A Lesson in Lunches
August 25th, 2016
A blend of Mediterranean flavors comes together for a quick, healthy lunch on the go. Photos by Brandon Pomrenke

A blend of Mediterranean flavors comes together for a quick, healthy lunch on the go.
Photos by Brandon Pomrenke

Liven up lunchboxes and brown bags with a varied selection of midday meals

Mediterranean Vegetarian Stuffed Avocados

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup frozen sweet corn, defrosted
  • ½ cup garbanzo beans
  • 1 Roma tomato, finely chopped
  • ¼ seedless cucumber, finely chopped
  • ½ orange bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta

Halve and pit avocados. Sprinkle with lime juice to keep from turning brown.

In a medium bowl, slowly whisk olive oil into vinegar until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix in corn, beans, tomato, cucumber and bell pepper. Gently mix until ingredients are coated.

Fill avocado halves and top with cheese.

Broccoli and Cheese Crustless Quiches

  • 3 large eggs
  • 12-ounce can fat-free evaporated milk
  • 6 ounces broccoli florets, steamed
  • 1 cup finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 24 mini sweet pepper rings

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a nonstick 12-cup muffin pan.

Lightly beat eggs in medium bowl. Add evaporated milk, broccoli, cheese and lemon pepper seasoning. Stir well.

Divide evenly among muffin cups. Top each with two pepper rings.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run knife around sides to loosen, and remove from pan.

Serve immediately or refrigerate up to three days. These also can be individually wrapped and frozen up to two months.


Italian Orzo Pasta Salad

  • ¾ cup orzo
  • ¾ cup broccoli florets, chopped
  • ¾ cup yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2/3 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 2 large sprigs basil, chopped
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and vinegar dressing
  • Pepper

Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain but do not rinse. Pour into a large mixing bowl.

Prepare an ice bath by placing a few ice cubes in water in a medium bowl.

Place broccoli in a covered microwaveable dish with 1 tablespoon water. Microwave on high 30 seconds. Drain and transfer to ice bath for 30 seconds. Drain and add to orzo.

Add tomatoes, garbanzo beans, basil, cheese and dressing. Toss and season with pepper, as desired.

Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

PB Fruit Rollup

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 2 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 kiwi, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium strawberries, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Mix banana, honey and peanut butter in a small bowl.

Spread onto tortilla and layer with kiwi and strawberries. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Roll up tortilla, slice into 1-inch thick pieces and serve.


Chicken Crunch Salad

  • 4 3-ounce chicken breasts
  • 10-ounce package salad greens
  • 3 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • ½ cup pistachios, chopped
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, sliced

Cook chicken on preheated medium-high grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden in color and firm to the touch. Set aside to cool.

Toss salad, olives, pistachios, cheese, apple and cucumber in a large mixing bowl. Top with sliced chicken.

Pack salad in a lunchbox with dressing on the side.


Freezable Pizza Pockets

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon quick-rise yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup slightly warm water
  • ¾ cup oat bran hot cereal, uncooked
  • ¾ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • ½ cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 16 slices pepperoni, quartered
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 mini sweet peppers, sliced

Combine all-purpose flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a stand mixer with paddle attachment. With motor running, add 2 tablespoons oil and warm water. Switch paddle attachment to dough hook. Add oat bran, and mix until combined. Add whole-wheat flour a little at a time. Stop when it forms a slightly sticky ball. Continue to run mixer 1 minute.

Brush ball of dough with 1 teaspoon olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and place somewhere warm to rise for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 450 F. Spray large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Punch down dough. Dust counter lightly with flour. Roll out half of dough to ¼-inch thick, dusting with more flour if too sticky. Use a 4-inch round cookie cutter to cut rounds.

Spoon 1 teaspoon tomato sauce in the middle of each round. Add ½ tablespoon cheese, four quarters of pepperoni, a mushroom slice and two pepper rings.

Moisten edges of dough with water. Fold dough over filling and press to seal. Use the tines of a fork to crimp and further seal the edge.

Place pizza pockets on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Poke the top of each with a fork.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until tops are browned (some cheese may leak out).
Once cool, freeze a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, wrap individually in plastic wrap and transfer to a freezer bag. If placed frozen in a lunchbox, they will defrost by lunchtime.


Hearty Turkey and Kale Chili

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tablespoon chili powder
  • 1½ tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added corn, drained
  • ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups mixed baby kale, chopped
  • 1 cup 2 percent plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup unsalted tortilla chips, crushed

Add turkey, onion, pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, tomato paste, tomatoes, black beans, corn, broth and kale to a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Pack in an insulated container. When ready to eat, top with Greek yogurt and tortilla chips.