Life in the Slow Lane

September 12, 2008

Simple recipes for your next brown bag lunch

Filed under: Life — pauljlane @ 9:13 am

Here, courtesy of Gannett News Service, are the promised brown bag recipes from the Sunday Lifestyle section.

Michael Violand, owner of Venture Catering In Indianapolis, says packing healthful lunches is one way parents can help kids eat better and develop good eating habits – or change bad ones.
“Through education and habit, things can change, especially for school kids,” he says, noting that he packs lunches for his two youngest children. “It’s a learned behavior.”
But kids aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a healthful packed lunch. Adults can cut costs as well as calories by bringing lunch, too.
Instead of indulging in cafeteria or take-out fare that can quickly add up to loads of calories and a hefty lunch bill, bring your own eats.
“Bagging lunch can pay off in health benefits as well as in your pocketbook,” he says.
Violand created these lunch-worthy recipes, which focus on fresh, simply prepared vegetables, chicken and pasta, as a welcome change.
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 servings Simple Grilled Vegetables (recipe below), cut into three-quarter-inch pieces
one-half teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
one-fourth teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups hot, cooked wheat penne (about 8 ounces uncooked)
one-fourth cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
one-half cup (2 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add Simple Grilled Vegetables (recipe follows) to pan; cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Stir in one-fourth teaspoon black pepper and crushed red pepper. Remove from heat.
Combine pasta, basil, remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining one-fourth teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl. Toss well. Add Simple Grilled Vegetables; toss well. Sprinkle with cheese. Serves 4.
8 4-inch portobello mushroom caps (about 1 pound)
4 medium red bell peppers, quartered
2 medium Vidalia or other sweet onions, each cut into 4 slices (about 1 and one-quarter pounds)
Cooking spray
One-half teaspoon kosher salt
One-fourth teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 and one-half tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Heat grill to medium-high. Arrange mushrooms (gill sides up), bell pepper quarters and onion slices on baking sheet. Coat vegetables with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with black pepper. Drizzle vinegar over mushrooms. Place vegetable on grill rack; grill 5 minutes on each side, or until tender.
5 and one-half cups water
three-fourths cup bulgur wheat
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup each chopped onion and red bell pepper
2 tablespoons salt-free chili powder
2 teaspoons each minced garlic and ground cumin
1 28-ounce can low-sodium crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 15.5-ounce can low-sodium black or white beans, rinsed
one-half cup chopped cilantro
Reduced-fat cheddar cheese, reduced-fat sour cream, lime slices (optional garnishes)
Put bulgur and 3 cups of the water in medium microwave-safe bowl. Cover; microwave until bulgur is tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add onion and pepper; saute 5 minutes. Add chili powder, garlic and cumin; saute until fragrant.
Add remaining 2 and one-half cups water, tomatoes, pumpkin, zucchini and corn; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender.
Stir in beans and bulgur; heat through. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
Garnish if desired. Serves 4.
For salsa:
one-half cup pineapple tidbits
1 medium mango, peeled and chopped
one-fourth cup chopped sweet red, yellow and orange bell peppers
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For chicken:
3 tablespoons plus 1 and one-half teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
one-eighth teaspoon pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
1 cup uncooked couscous
In a small bowl, combine salsa ingredients; cover and refrigerate until serving.
In a large, resealable plastic bag, combine the lime juice, oil, lime peel and pepper; add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
Drain and discard marinade. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 3 inches from the heat for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear.
Meanwhile, cook couscous according to package directions. Serve chicken atop couscous and top with salsa. Serves 4
one-fourth cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared pesto
2 whole-wheat pitas, cut in half
4 lettuce leaves
4 servings Simple Grilled Vegetables
one-half cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese (or feta cheese)
Combine mayonnaise and pesto. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture into each pita half. Stuff each pita half with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 serving Simple Grilled Vegetables and 2 tablespoons cheese. Serves 4.


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