Pretty early on in my career as a working mom, I realized that lunch would have to go. Sure, I love a balanced lunch as much as the next person. And I know that slowing down for a healthy meal in the middle of the day is good for the body and soul. But, come on now. Are there really any working moms out there who have time to make themselves lunch? Who are we kidding?
My usual lunch consists of a foil wrapped protein bar. A Kashi Go Lean protein bar in one of three flavors. They come in boxes of 25 at Costco and I buy a new box every five weeks. I have one of those along with a medium Dunkin Donuts coffee, with a tiny bit of skim milk. And I call it lunch.
If this is sounding sad to you, it shouldn't. I enjoy my Kashi bars, and what I enjoy even more is not having to think about what I'm eating for lunch before I zip off at 7AM. The box of protein-packed-miracles sits happily in my desk drawer, ready and waiting for the moment hunger strikes, just like the nice folks at Dunkin Donuts are (ready and waiting, I mean, not sitting in my desk drawer). It's a very comfortable arrangement.
Once a week, though, I get to work from home. Working from home has a few perks. First, I get to stay in my comfy clothes. I keep makeup to a minimum. I get a LOT of work done without the distractions and chit-chat of the office. I also get to eat a lunch that is not made on an assembly line and not wrapped in shiny stuff. Before you get carried away, I better tell you that my work-from-home lunch usually consists of leftovers. No fresh cooked food, no customized meals. Just leftovers.
If this is sounding sad to you, it shouldn't. I usually have a container of really enticing leftovers in the fridge. And, compared to my Kashi bars (which I really do enjoy!), anything warm and served on a pretty plate seems luxurious.
Last week I was fortunate enough to have some leftover Coconut Lentils. This was a recipe I concocted one evening, when faced with a very bare fridge. It's wonderful because it uses mostly pantry ingredients, plus an onion (and who doesn't have onions at hand at all times?). It's inexpensive, nutritious, and really fantastic as leftovers. I paired it with tortillas and some leftover Coconut Roasted Sweet Potatoes (yeah, I have a thing for coconut). It was a lunch any working mom would kill for.
Serves 4 (or 2, if you want leftovers); 1 hour prep
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon salt1 cup black lentils
1/2 jar coconut milk
toasted coconut, optional, for garnish
Heat the oil in a medium pot. Add the onion and saute, on medium heat, for a few minutes till softening. Add the spices and salt and continue cooking for a few minutes longer, till your kitchen smells wonderful and the onions are nice and soft.
Add the lentils, coconut milk, and 1 cup of water. Cover, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes. Check the water level occasionally and add more water if needed. Serve warm, garnished with toasted coconut if you're feeling fancy. If you have any leftovers, put them away for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave.