Easy Mediterranean Lunch Bowls (vegan, gluten-free)
Lunch bowls that are ready in 20 minutes! This is literally the easiest lunch I have ever made for myself! All you have to cook is the quinoa. You can prepare it anytime and have it read to add when you assemble your bowls. The only two items you have to cut up are the red onion and the cucumber. Many items are staples you may already have on hand. This lunch prep makes four bowls but you can easily make an additional bowl to have five for each day of the week. I can get a little bored with having the same lunch, so I though four was a good number. You can serve this with some avocado, a piece of crusty sourdough, or just enjoy as is.
This is a super fresh, light lunch. The recipe makes bowls that are approximately 540 calories each. This is an estimate that can vary based on the type of hummus you buy or whether you are using the exact quantities. If you require less or more calories, adjust the ingredients as needed. I usually require a bit more than that, so I add some avocado or have a sweet treat afterwards. If you find it helpful to track calories, consider using www.cronometer.com. They have a great tool to track calories and activity. You can even adjust it according to your weight loss or weight gain goals and it will tell you how many calories to consume. I honestly think it is a lot of work to track calories. I also do not like to be super strict about calories, especially when I know I am consuming nutrient dense, healthy foods. However, it can be helpful to see how many calories are in foods for awareness and to help with your goals.
The quality of your produce is everything when it comes to a produce packed lunch like this. Pick the sweetest cherry tomatoes, fresh arugula, a very crisp cucumber etc. It makes a big difference and just adds to the depth of flavor in these lunch bowls.
This recipe is versatile. You can replace the beans with any preferred protein, add a homemade or store bought Greek style dressing, or add any other veggies you like. You will need four 4 cup containers to make your bowls.
“Beans are packed with fiber, folate, and phytates, which may help reduce the risk of stroke, depression, and colon cancer.” (Dr. Michael Greger, How Not to Die). Also of note in Dr Greger’s article on www.nutritonfacts.org titled Eat Beans to Live Longer, he stated that there is “an 8% reduction in risk of death for every 20 gram increase in daily legume intake. That’s just two tablespoons's worth!”
20 minutes cook and prep. Makes 4 servings.
1 cup dry quinoa
1-2 cups vegetable broth or water (the amount needed depends on your cooking method)
8 oz hummus (homemade classic hummus recipe)
1 1/3 cans white beans, drained and rinsed (1/2 cup per bowl. I used Great Northern beans. Other options include cannelloni, black eyed peas, and chickpeas. You can only use one can of beans and put less in per bowl. I have been saving the extra beans and I add to other dishes or salads.)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 oz arugula
12 Kalamata olives
1/2 of a medium to large red onion, diced or approximately 1/2 cup
1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
1 lemon, cut in quarters
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
Prepare quinoa per package instructions with the vegetable broth or water. For stovetop and Instant Pot directions, see below. Let the quinoa cool some before adding it to the bowls.
Dice your red onion and cucumber.
Assemble your ingredients evenly into four 4 cup containers. Per bowl add: 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/2 cup beans, 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, handful of arugula, 2 T red onion, 1/2 cup diced cucumber, 1/4 cup hummus, one slice of lemon, drizzle 1 tsp olive oil on top, and add freshly ground pepper.
Cover and store in fridge for up to 5 days.
Quinoa cooking directions:
If your quinoa is not pre-rinsed, rinse it by putting it in a fine mesh strainer and rinsing it in the sink under running water. The package should say if it is pre-rinsed. The kind I purchase from Costco is pre-rinsed.
Instant Pot: To the Instant Pot, add one cup quinoa, one cup vegetable broth or water, and stir. Secure lid and turn the valve to sealing. Set for one minute high pressure and let it release for 10 minutes. If the red indicator has not dropped, carefully move the valve to release. Wait for the indicator to drop and remove the lid. Fluff it with a fork and let it cool.
Stovetop: In a pot combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups vegetable broth or water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid has evaporated (approximately 15 minutes). Let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let it cool.
If you are trying to reduce sodium, consider cooking your quinoa with low sodium broth or with water. Another idea is to look at the sodium content of the olives you buy and consider omitting them. They are considerably high in sodium. In addition, consider making your own hummus and reduce the quantity of salt you add. My classic hummus can be found here.