lunchbox life: kale confetti salad

image1(21)School’s back in session, and so am I!

Welcome back to lunchbox life, my series of meal planning as a high school teacher. If you’re just joining us, I create five refrigerated meals for my school lunches each week. Sometimes I use a microwave to reheat the meal, sometimes I don’t; it depends on what I’ve prepared. My goal is to create a healthy, substantive lunch to help me power through teaching and the rest of my day, all while being mindful of using local produce when possible, focusing on protein and fiber, and fueling up for exercise.

I’m really excited about this school year. It’s year five for me, and while I know I have so much left to learn, I actually feel like I might know what I’m doing (shhh…at least I think I do). If you know any first year teachers, please be nice to them–their worlds are about to be rocked. Alex and I were engaged most of my first year of teaching (we married in late March), and he is a saint for listening to all of my tear-filled moments of agony and defeat. This year, I’ll be teaching US History (an old stand by that I love) and a new prep for me: Humanities. I moved classrooms, too, and now I’m across the hall from one of my work besties, Rachel, so I’m happy to have quips and convos during class changes with one of my favorites.

This week, I’m going to a couple of my go-to ingredients: kale and brussels sprouts. I wanted to avoid the microwave this week since the first week of school can get super busy, plus the oppressive heat has me craving cool salads in the middle of the day. The key to a kale salad is the quick massage with olive oil and salt: thirty seconds, tops. This allows the kale to slightly break down and become more palatable as a salad green. By now, I know how worn out I get during the first week of school, so I wanted to fuel up on my greens, folic acid, fiber, and Vitamins A and K. The combination of kale and shredded brussels sprouts is a great base for a hearty salad, and you can add whatever you like. I love adding raw sugar snap peas to salads for crunch and a natural sweetness. I’ve also added garlic stuffed green olives for a briny touch and organic sliced roast beef for protein (no added gross stuff–read your labels!). I’ll be topping my salad with Lemon Garlic dressing by Tessamae’s. I usually make my own salad dressing, but I started using this brand when I did Whole30 this summer at GHP where kitchen access was scarce. This family company focuses on all natural ingredients, and their salad dressings and sauces are pretty great. I spotted a few of the salad dressings in the produce section of Kroger in my neighborhood, but you can also order from the website.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Monday. For some of us, it’s the start of a brand new year–good luck!

Kale Confetti Salad

1 bunch kale (I used dino kale from my CSA box)

1 Tbsp. olive oil + pinch of kosher salt

1 lb. raw brussels sprouts

8 oz. raw sugar snap peas

1 jar green olives (I used garlic stuffed)

12 oz. all natural, deli sliced roast beef (I used Simple Truth from Kroger–no sugar or carageenan added)

Salad dressing of choice

Slice the kale into thin ribbons (about 1/2 inch in width) and remove the woodsy stems. Place all kale ribbons in a mixing bowl and pour in the olive oil and salt. Using your hands, gently massage the kale for about 30 seconds to break down some of the strong fibers of the greens. Keep on the counter. Next, slice the tough stems off of the brussels sprouts and either slice them thinly or use the slicer function on your food processor. When complete, add the shreds of brussels sprouts to the kale and thoroughly combine. Divide the greens mixture between five bowls. Slice all of the sugar snap peas in half and distribute equally between bowls. Slice all of the green olives in half and distribute equally between bowls. Slice all of the roast beef into 1/4 inch ribbons and distribute equally between bowls. Pack your salad each day with the salad dressing separate and add just before eating.

lunchbox life: kale and white bean enchiladas with goat cheese


This week’s lunch is a great example of a vegetarian high protein meal. From the kale to the white beans to the high fiber and protein tortillas, you’ve got a winner with these enchiladas.

After two weeks of salads, I decided to mix it up this week with a warm and spicy treat. The goat cheese and cilantro add a nice flair to the hearty kale, onion, and bean filling. Speaking of filling, you won’t miss the meat or large amounts of cheese from this meal because the kale and beans will keep you full all afternoon long. Enjoy!

Kale and White Bean Enchiladas with Goat Cheese

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped

1 red onion, peeled, halved, and sliced into thin half moons

1 14 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. coriander

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

10 high fiber, low carb tortillas (I like La Tortilla Factory brand)

19 oz. can enchilada sauce

4 oz. goat cheese

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

Heat the oven to 375 F. In a large pan, heat the olive oil and spices over medium high heat. After about 1 minute, add the sliced red onion and stir to evenly combine. When the spices begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, add the apple cider vinegar to deglaze the pan and scrape up all of the spicy bits on the bottom. Let the onions cook down for about 2 more minutes, then add the kale  and toss to combine. Let the kale cook and wilt for about 2 minutes, then add the beans and toss. Turn off the heat.

In a baking dish, pour half of the enchilada sauce on the bottom. Place the tortillas in the microwave for about 20 minutes to increase pliability, then begin assembling the enchiladas. Scoop about 1/2 cup kale mixture and place in the center of the tortilla. Fold in the left and right sides, then roll up from the bottom to the top. Do this for all ten tortillas and place them close together in the baking dish. Pour the other half of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, then use your fingers to pinch off 1 tsp. pieces of goat cheese and evenly distribute them over the enchiladas. Bake for 30 minutes, take out of the oven, add the cilantro, then let cool for about 30 minutes before dividing them up by two in your five containers.

lunchbox life: slowcooker smoky chicken, sweet potato, and kale soup


…with quinoa, red beans, tomatoes, and lots of spices. Once again, I ate too much over the weekend and was in want of something filling, yet nutritious for this week’s lunches. Let’s be honest, though–that’s always the goal. I don’t use our slowcooker as often as some people, but slowcookers are a great way to multitask if you have several chores around the house and don’t have time to do intricate cooking. This soup couldn’t be easier, plus it’s very adaptable–you could substitute a myriad of ingredients in or out. You don’t even cook the chicken or quinoa beforehand–they cook in the soup liquid! Here’s what it looks like going into the crock pot:

image(77)And here’s what it looks like after six hours of warmth and slowcooker love:

image(78)The protein from the chicken breast, quinoa, and red beans are a great pairing with the good carbs from the quinoa (again), beans (again), and sweet potato. The fiber from the quinoa, beans, and kale will keep you full all afternoon, too. I ate one serving of this, along with an apple, at lunch today, then ran 4 miles after school and wasn’t hungry until dinnertime.  Speaking of dinnertime, this would be a great weeknight dinner with a green salad!

Slowcooker Smoky Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Kale Soup

1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed

1 bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces

15 oz. red beans, drained

1 cup quinoa, dry

28 oz. diced tomatoes

2 medium sweet potatoes, small dice

5 cups chicken broth

1 Tbsp. salt

1/2 Tbsp. pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Combine all ingredients in a slowcooker and cook on high for six hours.

lunchbox life: turkey and brie tortillas with kale and carrot salad


Whew! I am totally worn out. After four days and four nights in Athens, I have attended a conference, run a half marathon, and eaten lots of delicious food, and while I’m not quite ready to forge ahead toward a five-day work week, it’s nice to be home. Tonight’s lunch prep is simple and features some of my favorite, tried and true ingredients. Pay special attention to the high fiber, low carb tortillas I’ve featured in this recipe as well as in previous entries. They’re a great way to mix up a sandwich, wrap, or Mexican dish because they’re full of fiber and very low in calories. I know that I just featured kale last week, but I couldn’t help but buy a bag of shredded kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts at Trader Joe’s this afternoon on our way out of Athens. What a great idea! I also bought a bag of multicolored carrots, so I thinly sliced a few of them and threw them into the kale melange for color and crunch.

Turkey and Brie Tortillas

10 5-inch high fiber, low carb tortillas

7 oz. brie, cut into slices

8-10 thin slices of deli turkey

Heat a grill pan or large skillet to medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. While pan is heating, assemble five of the tortillas with an even distribution of the turkey and brie and top each one with another tortilla. In batches, grill the tortillas for about 2 minutes on each side. Let cool, then slice in half.

Kale and Carrot Salad

about 5 cups of shredded kale, brussels sprouts, and/or broccoli (I used the Trader Joe’s cruciferous collection)

3 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly on the diagonal (I used one purple, one yellow, and one white)

1/4 cup olive oil

4 Tbsp. dijon mustard

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. salt

Toss the kale mixture with the carrots. In a jar, shake the remaining ingredients together, pour over salad, and toss to combine. This salad can be dressed and refrigerated for a few days.

lunchbox life: slowcooker turkey and kale meatballs with whole wheat rotini


Ah, Sunday: we meet again.  This weekend was full of disco fever due to Taste of the Arts: Studio 54, a disco party and auction benefiting Macon Arts Alliance.  Months of hard work by the committee and staff were all worth it when we saw Macon’s Terminal Station lit up in pink lights and booming with disco music!  Today we got to take it easy and sleep in a bit, although I do have to brag on my run buddy Renee and myself who both attended Taste of the Arts last night and ran six miles this morning–woohoo!

This week’s lunches are a partial request from friend and reader Jennifer Borage.  Jennifer and Jason have a beautiful new baby girl, Bethany, and Jennifer requested a slowcooker recipe to save time and energy as she adjusts to new mommyhood and going back to work full-time.  This recipe would be a great lunch or weeknight meal, so Jennifer, this is for you, Jason, and sweet Bethany!

The great part about these meatballs is that you don’t have to worry about baking the meatballs in the oven before you place them in the slowcooker.  You just mix the meat mixture, form the meatballs, place them in the slowcooker, pour the sauce over the meatballs, and cook on high for 4 hours.  These are super simple, healthy, and will change the way you think about the otherwise arduous task of meatball making.  I got a good bit of inspiration from this Skinnytaste recipe, but I added the kale and whole wheat pasta to make it a well-rounded meal.  Enjoy!

Slowcooker Turkey and Kale Meatballs with Whole Wheat Rotini

Serves 8

2 lbs. ground turkey

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 egg

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped, massaged with 1 Tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper

for the sauce:

2 28-oz cans of crushed tomatoes (I like Muir Glen Organic brand)

3 bay leaves

5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup fresh parsley

8 oz. baby bella mushrooms

salt and pepper

2 cups dry whole wheat rotini (double this amount to match the pasta needed for all of the meatballs in this recipe)

For the meatballs: in a large mixing bowl, add the ground turkey, breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, egg, oil-massaged kale, garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Once the meat mixture is evenly combined and begins to take form, start forming the meatballs in golf ball sized shapes.  Don’t pack the meatballs too tightly; they’ll become too tough if you over do it.  As you form each ball, place them in the slowcooker.  You should have about 30 meatballs from this amount of ingredients.

For the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pot and add the garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Cook garlic for about 1 minute until fragrant, then add the 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, parsley, and mushrooms.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, then pour the sauce over the meatballs in the slowcooker.  Cook on high for about 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, depending on when you’d like for them to be ready.

When you’re ready to eat, quickly prepare the pasta according the package directions.  Remove the meatballs from the sauce in the slowcooker, then when the pasta is ready, drain it and place pasta in the sauce; stir to coat and combine.  Add about 3/4 cup of pasta and sauce to a dish, then top with four meatballs for each bowl.  Top with grated parmesan.

meatless monday: mushroom kale burgers with seasoned oven fries


It’s back!  Meatless Monday has been on hiatus for most of the past school year because my Monday nights have been occupied by a year-long, once per week class as I work toward my gifted certification.  Since I’m on Spring Break this week (can I get a what what?), I decided to bring it back as a teaser for its fabulous return in mid-May.  Have you missed it?

For my first day of spring break, I woke up around 8 (sleeping in for a teacher), drank coffee and watched the Today Show, went to the grocery store, met my friend Lauren at Pure Barre, then ate popcorn for lunch as we watched Divergent at the movie theater.  I’d definitely call it a success.

I also had some time to peruse Pinterest and found a few different cool recipes for a mushroom kale burger.  The word “burger” is a misnomer here, but the word “patty” just sounds so…unappetizing?  Anyway, if you’re into black bean burgers or other veggie burgers, this is definitely a winner.  Every ingredient is intentional and natural, and it packs a huge nutritional punch.

The oven fries were a personal challenge.  I’m usually averse to baked fries because they just make me wish I had fried fries, but I am now a believer!  These fries are a Skinnytaste recipe, so I should have known they’d be great; Gina never gets it wrong.  I did change a couple of things though, as you’ll see below in the recipe.

Mushroom Kale Burgers

Serves 4

1 bunch kale

1 tsp. Kosher salt

2 portobello caps, stems and gills removed, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tomato

1 Tbsp. almond butter

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp. canola oil

Rinse the kale with cold water, then remove stems from kale leaves and give the kale a rough chop into mini bite-size pieces.  Place the kale in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, then massage the kale leaves with the salt (only about 30 seconds).  At first, you’ll think that this is way too much kale for four burgers, but you’ll see that it wilts slightly with the salt and folds in nicely with the other ingredients.  Quarter the tomato, remove the seeds, and place the quartered pieces in a food processor.  Add the mushrooms, almond butter, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper, then pulse until smooth.  Add the flour and pulse again until smooth.  Fold the mushroom mixture into the kale in the large mixing bowl, then fold in the breadcrumbs.  Divide the mixture into four even amounts and, with you hands, form each amount into a patty shape.  Lightly sprinkle both sides with flour.  Heat the oil in a large, flat-bottomed pan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, place the burgers in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side.  Serve on a bun with any toppings you like–here, I used goat cheese, pea shoots, basil, and some sriracha mayo.

Seasoned Oven Fries

Adapted from Skinnytaste

Serves 2

2 medium potatoes

2 tsp. Kosher salt

2 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. herbs de provence

zest of 1 lime; reserve the juice for the end

1/4 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Slice the potatoes lengthwise in 1/4-inch slices, then slice each slice vertically every 1/4-inch.  Place the raw fries in a colander over a mixing bowl and sprinkle the 2 tsp. salt evenly; let this sit for about 30 minutes.  This allows for some of the moisture from the potatoes to release, allowing for a crispier fry.  While the fries are dehydrating a bit, add all of the spices together in a small bowl and mix to combine.  When the 30 minutes are up, Combine the fries and olive oil in a mixing bowl, then add the spice mixture and toss to combine evenly.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray, then place the fries in a single layer.  Bake for about 25 minutes, turning the fries at the halfway mark.  When they are ready to eat, squeeze the lime juice over the fries for a kick.

I served these with sriracha mayo, which is just 1 part sriracha to 3 parts mayo (so 1 tsp. sriracha for every Tbsp. of mayo).

wild card wednesday: asparagus manchego tart, kale gratin with comté, and roasted chicken thighs


Ohhhhhh yeahhh.  Wild Card Wednesday: Challenge Cheese is in full effect this evening.

Last week, Alex used Swiss, sharp cheddar, and Boursin.  This week, I used manchego and comté.  Manchego is a Spanish goat’s milk cheese that is hard in texture and nutty in flavor.  Comté is made from French cow’s milk, is semi-hard in texture, and, similar to Gruyere, is creamy and buttery in flavor.

My name is Eleta Morrison, and I am a cheese-a-holic. (Hi, Eleta…)  I’ve been sober from this affliction for…zero days.

Seriously–if I were on a desert island, if I had my last meal, etc., I’d have a cheese plate with a nice wine, thank you.  When Alex asked me to choose the theme for September’s Wild Card Wednesday, I knew just the thing: cheese.  Why not?

First, I’ll start with the asparagus manchego tart.  Let’s look at it again:


Mmmmmm.  I found several recipes for asparagus tarts with Gruyere, ricotta, and fontina (all delicious), but when I saw the plethora of manchego at Fresh Market, I changed my plans.  Here’s the recipe:

Asparagus Manchego Tart

Flour, for work surface

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (I use Dufour Pastry Kitchens brand, available at Fresh Market)

1 1/2 cups manchego cheese, shredded

1 1/2 pounds thin asparagus

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a large rectangle.  Place pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with manchego. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over the manchego, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Next, let’s tackle the kale gratin with comté, or as I like to call it: kale and cheese.  This gratin is so tasty and totally hits the spot when you’re craving mac-n-cheese, but the silver lining is that along with all of that ooey-gooey cheese and cream, you’re also getting an awesome dose of vitamin K and fiber.


Kale Gratin with Comté
1 bunch of kale, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups heavy cream
2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) coarsely grated comté cheese

Over medium-high heat on a stove top, cook down the kale and olive oil.  Turn off heat and set aside.

For the sauce, combine creamand garlic in a small saucepan; bring to simmer; keep warm. Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, whisking, one minute, then slowly whisk in warm cream/milk and boil, whisking, one minute. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Assemble: Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 8×11 baking dish. Distribute half of the greens mixture, then half of the cheese, then sprinkle some parsley on top of the cheese.  Pour half of bechamel sauce over the first two layers then continue with the remaining greens, cheese, and parsley. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the gratin.

Bake gratin for about 1 hour until golden and bubbly, and most of the liquid is absorbed. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Lastly, the roasted chicken thighs.  I think I’ve already expressed my love of dark meat chicken to you (yes, it’s not as good for you; now pass me a leg and no one gets hurt), but let me say it again: dark meat chicken is underrated!  Chicken thighs are cheaper and juicer that chicken breasts, and they’re definitely worth a look.


Roasted Chicken Thighs

1 lemon

4 small skin-on, boneless chicken thighs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 teaspoons olive oil, divided

3 sprigs oregano

1 Tbsp. minced shallot

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 425°. Very thinly slice half of lemon; discard any seeds. Cut remaining lemon half into 2 wedges. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Coat a large room-temperature skillet with 1 teaspoon oil. Add chicken, skin side down. Place skillet over medium heat and cook, letting skin render and brown, and pouring off excess fat to maintain a thin coating in pan, until chicken is cooked halfway through, about 10 minutes.

Scatter half of lemon slices over chicken and half on bottom of skillet (the slices on top of the chicken will soften; those in the skillet will caramelize). Transfer skillet to oven, leaving chicken skin side down. Roast until chicken is cooked through, skin is crisp, and lemon slices on bottom of skillet are caramelized, 6-8 minutes.

Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, and caramelized lemon slices from bottom of skillet to a warm platter. (Leave softened lemon slices in the skillet.) Return skillet to medium heat. Add oregano sprigs, shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Remove skillet from heat. Add wine; cook over medium heat until reduced by half, 1-2 minutes. Add broth; cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over and season sauce with salt, pepper, and juice from remaining lemon wedge, if desired. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil. Return chicken to skillet, skin side up, to rewarm. Serve topped with caramelized lemon slices.

lunchbox life: jalapeno cheddar chicken sausage, sauteed kale, and parsley brown rice


This weekend was crazy busy, but loads of fun.  First Friday was a blast, Saturday was spent at Lake Sinclair with new and old friends, and Sunday was spent in Atlanta with my mom as we snatched up a few remnants of Labor Day sales at Lenox Square Mall.  As I drove back to Macon on Sunday evening, I realized that I had not planned anything yet for my lunches, so I decided to head to Kroger to find something that wouldn’t take too long to prepare.

I knew I had some cooked brown rice in the freezer, so I decided to find a protein and a green to complement my whole grain.  I found some Kroger brand chicken sausage links (kind of like bratwurst) that were low in fat and stuffed with jalapeno and cheddar.  Sure, I thought!  Sounds good to me!  There are five in the pack, so I knew I would have one for each day.  I grabbed a bunch of kale, an old standby (and superfood), and headed out the door.

I defrosted the brown rice in the microwave, then heated 1 Tbsp. olive oil, three minced cloves of garlic, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, and 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes over medium heat.  When I began to smell the garlic, I added the rice, stirring constantly, and let the rice soak up the garlic infused oil.  Next, I turned off the heat and added some fresh chopped parsley.

I sauteed the kale in the good stuff: 1.5 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes.  Kale takes about 5 minutes to cook down over medium-high heat.

The sausage can be cooked in a pan, in the oven, or on a grill.  I just cooked them on our flat-top grill pan, then sliced them into bite-size pieces for easy lunching.  I would definitely buy these again–they’re full of flavor, much lower in fat and calories than pork sausage, and are a great source of protein.  I’ve said this before, but I get so tired of the same boneless skinless chicken breast, so I like to mix up my lean protein!

I also packed an apple with this lunch (not pictured).  Enjoy!

meatless monday: white bean burgers with sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella + kale chips


Happy (meatless) Monday!  I hope everyone had a great (or bearable, at least) return to the work week.  I was delighted to learn that my yoga class was outside today, so I’m still basking in the glory of Vitamin D and beautiful weather.  Namaste, indeed!

The beautiful weather enjoyment continued when Alex and I took our dinner outside to eat on the back deck.  Summer, can you hear me?

If you like black bean burgers, I think you’ll really like these white bean burgers.  I researched a few different white bean burger recipes, but the one listed below is a combination of several ideas.  The taste is quite mild, but the aromatics of the burger make for a lovely sensory experience.  I realized later that if you leave off the mozzarella cheese and the rye bread (but who would do that, right?), this meal would be totally vegan!  Who knew?  My hat totally goes off to vegans, but a world without cheese is not one I want to live in.  Can I get an amen?

If you’ve never tried kale chips, I have one word for you: YUM.  If you love salty snacks like me (I’ve never met a chip I didn’t like), then you’ll be all over this vitamin-rich superfood-turned-snack food.  They are SUPER easy, inexpensive, and will change your world as it pertains to dark leafy greens.  Three words: just try them.

White Bean Burgers with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Basil, and Mozzarella

Makes 4 burgers

1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup ground flaxseed or chia seeds (I used chia)

1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup rolled oats

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp. paprika

2 (15 ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

4 slices fresh mozzarella (don’t skimp on this by getting it pre-sliced)

8 slices dark rye bread (or any bun/bread you choose)

Turn your oven onto the broiler setting.  Place sun-dried tomatoes, chia seeds, basil, oats, garlic and paprika in the bowl of a food processor and process until blended.


Add beans and pulse briefly until mixture just comes together in a ball, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Be careful not to fully puree the beans but rather leave them chunky.

Preheat grill pan (or flat-bottom pan) to medium-high heat. Form burger mixture into 4 even patties.  Grill burgers, covered, for 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned and heated through.


Place patties on the broiler pan and top with mozzarella cheese.  Broil until the cheese is melted and looks like this:


Toast bread or bun of your choice and top with your selection of toppings.  I used redleaf lettuce and dijon mustard.  Add the cheese-topped patties, assemble sandwiches, and enjoy!

Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 dashes of hot sauce (I like Cholula)

2 tsp. Kosher salt

2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425F.  Remove stems from kale and tear into bite-size pieces; place kale pieces in a mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and toss thoroughly in the mixing bowl.  Place seasoned kale pieces evenly on a cookie sheet; do not let leaves overlap.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Enjoy like chips!

lunchbox life: moroccan turkey burgers & kale and avocado salad


Sometimes cooking goes exactly according to plan.  Your bright idea meets a perfect execution and everything is right in the world.  This week’s lunches are not in this category.

How many times have I made turkey burgers?  Plenty.  How many times have I changed up this recipe?  Several.  Today’s case includes the best consolation prize for a burger gone wrong: the “hey, at least it still tastes good even though it’s not pretty” award!

I’ve omitted the egg I used in the recipe; I think it was the culprit ingredient.  My burger mixture was too moist and gloppy which made for a very messy grilling experience.  Another good idea for homemade burgers is to form the patties, refrigerate for an hour (or more), and then place them on the grill or grill pan.  I also think that while I always like to see grill marks on a burger, these burgers should have been cooked on a flat top grill for even cooking (and less fall-apart-ness).

About kale: just succumb to its delicious and nutritious existence.  The best way to start loving kale is to saute it with plenty of olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes (an old standby for me).  The next level of commitment comes in the form of a raw kale salad, but hey, with lemon and avocado, can anything taste bad?

Moroccan Turkey Burgers

1 lb. ground turkey, lean
1 small red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup Moroccan ketchup
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
dash of Kosher salt
dash of cracked black pepper

Using 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil, saute onion and bell pepper over medium-high heat until softened and onions are translucent (about eight minutes); set aside to cool.  In a large bowl, mix ground turkey, Moroccan ketchup, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.  Add the onion and pepper mixture and mix to combine.  Using your hands, divide into five evenly divided patties.  I suggest letting the burgers chill in the refrigerator for an hour before you cook them to give them time to solidify before placing them on the grill.  When you’re ready, use the remaining 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil on a grill pan and cook the burgers to your desired temperature.

These are great as a stand-alone or on a fluffy bun.  I’m eating them as an accompaniment to my kale salad this week!

Kale and Avocado Salad

1 bunch kale
1 lemon
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 tsp. honey
Remove stems from kale and cut leaves into thinly sliced ribbons.  Place kale in a large bowl and add the halved tomatoes.  In a small bowl, add the zest and juice of the lemon as well as the honey; mash avocado mixture until smooth (guacamole texture).  Add the avocado to the kale and, using tongs, evenly mix the avocado with the kale.  That’s it!

WWinfo: burger–6pp; salad–2 pp.