The No-Default Lunch


The Menu:

  • Appetizer: Dinner Leftovers
  • Entrée: Side Salad & Deconstructed Roasted Beet Sandwich
  • Treat: Feta-Stuffed Dates with Pistachios
  • All-Day Snack: Apples
  • Dessert: Dark Chocolate Pieces
  • Drink: Cold Mint Tea


The Containers:

  • 1 upcycled glass jelly jar
  • 1 long partitioned container
  • 2 upcycled plastic containers
  • 2 mini mason jars
  • 1 tiny upcycled jelly jar
  • 1 plastic baggy
  • 1 cloth coffee sack
  • 1 water bottle
  • 1 roll of parchment paper and scissors

The Recipes:

Side Salad & Balsamic Vinaigrette:

  • Except for an addition of torn parsley leaves, I made an exact replica of yesterday’s side salad and vinaigrette. Please check that out here.


The Deconstructed Roasted Beet Sandwich:

  • ¼ chunk of a large roasted beet
  • ½ of a small zucchini
  • ½ of a red bell pepper
  • 1” x 1” x 1” block of cheese (cheddar, alpine, pecorino)
  • 2-3 tbs. of baba ganoush (or hummus, or pesto)
  • 1 pinch of paprika
  • 1 wedge of lemon
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh dill or another herb


  1. Cut a square of parchment paper, and set it on the cutting board. Thinly slice the roasted beet, and arrange the slices in the center of the paper. Soft taco-style, lift the paper and the beets, and set them in the container.
  2. Slice the zucchini into thin oval shapes by cutting at a slight angle. Squeeze the lemon wedge over the slices, and dust with paprika. Arrange the slices in the container next to the beets.
  3. Cut the cheese block into 5-6 slices, and sprinkle with paprika. Cut another square of parchment paper, and loosely wrap the cheese. Place in the container.
  4. Slice the red bell pepper into strips. Place the strips in the container next to the cheese.
  5. Lay the sprigs of dill anywhere in the container, and secure the lid.
  6. Spoon the baba ganoush into a mini mason jar. Sprinkle with paprika, and cover with the lid.
  7. Put the two slices of bread in the plastic baggy.
  8. At lunch, be a sandwich artist. Stack all those flavors between two slices of bread, and enjoy.


This is one of my favorite alternatives to a deli sandwich. Here is how some of the ingredients translate:  the thin slices of roasted beet and raw zucchini are my “deli meat,” and the baba ganoush is my “mayo.” I forgot about mayo a long time ago because I  love using hummus, baba ganoush, or pesto instead. They are more delicious and nutritious.


Dinner Leftovers: Zucchini Pizza Boats

  • 2 leftover pizza boats
  • 2 tbs. of leftover eggplant marinara dipping sauce


  1. Place the leftovers in the bottom of the upcycled plastic container.
  2. If you have a leftover side dish or dipping sauce like me, you can pack it in the same container. Cut a square of parchment paper that fits within the circumference of the container. Place the paper square on top of the leftovers, and spoon the leftover side dish or sauce onto it. Secure the lid.


I intend to eat these pizza boats cold tomorrow, as I do with most leftovers. If you like to reheat, I recommend investing in 1-2 Pyrex glassware pieces. They have great lids, and the containers are sturdy. Most importantly, they are safe to use in the microwave (and some, in the oven).

Feta-Stuffed Dates with Pistachios:

  • 6 dates or 6 dried apricots
  • 3 tsps. of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 small handful of shelled pistachios, chopped
  • 1 pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon


  1. Set the dates in a row on the cutting board. To pit them, slice down the middle lengthwise and just on one side. The dates should easily spread open to expose the pit. Pick the pit out with your fingers, and leave the date butterflied on the cutting board.
  2. Spoon ½ tsp. feta cheese into each butterflied date.
  3. Sprinkle the ground cloves and cinnamon on top of the feta cheese.
  4. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top of the dates, pressing them gently into the cheese.
  5. Pinch the dates closed. Place them in the upcycled plastic container, and secure the lid. Since the dates are so sticky, they will not roll around in the container.


All-Day Snack: Apples

  • 2 small apples


  1. Rinse and dry.
  2. Place in the cloth coffee bag.

Dark Chocolate Pieces Dessert:

  • 2-3 small pieces of high-quality 70% dark chocolate


  1. Place the pieces in the mini mason jar
  2. Tomorrow, try savoring the chocolate by eating it as slowly as possible. I like to keep it at my desk after lunch and nibble on it.


Cold Mint Tea:

  • 1 handful of fresh mint leaves, rinsed
  • 1 kettle of boiling water


Cold mint tea is refreshing and, like all herbal teas, soothing. Mint helps with digestion and is particularly beneficial for women.


  1. Toss the mint leaves in a teapot or pyrex measuring bowl.
  2. Pour the boiling water over leaves.
  3. Allow the mint leaves to steep for 5-10 minutes. Scoop the leaves out with a slotted spoon. Let the tea cool for a bit.
  4. Pour it into your water bottle and chill overnight.
  5. Timing Tip: I make the tea before I start packing lunch, so it can cool while I assemble.


Inspiration for the Stuffed Dates:

Information on Mint:

Photo Credit:

  • All photos by Amy Riedel.

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