Category Archives: Lunches for Work

inexpesive lunch ideas for the working week

Butternut squash with garlic and chilli soup

As I’ve been under the weather for the past week with flu, this week looks like it might be a full week of: work, health and some ski fitness activities!
So to kick off my week I have created a soup that will keep all germs away, as well as help me get back to full strength. Well this was what was in my head when I created it, I just hope it works!

Ingredients
1 Butternut squash
4 cloves of garlic
1 onion
1 heaped tsp of ‘very lazy’ chilli
1.5pints of vegetable stock
Half a pint of orange juice
1 tbsp of Vegetable oil and a knob of butter
8 Anya potatoes chopped or 4 regular sized roasting potatoes. (You decide)

Heat your oil and butter in a large pan, chop your onion and garlic first, now add this to your hot pan. Lower the heat and allow to cook until your onions soften.
While your onion and garlic sizzle, peel and chop your butternut squash. Scoop out the seeds and discard them, or you could keep the seeds to grow some more in your garden, if that’s your thing! Chop your potatoes into similar sized chunks to your squash.
Add your: Squash; Potatoes; Heaped tsp of ‘very lazy’ chilli into the onion and garlic and make sure to mix this well.
Turn the heat up, to mid temp, leave this on the heat for about 5 mins.
Prepare your stock, once it’s ready pour this and the orange juice into your pan.
Leave the soup ingredients to simmer for 20-30mins and then allow to cool before blending.

This should keep me going for the working week, I hope the chilli and garlic combo will also boost my immune system up to full strength. And the orange juice if I’m honest just felt like a good addition, so you can take it or leave it when you make your soup.

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Sweet potato and red pepper soup

Sweet potato seems to be everywhere at the moment, so I joined the trend, purchased some and used them in this weeks soup. This lunch kept me going all week, it was warming, filling and I only needed a cup of it a day. So it’s certainly worth trying for the chilly week ahead.

Ingredients
3 red peppers
1 onion
5 small sweet potatoes
3 charlotte potatoes
750 ml veg stock
1 chilli pepper

First take your 3 red peppers and put them into a baking tray, drizzle with oil and put them into a hot oven (180C) for 30mins.

While this is in the oven, heat your oil in a frying pan, dice your onion and add this to the pan, cook the onions until they soften. Dice your chilli, you can include the seeds if you like a kick.
Add the chilli to the onion pan and mix.

Take your peppers out of the oven and put them into a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave this for 5 minutes, then peel away the skin from the peppers and discard the skin.

Chop and peel the potatoes. Now add the potatoes, peppers and onion mixture to a saucepan and pour the stock into the pan. Simmer the soup until the potatoes are cooked through, allow 20-30 mins. 

Once the potatoes are soft you can turn the heat off your saucepan and leave the soup to cool, before blending or mashing. 

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Clear Mushroom Soup

My soup this week was a mushroom soup, not a cream of mushroom soup, think french onion style but with mushrooms! This dish according to nutracheck, a portion was only 75Kcal. My large flat mushroom was missed off my breakfast on Sunday morning, so it inspired me to use it for my weekly lunches. If I’m honest this soup surprised me with it’s full flavour on Monday, so it’s certainly worth a try.

Ingredients
20g of dried porchini mushrooms
1 large flat mushroom
1 Onion
3 or 4 garlic cloves
500ml vegetable stock
cooking oil

Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water leave these to soak for 20mins. 
Dice the onion and garlic cloves, once this is done add some oil to a large pan and heat.

Now add your onions and garlic into the pan, lower the heat and allow the onions to soften, 5 mins.
Dice your large flat mushroom and add this into the pan, stir, 1 min. Drain the rehidrated mushroom, but save the water for the next part. Add these mushrooms into the pan, stir, 1 min.

Pour in your stock and the ‘mushroomy water’ and leave to simmer for half an hour. Once your soup has simmered, leave it to cool and portion this up for your lunch, alternatively serve this warm straight away to friends and family.

Spicy butternut squash and chickpea stew

I purchased a butternut squash with the intention to make a curry for mid-week or weekend dinner, but  to my disappointment the book I was convinced would have the recipe, did not. So I reached out for this years favourite book: Good Things to Eat, Lucas Hollweg, and found a suitable replacement. The option was not a curry, still it satisfied my wish to cook the squash in a spicy warming dish. This new meal was to be for my lunch, which also gave me a change from winter soups.

The stew was a step up from soup and perhaps a little more effort to make, but it was worth it, and I looked forward to having it at 12.30 every day. I had this dish with no accompaniments as it was lunch, but if you wanted to make this for dinner you could add rice or a baked potato to go with this dish.

Ingredients
1 ping-pong ball-sized preserved lemon
2 tbsp olive oil 1 medium onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cinnamon
12 saffron threads
a good pinch of crushed chilli flakes
600g (1lb 5oz) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm (¾in) cubes
2 x 400g (14oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g (14oz) can chopped plum tomatoes
juice of 1 orange
500ml (18fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
5 bulging handfuls of baby spinach leaves
2 handfuls of coriander leaves
Greek yoghurt, to serve

Cut the preserved lemon into quarters. Scoop out and discard the pulp and finely chop the peel.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Stir in the onion and let it cook gently for 6–7 minutes, or until soft and pale gold, then add the garlic, spices and lemon peel and stir for a minute or so more. Tip in the squash and chickpeas and stir everything together so it’s thoroughly mixed.

Add the tomatoes, orange juice and stock. Season, and bring to a simmer, then cook, uncovered, over a medium heat for 40–45 minutes, or until the squash is soft, pushing the bits under the surface from time to time. Throw in the spinach and stir through until it is wilted and soft.

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Season well, tasting as you go – you’ll need at least another ¼ teaspoon salt, probably more – then mix in most of the coriander. Pile into bowls, scattering each one with more coriander and adding a blob of Greek yoghurt.

Serves 6 approximately 150kcals per serving.

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Spinach and Lentil Soup

I find that lentils are great at this time of year, the temperature is dropping as the summer goes into hiding for another 6 months and lentils in soup can provide a healthy hearty meal for lunch or dinner. They are certainly heavily used in many vegetarian dishes in winter, but they do have a meaty texture which can appeal to the meat eaters diet too. I’m likely to cover a few lentil dishes which are family favourites over the next few months.  

Ingredients
2 Carrots
2 sticks Celery
2 Med Onions
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
Thumb sized piece of root ginger
1/2 – 1 fresh red chilli (to your taste)
10 cherry tomatoes
2 chicken or veg stock cubes
300g red lentils
200g spinach
sea salt & ground black pepper
200g natural yoghurt.

Food preparation: Peel and chop carrots, Slice celery, Roughly chop onions, Peel and slice garlic.

Take a large pan and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add chopped and sliced ingredients and mix with wooden spoon. Cook for 10 minutes with the pan lid askew untill carrots have softened and the onions golden.

Meanwhile: peel and finely slice the ginger, de-seed the chilli and finely slice, slice your tomatoes in half. Now add your stock cubes to bowl and add 1.8 litres of boiling water stir till dissolved, then add to the pan along with the lentils ginger chilli and tomatoes.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins with the lid on or until lentils are cooked.

Add Spinach and continue to cook for 30 SECONDS. Season and serve as it is or blend in liquidiser.  Warning this will be green.

 To serve top with a splodge of yoghurt, low fat or otherwise. If you have a microwave at work this will be perfect.

Roast tomato and feta quiche

Roasted tomato and feta cheese tart
Serves 8-10 portions ideal for lunches!

300g cherry tomatoes – cut in half
Drizzle olive oil
Feta cheese 100g
2 eggs
284ml pot double cream
Handful basil leaves, shredded, plus a few small ones left whole for scattering.

For the Pastry
280g plain flour , plus extra for dusting
140g cold butter , cut into pieces

Depending on how busy your lifestyle is you can approach this quiche making in two ways:

Option one – Make time for yourself on Sunday to create the quiche in one go then enjoy it when you like!

Option Two – You can start this on the Saturday evening, complete it on the Sunday and then enjoy it for the whole working week.

To start make your pastry: Tip the flour and butter into a bowl, then rub together with your fingertips until completely mixed and crumbly. Add 8 tbsp cold water, then bring everything together with your hands until just combined.

(Option one) Roll into a ball and use straight away or (Option two) chill for up to 2 days.
The pastry can also be frozen for up to a month.

When you are ready to start the quiche creation, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a circle, about 5cm larger than a 25cm tin. Carefully lift your pastry it up, then drape over the tart case so there is an overhang of pastry on the sides, push the pastry into the corners of the tin. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 20 mins.

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

In a small roasting tin, drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the tomatoes in a low shelf of the oven.

Lightly prick the base of the tart with a fork, line the tart case with a large circle of greaseproof paper or foil, then fill with baking beans or rice. Blind-bake the tart for 20 mins, remove the paper and beans, then continue to cook for 5-10 mins until biscuit brown.

While the tart is cooking, beat the eggs in a large bowl. Gradually add the cream, then stir in the basil and season.

When you remove the tart case from the oven, take out the tomatoes, too. This will have given your tomatoes approximately 30mins in the oven

When the case is ready, sprinkle half the cheese over the base, scatter over the tomatoes, pour over the cream mix, then finally scatter over the rest of the cheese.

Bake for 20-25 mins until set and golden brown. Leave to cool in the case, trim the edges of the pastry, then remove from the tin. Scatter over the remaining basil and serve in slices.

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This week it’s a wrap

After the bank holiday and seemingly lots of various outings it’s time to wind in the spending and re introduce a health kick.

I don’t think I’ve done too badly on the healthy side of things, after all a lobster for a Sunday lunch can’t be too bad on the waistline. This weekend I headed to the supermarket and picked up some wraps, wraps are apparently a lighter alternative to your average bread loaf sandwich, and if that’s not the case, it’s at least something different! My plan is to have wraps  for the week, with a slightly different filling to keep things interesting, along with some fruit to keep me going!

A lesson learnt today: Only make the wraps in the morning unless you like the wrap soggy!

Monday wrap is TLT: 1/2 a tin of Tuna, some Lettuce and a chopped Tomato with a small addition of mayo.

Tuesday wrap will be the same but with a touch of reggae sauce instead of Mayo, to make lunch spicy.

Wednesday I have a work away day, involving being fed during the day, so there will be no need to create a wrap on Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday will be a mixed bean wrap using various tinned beans, again keeping this cheap, most likely cannellini beans and chick peas with some herbs and black pepper. 

This will save me spending approximately £4 a day on lunches in the canteen. At most it will be £4 for the week on lunches.