The other day I ate pita chips, vegetables, and hummus for lunch. Despite knowing that I should eat a well-rounded lunch during marathon training, laziness triumphed. However, a snack-style lunch is not the best option for myself or other runners – food serves as a fuel, and a well-balanced meal should offer fiber, fat, and protein.
Lunches are continually the trickiest meal of the day. Work and family schedules can make it difficult to cook a full lunch. Maybe you run during lunch and need something quick to prepare and eat. Eating out is tempting, but it is not always the best idea for the budget or diet.
The solution comes in make-ahead meals: something you easily cook a large batch of on the weekend or early in the week and enjoy throughout the week. While I don’t devote a large amount of time to meal prep, I have found that cooking a large batch of grains or vegetables makes lunch time simpler and healthier.
This make-ahead quinoa salad provides the best of both worlds: a well-rounded, nutritious meal that you can make ahead and simply reheat each serving for lunch throughout the week. The beauty of this quinoa salad is that it actually tastes better after a day or two, as the lemon and olive oil flavors infuse the quinoa and kale more with time.
The salad itself comes together quickly, makes 4 servings, and will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days. If you want more protein (both the quinoa and kale provide plant-based protein), you can add chicken or chicken sausage, chickpeas, or grassfed beef. I topped it with hummus one day, which was delicious!
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups water or chicken stock
- Pinch of salt
- 1 large bunch (~2 cups) kale
- 2 large bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a pot, combine the quinoa, water, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and let simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked.
- Meanwhile, rinse the kale and remove the stems. Shred the leaves into small pieces, add a pinch of salt, and massage until the kale shrinks in size and softens.
- Remove the stem and chop the peppers.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, kale, and bell peppers. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil and toss with the salad.
- Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. To serve, eat cold or reheat.
What’s your go-to lunch when you are busy?