January 25, 2017

Ginger Sesame Sweet Potatoes + Healthy Lunch Ideas for the New Year


January tends to be a popular time to reset, so why not use January to re-instill some year-long, healthy eating habits? Packing your lunch, even for one or two days each week, is a great way to take control of what you eat. Here's some ideas/tips that I've picked up over time:


Recipes:
Sme recipe combination ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
(For the omnivore): Pineapple Korean BBQ Chicken + Baked Broccoli + Grapes
(Vegan): Vegan Stuffed Shells Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad + Apple

If you're up for it, take a look through these pages of recipes past to come up with your own lunch combinations: mains, sides/salads, soups, snacks

*Tip #1: Pick and choose items each week that overlap with ingredients; this way, you minimize your grocery bill. That means planning ahead and coming up with a schedule for your meals! I know it's not easy at first; it's inconvenient, but trust me, you will save a lot on groceries, and you'll save time in the long run.

Tip #2:  Pick one day of the week to do as much meal prepping as possible. Not everyone has the time or motivation to do it all in one day, so do as much as you can - from chopping up vegetables to making a big batch of food to freeze for meals to come (soups, chilis, pastas, grains: rice, quinoa, farro, etc., legumes: lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas, etc.). Any little effort will be a godsend on that day you come home with no desire to cook whatsoever ;)

Tip #3: Make what you can from scratch, and buy what you can't! As much as I like making homemade bread, sometimes I'm just too busy and can't get around to doing that. Purchase products with simple ingredient labels or from local farmers/producers/bakers whom you trust.
Storage:
Now there's a few things to think about when it comes to storage:

Material: plastic, stainless steel, food grade silicone, glass. Consider the chemistry of your foods - if you have acids, then you'll want to stick to glass for something more durable. Consider the weight of the containers - plastic, stainless steel, and silicone are all much lighter than glass. 

Temperature: do you need to keep your food hot? If so, then glass will allow you to microwave your food. A stainless steel thermos will also help keep your food warm for a few hours, but can't be microwaved. 

Safety: this is the concern with plastic - look for a little number marked onto your plastic container. Numbers 2, 4, 5 are your safest choices, but generally speaking, try to minimize your usage of plastic as much as possible. If you have young kids, avoid using glassware since it is fragile.
In the 6th grade, I met my best friend, Yasmeen, in Spanish class. One year later, we were in nearly every class together, and she taught me so much - even at lunch. She had the most adorable lunch containers and catterpillar lunch bag, and I had to ask where they were from - "KidsKonserve!", she shared. 

One year later, we're still best friends, I'm still using the same catterpillar lunch bag (my mom steals it from me often ;] ), and I still love KidsKonserve (now UKonserve) products - so much, that I reached out to them for a collaboration (they graciously accepted!).

Remember when I discussed the importance of supporting transparent companies? UKonserve is one, and I'm proud to use products that are responsibly made. If you scroll to the very bottom of their website, you'll see an entire section titled "Sustainability"; UKonserve doesn't hold back on information, and it's clear that this company cares about the environment, its workers, and its customers. Above all, given that wear and tear of food storage containers is inevitable, UKonserve offers a lifetime warranty on its products' lids (made from safer plastic).

UKonserve's products vary, too - you'll find lunch wraps, glass and stainless steel containers, bottles, ice packs, lunch bags, and more! It's a one stop shop for your food storage needs (kids and adults alike), which is really convenient. 


Now, let's get onto today's recipe, which is a simplified version of my baked miso sweet potatoes:

Recipe: Ginger Sesame Sweet Potatoes
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1 large sweet potato*, cut into 1.5" chunks
2" piece of ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
soysauce, to taste (I add about 1/2 tsp)
a dash of white pepper

(opt.): chopped scallions/parsley/sesame seeds, to garnish

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Add the potatoes to a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot.
Cook the potatoes until fork tender. Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients in a small dish.
Once the potatoes are cooked, toss them in the ginger sesame mixture. 

*You can vary the sweet potatoes for different flavors - I've mixed regular yams with Japanese white sweet potatoes, too!

I served these potatoes alongside lentils (cooked with chopped celery, a knob of ginger, 1 clove of garlic, black pepper, curry powder) and a spinach/pea/corn/craisin salad drizzled with tahini. Grapes + pecans on the side.

Disclaimer: This blogpost is not sponsored, but I did reach out to UKonserve for a collaboration. UKonserve was kind enough to send me lunch containers (the lunch bag was purchased 7 years ago), but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

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