They say there's no such thing as a free lunch. But have you bought lunch lately? I bought lunch once few weeks ago, and I'll tell you, lunch in L.A. costs no less than $20. Well, maybe if you go to El Pollo Loco for lunch you could eat for less, but I don't eat chicken so I can't go there.
Anyways, this is why, like I've mentioned a gazillion times before, I make my lunch. Not only does it help to counteract my lack of physical activity on most days by providing me with a portion-controlled and handy meal, but it also saves beaucoup bucks. You know, so you can spend more money on more important things, like shoes.
The trick is using what you already have. That, and coupons. We have a store here in L.A. called Fresh and Easy, and my is it easy. I think some of the "fresh" gets lost on me since I'm used to shopping the farmer's markets where you can't get anything fresher, but I digress. Fresh and Easy sends coupons in the mail on a bi-weekly basis, so even if I throw away all of those other carpet cleaning and dog grooming coupons, I keep the green insert with the F and E coupons.
This week I saved $5 on my $25 dollar purchase. Now I failed math about 72 times, but even I know that I saved a whopping 20% off my bill. And one of my purchases included Gardein Herb Dijon Breasts. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't usually eat any kind of "breast" but these looked interesting. And folks, I think they are pretty yummy. And I can't remember how much they were, so let's just say they were free, for the sake of this post.
They are not gluten-free, but they do have 22g of protein and 0g of cholesterol. And they closely resemble chicken. I haven't eaten chicken in a really long time, but I remember what it tastes like. Doesn't everything "taste like chicken" anyways?
Back to the recipe. So I had these Gardein "breasts" and I had quinoa. Lots of quinoa. A Costco-sized bag of Bob's Red Mill Quinoa purchased from, well, Costco. And I had just been to the farmer's market where I scored a head of broccoli, two zucchini and a yellow squash for $3. Add that to the basil and farmer's market local organic goat cheese I only buy on special occasions, and you have lunch. Or at least what I'm eating for lunch everyday this week. For free. (Or less than $2 in actuality, but that's pennies compared to $20. Plus, I bet you can't even get El Pollo Loco for $2.)
Quinoa Pesto Primavera
Serves 6 as an entree or 8 as a side dish
1 C. Fresh Basil
1/2 C. Cheese* of choice
2 Tbs. Water
Juice of 1 Lemon
1/4 C. Pine nuts
*Your cheese can include vegan Parmesan, Follow Your Heart mozzarella, organic and locally farmed cheese from happy goats or cows, if and only if you can trace it's origin, and that's it. Or just use whatever kind of "cheese" you like. I won't judge. Promise.
Ingredients (Quinoa Salad)
1 C. Dry Quinoa, rinsed well under running water and then cooked according to instructions (I cook mine by bringing 2 C. water to a boil, adding the quinoa, reducing to a simmer and covering for 12 minutes.)
1 Small Head of Broccoli, chopped
2-3 Zucchini and/or Yellow Squash, chopped
3 Carrots, peeled and chopped
Tomatoes, for garnish
Blend ingredients for pesto in a blender. Resist the urge to lick the inside of the blender clean, trust me, your head won't fit inside it. Trust me on this one.
Cook quinoa. Fluff with fork. (Greatest line ever, huh? Fluff with fork! Hah!)
Steam veggies (or don't.)
Mix all ingredients together, add pesto sauce. Serve with your choice of "breast" and don't forget the garnish.