I like big bowls and I cannot lie...

Who'd have thought that one giant bowl would end up being one of the big keys to my weight loss success?

Sounds crazy, but it's true.  See, there are two sides to this radical wellness transformation: First, the change has got to be HUGE--like, life-changingly, mind-shiftingly different from the way you used to do things.  Second, it's got to be totally do-able.  These things seem like opposites, but I promise you they aren't.

The secret is figuring out which completely manageable change will have a huge impact.  Enter the Big Bowl.  I bought this lovely, multi-colored serving bowl--big enough, for example, to serve a side dish at a dinner party for 8--for about $7.  It was the simple solution to an annoying obstacle I'd run into whenever I wanted to bring my ideal lunch.  

I added the beer can for scale.  Also, work is stressful.

I added the beer can for scale.  Also, work is stressful.


The problem? My ideal lunch (hint: this is your ideal lunch, too) was always a huge salad with several toppings, dressing, some hot components, some cold components, always needing to be tossed at lunchtime right before eating.  My mental block arose when I thought "I can't possibly be a good wife/mother/lawyer if I take the time to make fresh giant salads every day, and I hate bringing a million humongous bags with me to work." It turns out getting rid of the humongous lunch bag was easy once it occurred to me: Since I didn't want to lug half my kitchen to work with me in a tote bag, I bought this huge bowl and a single fork and they live at my desk at work.

At least three of my coworkers have since acquired their own Big Bowls, so I'm going to go ahead and call it a revolution.

Now, instead of bringing/buying less-than-ideal junk or taking half an hour in the morning to mix the perfect salad in a too-small container, I leave my bowl at work and bring this:

1. A plastic bag packed with greens.

2. A small glass container filled with the hot component (often black beans/veggies--see recipe below).

3. A small jar of dressing/salsa/sauce.

4. A small baggie of anything else I want (sunflower seeds, nuts, etc.).

The whole thing takes 5 minutes, tops.  Everything fits in a totally reasonably sized lunch bag.  At lunchtime, while I heat the glass container at work, I toss the rest in my big bowl.  I add the hot stuff, and voila. Perfect lunch every day.  No lugging.

No, it's not rocket science--it's just a simple solution to one small problem that was keeping me from bringing my ideal lunch every day.  What was difficult and annoying is now super-easy.

(NOTE: The first time I used my Big Bowl at work, a coworker caught me in the kitchen and asked if my team was having a pot luck for lunch.  I told her it was all for me.  I think she and her frozen meal were jealous.)

Now for the good stuff: perfect lunch recipes you can throw together in 5 minutes every morning.  I call this the Big Bowl Series.  Here is your first taste!

Basic Taco Salad

1 cup, give or take, of black beans (cooked/canned and drained)

1/4 cup (or more) of your favorite salsa

4-6 cups of your favorite salad greens (I like Trader Joe's baby romaine--I just take the whole bag!)

1/2 avocado (hint: bring the whole avocado plus an extra baggie to store the extra at work)

Optional: sunflower seeds, crumbled tortilla chips, cooked rice, corn tortillas

The ingredients are the same, but this little bowl wishes it could stack up to my Big Bowl.

The ingredients are the same, but this little bowl wishes it could stack up to my Big Bowl.

1. Put your beans and a spoonful of your salsa in a small glass container.

2. Pack your greens tightly in a plastic bag--or, if you're taking a whole bag of greens straight from the store, you can just snip a hole in the corner to deflate it and pack it as-is.

3. Put the remaining salsa in a small container, or even a little baggie if you trust it.

4. Pack all of the above into a lunch bag or just throw the pieces into your work bag.

5. At lunchtime, heat the glass container of beans in the microwave while you dump greens in your Big Bowl and slice the avocado.  Throw the hot beans on your cold greens, top with salsa and avocado, devour.  Be as generous with the salsa and avocado as you need to be so there's no need for extra dressing!