What I've found in changing the way I eat is that it takes more time. There's a lot of prep work that's involved because, as I like to joke, I'm eating vegetables for a living! Really though, with the amount of vegetables in my life now, it seems like I'm always chopping and dicing. So what that means is that sometimes when lunch rolls around, I'll just eat a piece of fruit or skip the meal altogether because I don't want to put in the work.
Something I've found to be a lifesaver is having options on hand to pull together a delicious lunch bowl - which is a bunch of tasty and healthy ingredients all together in one bowl. What that entails is a little bit of work ahead of time. If I'm making brown rice or quinoa with dinner, I'll make an extra amount for use later. I also pull together whatever veggies and herbs I have on hand that sound good together, and prep them for later use. Oftentimes I'll cube and pan sear some extra-firm tofu as well. (It keeps nicely in the fridge).
A tasty combination is quinoa, bok choy, tofu, carrots, green onions, cucumbers, and cilantro. (I especially love quinoa because it's a healthy seed that's packed with protein). But there are SO MANY tasty combinations. (See notes below). Despite the little bit of prep work, it makes for a pretty easy meal.
Cooked quinoa (rather than cooking quinoa in water, I like to substitute vegetable broth for more flavor).
Fresh vegetables of your choice
Seared tofu (Cube and lightly salt tofu or marinate in soy sauce before cooking. Sear in an oiled pre-heated skillet on high heat. (If you've marinated in soy sauce, make sure you completely drain before adding it to the pan). I think cast iron works best for this. Searing gives a nice flavor to the tofu and a more enjoyable texture. If you're avoiding tofu, a good substitute is eggplant, prepared the same way).
Rice wine vinegar or soy sauce
Sricha, if desired
Add desired amounts of each ingredient to a bowl and sprinkle with a little bit of rice wine vinegar or soy sauce. If you like a little spice, add some sricha as well. Then, mix it up and enjoy. Your own little lunch bowl.
I prefer extra-firm tofu. I think it has the nicest texture and holds up the best when cooking. I find the brands in the tub with a little water tend to be tastier than the brands that are vacuum sealed in plastic. I know some people like to use it as a meat substitute but I don't. I think if you have in your mind that it's a substitute for meat, you're going to be disappointed because they are not similar in any way. And honestly, I think tofu is an acquired taste. I grew up eating it, so it's something I enjoy, as do our boys because they have as well.
I tend to buy red quinoa as opposed to white, because I have in my mind that it's healthier. I have no basis for this, but know that brown rice is healthier than white rice and there are many nutritional benefits to darker vegetables, so, I choose red if it's available and priced the same. Why not?
You can get fancier with these bowls and make an actual dressing. For the lunch bowl above, this dressing is tasty. (Using that dressing recipe, I sub soy sauce for the fish sauce and then skip the additional 2 teaspoons of soy sauce listed).
I use gluten free soy sauce or tamari.
There are endless variations on the lunch bowl. Here are a couple of ideas:
Brown rice, black beans, shredded red cabbage, diced tomatoes, roasted corn, guacamole and salsa or hot sauce.
Rice noodles or vermicelli, bean sprouts, chopped leafy greens, grated carrots, sliced radishes, seared tofu (if you're a meat eater, chicken would be a tasty alternative), raisins, and curry dressing. (For dressing, mix 1 cup coconut milk with 1-2 teaspoons yellow curry paste. Drizzle desired amount atop bowl).
For a last minute dinner, pull together your favorite combination of ingredients as if it's a taco night and let each person create their own bowls, using the components they choose.