Cupboard Dump Granola Bars and Easy Cheesy Quinoa Enchilada Lunches

It’s back to school time! Be still my beating heart.

Actually, I’m excited in many ways. I had to move classrooms because our school is adding another grade level, but that was surprisingly positive. My new classroom is fresh and organized and clean, and I have three (THREE!) windows — that you can actually see out of! There’s so much natural light in my classroom! Previously, I had one big window, which let in plenty of light but not much scenery. Now I get both! I just have to watch out for obnoxious 8th and 9th graders on Friday afternoon. I can just imagine pimply little faces pressed to my window. Guh. Oh well, it’s their way of showing they care. Weirdos.


Anyhow, I am turning back to the ever-present problem of what to eat. During the summer, it’s easy. I’m home all the time (I have no life) and so I just eat whatever’s handy. Usually, this summer, it was bean burritos followed by a bowl of ice cream and a nap. Excellent. But now, I have to actually plan what I’m going to eat. And carefully, because a hangry teacher is a terrible teacher.

Lunch has to be filling enough to get me through the majority of the afternoon. I don’t have much of a break this year in the afternoon (but my afternoon ends early, so that’s nice). Last year I struggled because I would make these delicious salads that had plenty of calories and nutrition, but didn’t really have the carbs to make me feel like I was full. That said, I’m starting the year off with a quinoa enchilada lunches. Quinoa’s pretty exciting. It has protein, fiber, amino acids… And it’s way more filling than lettuce. No offense, lettuce. Adding onions, peppers, olives, and chiles ups the vegetable factor. Too late I thought, ooh, black beans and corn! But next time, they will definitely be in there. For future reference, add black beans and corn when adding the olives and chiles (if they are canned). If the corn is frozen, cook it with the onion and peppers. Finally, sprinkle liberally with cheese and green onions and voila! Delisioso!

Easy Cheesy Quinoa Enchilada Lunches

  • Servings: 5 lunchtime portions
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 cup dry quinoa + 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans sliced black olives
  • 3 bell peppers (any color)
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 can diced green chiles
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • cheese and scallions to top


  1. Cook quinoa.
    1. Rinse quinoa first to remove outer husk. This will make your quinoa much more delicious.
    2. Put rinsed quinoa and the 2 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth in a pot. Note: you can absolutely use water, but broth makes the quinoa more delicious. We want optimal delicious quinoa, so we will rinse, broth, and season (a pinch of salt, at the very least).
    3. Bring pot to a boil, stirring occasionally so the quinoa doesn’t get to stuck to the bottom.
    4. When it comes to a boil, place a lid over the pot, turn the stove down to simmer, and let it sit for 15 minutes.
    5. When the 15 minutes are up, remove from the heat but allow to sit, covered, for a further 5 minutes. This ensures maximum fluffiness and broth absorption.
    6. Fluff and incorporate into the rest of your enchilada mess.
  2. Dice your onion and peppers. I used a yellow, an orange, and a green bell pepper for maximum color because they say a colorful diet is a healthy diet. Sautee and season. I used salt, pepper, and garlic powder in small amounts, and healthy amounts of cumin and chili powder. Probably about a tablespoon cumin and 1-2 tsp chili powder. I am an eye-baller, though, so these are relative measurements.
  3. Add onion/pepper mixture, fluffed quinoa, black olives, green chiles, and red enchilada sauce all together in a bowl. Mix.
  4. Spoon mixture into tupperware, putting an even amount in all the tupperware. I got five but probably could have just as easily had four.
  5. Sprinkle cheese and green onions on top and refrigerate until ready to consume.
  6. Microwave until cheese is melted and mixture is hot. Enjoy!


I am assuming that, like me, you have at least one cupboard that is full of odds and ends. You know. You bought a bunch of pecans for a recipe but then didn’t quite use them all, but you don’t want to throw the extra pecans away because pecans are delicious, but there’s too little of them to really use in a recipe. It’s like, a handful. Or the half-empty container of dried apricots that you used once and then forgot about because Oreos are tastier than dried fruit. Sorry, dried apricots. I love you, I do, I just love Oreos more. Solution? Cupboard dump granola bars! I literally stood on my little stepstool (because I’m a garden gnome) and pulled everything out of my cupboard that I thought would be delicious in a granola bar: pecans, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, dried apricots, dates, whatever I had lingering forlornly in the dark corners. Here’s what I ended up with:

No Bake Granola Bars

  • Servings: 8 bars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1/4 cup peanut or almond butter
  • 1/4 honey (or maple or agave syrup, for the vegans)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup nuts
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit of your choice


  1. Process the dates for about a minute. They should form a doughy ball.
  2. Put the dates, oats, nuts, and fruit in a big mixing bowl.
  3. Heat the peanut butter and honey for about thirty seconds together in the microwave. Basically just until warm.
  4. Mix it all together. It should be delightfully sticky.
  5. Somehow, wrangle it into an 8 X 8″ pan. The website I got this recipe from recommended putting parchment or clingwrap in the pan to help it not stick.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 15-20 minutes, then cut into regular pieces.

Oh, and I made my own peanut butter from Alton Brown’s Homemade Peanut Butter and Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked-Up Banana Bread. Yummmmmmm. And I made my own Quick and Dirty Brownies with Hersey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder. Oh man are they good! Excuse me while I go eat myself into a coma.



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