I pack a lot of lunches. Luckily, as a college professor, my academic schedule is similar to my kids’ school year. That means I pretty much get to take the summer off from lunch packing. This could be one of the reasons that I’m pretty motivated to make good lunches; I get that much needed break in the summer. When I’m teaching, I often have very little time for lunch. Sometimes I eat during my office hours and sometimes I have a weird schedule like this quarter, in which I have a class that meets from 11:00 in the morning until 2:00pm (it’s a terrible class time). When I’m on campus, I pretty much always have to bring my lunch to work. Some days, I have no energy for making myself a fancy lunch once I’ve finished cobbling together a family dinner, cleaning the kitchen and making lunches for the kids. BUT, occasionally I can muster the will to pack myself a lovely sandwich—and, oh, how I love a lovely sandwich. I would be so excited to have a job in which all I did was come up with interesting sandwich combinations. Look at the gorgeous sandwich I made for my lunch today: it’s got cilantro microgreens that I discovered at the farmers market over the weekend, avocado sprinkled with chile limón seasoning, cheese, and thinly sliced grilled pork loin on sprouted wheat bread with mayo and brown mustard. I can’t wait to eat it today!
I typically feature kid lunches on this blog, but I also pack lunches for myself. My teaching schedule typically doesn’t allow for time to go out to lunch, so I frequently eat in my little windowless office—not the best ambiance, but at least the food is okay.
Here are a few of my favorite lunches from the past two weeks:
Today’s lunch features a new chia pudding concoction: carob chia pudding made extra creamy with bananas and avocado. When I first heard about making healthier chocolate pudding with avocado, I had two thoughts: 1) huh? and 2) genius. Avocados are amazing: rich with good fat, nutrient dense, and packed with super awesome avocado flavor. I wasn’t sure how that super awesome avocado flavor would play with chocolate, but a funny thing happens: the chocolate pretty much takes over and the avocado gives vegan puddings a glorious thick and creamy consistency. The first time I made chocolate avocado pudding, the kiddos went crazy for it and never guessed the “secret” ingredient. As I was making a batch of carob chia pudding yesterday, I remembered that I had some ripe avocados in the fridge (once avocados get ripe, you can move them from the counter to the fridge where they will be perfectly preserved and guacamole-ready for several days). I decided to add half a big avocado to my chia pudding, except there was a slight problem: I had already mixed up the pudding. I didn’t want to get out the Vitamix, so I tried to just mash up the avocado with a fork and add it to the mix. Bad idea. There were little green chunks of avocado in the pudding, and I just knew that I had a consistency issue on my hands. And with kids, you can’t have a consistency issue. I told myself not to be a slacker and ended up throwing everything in the Vitamix in order to achieve creamy consistency perfection.
Creamy Carob Chia Pudding
- 1-1/2 cups of milk (I used almond milk)
- 4 tablespoons chia seeds
- 4 tablespoons carob powder
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 small ripe avocado (or half a large avocado)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon chocolate hemp protein powder (optional)
- unsweetened coconut for garnish (optional)
Puree all ingredients in a high-powered blender. Alternately, you could puree all the ingredients except the chia seeds, then stir them in if you like the tapioca-esque quality of plumped chia seeds. Let the pudding thicken up in the fridge overnight. Serve with a sprinkling of unsweetened coconut if you like to garnish things.
This was my fabulous brunch/lunch yesterday:
Cheesy Eggy Avocado Toast
- whole grain bread
- half an avocado, sliced
- 1 egg
- shredded cheese
- salt and pepper
- Chipotle Tabasco
Place bread on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet (to avoid having to clean baking sheet). Sprinkle some cheese on top. Arrange avocado slices so that they are slightly higher on the edges, creating an egg dam. Crack on egg onto the center of the toast. If some of the white oozes over the edge, don’t fret. Add a little more cheese on top. Bake at 400 F for 10–15 minutes. I baked mine for 14 minutes, but I think I’ll try 13 minutes next time so that the yolk is just a little runnier. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Chipotle Tabasco. Mmm, enjoy your easy and elegant cheesy eggy avocado toast.
Friday’s lunch always feels like a major accomplishment, because, well, we made it to Friday. Today’s festive Friday lunch is guacamole on whole wheat sandwich thins, pretzel thins + goldfish (there’s an unintentional “thin” theme going on here), and fruit (grapes, pluots and plums from the farmers market). Candy coated chocolate sunflower seeds are in the treat tray.
Cooking Tip: Guacamole is the easiest thing on earth if you have good, ripe avocados. Mash up an avocado with some salt. Done. If you want it to taste more exotic, mash up some chopped onions and cilantro with the salt. Then add the avocado. Or, forget the onion, it’s a pain to chop and makes you cry. Just add a garlic clove pressed through a garlic press. I never add lime juice to guacamole, unless I’m putting it in the kids’ lunches. In this case, I’ll squeeze a little lime juice into the mix to preserve the green color. Oh, yeah, sometimes I add a couple of grinds of black pepper. I’m crazy that way.