Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Never Enough Time! Quick and easy meals for planning ahead

As most of you know, one of the hardest aspects of cooking clean is planning for your next meal.  I work in business, so I’m constantly working late and skipping lunch.  I am lucky that my company provides catered lunches every day, but I’m always wondering if I can really eat the soup, if the meat has soy sauce or a spice on it with a gluten additive.  Not to mention cross-contamination!  There are a lot of foods we don't think twice about that can have hidden gluten.  Here's a partial list of foods to watch out for.

Ice Cream
Soup (vegetable / chicken stock sometimes uses gluten containing grain)
Lunch meat
Root Beer (contains Malt which is derived from Barley)
Soy Sauce (derived from wheat, but there are wheat-free Soy Sauces available)
Caramel Coloring
Modified Food Starch (if derived from Wheat, but usually derived from Corn)
Alcohol (beer, vodka, scotch, etc)

Again, I’m an accountant and a worry wart.  I carry a LaraBar in my purse at all times, just in case.  I can’t take the unknown of whether or not I can eat the catered lunch, so I generally bring my own food.  It takes a lot of time and work to plan lunches for a full week.  My staples usually rotate between big batches of quinoa, quinoa pasta and lentils.  I make a big batch on Sunday night and bring throughout the week.  But, let’s be honest.  Quinoa is not the most exciting grain.  I found this great Lentil Soup recipe which has tons of vegetables and is very filling due to the lentils.  I love making big batches of this soup and freezing for when I need a last minute meal.  My girlfriend loves it too.  Although she does not have food allergies, she has become my test rat and is loving it.  This soup is one of her favorites and I’m lucky if there’s any left for me to bring to work!

Note:  I also have a yeast allergy and most vegetable / chicken broth has yeast extract.  I found a great organic chicken broth from Costco that does not have yeast extract (Kirkland Organic Chicken Stock)

Lentil Soup: (Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, January 2011)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup lentils
1 lb small mushrooms, cut into quarters
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ head napa or red cabbage, chopped (about 2 cups)
32 oz box Chicken Stock
4 cups of water
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

In large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in lentils and cook for 1 minute.

Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, cabbage, water, chicken broth, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Per Better Homes and Gardens, one serving has 3g fat, 13g fiber and 12g protein. Wow!

As you can see, we added way too many vegetables, so we added a few extra  cups of chicken broth and it was delicious! 


  1. Worcestershire sauce and low fat mayonnaise.

  2. Yes - thank you! I have yet to find a Worcestershire sauce that is free from gluten. Very sad day when I had to stop eating my Dad's famous BBQ sauce