Posted by Megan | Lunch

Procrastination Station. That’s where I’m at y’all. It’s a hard place to be, right between the Struggle Bus and the Hot Mess Express. I still can’t get over the fact that October’s here and the leaves are falling outside. But October means many great things! We have lots of fun and exciting things scheduled in October and some have already happened. For example, we have already enjoyed going to our first Sounders match this past Sunday. Even though the team drew, it was still exciting to be in a stadium with 55,000+ other people to watch a regular season soccer match. We managed to snag really great seats behind one of the nets, so we felt very close to a lot of action. Sounders played Galaxy, which is essentially the place old English players go when they want to “retire” (thanks Beckham), so Will was pretty excited to see a couple former Spurs players on the field, from when he first started watching. In fact, I often had to remind him that we were there to see the Sounders not the Galaxy. Either way, we had a lot of fun and enjoyed our overpriced pretzel and beer, while watching a pretty decent game.

And that’s not the last of soccer for us for this October, either. We are delighted that the USWNT is stopping through Seattle on their Victory Tour, because we get to see them play! We snagged our tickets suuuuuuuuper early on to see the matchup against Brazil and that game will be our final live match for the year. So between Reign, Sounders and USWNT, we’ll have been to four live matches since we moved to Tacoma, which is 100% more live soccer matches than we see in a normal year. Oh, and of course we’re still watching Spurs at Doyle’s every week of the BPL season, with our new biffles, the South Sound Spurs. And we will likely watch the US v. Mexico game this Saturday at Doyle’s as well, even though we have a bunch of other things happening that day.
So in addition to all of the soccer we’ve been watching, we’v been keeping busy in other ways. I have been diligently fulfilling volunteer hours at the Humane Society, in both the Cattery and with the TNR program. What’s TNR, you say? Trap/Neuter/Return aka a resource for community cats who will never have a home, but serve the community in other ways with their special cat skills. The TNR program helps with population control for “unowned” cats (feral, homeless, wild, etc.). It’s the best way to prevent unwanted cats being brought to shelters and euthanized and it’s a great way to assist in keeping human communities from getting overwhelmed with too many unowned cats! In the Cattery, I’m helping clean cages/dishes/litter boxes in the same room as the adoptable cats and in no time, I should have worked my way up to interacting with the cats which opens doors to help with Purr-time (special Sunday program to spend extended amounts of times with kitties), adoptions, events and more! With TNR, I’m helping with admin work at the moment, but hope to help with events and potentially trapping, in the future. It’s all really rewarding work and I enjoy it so much!

In addition to the Humane Society, I have my first set of volunteer hours at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium next weekend, as part of their “Zoo Boo” program. While it’s unlikely I’ll get much animal interaction, I’ll be greeting guests and helping with some crafts, for this one. In the future, I look forward to helping with their large fundraising events and (fingers crossed) someday, I’ll even get to pet some animals. Because let’s be real, that’s why we all choose to volunteer at a zoo. It’s a lot of dedicated time to animal organizations in the area and has really booked up my weekends, but I really enjoy finally having the time (and financial security) to be able to be out in the community doing service, most particularly service that helps animals!

Okay, so enough about me. You likely clicked on this recipe because it a) sounds healthy and b) has pretty pictures. FINE. I present to you our most fabulous go-to lunch: Roasted Veggie Lunches! These are basically the same as our Power Bowls, but offer a few more concrete suggestions for what to use in these recipes. It’s the same basic principle: grain, greens, proteins, veggies, cheeses, extras. Our secret for this particular crop of lunches is all about the caramelized onions and the avocado. But when are those never not the secret ingredients for delicious recipes? Read on to learn more.

Roasted Veggie Lunches (make 10 lunches)
2 cups quinoa
1 head of cauliflower
1 head of broccoli
1 giant zucchini (or 2 medium zucchini)
4-5 small to medium yellow onions
2 15-oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
16-oz. extra-firm tofu
1 cup-ish olive oil, separated
S&P, separated
Garlic powder, separated
1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp mustard (optional)
1 tsp honey
1 spring fresh rosemary
Fresh avocado for each day (shared!)
Homemade Balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Begin by rinsing your 2 cups of quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse thoroughly with cool water for about 2 minutes, rubbing and swishing the quinoa with your hand. Fully drain water from quinoa. Drizzle a little olive oil in your pot over medium-high, then add the quinoa. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to toast the quinoa. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil. Lower your heat to a simmer, the cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, still covered. Once it’s sat for 5 minutes, you can remove the lid and you should have fluffy quinoa waiting for you!*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini and place each on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. It’s likely you won’t be able to roast all the veggies at once and that’s okay. Drizzle 2-3 tbsp of olive oil over each veggie and sprinkle with S&P and garlic powder (if desired). Toss everything together so each veggie is coated in olive oil and spices, then lay in a single layer on each baking sheet. Roast zucchini for 8-10 minutes, flipping once at the halfway mark, until it looks almost completely done (keep a close eye on it). Turn broiler on high and cook for 1-2 minute more, watching carefully to prevent burning. Remove and let cool. Repeat with broccoli for 12-15 minutes, following the same flip halfway and end with broiling. Lastly, repeat with cauliflower, baking for 20 minutes or more, ending with a nice broil to crisp them.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium to medium-low heat. Slice onions into strips. Drizzle 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in pan and when warmed, add onions. Cook for 40-60 minutes, until translucent and caramelized, stirring frequently. Remove and let cool. For pro tips, check here.

Begin to make tofu by first removing it from its packaging and patting it dry with paper towels. Line a plate with a paper towel and set tofu on top, then set a small plate on top of the tofu, weighing it down with something heavyish. Press for 15-30 minutes, watching for the liquid to collect around the tofu. Once the tofu is drained, remove the weight and drain off any remaining excess liquid. Slice the pressed tofu into cubes. Mix 2 tbsp olive, cumin, paprika, and S&P in a small bowl, then add the tofu, tossing until completely coated. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. While tofu is marinating, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. Once the tofu is ready, place it on the baking sheet in a single layer, avoiding pieces touching each other. Bake for 20-30 minutes, watching for the tofu to turn golden and puff up slightly. Make sure to toss the tofu every 10 minutes to ensure an even bake of the pieces. Once done, let cool before refrigerating.

 

While everything else is baking, make  your homemade Balsamic vinaigrette! Using 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, S&P, 1 tbsp mustard (optional), 1 tsp honey (or agave) and chopped rosemary. If making in a bowl, whisk all ingredients together until combined. If making in a dressing container, pour all ingredients into container and shake until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Once everything is prepared, build your lunches! Begin with quinoa at the bottom, then add veggies, chickpeas, onions, tofu, and top with Balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy for days!**

* If you have any water in the bottom of the pan or if the quinoa is a bit crunchy, return the pot to a low heat and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed.

**Store each ingredient in a separate bowl so water-based ingredients don’t get others soggy. Create new bowls the night before or morning of the day you need it.

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