The other day I found myself scrounging for ingredients to make lunch at home (clearly I hadn’t planned my food shopping very well!). I didn’t have any lettuce to make a regular salad and I didn’t have any sandwich toppings, but I did have some vegetables, canned beans, and a whole bunch of grains in the pantry.
As you probably know by now, I love quinoa (and if you didn’t know, just check out some of my previous quinoa posts). I especially love how quickly it can be cooked up, which is perfect for a last-minute lunch dish. I ended up with a balanced, satisfying, and delicious lunch that took less than 20 minutes to make (ok – maybe this is longer than it takes to make most lunches, but it was so easy and the active time was only five minutes!).
Vegetable and Chickpea Quinoa Salad
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup water or low-sodium broth
- 1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
- 2-3 scallions, chopped
- 4-5 roasted asparagus, chopped
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
- 1/2 can no-sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Handful cilantro, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cook quinoa according to package directions in water or broth. When fully cooked (water is completely absorbed), rinse under cold water and drain. Set aside in a bowl to cool.
- When quinoa is at room temperature, add the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine. Divide between two bowls and serve.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 400 calories, 14 g protein, 55 g carbohydrate, 10 g fiber, 14 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 284 mg sodium
What do you make for lunch when you’re home?
Did you know April is National Grilled Cheese Month? I love cheese, especially the ooey, gooey deliciousness of melted cheese between two slices of bread, so I am more than happy to celebrate this national “holiday” with some memories of grilled cheese from when I was a kid and a classic recipe with a healthy twist.
When I was younger, my mom made me grilled cheese in a toaster oven. She would put the bread in the toaster oven for one round of initial toasting. Then she’d put a slice of American cheese on each piece of bread and put it back in the toaster oven until the cheese was melted and bubbly. Once removed from the oven, she would quickly put the two slices of bread together, cut in half, and I was off to enjoy! There was no addition of butter or margarine, just plain, simple grilled cheese. I didn’t even realize until I got older that grilled cheese is traditionally made on a griddle with butter (and a lot of it)!
Now that I live in an apartment and don’t have room for a toaster oven, I make my grilled cheese sandwiches on the stove top like it’s traditionally done. The main difference is that instead of butter I use Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread, which has half the calories and less than half the fat of butter, and I use just enough of the Smart Balance to coat the pan (less than a tablespoon for sure). I also use Sandwich Thins instead of regular bread — saves another 50-60 calories. All these calorie savings leave me room for the star of the show — the cheese! Here are the four easy steps to make a classic grilled cheese sandwich:
- Melt less than a tablespoon of Smart Balance Light in a nonstick pan.
- Add the bottom of a Sandwich Thin to the pan and top with 1 1/2-2 ounces of the cheese of your choice.
I used one of my favorite cheeses — Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar. (It’s best not to use fat-free cheese since it doesn’t melt as well and isn’t as flavorful.)
- Add the top of the Sandwich Thin and press down with a spatula until the cheese starts to melt. Once it is melting, flip the sandwich over to brown the top of the sandwich.
- Once the cheese is sufficiently melted, transfer the sandwich to a plate, slice in half, and eat immediately!
Nutrition Facts: 346 calories, 23 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 19 g protein, 22 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 61 mg cholesterol, 635 mg sodium, 445 mg calcium
Do you like grilled cheese? What’s your favorite way to make it?
Disclaimer: I was not paid to promote any of the brands in this post. All opinions are my own.
Posted in Cooking, Lunch, Nutrition Tips, Recipes
Tagged cabot cheddar cheese, cooking, grilled cheese, healthy grilled cheese, lunch, national grilled cheese month, Recipes, Sandwich Thins, smart balance, smart balance vs butter