Fast, Filling Lunch: Spinach Quinoa Salad

I used to be the hungriest human, always vaguely starving and on the edge of a blood sugar crash, wanting to eat all the food, all the time.

A couple of years ago, I cleaned up my already cleanish diet. I cut out all packaged foods, stopped drinking diet coke, and cut way back on my sugar and gluten intake. I also started eating a giant breakfast and lunch. Goodbye, packaged breakfast bar. Or, let’s be honest, skipping breakfast altogether. Hello, sweet potato hashbrowns, sauteed spinach, chopped tomatoes, chicken sausage and 2 fried eggs.

Shockingly, if I eat a big breakfast and a big lunch (like 500-700 calories big), I feel less like throttling someone and then eating a 1lb bag of gummy bears when 4pm rolls around. Who knew?

I sit down and eat lunch with my kids every day. It’s important to me that they see me prioritizing my own food and making time to enjoy my meals. But, I also have less than 10 minutes to get lunch together most days. And making real food takes more time that making processed food.

Enter the hero of real-food-eaters everywhere: Weekly Meal Prep. Either Sunday or Monday, I spend 1 hour prepping ingredients.

Here’s what I did this week:
*Cooked a batch of quinoa (2 cups, dry)
*Roasted asparagus and Brussels sprouts
*Made a jar of vinaigrette (1 part vinegar, 1 part EVOO, squeeze of dijon, squeeze of honey, salt and pepper to taste, shake in a mason jar until emulsified)
*Shredded 4 peeled sweet potatoes in the food proccessor (used for sweet potato hashbrowns for breakfast)
*Hard-boiled 6 eggs
*Washed and chopped bell pepper strips and carrot sticks

A quick 50 minutes of work on the front end meant yesterday I could make my lunch in 6 minutes.

This salad is my current favorite version of my go-to lunch strategy, which is basically quinoa + chopped greens + roasted vegetables + nuts + something umami + vinaigrette = lunch.

It’s fast and the quinoa bulks it up so you aren’t hungry 45 minutes after finish your lunch. The nuts, olives, and proscuitto make it feel satisfying, not like you’re eating a sad pile of lettuce when what you really wanted was a cheeseburger.

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Spinach Quinoa Salad
serves 1

1 giant handful spinach, chopped into small pieces
1 heaping cup cooked quinoa
1 chopped tomato
6 roasted asparagus spears, chopped into 1″ pieces
6 kalamata olives, chopped
1T pinenuts
2 slices proscuitto, finely chopped
1T capers
3T vinaigrette

Toss everything together in a large bowl. Taste, add more vinaigrette and/or salt if needed.

Notes:
*You can easily take this to go. Just pack your vinaigrette separately and add it at lunchtime.
*Don’t skip the spinach chopping step; it lets you get more of each ingredient in a bite.
*If you eat dairy, you would not feel sad about adding a couple of tablespoons of crumbled goat or feta cheese to this salad.

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