Work Lunches for Real Women


Hi guys!

Thanks for celebrating IWD with me, and for your responses to Tasha’s great post. One reader mentioned that she actually hadn’t considered herself a feminist before reading the post, but that she was reconsidering that position. This made me so, so happy: in my experience, many women hew to feminist ideals, but fear the word feminism because its detractors have managed to tarnish it with inaccurate stereotypes. It’s time for women of this generation to change all that, and to reclaim the word for their own set of purposes.

I’ve promised you a week of posts that pertain to womens’ issues. Today’s post isn’t exactly what you might expect from that promise, but if you bear with me I think you’ll see why I thought it was kinda relevant. A few weeks ago, I posted some zucchini wraps I’d made and enjoyed as a part of my lunch. Aletheia had this to say about the post:

While I think your zucchini wraps looks absolutely delicious – as do most of your other foods – I have noticed recently that a larger proportion of the recipes you post necessitate the use of a dehydrator.

Which kinda makes me sad!

I’m just thinking that if I had come across your blog today, and it was my first time discovering the world of raw, I might be a wee bit intimidated!

I thought about this, and then I wrote back:

Fair point, Aletheia…keep in mind that my work…ha[s] kept me away from my kitchen for the last month. I’m not complaining, but coming home at 9, sometimes 10 PM, and leaving my apartment at 8 AM knowing I won’t be back till late quashes my cooking routine. Which means 99% of my meals right now are things I take to work in tupperware or eat on the go — nothing worthy of recipe sharing. The stuff I make on weekends to last for the week tends to be either soups, cooked foods, or dehydrated raw foods. The rest is stuff I throw together raw, and don’t usually have time (or inclination) to document for you.

Later, as we were exchanging emails, Aletheia reminded me:

…one thing I really appreciate about your blog is that, in addition to being a great raw food-related resource, it’s also a glimpse into the life of a beautiful person…After all, it’s not just about “doing the food”.  It’s about how you do the food when you’re busy living, too.

This was a great point! I love sharing with you recipes that I consider presentable and “blogworthy,” and I try to insist on making my posts as polished and thoughtful as possible. I’ll never write about a nutrition topic, for instance, without calling upon my past studies, or doing some new research. But blogging is a personal act, too; even bloggers like me, who consider their blogs public forums, rather than personal diaries, must remember that many people read blogs because they find it inspiring to peer into a person’s life. This needn’t mean, as so many critics claim, that all blogs are purely narcissistic. Readers have always been fascinated by letters, diaries, and memoirs, because we like to feel empathy and kinship with other people. Reading memoir is moving because it reminds us that so much of human experience is shared.

So even though it’s not my own “blogging style” to post all of my eats, or to say too much about what’s going on in my private life, I do realize that you, my readers, like to be reminded that I’m a real person living a real life, as well as a nutrition writer. Which means that I needn’t post only the most inspired or creative dishes and recipes; I can also show you some of my more slapdash TV dinners, my work lunches, my recipe failures. In fact, it might be practically useful for you all to see what I eat and how I handle my food prep during weeks when time is short.

On that note, I wanted to share a bunch of my recent desk lunches. I’ve written about my desk lunches before, mentioning that I, unlike many people, don’t hate eating at the office, but I don’t typically take note of my midday meals, or share them with you. For the last week or so, I decided to snap photos of my lunches, so that you could all see what a busy working lady eats when she’s got about thirty minutes between meetings, or a manuscript that’s waiting for her attention. What follows is a roundup of my meals–and proof, Aletheia, that eating vegan and semi-raw is entirely possible in a pinch!

Leftover Bowl of Lindsay’s African Kale and Yam Soup, to which I added chickpeas, with a salad:


Large salad with pumpkin seeds, raisins, and my tomato curry dressing:


Salad with my Asian dressing and two slices of my carrot raisin bread:


Salad + Ezekiel wrap with avocado and mixed veggies:


Salad with beet dressing and a pumpkin seed pate (stay tuned for that recipe!!)


Salad with two slices of Love Force raw bread (the raisin flavor–I liked this very much!)


Simple spinach salad with butternut squash dressing (I was craving spinach like crazy that day!)


Salad with butternut squash dressing and leftover digestive-friendly hummus:


And, finally, one of my weekend lunch faves: my Saturday leftover quesadilla (recipe follows).


Get the idea? I keep it simple, keep it easy to pack, and, though the varieties change, greens of some sort are a constant. Now, for that recipe…

Gena’s Saturday Leftovers Quesadilla

This is one of my fave weekend lunches. I do grocery shopping on Saturday AMs, so I’m always eager to round up all of the old produce and leftovers I’ve got and put them to use in my Saturday lunch. You can use any combo of ingredients, but I find that a green+cooked veggies+creamy avocado/guac is great; hummus or mashed beans are also terrific additions!

Step one

Warm up one Ezekiel tortilla in a dehydrator or low temperature oven. Top it with some leftover greens–in this case, I used leftover massaged kale salad:


Step Two

Top it with some avocado slices. This is a GREAT way to use up any stray halves or quarters of avocados that you have leftover from making guac or other dishes:


Step Three

Add a layer of leftover roasted root veggies. I love yams, turnips, mashed butternut squash, or carrots. In this wrap, I used Kabocha squash that I’d taken home in a doggie bag from dinner at Peacefood Cafe:


Step Four

Pour some leftover dressing on top — I used my zucchini dressing here:


Step Five

Top with another tortilla, and serve with a salad. YUM!


These dishes won’t win any vegan or raw culinary awards. But they are nourishing, healthy, and tasty, and they’ve all given me pleasure on days when I’m caught in the hustle and bustle of work life. Today, let’s all vow to treat our bodies to nutritious and quality foods even when we’re pulled hither and yon by our obligations. We women balance work, life, and (often) motherhood, not to mention the responsibilities of being caretakers of friends and family. We deserve nothing less than power food to make us run. And nothing can give us more nutritional bang for our buck than veggie-centric meals. Happy lunching!




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  1. I’ve recently started incorporating more raw foods into my diet. Your blog has been a great inspiration!

  2. thanks for stoppin by my blog!
    and my breakfasts are nothing in comparison to yours! your pictures are heavenly πŸ™‚

    – rebekah

  3. I love this post Gena. AND it deserves a raw/vegan culinary award in my book!
    Your quesadillas look divine as do all of your dressings.

  4. Hi Gena, I actually think that this is your most important blog EVER! For me it is anyway. I am a working mom of two kids three and under, and I’m my husband is only home before 7 am and after 9 pm Monday through Saturday, so I work, care for my kids, my household and food purchasing, and food prep on my own. Even though I attended Natailia’s training as you have, and I have all of the knowledge and desire, I’ve fallen off the bandwagon a bit here and there because it’s sometimes just too much to keep up with all that the RFDD lifestyle requires. While you don’t have two kids, its great to see what you have been able to pull off with your hectic schedule because it can serve as inspiration to me. I have a question though. You have almost a different salad dressing every day. Do you make a different dressing every night for lunch the next day?

    • Elissa,

      Nope, I make a whole bunch each weekend and have them throughout the week.


  5. Because seeds and nuts have inhibitors when not soaked, so i have read, do you soak your flax seeds before you use them for like the bread? or do you just go ahead and grind them. I am having a hard time knowing when to soak and sprout and when not to

    • Hi there:

      I don’t soak flax seeds, but I grind them most of the time. I will soak pumpkin seeds when I put them in a pate, but to be honest, I’m not one for soaking and sprouting. It’s great when I remember, but not remembering all the time hasn’t killed me yet πŸ™‚


  6. Gena-
    This was a really great post. I can relate to it because I rarely have time to make my lunch in the morning before school. I usually just throw together a salad and have a Pure bar but that get pretty boring. I’ll most deffinately use these ideas because my lunches have been lacking lately. Thanks a bunch and good luck!

  7. Yay! I’ve been in need of some inspiration for my at-work lunches. Thanks for the ideas!

  8. hey girl!
    i just wanted to say i really appreciate your honest humble approach to food. i just started transitioning to veganism and was honestly pretty imtimidated until i read your interview the other day. i love how your meals are just they way they should be – simple, wholesome, and not fussy. i think some of the greatest meals i’ve ever had probably had less than 5 ingredients.
    i’ll be sure to catch up on reading your posts to keep me inspired!
    – rebekah

  9. Awesome! Looks so good! And sure you claim they won’t win any awards but they seem award-winning to me! That raisin raw bread looks super!

  10. love this post…my work eats are often the fodder of water cooler chit chat among my coworkers, but i dont care…i eat a lot and i eat good healthy wholesome food and i think thats definitely something to celebrate! have a good day gena!

  11. what a great post! it’s so true, that most of the time, we don’t have time for elaborate meals and plating πŸ™‚

    made your cauliflower salad w/orange dressing, and the eggless salad posted here awhile back, loved them!!

  12. Amen Gena – working lunches are not very exciting things – BUT it’s immensely satisfying (to me anyway) to be able to be at work and know that I have something wholesome, healthful, and tasty to look forward to for lunch – NOT takeout, fastfood, or cafeteria food. Your wrap looks great! I need to get some of those ezekiel wraps!

  13. Homegirl likes herself some raisins, eh? You’ve got me craving some old fashioned cinnamon raisin toast now. I’m totally going thru a toast phase…and I will eat anything that gives me an excuse to put coconut butter on something.

    Interesting point you make about blogs not necessarily being narcissistic–I’ve always been so self-conscious of that aspect, and it’s probably why I share so little personal information there. I figure no one cares. But when you compare it to memoirs, some of which are certainly considered fine literature, it definitely shines a different light on blogging for me. It makes sense, though. If someone’s on your website in the first place, they must have some interest in the blogger, even if morbid. ;P

  14. Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚ I have a question.

    If you aren’t getting home until 9:00 pm. What else are you eating before
    you get home?

    Those lunches while delicious looking, would last maybe 2 hours in my tummy.
    I don’t count calories. I try to eat highly nutritious meals, and snacks. I am thin. I don’t think I am over eating, (most days). Did you bring snacks?
    Another small meal? Were you hungry?

    Come on, don’t make me feel like a cow here. I eat! πŸ™‚ If it were me eating,
    I would have had a small snack between breakfast and lunch. Then 2-3 hours after lunch another snack. Snacks usually come in the form of fruit and
    nuts. I will definately have dinner around 4-5pm. If I am up later than 9pm I will have another small snack.

    Please share.

    • Betty,

      I said lunch, not dinner! Good gracious, this would never last me all day. No, the purpose of my post was just to show you some of my midday lunches, not a whole day of food!

      If I were going to be at work till 9, or had an event after work, I would pack a dinner in addition to this lunch. It would most likely be a little denser of a meal, or include a few cooked foods (though maybe not). It varies, but I find that grains are really easy to transport, so they’re a good dinner-on-the-go.

      I’m not usually much of a snacker, but if I needed a snack, I’d definitely have one πŸ™‚


  15. I don’t follow a raw vegan lifestyle but I’m certainly inspired by the effort you put into it. I work long hours as well so I know all about eating out of plastic containers during the week. I just read that a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle is spiritual because it is the essence of eating mindfully as you are making a choice. Even if it means a bit of inconvenience!

  16. I make a lot of pumpkin seed/raisin salads! I really need to try that tomato curry dressing- it looks like the perfect compliment. Another favorite salad is spinach-banana-cashew-hempseed-dried cherries. I am so excited for the pumpkin seed pate recipe! I also love bringing a big container of crudite with a nut/seed dip…. perfect for munching. By the way, how on earth does your quesadilla stay together? I can’t imagine how everything doesn’t fall out when it’s assembled like a sandwich…

  17. I’m so glad you posted your lunches here. When you cast your eye over any number of raw blogs, they are about amazing raw recipes which are frankly time-consuming, even if it takes only 30 to 45 min, for a busy busy busy woman. Quite often due to lack of time, I’ve thrown together very odd and not very appealing looking raw food for myself which I wouldn’t dream of putting on my blog but perhaps I should because this is really what a raw vegan girl eats daily! Thanks again Gena for being an inspiration!

  18. All your food looks yummy!! For us presentation is not always everything ; ) We make meals that are not always picture worthy, so no worries there girl!!

  19. So glad you liked my comment.

    These are great inspiration lunches. I have been slacking on bringing my own lunch, and this is just what I needed!

  20. Thank you so much for this post! It’s great to see how simple high raw and vegan can be. I have the hardest time not getting bored of my meals because i feel like its salad over and over again, but seeing your post, the changing of what is in your salads and what dressings you use can bring a whole new fun each and every day. For preparation of your dressings that you use, do you make them on the weekend and then just keep them fridged for the week, or make them night before, or what? I feel thats my hardest time, its not making the salad but making a dressing that takes up my time and money.

  21. I appreciate this post very much.
    I’ve been reading your archive when I have spare moments. What I really like about your blog is you are real and balanced, not just writing from your head about nutritional knowledge or raw food diet principles but you show your — how can I say — philosophy. And that goes beyond foods.
    And today, you are showing even more of your real life. I know this takes courage for someone who is deemed as authority or in teacher position. Well done! Love you even more.

  22. This is probably my favorite food related post yet! Easy, simple, accessible meals that take no time to prepare. Question for you- how much dressing do you put on your salads? πŸ™‚

    • Oh, and I also meant to ask you where did you get those square containers you put your salad in?

      • Oh, you can get them at any grocery store — they’re Gladware! I want to invest in glass ones for the environment, though.

    • Errr, I dunno? I don’t really keep track. I guess a couple of tbsps, maybe 2-4, depending on how thick the dressing is?

  23. Yum, a bunch of quick, easy, but still healthy and tasty stuff! Thanks for the ideas!

  24. yummmy, gosh these all looks really delicious. especially that last wrap with the squash. i love ezekiel bread…when i do eat bread it’s the only kind i’ll eat:)

  25. So happy to hear I’m not the only one who craves spinach. πŸ™‚

    Loving your quesadilla…someday I WILL dine at a restaurant that serves kabocha…someday. πŸ™‚

  26. Yum. I hope you are an inspiration at your work. Those work lunches look a lot like my “home” lunches (just throw in screaming kids in the background and lots of little fingers stealing my eats!). πŸ™‚

  27. Gena I really enjoyed this post (and also the one where you let us know how you prepare your food for the week) πŸ™‚ It’s my first time living on my own and posts like this really help me figure things out for myself. I know it’s so simple but it was such as eye opener for me when I realized if I make a larger portion of food, I’ll have leftovers, making an easy meal for me the next day! Also you really hit the nail when writing about how it’s inspiring to glimpse into other people’s lives and their take on eating healthy with a busy schedule. I spend a lot of time away from my apartment and it’s so great to see how others prepare themselves for a busy day. It’s easy to learn about what foods are healthy but not always how to plan, be prepared, and prep. Thanks for this!

  28. Oh gosh your quesadilla looks delicious. Everytime I think of a quesadilla I think of napolean dynamite haha πŸ™‚ I love all of your lunches aswell they look fantastic for just being put together in a rush.

    • Interesting point about the sharing of the human experience. I feel that a lot. The blogs I really come back to are the ones where I feel like I know the person who is writing them; it’s not just facts and recipes.

      These all look great, Gena, and you’ve inspired me to try some new salad combos. I need to eat more greens! I love how you mix the dressings and toppings up so much. I tend to get in ruts. I have to admit, though, this would not keep me feel very long. I guess we’re all different, though. πŸ™‚

  29. …Because real women eat real food.

    GO GENA!! Thanks for more rainbow-colored inspiration. And for reminding us that really, where applicable, insane work-life is no excuse to compromise eating well.

    πŸ™‚ aletheia

  30. I love the quesadilla idea because there are always some odds and ends in my fridge that need to be eaten up. Carrot raisin bread doesn’t look too shabby either! I love how you said your meals aren’t very interesting but trust me, when compared with mine you are a master chef!!

  31. You could pack my lunch any day! Speaking of dehydrators, my very first one is on the way. I am looking forward to trying even more of your recipes now that I will have this tool at my disposal. Thanks as always for the inspiration.

  32. Great post with awesome ideas, I really like the raw raisin bread and need to make more of it. Watching my co-worker have instant ramen noodle soup with a Diet Dr. Pepper for lunch, maybe I need to start eating more in the office to provide positive inspiration πŸ™‚

  33. Yum! Those look like great lunches– at the desk or not! Thanks for sharing!

  34. Yum. Yum and more Yum. I really want to try that raw raisin “bread” — it looks awesome. I almost always eat a gorilla salad for lunch, but you’ve reminded me that sometimes veggie wraps are good, too. I’m also happy you’re enjoying my soup!

  35. Awesome blog post. I think lunch is the most important/difficult thing to do raw. I am the most hungry from breakfast to early afternoon. I often eat three/four times before then.

  36. Thanks for posting this! Everything looks delicious, I have got to try making some of those dressings.

  37. I totally struggle with the same thing – if it’s not “blog-worthy” I’m afraid to post! But you’re right – sometimes people just want a glimpse. This has been really interesting.

    Seems like the salad dressings you make on the weekend are key to your packed meals and lifestyle!

  38. Hi Gena,
    I LOVE this post. I’m rather new to the High Raw world and it can sometimes seem a bit over-whelming. I work two 24hr shifts a week and pack my meals/beverages for each 24hr work day. Your meals resemble what I put together on a whim – the best part of them is typically a salad dressing recipe I’ve gotten from you πŸ™‚ It is great to see that not all meals are/can be gourmet raw. Just yummy, natural whole foods to get us through the work day.
    xo, Christel

  39. YUM! I am drooling looking at all your beautiful, delicious, healthy meals =D


  40. Your lunches look very similar to mine! πŸ™‚ Love the simplicity! That carrot raisin bread sounds SO good. I love my juice pulp flax crackers, but I have yet to make any raw bread. This recipe is moving to the top of my queue!

  41. I always love reading the little tidbits about life in people’s posts. It makes blogging a little more personable πŸ™‚ I think you already have a great blogging style though!

    Your raw breads (and salads) look amazing. Looking forward to the pate recipe!

  42. This is part of the reason I have been blogging less, the food I eat is good, healthy, but not exciting. As long as its good and healthy though, I’m okay with it!! I like the Love Force bread too, actually all their stuff is yummy.

  43. These lunches look so delicious and simple enough for everyday! Love that Quesadilla!

    P.S. That Love Force bread is awesome! Love that stuff!

  44. Awesome looking salads. I love huge salads for lunch! I seriously must try the butternut squash dressing.

  45. I have always wondered what your meals look like. That quesadilla is calling my name!!

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