night/this morning’s Overnight Oats. 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup almond-coconut milk, 1/4 cup plain nonfat Chobani, half a banana and some mango. This was the first time I ever actually finished overnight oats! Usually cold oatmeal makes me gag. I credit the Chobani…their plain flavor is actually palatable! Prep time: 5 minutes the night before.

kindbar

At the end of the 5K I ran, they had boxes of KIND Bars for all the participants to take. I grabbed, err, 4 different flavors to sample.  This one was my ABSOLUTE favorite. The chocolate and cherries make it taste like candy!

Lunch

lunch

This is how most of my lunches go – I make a pot of some kind of grain/legume on Friday night, mix it up with veggies, and then eat it throughout the week with a tortilla (or in this case, tortilla chips). Prep time: 30 minutes when you make it ahead of time, 3 minutes to reheat and devour!

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I already showed you all this picture on Monday, but that Kale and Chickpea saute is a prime example of my typical lunch. I made two small servings and bulked it up with the pictured brown rice and toast. Prep time: 20 minutes when you make it ahead of time, 3 minutes to reheat and devour!

Dinner

asparagus

#yolkporn central! This was an awesome weekend dinner that I accompanied with sweet potato fries and wine. In a perfect world, I’d eat a big breakfast and lunch everyday, followed by a snacky dinner. Prep time: 30 minutes.dodgeballdinner

A perfect pre-dodgeball dinner. Tons of quinoa and roasted green beans. It was super filling, protein packed, but didn’t leave me feeling too bloated to run around and throw balls at people. 😉 Prep time: 20-25 minutespeanutchicken

My amazing Chicken in Spicy Peanut Sauce dinner that I was obsessed with and shared with you all. Still dreaming about this meal. Prep time: 30 minutes, less if you’ve made the rice ahead of time!

sandwich

I used most of a can of chickpeas to make the aforementioned Chickpea & Kale saute, and then I mashed the leftover chickpeas with some cream cheese (I didn’t have plain yogurt!), lemon juice, salt and pepper…Then I piled on some roasted red peps and spinach and called it a Chickpea Salad sandwich 🙂 Prep time: 10 minutes

miniturkeymeatloaves

After 3 months of being subscribed to Cooking Light magazine, I finally tried out a recipe. It was for Mini Greek Style Meatloaves, which I made into Mini Mexican Style Meatloaves.. because I am me, and I love cilantro. Paired with a mango salsa, it was AMAZING! Prep time: 30 minutesturkeyburger

Last night, I plopped the mini meatloaves on a thin bun and called it a turkey burger. Win. Prep time: 25 minutes (or however long your fries take to bake)

What I Eat if I Do Go Out

jamba

Several Friday mornings this month I’ve craved Jamba Juice. I think it must be the dodgeball beers on Thursday night that make me feel like I need to load up on nutrients Friday morning! I’ve been trying their fruit + veggie smoothies and, while they don’t taste as great as the purely fruit ones, at least I feel revived!

lowbrau

These are duck fat fries from LowBrau. I say if you eat healthily during the day, a bag of fries and an IPA makes a fine dinner 😉 Balance, people! They were screamin’ hot, and super crispy! We weren’t a huge fan of the beer cheese pictured (it reminded us too much of processed nacho cheese), so we ordered another garlicky cheese and were totally in business.

burgersnbrew

Burgers & Brew is one of T-Man’s favorite restaurants, so we go pretty often. Their burgers are amaaaazing, but often a lot to handle. I started getting this Turkey Avocado Melt and hooo boy is it good! Lots of protein and it is STUFFED full of avocado. Definitely recommend if you live in Sacramento or Davis!

What are your go-to breakfasts and lunches during the work week?

How often do you eat out during the week?

Birthday Weekend in Photos

Today is my golden birthday. I am 24 on the 24th, as I’ve pointed out to nearly everyone I could in the past few weeks. 😛

Since my birthday fell on a Monday, I decided to do most of my celebrating this weekend. This meant spending most of Saturday with T-Man (and going to a couple of campaign events with him, because he never truly has days off anymore!), cooking a bunch, and spending time with friends. Chiggedy check it out:

T-Man helped me in the kitchen! We made Fried Green Tomato BLTs! Oh. My. Gawwwwd. Can’t wait to share this recipe!

The rest of the day was spent following around T-Man at work, and (left) fueling for the evening ahead of us! We went and saw a cover band play with a bunch of friends. Then I dragged him home so we could watch SNL. WORTH IT.

My contribution to Sunday Dinner at my place! Eggplant fries and Green Chile Veggie Enchiladas.

This morning, I received this good news:

I thought it was arriving on October 5th… Turns out my back-ordered iPhone 5 will be here on Friday! Happy birthday to me!