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Lunch Break: 5 Healthy Midday Meals

PB&J is so passé. Think outside the brown bag by making one of these protein-packed midday meals. Hearty, healthy, and appealing to all appetites, they’ll keep the whole family satisfied till supper.

Ahi Tuna Bowl; Photo by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group*


Ahi Tuna Bowl

Submitted by Rock-N-Fire, 1010 Riley Street, Suite 4, Folsom, 916-673-9474,, @rocknfirefolsom

•    4 (5 oz.) ahi tuna steaks
•    2 tbsp. sesame oil
•    2 tbsp. soy sauce
•    1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
•    Sea salt & fresh-ground pepper, to taste
•    2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
•    Green onions, chopped

Wasabi Aïoli
•    1/2 cup mayonnaise
•    2 tsp. wasabi powder
•    1 tsp. rice vinegar
•    1 tsp. soy sauce
•    1/4 tsp. ground ginger

•    Baby spinach
•    Sliced cucumbers
•    Alfalfa sprouts
•    Sliced avocado

Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, sea salt, pepper, garlic, and green onions in a 13×9 dish. Place the tuna steaks in the marinade and coat evenly. Cover and keep in the fridge for 4 hours.

Make aïoli by whisking all ingredients together. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat a griddle or skillet to high heat. Sear the tuna for 1 minute per side.
Assemble bowls with spinach, cucumbers, sprouts, and avocado. Drizzle with aïoli.

Tostada de Pollo


Tostada de Pollo

Submitted by Nixtaco, 1805 Cirby Way, Suite 12, Roseville, 916-771-4165,, @nixtaco

•    Vegetable oil, as needed
•    1 carrot, peeled and sliced into coins
•    2 celery stalks, large diced
•    1 white onion, roughly chopped
•    Salt and pepper, to taste
•    8 cloves fresh garlic, crushed with side of knife
•    5 lbs. organic whole chicken
•    8 corn tostadas
•    1 cup refried beans
•    2 avocados, peeled and sliced
•    1 cup shredded cheese
•    1 cup salsa verde

*Cook chicken. In a pot large enough for the chicken to be covered with water and fully submerged by 2 inches, cover the bottom with oil and bring to medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onions; season with salt and pepper, stir, and cook until onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add the whole chicken and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Turn heat to high and reduce to a simmer once it starts boiling. Cook for 1 1/2-2 hours or until internal temperature is 165°.

Remove chicken from the liquid and set on a cooling rack to rest. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat. Strain the liquid and return to the pot, reduce by half. Store chicken stock in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge and use it to make sauces, or to moisten the meat if it gets too dry.

To assemble, spread beans on a tostada, followed by chicken, avocado, cheese, and salsa. Repeat with the remaining tostada shells and eat promptly.
*Chicken can be made ahead of time.

Pub Báhn Mi Sandwich


Pub Báhn Mi Sandwich

Submitted by Placerville Public House, 414 Main Street, Placerville, 530-303-3792,, @placervillepublichouse

Sweet Ginger Sauce
•    4 tbsp. brown sugar
•    4 tbsp. soy sauce
•    2-4 tbsp. water, as needed
•    1 tbsp. ginger, minced
•    1 tbsp. garlic, minced
•    ½ tsp. sesame oil
•    Salt and pepper, to taste

Roasted Pork
•    2 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into large cubes
•    1 tbsp. salt
•    2 tsp. ground pepper
•    4 tbsp. brown sugar
•    1 tbsp. paprika
•    1/2 tbsp. cumin
•    1 tsp. chili powder
•    2-3 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
•    2-3 bay leaves
•    4 garlic cloves
•    1 can (12 oz.) chicken broth or soda of choice (Coca-Cola, ginger ale, root beer, Dr. Pepper, etc.)

Pickled Vegetables
•    2 tsp. coriander seed
•    1 tsp. black peppercorn
•    2 cups water
•    1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar 
•    1/2 cup rice vinegar
•    2 tbsp. sugar
•    2 tsp. salt
•    1 tsp. garlic, chopped
•    1 lb. (2-3) carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks 
•    5 jalapeños, thinly sliced
•    1 watermelon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks
•    1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks

To Serve
•    Artisanal bread/baguettes
•    Cilantro, chopped
•    *Sriracha mayo

Make sweet ginger sauce by whisking all ingredients together. Set aside.

Make pork. Preheat oven to 375. Rub cubed meat with dry ingredients. Heat oil in sauté pan and sear meat till golden brown. Add meat, bay leaves, garlic cloves, and liquid to Dutch oven and bake about 2-3 hours, until pork begins to turn tender. Shred the meat and sauté/reheat with the sweet ginger sauce; keep warm until ready to serve.

Make pickled vegetables. Add coriander and peppercorn to small stock pot. Toast for 30 seconds on medium heat, stirring to avoid burning. Add water, vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic. Stir until well combined and bring to a simmer. In a jar, pour pickling liquid over vegetables and allow to soften for a few hours or refrigerate overnight.

To serve, stuff artisanal bread/baguette full of roasted pork, pickled vegetables, and freshly chopped cilantro; drizzle with sriracha mayo, then grill in a panini press or on a skillet using a weight to press the sandwich down.

*Available at Trader Joe’s; or make by mixing mayonnaise and sriracha to desired spiciness.

Seared Garlic Albacore; Photo by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group*


Seared Garlic Albacore

Submitted by Aji Japanese Bistro, 4361 Town Center Boulevard, Suite 111, El Dorado Hills, 916-941-9181,, @ajibistro.edh

•    3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
•    1 cup mayonnaise
•    4 (6 oz.) fresh albacore tuna steaks
•    1 large white onion, thinly sliced
•    1/4 cup soy sauce
•    1 cup rice wine vinegar
•    1/4 cup gochujang chili paste
•    1/4 cup chives, sliced

Mix garlic and mayonnaise together and coat albacore. Sear fish enough to mark each side. In a separate pan, sauté onions with soy sauce and rice vinegar. Slice fish and serve over sautéed onions with chili paste on the side. Garnish with chives.

Golden Turmeric Chickpea Soup


Golden Turmeric Chickpea Soup

Submitted by Vibe Health Bar, 2770 East Bidwell Street, Suite 500, Folsom, 916-990-5367,, @vibehealthbar; additional locations in Sacramento

•    2 tsp. coconut oil
•    6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
•    4 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
•    1/2 large white onion, diced
•    1 zucchini, diced
•    2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
•    2 ½ tsp. ground turmeric
•    8 cups vegetable broth
•    1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
•    4 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
•    1 can light coconut milk
•    1 tsp. salt
•    ½ tsp. black pepper
•    1 cup brown rice, cooked
•    Fresh cilantro, to garnish
•    Jalapeños, diced very small and seeds removed, to garnish

Heat coconut oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add garlic, ginger, and onion. Brown for 3-4 minutes then stir in zucchini and sweet potatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes and zucchini begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add turmeric, stirring to coat all the veggies. 

Add the broth, chickpeas, peanut butter, coconut milk, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, then bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

To assemble, put 1/8 cup of rice on the bottom of each bowl and fill the remainder with soup. Garnish with cilantro and jalapeños.

BY Megan Wiskus

*Photos by Dante Fontana © and wholly owned by Style Media Group—please don’t steal our copyrighted photos. For more information about our editorial photos, please click here to contact us