When I started my Instagram account, I used to mostly share food. I love eating and, luckily, I grew in a family, where we constantly ate healthy. Well, maybe it was a bit fish and meat heavy.. but still, our meals were packed with grains and mum always made us eat fruits for breakfast or in between meals :)
As my account evolved, I stopped sharing nutrition related content on my IG feed. However, I am still sharing it through my IG stories and inspiring others to have a balanced diet and eat nourishing food as well.
In this post I am gathering the latest nourishing lunches I have shared on my IG stories, plant-based and vegetarian. And you know what I realized about? they all have a combination of 4 main ingredients: Kale, Lentils, Edamame Noodles & Chickpeas.
I swear I didn't plan it in advance :-D but I guess, these are my favorite ingredients to create nutritious lunch meals.
Ready to nourish yourself?
Packed with nutrients, kale fits nicely alone as chips, but also mixed with other grains, tofu and chicken. According to research, Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods - meaning that in little calories, you are adding a lot of nutrients to your food.
Kale is known for being a powerful antioxidant, and high in vitamin C and K. These nutrients will not only help in our overall physical wellbeing, but also they help to avoid heart diseases and controlling cholesterol (go to Resources to learn more)
Menu 1: Lentils & red quinoa with kale cooked in the saucepan with onions and vegan chicken. Add extra virgin olive oil, himalayan salt and chili to taste. (Cooking time 25min, unless your lentils are already cooked!)
Menu 2: Lentils with kale cooked in the saucepan with onions. Add to the kale the cherry tomatoes cut in half and the feta cheese cubes at the very end, so they mix well with the leafy green and get warm. Add extra virgin olive oil and himalayan salt to taste. (Cooking time 30min, unless your lentils are already cooked!)
Menu 3: Fried tofu & chickpeas with Kale cooked in the saucepan with onions and chili flakes. Add extra virgin olive oil and himalayan salt to taste. (Cooking time 15min if you use already boiled chickpeas)
Menu 4: Edamame noodles with fried smoked tofu and kale. Add Soy sauce 3-5 mins before finishing to fry the tofu and kale. (Cooking time 15min)
Brown lentils are widely consumed in the Basque region. As kids, we would have lentils at least once per week! When leaving our parents house to uni or getting directly emancipated, cooking lentils would be one of the first meals we would learn. Although our traditional recipe is Lentils with Chorizo - not the healthiest way to eat this powerfood..!
Anyways, in case you didn't know, lentils are made up of over 25% protein, which makes them an excellent meat alternative and they are very high in Iron. In order the body to be able to absorb the Iron, it is recommendable to eat the lentils with vitamin C, e.g: add Kale, have an orange or kiwi as dessert, etc. Lentils are also known to be high in magnesium and zinc, components you need for muscle recovery, boost your metabolism and strengthen your immune system.
Menu 1: Lentils, rice and tofu curry, together with veggies like zucchini, onion, carrots and garlic. Add ginger and chili to taste when frying the veggies and tofu. For the curry sauce, I use low fat coconut milk and curry spices. Add a pinch of salt at the end! (Cooking time 30-45min, you need 2 pots and 1 saucepan plus chopping all veggies..)
Menu 2: Lentils salad with beetroot, avocado, feta cheese and onion. Add extra virgin olive oil, balsamico and himalayan salt to taste. (Cooking time 20min, unless you have already boiled lentils)
Edamame beans are commonly described as "immature soybeans". You can eat them as snack, but also add them to salads and poke bowls. They can help your meals look more cheerful and create attractive rainbow bowls.
Together with the rising popularity of veganism and plant-based diets, Edamame noodles started to become popular as they contain less carbs than normal pasta, and they are high in proteins and other nutrients like Iron. If you are an amateur athlete, you will already know how important it is to have enough protein intake to help muscle recovery. But, when eating every day chicken (or meat in general) isn't your cup of tea, this type of noodles are a great alternative.
Menu 1: Edamame noodles with fried smoked tofu and kale. Add Soy sauce 3-5 mins before finishing to fry the tofu and kale. (Cooking time 15min)
Menu 2: Edamame noodles with fried vegetables in Soy sauce. You can use your favorite veggies or, I would otherwise recommend mixing: red pepper, zucchini, onion, carrot and garlic with ginger and chili to taste. (Cooking time 20min, chopping veggies can take some time..)
And, our fourth ingredient, another great alternative to meat. Packed with vitamins and minerals, chickpeas are also high in protein and fiber. Thanks to the nutty like flavor, they can be eaten in many different ways. The most popular ways I have seen the last years is to have them in curries or as hummus. In the Basque gastronomy, we used to eat chickpeas in soups or with green beans.
As you see in the menus below, we like having chickpeas together with tofu, with a pinch of chili ;-)
Menu 1: Fried tofu & chickpeas with fresh cucumber and onion. Add extra virgin olive oil and himalayan salt to taste. (Cooking time 10min)
Menu 2: Fried tofu & chickpeas with Kale cooked in the saucepan with onions and chili flakes. Add extra virgin olive oil and himalayan salt to taste. (Cooking time 15min if you use already boiled chickpeas)
Lastly, tofu fits nicely with many different grains and vegetables. Since it doesn't expire so quickly, I recommend to always have it in the fridge as emergency. I usually buy the "nature" one, although smoked tofu is also delicious to eat it alone. Tofu adds unsaturated fats and complete proteins to the body. However, there is a lot of debate ongoing around the consumption of soy products, that it becomes controversial to make a firm statement "tofu/soy products are healthy". In my opinion, if consumed in a balanced way, it can bring lot of benefits to our bodies and it is another great alternative to meat consumption. In Resources I added a link regarding Soy and the discussion around it.
If you try any of the recipes I posted in this blog, don't hesitate to share with me your views and tag me in your posts and stories. I am excited to learn about it!
Other than that, wish you all happy nutritious meals!