From the Magazine

Spring Quinoa Bowl is an Easy Lunch

Have you found yourself at the McDonalds drive-thru a few too many times this week? Relying on a couple Clif Bars and hot chips to get you to that last bell? You’re not alone. The problem is,  we end up feeling sluggish, hangry, and utterly unsatisfied. Just a bit of planning, and you’ll be feeling energized enough to push through a full day of chaos. 

Planning and prepping lunches may seem time-consuming or daunting, especially if the kitchen is a foreign space for you. The good news is, making delicious, healthy, gourmet meals can be really simple, and a little prep goes a long way.  Just an hour of prepping a few easy ingredients can leave you with lunches for an entire week. And instead of feeling drained and bloated after lunch, you’ll feel energized and ready to take on the afternoon.  

Cue the Spring Quinoa Bowl: protein-packed and fiber-rich, this dish features seasonal vegetables mixed with a variety of hearty textures and flavors. It can be whipped together quickly, savored slowly, and is sure to impress even the most skeptical of taste buds. Your colleagues will scowl as they choke down another day of cafeteria chicken tenders.

Meal Prep Benefits:

You’ll save money. Drive-through and snack foods can really add up over time. 

You’ll save time. Spending 15 minutes of your 30 minute break fighting traffic leaves little time to actually eat the food. By bringing your delicious lunch, you’ll have time to savor and enjoy.

Your abs will thank you. Fast food and processed snacks are loaded with preservatives, excess oils, sugar, and little nutrition, which long term can take a toll on your health AND your waistline. 

Spring Quinoa Bowl 

  • Serves: 4
  • Calories: ~450 per serving
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Total: 65 minutes

Ingredients

For the bowl:

  • 1.5 pounds chicken thighs 
  • 3 small (or 2 medium) sweet potatoes, washed and cubed
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed 
  • 1 cup dry quinoa 
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • ¼ cup mint, minced 
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the dressing:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/8 cup olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the chicken thighs on one side of a baking sheet. Spread the cubed sweet potatoes in an even layer over the rest of the pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of avocado oil over both the chicken and sweet potatoes;  toss the sweet potatoes until they are evenly covered. Season all with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked. 


Meanwhile, add 2 cups of water and quinoa to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and put aside. 

Remove the baking sheet and move the sweet potatoes to the side to leave a space in the middle. Spread the asparagus evenly between the chicken and sweet potatoes and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is browned and has an internal temp of 165 F. 


Assemble the ingredients for the dressing and mix together until fully emulsified. Add mint as a garnish. 

Transfer chicken and asparagus to a cutting board and cut into bite sized pieces. 


Here’s where it gets really beautiful. Grab a few travel containers. Pack each with around 1 cup of the quinoa and top it with asparagus, sweet potatoes, and chicken. In another container zipper bag, add the cherries and mint. Finally, in a small container, pour the lemon dressing. You can add the dressing before you leave for school in the morning for a more moist dish, or wait until lunchtime to enjoy a more al dente feel. 

Combine the ingredients, stir, and enjoy for a burst of guilt-free energy with a ton of flavor. Just watch out for Mrs. Miley’s jealous gaze. 

Kirby Walter is a registered dietitian, owner of The Nourish RD, and mom of three.