Hey! How have you been? I was so excited to get such good feedback from last week’s post LUNCHBOX – WEEK 1 that I decided to do another lunchbox post this week as well. This time I didn’t have much time to prep my meals as I had to go to my university lab to work on my experiment (I know, Sunday should be for resting!). I guess that’s something we all have to deal with from time to time: inconveniences out of nowhere. So, I thought I’d something easy and less time-consuming. Also, I wanted to do it a Lil more palatable (a fancy word to say greasy!) Sometimes we cannot dismiss our body’s cravings, but at times we can do it wisely and balanced. It is important to remember that everything is ok in moderation. Sometimes it’s difficult to find that balance, but with a little effort and some guidance, it can be achieved.
I’ll briefly explain the preparation and components below:
Chicken curry. Japanese curry is really easy to do. You can buy it either in ready to eat retort pouches or in cubes that you can mix with broth (or if want a creamier version maybe experiment with coconut or almond milk). To prepare it, I start with a base with minced garlic and water, and when the garlic is done add cubed chicken and cover with water. Add medium sized diced cut onions and if you have celery leaves, they add flavor to the broth. When the chicken is done, add the curry cubes and stir until they’re dissolved completely. Add veggies like bell peppers, broccoli or mushrooms. It’s better to add the broccoli in the end to avoid overcooking. TIP: Save some curry for later, freeze it in individual portions and enjoy whenever you are too lazy/busy to cook!
General Tso’s style chicken. This is one of my week’s cheat dish. I bought some fried chicken that is typical here (called tori karaage) to use. I started with a base of ginger paste, a little bit of minced garlic and soy sauce with rice vinegar. On the side, I mixed some flax seed powder with a lil bit of water to give the sauce more consistency (instead of using cornstarch, this method provides more fiber for your day). Add the fried chicken and boiled/steamed veggies (Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, among others.) and mix a little and turn off heat. Add some sesame oil and seeds to add more flavor. For those who like it spicy, can add some spicy oil or chopped peppers. Remember not to overcook the veggies as they turn dark and will lose texture.
As I didn’t do much for my main plates this week, I tried to compensate by putting a lil more effort into the salad side. Slightly cooked carrots and my week’s big find, of BIMI, what I thought was a version of Japanese broccoli (Below, I will talk about it more, and wasn’t completely wrong). I sliced an onion really thin with a slicer, which is also good for cucumbers. Then I cut some cabbage and fresh carrots and added some extra color with red cabbage sprouts! (which BTW were purple). My dressings this week were a mustard base one (olive oil, mustard, lime juice, dried basil, salt, and pepper) and a soy sauce one (shizo based dressing).
I used quinoa tri-color quinoa mix with 1/3 part of barley to make a plain side. Just wash the quinoa and barley and cook them together like you would cook rice. Also, I bought a potato and cheese croquette, ready to eat. this was my other cheat meal to satisfy my junkie food craving for this week!
NOTE: Rinse quinoa thoroughly to remove undesired water soluble SAPONINS (a natural component that gives the plant it’s bitter taste). It will appear as sort of a foamy, soap-like sud when rinsed.
BIMI: This was by far one of the most incredible finds I had, not only this week but overall (as I’ve never heard about it before). When grocery shopping, I found this broccoli-like veggie and thought I could use it (it was half the price of an asparagus bundle, so definitely got my wallet’s attention at a glance!). Little did I know this was an amazing hybrid between Chinese Kale and Broccoli called BIMI or Hanaccori in Japan (Hana = Flower; Ccori= from Broccoli’s, but Japanese people cannot pronounce “L” and that’s why is Ccori). Broccoli, from the Brassica family, has been related to a lot of health benefits due to its high content of glucosinolates. This improved version, Bimi, has been studied and proven to have higher antioxidant content, vitamin C, folic acid and zinc than regular kale and broccoli. Bimi has also a high fiber content which makes it a great option to enrich our daily meals.
RED CABBAGE SPROUTS: Try to experiment and boost your salad with different colorful elements. They not only contribute on a visual level, but they are also a major source of antioxidants, mostly due to the natural pigments we find in them. In case of red cabbage, anthocyanins help in preventing diseases such as cardiovascular ones and even cancer. There are numerous studies that support consumption of vegetables sprouts as they seem to be more abundant in minerals, vitamins and even their protein content quality is enhanced. They are a great option to take our salad game up a notch for sure!
GREEN SHISO: In Korea, it’s known as kkaennip, in Nepal and India as silam. Here in Japan they call it Shiso (green leaf variety, as there’s also a red one). It’s a commonly used leaf in Asia, with a characteristic bitterness and particular flavor that sometimes is not well perceived by everyone. The perilla or Shiso plant is a less known member of the mint family which has been used broadly to alleviate infections and digestive disorders (such as abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting symptoms). I buy the dressing here to add a flavor twist from a low-calorie dressing (Around 15 Cals/ 15 ml ).
Here is the final result:
I think it’s important to remember to have fun and learn little by little when making your food choices and combinations, knowing that it’s ok to have some not-so-healthy options from time to time as well, but we must learn how to combine them and avoid excesses. Remember, everything is ok in moderation, and that goes for almost anything in our lives as well! If you have any questions don’t be afraid and leave a comment below. follow us on Facebook and don’t miss any future posts! Until next time! Hasta lueguito! (^^)
PS: Doing this week’s lunch also cost less than $20! (Trying to respect this budget for lunchboxes to make it also wallet-friendly)