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Lunches to Love

Lunches to Love

Curry chicken salad on a square, white plate.

By Megan McCarthy

Whipping up a wholesome and delicious lunch for you and your family doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. Here, award-winning chef, healthy lifestyle consultant and cooking coach (corporate lunch and learns, private classes) Megan McCarthy shares five simple lunch recipes that are ideal for the office and the classroom. From filling proteins to hearty grains, learn how these meals can fuel your focus throughout the day as McCarthy explains why these are her top go-tos.


01 CurryCurry Chicken Salad

“Chicken salad is one of the best lunch options for those looking to keep carbohydrates low while enjoying a satisfying and delicious meal,” says McCarthy. “This chicken salad is full of healthy curry spices, including turmeric, which gives it a fabulous yellow color, and apple for added fiber. Be sure to find a curry spice blend that suits your palate, as some tend to be sweeter and others are spicier.”

Serves: 4

  • ½ cup plain, whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons avocado mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon local honey
  • 2 broiled or grilled chicken breasts, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

In small bowl, stir together yogurt, mayonnaise, curry powder and honey until blended.

In large bowl, combine diced chicken, apples and celery. Mix in curry yogurt dressing and season with salt and pepper.

Serve on flatbread or wrapped in bibb lettuce.


03 KaleKale and Asparagus Farro Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

“If you are looking for an alternative to white rice or other refined grains to incorporate into your meals, then the ancient grain called farro is your new friend! It’s an excellent source of protein, fiber, magnesium, zinc and even B vitamins,” notes McCarthy. “You can pair this farro salad with a plain protein like chicken or salmon but it can certainly stand on its own for a delightful lunch.”

Serves: 4-6

For salad:

  • 1 cup farro, uncooked
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 stalks asparagus, trimmed and chopped on the bias
  • 1 cup raw kale, chopped with stems removed
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • Spritz of extra-virgin olive oil

For lemon vinaigrette:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Bring 3 cups water and 1 cup farro to a boil and cook until tender (about 25 minutes). Drain farro and transfer to large mixing bowl.

In separate mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle vinaigrette over farro and toss.

Spritz small amount of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Toss in chopped asparagus and cook for about 2 minutes or until bright green. Add kale and cook for additional 2 minutes.

Add asparagus and kale mixture to farro. Toss farro with feta cheese and fresh thyme and serve.


02 TurkeyTurkey Cheese Wrap with Cucumber and Avocado

For the kiddos, McCarthy offers this easy turkey and cheese wrap as a simple way to sneak in veggies. “Sliced cucumbers, avocado or other produce favorites add a delicious upgrade to wraps for a quick and healthy packable lunch,” she says.

Serves: 1

  • Tortilla wrap
  • Sliced turkey
  • Sliced colby jack cheese
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sliced avocado
  • Mayonnaise, hummus or mustard if desired

Slice, layer and roll ingredients.

Wrap the wrap in parchment paper to secure.



Creamy Roasted Beet Hummus04 Creamy

“By far one of the prettiest lunch options ever—this Creamy Roasted Beet Hummus is made without the beans so kids actually dig it! They tend to love the natural color and creaminess from the Greek yogurt,” McCarthy notes. “Plus, it can also be used as a lunch on the go for grown-ups, too. Dip in fresh veggies—snap peas are my favorite!—or pita chips, or smear it on a sandwich for a colorful addition that also packs a nutrient punch. I think this is a win-win option that will surprise you!”

Serves: 4-6

  • 3 large beets
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 cup plain, whole milk Greek yogurt
  • ½ fresh lemon, squeezed
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
  • Edible flowers for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash and trim beets.

Place beets on sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil to coat. Fold and seal foil and place on baking sheet. Roast beets until tender (about 50 minutes-1 hour).

Remove from oven and let cool (about 20 minutes) before peeling with small paring knife.

In food processor (can substitute for blender, if desired), mince garlic cloves with S-shaped blade.

Change to grating disc and shred peeled beets.

Switch back to S-shaped blade and add tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, and blend.

Transfer hummus to serving bowl. Add chopped parsley and edible flowers to serve. Pair with pita chips and vegetables of choice.


Garden Eggplant Ratatouille05 Garden

“Garden Eggplant Ratatouille is quite a versatile dish—as you can pair it with rice or noodles or serve over a bed of fresh spinach to keep those carbs lower,” McCarthy advises. “The key to good ratatouille is to make sure the eggplant is cooked well and that the dish is seasoned with a bit of red chili flakes and a splash of aged balsamic vinegar to bring out its richness.”

Serves: 4

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced (half moon)
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • One 14.5-ounce can of diced and fire-roasted organic tomatoes with chilis
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of crushed red chili flakes
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 ounces crumbled goat cheese (optional)

Heat olive oil in heavy-bottomed pot on medium and add cubed eggplant. Sauté eggplant for 5-7 minutes, adding water if needed.

Add onions and sauté for another 3 minutes or until soft.

Add zucchini, bell pepper and garlic and cook for 2 minutes before adding Roma tomatoes and fire-roasted tomatoes, red chili flakes, salt and pepper. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in balsamic vinegar and fresh chopped basil.

Top with crumbled goat cheese and chopped basil to garnish to serve on bed of fresh spinach, pasta, rice, polenta or grits.



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