09/27/2013 01:34 EDT | Updated 12/18/2013 06:12 EST

The Main Ingredients Challenge #2: Busy Weekday Lunch Challenge (Chef's Meal)

For the kids, portability and nutrition are always key factors so I really think they will love this week's meal challenge, a quick little pita pocket lunch. I was able to sneak in some ricotta cheese, which is creamy and sweet but pretty neutral in flavour.

My dream is to know that on tables all around the world, children and parents are sitting down and eating the same meal. All right, that might be a touch dramatic, but nonetheless the feeling I get when I am in the presence of such a phenomenon is always memorable.

Like when I visited some close friends who moved their family to France for a couple of years, when their kids were 4 and 10. I could not stop marvelling at the sight of a four-year-old Canadian girl enjoying stinky French cheese!

How does this pertain to our challenge this week you might ask? Well, we are making two lunches from my selection of 12 ingredients, one for kids to take with them or eat at home and the other for adults to take with them to work or eat at home. Although they won't be eating together, at least they'll be eating the same thing: so my dream is still somewhat possible.

For the kids, portability and nutrition are always key factors so I really think they will love this little pita pocket. I was able to sneak in some ricotta cheese, which is creamy and sweet but pretty neutral in flavour.

Turkey and Ricotta Pita Pockets

Photo gallery The Main Ingredients II: Chef Meal #2 See Gallery

Main Ingredients used:

  • Apples
  • Lentils
  • Whole wheat pita
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Walnuts
  • Turkey

If you are using store-bought pre-cooked turkey, make sure it is low sodium. Check the % Daily Value (% DV) on the Nutrition Facts table. Remember 5% DV or less is a little, and 15% DV or more is a lot of salt. My preference is to buy a raw turkey breast on the weekend and just simply roast it with some fresh herbs until it's cooked to 74°C (165°F) and then thinly slice it through the week for lunches.

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) low fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 ml (½ tsp.) lemon zest
  • 2 ml (½ tsp.) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 whole grain pita cut in half - type that has pocket
  • 6 oz (180 g) sliced roast turkey
  • 1 small tomato, thinly sliced
  • Lettuce leaves, optional

Preparation: In a small bowl combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest and juice. Stir to blend well.

With a small spatula, spread half the ricotta cheese into a pita pocket half, reaching all the way down so that sandwich has cheese throughout. Lay in half of the turkey slices half of the tomato and lettuce, if desired. Repeat to make the other pita pocket.

Wrap tightly or place in container.

Makes 2 sandwiches

To make this lunch complete, add an apple and a small container of 2% milk.

My husband loves bold flavours, so this kid-friendly sandwich was just o.k. for him, but then he's not a kid. (Wink, wink!)

Red Lentil, Apple and Walnut Salad with Roasted Turkey

This salad is very portable and is a great one-plate lunch. The flavour that develops here is all in the curry powder you choose. There are plenty of great options, but avoid the basic brands which lack depth of flavour.

  • 45 ml (3 Tbsp.) good quality olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 5 ml (1 tsp.) cumin seed, ground
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp.) good quality Madras curry powder
  • 250 ml (1 cup) washed dry red lentils
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 375 ml (1 3/4 cups) water
  • 1 large Macintosh apple, diced
  • 25 ml (2 Tbsp.) apple cider vinegar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) walnut halves, coarsely chopped
  • Handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 12 oz (360 gm) roasted turkey, sliced or diced
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 whole grain pita, cut into quarters
  • 50 ml (¼ cup) low fat ricotta cheese

In a medium pot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil on medium setting. Sauté the onion,cumin and curry powder for 3-5 minutes until onions are soft and golden. Add lentils, cinnamon stick, water and salt. Bring to a boil, uncovered, and cook for about 10 minutes or until lentils are tender and moisture has evaporated.

Transfer to a medium bowl and cool slightly. Add apples, vinegar, walnuts, coriander and turkey. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and drizzle with last tablespoon of olive oil.

Serve with pita wedges, spread with the ricotta cheese.

Makes 4 servings

The Verdict: My kitchen definitely has a Mediterranean theme, although I take trips to the Caribbean as well as Mexico. I am pleased to report that my husband really enjoyed the lentil salad, even though he doesn't often ask for Indian flavours. And I love combining apples and turkey in a non-traditional way.