I bring my lunch to work five days a week. I'm not a big fan of buying my lunch partly because of the expense but mostly because I prefer what I can whip up at home. It's tastier and healthier. So making my lunch every single day is part of my morning routine.
During the summer months, I am content to forage in the cupboard and the fridge. I'm happy to bring any combination of Rivita Crackers with almond butter, some cottage cheese, some veggies, perhaps kefir and granola, fruit or an avocado. I try to make sure I have carbs, protein, healthy fats, fruits, veggies and calcium options. But I don't worry too much about making a 'meal' out of it.
As soon as autumn hits, things change. The cooler temperatures combined with the farmers markets overflowing with the bountiful harvest kick start my domestic goddess genes into actions and all I want to do is make delicious, warm, healthy meals with tons of leftovers.
On Saturday I met up with my sisters and we headed to one of the many markets in their area. We spent almost two hours exploring all the booths and, between us, we slowly made our way back to my car, weighted down with 8 large bags overflowing with local produce.
Once we had divvied up our purchases, I headed home with four sweet potatoes, a huge bunch of kale, some yellow beets and a butternut squash. Doug had already stocked the fridge with local apples or I would have bought a bunch of those too.
Sunday, after I ran outside in single digit temperatures for the first time in months, I headed into the kitchen and started pulling out pots and roasting pans. I cut two of the sweet potatoes into thick slices (leaving the peel on of course), drizzled them with olive oil, sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper and set them in the toaster oven to roast. I put on a pot of quinoa to boil and I steamed 2/3 of the kale. Add a can of black beans and some goat cheese and I have tasty, nutrient-dense lunches for the week.
Next on the menu will be a pot of squash soup which I'll make partway through the week once my lunch stash gets a little low. I'm also thinking I'll try roasting beets for a salad. I'll toss in the remaining kale into that, add some pumpkin seeds and be good for another day or so.
Next weekend, I'll head to our local market and grab some of those colourful bunches of carrots. I've been meaning to try my hand at homemade hummus (like the kind I feasted on in Israel) and I have a bag of dried chickpeas ready to go. Some carrot sticks, naan bread and a few other local veggies should make for a tasty appetizer on Thanksgiving weekend non?
My biggest challenge this time is year is pacing myself. Most often than not I end up making too much food and can't get through it all before it goes bad. So this year I'm going to try to space things out a bit so things stay fresh and delicious and I get through one batch before moving on to the next one.
That's one of the benefits of cooking with autumn produce like squash and sweet potatoes. They last a wee bit longer than the spring asparagus and baby spinach leaves do.