Help me complete my lunch!
April 10, 2015 6:47 AM   Subscribe

I need suggestions for something green or vegetable-y to include in my lunch box every day.

I've fallen into making the following lunch lately: sushi rice with furikake (seasoned sprinkles, think flakes of dried egg or fish with seaweed) and protein usually in the form of a can of tuna, or sometimes roast chicken, steak or salmon. The problem is the 'green' part. I've been chopping up about six scallions/spring onions as my vegetables, but there's two issues with this:

1) Portion size of veg is just not big enough
2) The raw onions seem to hurt my stomach & boat it out

So, what else could I include with this lunch? It's like I know something green has to go in, but I'm flummoxed as to what. I was thinking of like chopped spinach, but that might get mushy by lunch? I thought of broccoli, would might have to douse it in something to make it palatable?

I like this lunch because it is *very* filling and keeps me sane until dinner. But I'd like to up the veggie element, if I can. I've a feeling there's a whole WORLD of vegetables out there I'm completely forgetting out, though...

Any ideas?
posted by Chorus to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Is this lunch primarily heated, or do you eat it cold? If cold, I would say salad underneath the rice or cucumber chunks. If heated, you have many more options.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:52 AM on April 10, 2015

Best answer: Do you like asparagus? Blanch it for a minute or two in boiling water, then shock it with cold water.

Chop into 1 each pieces. I also peel the ends (after snapping the toughest parts off). Time consuming but worth it and you can make it ahead and it will keep for several days.

Also green beans or spring peas, or pea pods can be done this way.

Arugula has a nice bite to it and seems to keep better than spinach.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:52 AM on April 10, 2015

Best answer: Sugar snap peas (or snow peas)

Green bean "salad" (blanch green beans and dress with a little oil & vinegar or lemon--add cherry tomatoes)

Cucumber slices

Not green, but I love slices of red bell peppers.
posted by whoiam at 6:54 AM on April 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I like broccoli in my lunch. But I cut it small and only the good flower part.

Snap peas or edamame might be good. Celery.

Are you willing to cook your green veggie or does it need to be raw? Roasted asparagus or brussel sprouts might be good. I roast mine both the same way. 375 degrees for ~ 20 mins. Cut the brussel sprouts in half and place on foil lined baking sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle with salt.

Zucchini cut up noodle style might be good as well.
posted by MadMadam at 6:54 AM on April 10, 2015

Ohitashi would go well with what you have there.

I like raw snow peas, too; and they work just fine at room temp.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:55 AM on April 10, 2015

Massaged kale + toasted sesame seed oil, soy sauce (or Braggs), rice or plum vinegar and sesame seeds; you can also mix in slivered savoy/red cabbages for more texture.

Bonus: prep it on Sunday and it will last all week.
posted by susanvance at 7:05 AM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I thought of broccoli, would might have to douse it in something to make it palatable?

That you're saying this suggests that you probably don't like broccoli, and that you're asking this question suggests you're probably not super gung-ho about vegetables in general. That's ok! Not a moral failing.

So how about just adding a whole fruit to the meal. Your rice thing, plus a banana. Your rice thing, plus a pear. Your rice thing, plus a serving of berries. On the side, no worries about having to integrate them into the meal. You could also do a whole avocado or a tomato, both of which I prefer eating on their own to being mixed in with other things.

There's not a huge amount of difference between a fruit and a veg, and as long as you're getting a wider variety at other meals, there's no law that says you have to eat a green vegetable with your meal.

Though if you really only want veg selections, personally I would do steamed broccoli and cauliflower or roasted carrots, maybe some roasted squash depending on the season. But I really like the taste of those things without any added fussing.
posted by phunniemee at 7:07 AM on April 10, 2015

This is what pickles were invented for, I swear. Not just cucumber of course - you can make broccoli pickles, even! But pickled anything, in any style. (Okra pickles! Kimchi! Pickled beets! Spicy cauliflower pickles! Crispy carrot pickles!) Every culture on the planet has a pickle, and Japanese pickles are especially delicious imo. You can stock up on them at an Asian supermarket or make your own on the weekends. It doesn't have to be the kind that ferments - a quick vinegar pickle is great and will last the week in the fridge, to be replaced with something new for variety/what's in season.

It'd also be nice to have a slivered cabbage salad with some sesame or miso or whatever dressing. If you can spring for a mandolin, these become really easy to make and won't wilt if you pack the dressing separate. Good with any other veg you want to toss on top, but things like carrots, whole cherry tomatoes, frozen peas (that will thaw by lunch), &broccoli and cauliflower florets will stay crunchiest.
posted by Mizu at 7:07 AM on April 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Here's a fun way to eat raw snow peas: mix in a little prepared horseradish. The zing goes well with the flavor and texture of the peas, and the flavor of both should go well with the rest of your lunch.
posted by goingonit at 7:11 AM on April 10, 2015

It sounds like you have a bento lunch thing going, so my go-to suggestion is to check JustBento. Here's all her recipes tagged "vegetables", all of them appropriate for eating cold or at room temperature.
posted by specialagentwebb at 7:11 AM on April 10, 2015

Long shot, but do you have a korean market with a salad bar near you? Here in Chicago we have Joong Boo which has a whole salad bar of banchan - Korean side dishes that are meant to be eaten with rice, kind of like condiments. My favorites (which you can also make at home, yourself, obviously):

green onion kimchi

steamed broccoli seasoned with sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds

sauteed spinach seasoned with sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds

For my own lunches, if I need some vegetables, I often just finish filling up my tupperware with the frozen brussels sprouts from Trader Joe's. TJ's frozen veggies are higher quality and less likely to be sad and freezer-burned than grocery store frozen veggies, I've found (ironic, because their produce sucks), and the brussels sprouts in particular are sturdy, microwave quickly, and don't really need any seasoning on them.

I also like the frozen grilled asparagus from TJ's.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:23 AM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cucumber, cut lengthwise for easier handling. Snow peas, sugar snap peas, and edamame are all delicious with a bit of sea salt. If you'd like to try broccoli and you're willing to do some prep work, this broccoli slaw is delicious and keeps in the fridge for several days.

In the realm of non-green vegetables, cherry tomatoes and baby carrots are as easy as it gets to pack and eat.
posted by neushoorn at 7:35 AM on April 10, 2015

Best answer: Grated carrots!
posted by mareli at 7:38 AM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

baby cucumbers, you can just eat the whole things without even cutting off the ends
posted by WeekendJen at 7:50 AM on April 10, 2015

I've been filling a bag with baby carrots, celery sticks, and a container with one or two tablespoons of peanut butter. I can prepare a weeks worth of bags on Sunday and toss one in my lunch bag each day. Very filling and the PB makes the veggies much more palatable.
posted by jshort at 7:56 AM on April 10, 2015

You can fill these puppies up with any vegetables you'd like plus bonus points for protein. I made them with grated carrot, peas, corn, and onion. It tasted like the inside of an egg roll to me and are yummy hot and cold.
I'm looking forward to trying spinach, broccoli, peppers, asparagus, etc inside! They are a good serving size and I went heavier on the veggies than this recipes recommends, only using six eggs plus a couple splashes of milk.
posted by rubster at 8:41 AM on April 10, 2015

My local grocery store sells bags of salad mix with chopped up kale, radicchio, and brussel sprouts (this one). It's tasty as a salad, but also holds up well with rice. I don't think it would get mushy if you put it together in the morning. The kale also lasts a really long time if you don't eat it right away...much longer than something like spinach.
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:24 AM on April 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

With the sushi rice, Japanese seaweed salad would be good, and seconding pickled cucumbers, asian style (vinegar, sugar, water overnight. This works well with radish and carrots too)
posted by rux at 7:34 PM on April 10, 2015

Response by poster: How could I have forgotten green beans? And grated carrot!

Thanks so much, guys! There's plenty here to digest! ;)
posted by Chorus at 5:28 AM on April 11, 2015

I think sauteed baby bok choy would be perfect with this:

Slice the bottoms off the bunches, and then chop the leaves in thirds. Add some oil and minced ginger and garlic to a pan. Let it all heat up together, and when the garlic and ginger start to sizzle, add the baby bok choy and a dash of fish sauce. Toss the leaves in the oil, cover, and turn down to low-medium heat. Cook until the leaves are wilted.

The reason you start the oil/garlic/ginger cold is so the garlic doesn't burn. This dish is good hot or cold and will last up to 4-5 days in the fridge.
posted by lunasol at 5:46 PM on April 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


What about shredded brussel sprouts with some bacon it tastes really great. I usually use the following ingredients to make this dish
Pound sliced bacon, cup butter, pine nuts, brussels sprouts: cored and shredded, seasoning salt
Hope this helps!
posted by BubbelGALAXY at 8:08 PM on April 12, 2015

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