07 January 2014

Eats: reset-button lunches

While my Christmas tree is not exactly down... and by “not exactly” I mean “it’s still right there in its two-thousand-twinkle-lights-glory the day after Epiphany”... I’m ready for it to be down. Considering that it was put up later than usual (thanks to late Thanksgiving), I’m rather surprised that I’m so eager to let it go.

I guess I’m just ready for January. Ready to move on from the indulgent holiday season, and honestly, ready for winter to be over. (The foot of snow on the ground isn’t helping matters).

So let’s embrace January. It’s the season of getting your life back on track, right? If you dear readers are anything like the folks in my facebook news feed, you’re hitting the gym, avoiding sugar, and dropping money in a jar equivalent to what week of the year it is. (Let me know if you make it to $52!) You’re out of the post-holiday blur, and you want to save money and eat right. I’m right there with you.

It’s at these times that I eat what I’ve started calling “reset button food”. I can’t take credit for the name (I got it from Tracy Shutterbean), but it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s food that brings you back into your routine, that re-awakens your taste for whole foods, that fills you up without that gross belly bloat. And when I find myself too deep in days of decadent foods... I know it’s time to hit the reset button.

For me, I find that it’s easiest to use LUNCHES for reset button food. You can totally reset-button dinner, but lunches come so naturally for reset button food that they’re a great place to start. And to make easy reset-button lunches, all you need are two simple guildelines:

1) Buy a variety of vegetables that you like to eat raw, then
2) Use them to turn virtually any leftovers into a SALAD or a WRAP.

Case in point: this teriyaki chicken salad.

We had teriyaki chicken over rice one night for dinner (reminiscent of the sesame chicken recipe). I made enough chicken to have leftovers, but importantly, I also made a bit more sauce than I would have normally. And that, dear readers, becomes salad dressing. Not the oily, high-fat bottled stuff, but a dressing in the literal sense: a sauce to coat the greens and make them tasty. You would be amazed how far a little of that sauce can go!

Take that chicken and sauce and throw it over some greens – in my case, romaine lettuce, broccoli slaw with carrot, sugar snap peas, and edamame. Boom, a reset button salad! And it was delicious! So crunchy and spicy and filling without being bloat-worthy.

I used the same leftover-chicken-with-extra-sauce for this chicken-burrito-bowl salad:

A bunch of romaine, broccoli slaw, corn, and black beans is tossed with leftover chicken used for tacos. The sauce, plus a bit of salsa and cheese, serve to flavor the whole shebang. I actually forgot the sour cream and my avocados weren’t ripe yet – but it was delicious even without those calorie-packed toppers.

And in case you’re wondering, I used these giant bowls from World Market – another tip from Shutterbean. They’re a large size and have lids, which makes them great for transporting big salads to work... but, they’re super brittle. Of the three I received for Christmas, two shattered. World Market was great about exchanging them, but I’m a little reserved about actually recommending them. Still, if it takes cute bowls to get you to eat salads at work, then do what you need to do!

Finally, if a big green reset button salad is just too much of a shock to your holiday-ified system, maybe you’d prefer a nice Greek-inspired wrap?

A whole wheat tortilla with hummus, artichokes, roasted red peppers, romaine lettuce, sugar snap peas, and goat cheese. And the best part about this wrap is how I usually have all those ingredients on hand, all the time! The second best part? How freaking pretty it is in the early-morning light before work.

Again, you can do this with any collection of vegetables and leftovers in your fridge. Just be sure to avoid bottled condiments if at all possible!

So hopefully, you can take a hard look at your post-holidays refrigerator and pantry and figure out dump those leftovers in a salad or a wrap. Your waistline and arteries will thank you! Plus, by bringing your lunch to work and using up leftovers, you’re saving money. Win-win!

Once you’ve hit that reset button a few times, you’ll feel so much better about this new year!

Finally, here’s the meal plan here at Casa P:

Sunday: chicken tortilla soup (recipe to come!)

Monday: Chinese chicken and snap peas over rice (similar recipe here)

Tuesday: salsa chicken with saffron rice and green beans

Wednesday: baked potatoes with roasted broccoli with cheese

Thursday: lasagna grilled cheese with green beans

Friday: homemade Kosmic Karma pizza and salad

Saturday: chili with baked potatoes, or probably leftovers because we bought too much dang food in my panicky anticipation of the snow storm

Happy eating – and happy resetting, dear readers!


Christal said...

do you have a hard time stuffing your pita in public? ;-)

Janice said...

Check out the opening paragraph by Timothy Cardinal Dolan (Archbishop of NY) about when to take down Christmas trees.... hee hee


I hope it works. It not, Email me and I'll send you the link. He's got a great sense of humor.