Sack It Up

It’s smart to be a brown bagger.  When you pack your lunch, you control what you eat, plus, eating out quickly racks up costs and calories. Even seemingly healthful restaurant meals, say choosing a salad or a even a sandwich can be nutritional disasters!  With supersized portions and mystery ingredients factored in, the calorie counts for a simple meal goes from yum to “ummmm-what was I thinking?!”  With a little planning, it’s easy to transform leftovers into healthy and affordable lunches.  Go ahead and make an extra chicken breast or saute some additional shrimp for your lunch the next day.  Or, you can simply make more of your actual dinner meal for the next day.  That is exactly what I did with this recipe- a perfect week night meal, easy and quick, and a great meal for lunch the next day.  I often get ’sandwich-ed out’ when I’m packing my lunch.  The usual for me is a ham or turkey on oatmeal grain bread, cottage cheese or yogurt, some kind of fruit and a Diet Coke.  I love it-BUT it can get old.  So when I mix it up with something different, it makes it fun.  Plus, saves me some calories!!  A similar chicken quesadilla meal from a popular restaurant can cost me about 1,550 calories and 102 grams of fat.  Not to mention about 3,220 mg sodium!  I’ll take my brown bag instead :)

Cheesy Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large red onion, chopped
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cooked, chopped, skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 (9-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas (Medium Size tortillas)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream


Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook until the mushroom water is evaporated and they begin to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken, cumin, chili powder and stir until all spices are incorporated. Add spinach, salt and pepper and cook until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Lay 1 tortilla on a flat work surface and sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Spoon 1/2 chicken and vegetable mixture on top of cheese, then top with an additional 1/4 cup cheese. Top with another flour tortilla. Heat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium heat. Carefully place 1 quesadilla in pan and cook 3 minutes. Using a large spatula, gently flip quesadilla and cook an additional 3 minutes until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Repeat with second quesadilla. Slice each quesadilla into quarters.

Nutritional Information
Makes 4 Servings
(2 quesadilla pieces, 2 tbsp salsa, 1 tbsp sour cream)
Calories: 440
Fat: 16g
Protein: 23g
Carbohydrates: 46g
Fiber: 8g


  1. Yum! Those sound awesome!

  2. My Sensei says:

    that does sound awesome – and super easy to whip up!! i try my hardest to brown bag it at least 4 times a week, need a little break once in a while to get out and get some fresh air.

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