How’s your week going? The end of August is coming fast and furious, and I can’t believe I’m going to be off to Hawaii in a couple of weeks. Time seems to be flying past but I’m so not ready for summer to end.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have caught me talking about a recent lunch project I’ve taken on at work – a little side biz, if you will. It’s certainly been keeping me busy during the week, but I absolutely love it so I thought I’d share what I’m up to.
Not long ago, a few friends on my team were asking about my process for creating recipes on the blog. I explained that I have a couple of ongoing lists in multiple places – my phone, my computer and a notebook – and each weekend I think about what I’m craving most. Then I grocery shop, make the recipe and take photos, edit the photos and write the post. This can take as long as I let it take, so over time I’ve had to put limits on the amount of time spent in each part.
Generally, the making and photo taking takes the longest because I could shoot the same dish for hours. But this summer there have been so many fun things to do outside of my kitchen, so I’m getting better at just taking a few good shots – and by a few, I’m talking about 40 per recipe instead of the 75-100 that I used to take. Yes, really. 🙈
In this same conversation with friends, the topic of recipe testing came up. Specifically, how they’d love to be recipe testers and how each of them had their own struggles with finding time for meal prep on their own. Then the idea dawned on me (not for the first time): why don’t I just bring them lunch? I’m making so much food on the weekends anyway in order to put it on the blog, and it would be kinda nice to have other people’s opinions on what they enjoyed most.
And so it started. I began about 6 weeks ago with just lunches and 3 ‘customers’ on my list. Then I expanded the menu to include a daily dessert/snack (protein bites, homemade granola bars etc) and morning smoothies. I guess word’s getting around, because I’m making food for about 8-10 people per week right now. It’s about the max capacity my apartment fridge can handle, which is not a bad problem to have, but one I need a solution for! I collect payment from everyone who orders, buy groceries, then get down to business in the kitchen. So far, it’s all been a ton of fun.
I’m sure many of you who are bloggers out there would agree that food photography looks best when you have a larger quantity of food to work with – or else you sort of have to fake it by using smaller bowls. (I confess to doing this all the time!) But the problem with being a 1-person household and making lots of food is that I end up eating the same thing all week. While I’m a huge creature of habit, even I enjoy a little variety. Making lunch for my teammates has totally helped get rid of this problem, and in fact, has made me think way beyond what I usually make for myself. That means more recipe ideas for me, a more interesting variety of recipes for you, and ones that have been taste tested too!
One of the things I’ve learned in doing all this is that I really love feeding people food that makes them feel great. It might sound like a natural thing for someone who writes a food blog, but hearing feedback from everyone has been one of the most joy-bringing things for me in the last few weeks.The majority of the meals I prepare – much like the ones here on the blog – are veggie-heavy with moderate amounts of gluten-free grains, plus quality fats and proteins. All of them are dairy-free, as are the smoothies and desserts. One of my teammates swore that she hated vegetables (even carrots!) but you wouldn’t believe how many she’s willingly eaten. I’ve yet to convince her on roasted cauliflower, but I’m optimistic about the future!
As far as grains go, I know just as well as any other gluten-free gal or guy that quinoa and rice can get boring reeeeeeallll quick. Lately I’ve been using buckwheat, which, contrary to its name, is not wheat – it’s a seed! That means it’s naturally gluten-free, and I love it because the groats can be cooked much faster than your average wild or brown rice. About 10 minutes is all it takes, and their larger size and chewy texture lends a little something different to salads, soups, porridge and other bowls of whole food goodness.
In celebration of nourishing others, let me present to you these Buckwheat Nourish Bowls with Tahini Lemon Dressing. They’re great when eaten straight away, but are also a fantastic big-batch choice if you’re prepping your lunches for the week – or lunches for others!
A note for all my gluten-free friends: As I mentioned, buckwheat is technically a seed not a grain. However, it’s still important to look for certified gluten-free groats, especially if you have Celiac disease. This is because many places where buckwheat is packaged also process gluten-containing grains. I use Bob’s Red Mill buckwheat groats, which can be found here.Print
Buckwheat Nourish Bowls with Tahini Lemon Dressing
Made with gluten-free buckwheat groats, these bowls are a super nourishing and satisfying lunch that can be prepared ahead of time in big batches. Pack it to go, or enjoy at home.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 2 servings
- Category: lunch, dairy free, gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, low sugar
- Method: boil
For the buckwheat:
- 1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats (this will make about 1 cup cooked)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp each minced basil, parsley, cilantro and mint
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
For the rest:
- 2 cups packed shredded lacinato kale, thick stems removed
- ½ cup thinly sliced radishes
- 1 cup diced cucumber
- ¼ avocado, sliced
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 2 hard boiled eggs, halved or quartered
- lemon wedges and sprouts, to garnish
Tahini Lemon Dressing
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2 tsp each lemon juice and apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp low-sodium tamari
- 1/8 tsp granulated garlic
- water to thin, as needed
Cook the buckwheat: Strain and rinse the buckwheat groats with cold water. Pour the groats into a pot with 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes or until tender. Once ready, drain any remaining liquid and toss the buckwheat with the fresh herbs and lemon juice.
Make the dressing: Shake up all ingredients in a jar until well combined. Thin with water if needed. (Note that the dressing will thicken when chilled in the fridge, so you may want to add more water later.)
In a large bowl, massage the shredded kale in 1-2 tbsp of the dressing. Prepare the radishes and cucumber as directed and add them to the bowl with another tablespoon of dressing, tossing to coat.
Distribute the herbed buckwheat between two bowls, following with the kale mixture. Top with avocado slices, seeds, sprouts and boiled eggs. Garnish with lemon wedges (which can be squeezed over top) and serve with any remaining dressing on the side if desired.
While buckwheat is technically a seed not a grain, and therefore is gluten-free, it’s still important to look for certified gluten-free groats, especially if you have Celiac disease. This is because many places where the buckwheat is packaged also process gluten-containing grains. I use Bob’s Red Mill buckwheat groats, which can be found here.
Oh, and another thing that helps speed up blog recipe creation: when you’ve got an amazing friend who’s super talented behind the camera! All the shots in this post are by my lovely friend Olga, who was the lucky beneficiary of the bowl you see in the photos. If you’re in Vancouver and happen to be in need of a photographer, shoot me a message and I’ll put you in touch!
So tell me… how do you keep lunchtime interesting? Any fun eats in your take-to-work lunches these days?