Today’s guest post from Alta Mantsch‘s of Tasty Eats At Home is a brilliant take on an item most of us do not associate with lunchboxes. I have been reading Alta’s blog since before both her and my transition to gluten-free eating, and have always thoroughly enjoyed her photography and recipes. I was so flattered that she has become a reader of (and frequent commenter!) of the lunchbox series here.. Alta started Tasty Eats At Home simply as a way to share recipes with family and friends. But after dealing with worsening health issues, and understanding the ill effects gluten caused on her other family members (her father, sister, and brother were all gluten-intolerant), in June 2009 she decided to remove gluten from her diet in an effort to find wellness once again. Soon after, she was on the road to healing, and now focuses her efforts at Tasty Eats At Home on sharing nourishing, delicious gluten-free food that will bring your heart joy and that the family will actually EAT!
Valerie’s lunchbox series is quickly becoming a favorite read for me. I love that she packs foods that require little additional time to prepare, but still consist of whole, real, nutritious foods. I can truly get on board with this – in fact, I routinely turn to her sardine and avocado salad as one of my lunch options. So when she asked me to contribute a guest post for her lunchbox series, I was honored.
Thing is, I rarely plan my lunches too much in advance. What was I going to write about?
That’s not to say that I don’t plan for lunch. I do. In fact, I pack a breakfast and lunch for my husband and me most every day of the week. It’s just that they’re rarely composed, fancy-schmancy lunches. And there’s not much careful thought put into them. I do a few preparations on Sunday evening for the week, and then, each weeknight, I gather the next day’s lunch, and in the morning, pack it.
But then again, I suppose that is a plan, isn’t it?
What do I do, specifically? Here’s the run-down:
Sunday night – I hard-boil a dozen eggs, batch cook some sort of meat (grill chicken breasts, or if I’m roasting a chicken for dinner, I roast an extra one), cut up carrots, celery, and other veggies, and in the winter, I might make a pot of soup. I put these things away in Ziploc bags or other individual containers, and store in the fridge or freezer. On special occasions, I might make a batch of homemade beef jerky (my husband loves when I do), gluten-free granola, muffins, or other treats to pack in our lunches.
Weeknights – I pack leftovers from dinner, if there are any, for our lunches the following day. I round out the meal with the items I prepared on Sunday night, depending on what I need. A sample lunch might be: 2 eggs, a bag of carrots and celery, leftover meatloaf from dinner, and a piece of fruit. Another lunch might be: scrambled eggs, mushrooms, and spinach (I scramble this the night before and gently reheat in the microwave at work) and a salad consisting of lettuce, radishes, tomato, cucumber, and grilled chicken, a cup of soup, and a piece of fruit. I always have nuts in my desk drawer for snacking, just in case. It keeps me from contemplating the unhealthy items in the snack machine.
Sometimes, my weekday breakfasts and lunches are somewhat random. For example, the other day I made green chile turkey burgers for dinner (recipe coming soon – I’m still tweaking), and I topped them with a fried egg. Well, as I often do, I made too many burgers for the two of us to eat. I was determined to recreate the flavors for breakfast (yes, a burger for breakfast – I said “random”!) the following day, but I knew that frying an egg and reheating it in the microwave would lead to an egg that didn’t ooze yolk on my burger, which is what makes an egg-topped burger so delicious. This was when my husband suggested what became a genius idea: how about poaching the egg in the microwave?
As I digested this concept, it became clear to me that this could be done. It had to work. So I tried it. And to my delight, it did work! I could have a deliciously cooked egg anytime I wanted – even at the office. I immediately tried this again, and vowed to treat myself to a poached egg as often as possible.
The method is quite simple, actually. It’s actually easier than the traditional method of poaching. Of course, your egg won’t be as picture-perfect as a traditionally poached egg, but we’re talking about food in your lunchbox, right? We can sacrifice a bit of good looks in this instance, I think.
What kind of meals could you prepare at work with a poached egg? Just about anything, really. You could top some microwaved gluten-free grits with the egg. (sounds strange, perhaps, but egg and grits go really well together!) You could top a burger, as I did. If you have leftover vegetables from the previous night’s dinner, they might be a delicious treat with an egg on top. (I’ve been known to top leftover ratatouille with an egg for breakfast.) Or you could top some wilted greens or a spinach salad, as I’ve shown here. The yolk of your egg would make a delicious dressing for your greens. Truly, the possibilities are endless.
What would you make for lunch, if you could poach an egg at work?
Poach an Egg in the Microwave
1 egg, room temperature
1 small microwave-safe bowl
Approximately 1/3 cup water
1 piece plastic wrap
Salt and pepper
Pack the egg, bowl, and plastic wrap in your lunchbox. You might want to wrap the egg in a paper towel to protect it a bit.
When ready to cook your egg, crack it into the bowl. Pour water into the bowl over the egg, and cover with the plastic wrap.
Place the bowl in the microwave, and heat on high for 45-60 seconds, or until the egg white no longer looks runny. Be careful, as the yolk will cook quickly in the microwave, so you might want to check at 45 seconds. Remove plastic wrap from bowl, and using a fork, carefully lift the egg from the water. (If you have a slotted spoon, you can of course use it, but at my office, we only have plastic silverware) Season your egg with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy however you desire.
Thank you Alta!!
Photos by Alta Mantsch.