lunchbox life: steak kabobs with avocado and salad greens

image1(23)Greetings, friends! On one hand, I can’t believe I’m about to begin Week 3 of this school year, but on the other hand, the rhythm of the weekly grind has already begun to set in. Since it’s still mid-August, and therefore summer, I thought I’d make this week’s lunches an homage to the summertime, and what’s more summery than shish kabobs?

These kabobs pack a protein punch and are brimming with local veggies. The zucchini, onions, and sweet peppers all came from our CSA box from Dirt Farmers, making my lunches this week even more special and healthy. While most people serve kabobs over rice, I decided on a different approach since I’m still trying to infuse my good habits from my Whole30 experience into my regular, post-Whole30 life. Instead of rice, I’ll heat up my meat and veggies in the microwave and then place them on a bed a chopped romaine lettuce and top it all off with some sliced avocado.

image2(10)This lunch is a perfect example of healthy eating with a hearty approach. I think the 1990s and early 2000s messed us up with ideas about “eating light” that made us think we had to be hungry all of the time in order to be eating in a healthy way. By loading up on veggies, protein, and good fats, your body should be satisfied and full, but not uncomfortable and bloated. This is a great approach to that goal.

Note: if you’re not a red meat eater, you could certainly substitute chicken breast or thigh.

Steak Kabobs with Avocado and Salad Greens

1.5 to 2 lbs. boneless beef ribs

3 large or 5 medium zucchini

2 small or 1 large sweet onion

1 red bell pepper (I used 5 small sweet peppers from our CSA)

8 to 10 wooden kabob sticks

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. McCormick brand Montreal steak seasoning

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper

5 small avocados

3 hearts of romaine lettuce

optional: salad dressing (I recommend making your own or your choice from the Tessamae’s brand)

Soak the wooden kabob sticks in water. Heat a grill pan to medium-high heat or light an outdoor grill. Cut the beef into 1-inch pieces and place in a bowl with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, garlic powder, and Montreal steak seasoning. Let the beef sit in the bowl on the counter for about 20 minutes while you chop the veggies. Remove the ends and outer layers of the onions, then chop them into chunks with two or three layers attached. Remove the tops and seeds from the pepper and slice it into 1/2 inch length pieces. Cut the ends off of the zucchini and slice into 1/2-inch rounds. Coat the veggies with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper (about 1 Tbsp. salt for all of the veggies).

Assemble the kabobs to your preference using the photo for reference. Grill the kabobs to your preference of doneness for the beef, but remember that you’ll most likely be reheating the beef in the microwave, so err on the side of medium rather than well done. I prefer my beef rare, but because of the longevity of this beef, I cooked my beef to medium.

When the kabobs are finished cooking, let them cool for about 10 minutes. While they’re cooling, chop the romaine hearts and evenly distribute between five plastic, sealable bowls. Add one small avocado to each bowl, then place the top on the bowl.

In a separate piece of sealable plasticware, slide the meat and veggies off of the kabobs and distribute evenly among the five plastic containers. When you’re ready to eat, reheat this container, then place the reheated meat and veggies atop the romaine lettuce and cut the avocado into slices or chunks to top the meat and veggies. Drizzle with salad dressing and enjoy!

meatless monday: spicy brown rice with avocado and fried egg


After spotting this recipe in Bon Appetit a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been dying to try it for a Meatless Monday. It contains so many of my favorite ingredients–how could I not give it a whirl?

The only real difference in my attempt was the addition of cashews for crunch, and I’m fully behind this last minute decision. I think this rice bowl would be great as a breakfast, lunch, or a dinner. Who doesn’t love a fried egg on top of a bowl of warm goodness, especially on a chilly evening like tonight?

The Sriracha is optional if you’re not into heat, but I love the stuff, so I added a good bit to my bowl. Enjoy!

Spicy Brown Rice with Avocado and Fried Egg

Serves 2

2 cups cooked brown rice

4 green onions, chopped

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced

1/4 cup cashews, chopped

1 Tbsp. canola oil

2 eggs

salt and pepper

Sriracha hot sauce (optional)

Heat sesame oil in a large, round-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Toss in the rice, chopped green onions, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to coat the rice mixture in the oil, then flatten out the top of the rice and let cook for 2 minutes. After the two minutes are up, stir, flatten out the top, then let cook for 2 more minutes. Divide the rice between two bowls and divide the vinegar between each bowl and toss. Top with cashews and avocado.

In a flat bottomed pan, heat the canola oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper over high heat. Crack the two eggs into the oil, then cover for 2 minutes. Take off the lid, top with a small sprinkle of salt and pepper, then slide one fried egg on top of each rice bowl. Squirt your desired amount of Sriracha onto each bowl and serve.

tasty tuesday: chicken+avocado soup and summer squash+chive pancakes


Hello everyone!  I know, I know…it’s not a Tuesday.  Last night, I had some of my Junior League girls over and we had a great time!  Tonight, however, I committed to my new recipes and chose two yummy creations by Skinnytaste.  Skinnytaste is a superb website for lighter recipes, and each listing comes with complete nutrition facts!

Tonight’s selection was Chicken and Avocado Soup and Summer Squash and Chive Pancakes.  Warmer weather doesn’t usually inspire me to make soup, but this soup is so light and fresh that it jumped right off the screen and said “make me!”  The avocado is a lovely addition to the soup giving it depth of flavor without coming off too heavy.  The Summer Squash and Chive Pancakes are a savory dish similar to fritters or latkes.  The chives in our herb garden are abundant, so this recipe spoke to me as well as a way to experiment with an herb I don’t use often.  This recipe is a great entrance to summer as yellow squash is one of the banner crops of a Georgia summer.  I have good memories of my mom cooking yellow squash and Vidalia onions in the summer as a side dish, so this recipe reminded me of her!

In short, you’ve got to try both of these recipes.  Both are super easy to make and disappeared quickly off of our plates!

Chicken and Avocado Soup
Adapted from Skinnytaste

5 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breasts
1 tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups scallions, chopped fine
1 fresh jalapeno, minced
2 ripe avocados, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine
4 lime wedges
2 tsp. olive oil
salt + fresh pepper to taste
pinch cumin
pinch chile powder

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add 1 cup of scallions and garlic. Sauté about 2 minutes then add tomatoes and sauté another minute, until soft. Add chicken stock, jalapeno,  cumin and chile powder and bring to a boil. Add chicken breasts and cook in the broth.  Simmer, covered on low for about 15-20 minutes.

Next, remove the chicken breasts and shred chicken with two forks.  Place shredded chicken back into the pot.

In four bowls, fill each with, 1/2 avocado,  remainder of the scallions, and cilantro. Ladle soup over these and serve with a lime wedge.

Summer Squash and Chive Pancakes
Adapted from Skinnytaste

3 yellow summer squash
1 egg
1 egg white
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. fresh chopped chives
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
pinch fresh cracked pepper
olive oil

Add squash to a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cover; cook until soft. When soft, drain; add to food processor and pulse a few times until chopped. Add 2 cups of squash to a medium bowl. Combine squash with remaining ingredients except oil and mix well.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat, when hot spray lightly with oil and reduce heat to medium-low. Drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter, slightly flattening them with the back of a spoon and cook a few minutes or until golden. Turn and cook the other side until golden. Set aside and repeat with the remaining batter.

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.