Ladies, it’s time that we upped our lunch game. Food blogger turned cookbook author Laura Wright wants to help you say goodbye to terrible cafeteria sandwiches and grab-and-go burgers and say hello to meals that not only taste and look great, but are great for your bod too.
“I like to do a light amount of meal prep for an hour or so on the weekends, and this helps me with fixing up a nourishing mid-day meal,” says Wright. “I wash and pack up my greens, cook up some quinoa or brown rice, make hummus or a delicious salad dressing, double check that I have sprouted grain bread in my freezer, and I trim some vegetables so that they’re ready to go right out of the fridge. Just having a variety of options that can be assembled in five minutes makes a huge difference.”
With spring just around the corner, she’s excited to start incorporating things like fresh lettuce and crisp greens into the second meal of the day.
We asked Wright for her top three fave lunch recipes from The First Mess Cookbook: Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Through the Seasons—which shelves earlier this month—and the photos alone are enough to make you drool.
Roasted Chili Basil Lime Tofu Bowl
Wright says that this bowl uses her favourite cooking method for tofu: roasting. “It’s so easy and takes care of those craveable crispy edges without using excessive oil,” she writes in the book. “With the bold flavours here, this makes our typical weeknight bowl meal feel special.”
Serves four, free of gluten, nuts and added sugar.
1 block (14 ounces/398 g)
2 teaspoons (10 mL) lime zest
2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons (30 mL) grapeseed or other neutral-flavoured oil
½ teaspoon (2 mL) garlic powder
½ teaspoon (2 mL) chili flakes salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups (500 mL) broccoli florets
¼ cup (50 mL) chopped fresh basil leaves
2 cups (500 mL) cooked brown rice
½ cup (125 mL) fresh sprouts (I use sunflower sprouts)
¼ cup (50 mL) toasted sunflower seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Drain the tofu of its packing liquid and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
Cut tofu into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the lime zest, lime juice, grapeseed oil, garlic powder, chili flakes, salt, and pepper together until combined.
4. Toss the tofu in the lime and oil mixture to coat. Remove the tofu cubes from the bowl with your hands, reserving as much of the lime and oil mixture as possible. Transfer the tofu cubes to the baking sheet. Spread them out and slide the baking sheet into the oven.
5. Roast the tofu for 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and gently flip the tofu cubes over. Toss the broccoli florets in the lime and oil mixture, and transfer them to the baking sheet as well. Slide the baking sheet back into the oven. Roast the tofu and broccoli until all edges are lightly browned, another 20 minutes.
6. Whisk the basil into the remaining lime and oil mixture.
7. Serve the roasted tofu and broccoli hot over bowls of brown rice with sprouts, toasted sunflower seeds, and drizzles of the basil-flecked lime and oil mixture.
Smoky Saffron Chickpea, Chard and Rice Soup
Since the weather is still decidedly chilly, soak up these last bits of winter with this hearty soup that will warm you from the inside out. Wright notes that”the lightly smoky broth is pretty much begging to be sopped up with some crusty bread.” DONE.
Serves six, free of gluten, nuts, and added sugar.
2 teaspoons (10 mL) virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
1 stalk celery, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons (7 mL) smoked paprika
¼ cup (50 mL) tomato paste
1 medium zucchini, chopped into
½-inch (1 cm) pieces
1½ cups (375 mL) cooked chickpeas
⅓ cup (75 mL) medium-grain brown rice, rinsed
salt and pepper, to taste pinch of saffron threads
5 to 6 cups (l.25 to 1.5 L) vegetable stock
1 bunch chard, leaves chopped (about 6 cups/1.5 L chopped chard)
¼ cup (50 mL) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and celery. Stir and sauté until the onions are quite soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, smoked paprika, and tomato paste, and stir. Add the zucchini, chickpeas, and rice. Season with salt and pepper. Add the saffron and vegetable stock, stir, and cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, until the rice is just cooked through, about 25 minutes. Add the chopped chard to the pot and continue to cook until it has just wilted, about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice and serve immediately.
Spring Steamed Vegetables with Savoury Goji Berry Cream
Goji berries might be an unusual ingredient, but Wright found a new way to make them work in the kitchen. “Soaked dried fruit becomes surprisingly creamy once it’s blended, and this sauce is no exception,” she writes in her book.
Serves four to six, free of gluten and cane sugar.
Savoury goji berry cream:
¼ cup (50 mL) dried goji berries
1 tablespoon (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) mellow or light miso
1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons (45 mL) virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1½ pounds (681 g) trimmed spring vegetables (I like halved baby carrots, asparagus, and quartered radishes)
salt and pepper, to taste
Scant ¼ cup (50 mL) walnut halves, toasted and chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1. Make The savoury goji berry cream: Place the goji berries in a small bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let the berries sit for
5 minutes or until they’ve plumped and softened. Spoon the goji berries into a blender, reserving the soaking water.
2. Add the apple cider vinegar, miso, lemon juice, ginger, maple syrup, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the blender. Add 3 tablespoons (45 mL) of the goji soaking water, and then whiz the mixture on high until creamy and smooth. Set aside.
3. Steam the vegetables: After you’ve trimmed the vegetables, set a large pot with about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water on the stove. Bring the water to a simmer. Arrange the vegetables in a steamer basket and set them into the pot. Cover and steam until all the vegetables are just tender, about 8 minutes.
4. Arrange the steamed vegetables on your serving platter and top with the savoury goji berry cream. Garnish with the chopped walnuts and sliced green onions.
Excerpted from The First Mess Cookbook: Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Through the Seasons. Copyright © 2017 Laura Wright. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
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