3-step guide to making a vegetarian lunch you’ll really love

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“A healthy and delicious lunch can lift your spirits, fuel you throughout the afternoon, and increase your overall well-being,” says Heidi Swanson, two-time James Beard Award winner and author of the cookbook the no longer sold. Super Natural Simple. “Upgrade yours by upping the flavor with crispy dressings, fillets and toppings that also provide nutritional punch and color. Salads, soups, and shiny bowls tend to be loaded with vitamins and minerals. In addition, they are beautiful to sit on.

Here, Swanson shares her expert yet easy tips for creating a vegetarian lunch full of exciting flavors and textures.

1. Prepare in advance

Vegetarian lunches on weekdays are easier to prepare if you pack some of the main items on the weekends, says Swanson. Avoid the supermarket and buy lettuce, arugula and spinach at the farmer’s market, as they are tastier, she says. Wash, dry, and chop or tear greens and other vegetables so you can add them to your dishes as needed. Also, store different types of cooked whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and farro, in the refrigerator. Mix them together to add variety to your meal.

Vegetarian lunch
Image: Courtesy of Kindel Media / Pexels

2. Experiment with bold complements

A herbal spice or olive oil can turn even the simplest vegetarian breakfasts into something special, says Swanson. Use these recipes as a starting point, then play around with different mixes of spices and herbs yourself.

Magical mist with green herbs

“This parsley, oregano and garlic stunner is good on almost everything,” says Swanson. Pour it over vegetarian breakfasts such as risotto, rice bowls or soup; try it over soba with blistered cherry tomatoes; or add fresh lemon juice to make a dressing.

Make: In a wide-mouthed jar with a lid, add 1/4 cup of fresh oregano or marjoram, 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, 2 cloves of garlic and 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil . Use an immersion blender (or put all ingredients in a food processor) to blend until smooth. Season with salt. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Nori-Peanut Crunch

Add this topping to just about any vegetarian lunch dish, Swanson says. It’s delicious on noodles and cereal bowls, and it gives the perfect finishing crunch to salads. His advice? Apply generously.

Make: Preheat the oven to 350 ° F (176 ° C) with a rack in the center. Place 2 nori sheets (8 inches) on a baking sheet and toast for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the nori from the oven, let cool, then crumble in a small bowl. Add 3/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1 cup of salted peanuts, 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast and the zest of 1 lemon to the bowl, and mix well. Store in a jar with a lid at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Fire Butter

If you like your spirited food, keep this next-level nut butter in your pantry, says Swanson. The Spicy Spread is an unexpected and punchy addition to a lunchtime salad platter. It’s also great tossed with noodles or drizzled with cooked grains (just dilute it with a little hot water first), or brush it over your favorite sandwich.

Make: Combine 1 pound (453 g) of nuts, almonds or toasted hazelnuts, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla, 2 teaspoons of maca powder (optional) and 1 tablespoon of mesquite flour (optional) in a food processor or blender. Mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the nuts crumble and become a paste. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 1 month.

3. Try these creative combinations

The ideal vegetarian lunch has a base of cereal, noodles or salad; vegetables; vegetable proteins, such as beans, lentils, or pickled tofu; nut or seed crunch; and a dressing or a drizzle to bring it all together, says Swanson. Use this formula to whip up your own concoctions or make one of its must-haves.

  • Your favorite soup with Magic Green Herby Drizzle; salted garlic yogurt fillet (plain yogurt with a little sea salt and garlic puree) or coconut cream; Brown rice; toasted seeds or nuts, crispy wonton pieces or croutons.
  • A salad of asparagus tips with soba noodles or brown rice; Lemon pine nuts (made with garlic, salt, oil and lemon zest)
  • A bowl of roasted chickpeas with cooked broccoli; roasted nuts and seeds; shredded cabbage; and spicy turmeric oil (turmeric, red pepper flakes, hot paprika, ginger, sunflower oil and toasted sesame oil)

This story first appeared on www.shape.com

(Main and feature image credit: sveta_zarzamora / Getty)

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