Greetings from sick bay, Readers! Boy, this was a nasty bit of business, let me tell you. And although I just referred to Mr. Nastyvirus in the past tense, he’s still hanging around, just to show me who’s boss. What really pisses me off is that at the veryvery first sign of Mr. Nasty, I did everything right: I dosed myself with Zicam, pumped up the vitamins, swilled gallons of lemon/honey tea and consumed a veritable hot tub of every kind of soup possible. Seriously. I’m still floating. And it did zero-point-zero bit of good. He was ready to make himself at home and stay a while, hogging the bed and dirtying the dishes, and I was more than ready to send him packing. Don’t you hate visitors like that?
Hmph. At least I’m on the road to recovery now, which means I’m feeling ready to ingest something a little more interesting than soup. Soup, as restorative as it is, gets a little old after a week and a half straight (as in: breakfast/lunch/dinner. Told you I was floating). I’m almost well enough to tote my phleghmy carcass to the grocery store and stock up on ingredients for nice healthy a power bowl.
Remember me talking about the power bowl a while back? I’m still kind of digging them (more for lunch than for breakfast, though, if I’m honest). I’ve found that if I’m organized enough, I can make a week’s worth of healthy lunches and it takes all of the guesswork–and the temptation to hit the drive-thru–out of the noon hour. You know what’s key, though? I’ve been using my weekends to help me stay on top of things and make my life easier. There was a bit of a learning curve at first, but here’s my weekend game plan:
~ cook whatever whole grains you fancy in bulk and store in the refrigerator. Lately, I’ve been loving on pearled barley–it has a satisfying, chewy texture and a bit of a nutty taste that I like. Cooking it ahead is key, because most whole grains take a while to cook (barley takes a whole hour), which is time during the week most of us don’t have, myself included.
~ chop up and briefly saute a bucketload of veggies, preferably in many colors and textures. Broccoli, spinach, red/orange bell peppers, onion, mushrooms, you name it. Just cook them until they aren’t raw anymore–you’ll reheat them briefly during the week so you want them still plenty crisp. You don’t want mush. If you like some crunchy raw veggies in your power bowl, chop and store those up, too.
~ cook your protein of choice or a variety of proteins, slice up, store. If you’re using canned beans or tuna, that much easier.
~ toast up some nuts and chop them or if cheese is your thing, crumble/grate it and store away. Personally, I vote for both.
~ whip up some kind of genius sauce to tie things all together–I like mine to include some kind of healthy fat like avocado and/or Greek yogurt and tons of herbs for punch. An olive-oil vinaigrette works well, too. Sometimes I even add nuts to the sauce and blend it to make a pesto-like consistency. You honestly can just play around and tinker with stuff or if you don’t want to spend the time, buy a container of tzatziki sauce or pesto at the deli. We’re looking to make our life easier, not more cluttered.
In the morning before you leave for work (or at lunchtime if you work from home or have a work refrigerator) just spoon a little bit of everything into a container (leave the sauce and any raw veggies separate) and go about your business. When you’re ready to eat, zap your bowl in the microwave to heat things through, top with a nice blob of yummy sauce, and BAM! Done.
See how simple that was?
Sure, you will spend a couple of weekend hours getting the ingredients together (shop, chop, prep, store) but it’s such a relief during the week to have a delicious, no-brainer, nutritious lunch at-the-ready. At least a few days a week. I try to keep different kinds of protein, nuts and cheeses on hand to keep things from getting too monotonous.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying this green sauce–I call it Genius Green Sauce–on top of my power bowls. I call it “genius” because it’s simple but it’s got so much going for it. It’s got extra protein from Greek yogurt, which helps keep your belly nice and full. Avocado adds richness, herbs add freshness and color, and jalapeno gives it a little zing. Actually, one week I got a jalapeno that was on serious steroids, so my sauce had a lot of zing, but that’s okay by me.
I know some of you readers have been playing around with power bowls, too, and I would love to hear what combinations you’re crushing on! And if some of you haven’t quite gotten on the power bowl bandwagon yet, maybe give this Genius Green Sauce a try. It’s also just a great dip for any kind of veggie. I even got a little naughty one evening and dunked some Fritos Scoops (which I should never keep in the house because I cannot be trusted with them) in the sauce. Ahem. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
Genius Green Sauce
makes about 2 1/2 cups sauce or enough for a week’s worth of power bowls and Frito dunking
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lime juice
1-2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste (hot sauce is optional)
1/3 cup shelled pistachios (optional)
Scoop out the flesh from the avocado and place in a blender or food processor. Add the chopped herbs and the cucumber. Pulse until well combined. Add the jalapeno, scallions, garlic, Greek yogurt and lime juice. Pulse again to combine well. Add 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pulse. If the sauce seems overly thick, thin with a little more water. Season generously with salt and pepper and pulse. Taste for seasonings and add hot sauce, if desired.
If you like a pesto-type consistency sauce, add the chopped pistachios and pulse well until it resembles pesto.
Stir into your power bowl and enjoy.