January 07, 2016

We are all guilty of getting stuck in the 'lunchtime routine rut' at some point. Whether it be mindlessly trudging out the office to the usual bakery for comfort and solitude, or repeating the same basic recipes we can muster with our eyes closed using on-hand staple ingredients we know will be in the cupboard.

This article aims to awaken and inspire, with delicious, healthy lunch ideas that are practical and 'doable.'

This article seeks to awaken and inspire, with delicious, healthy lunch ideas that are practical and 'doable.' Included are a couple of recipes which no one can plausibly be excused from trying, while at the same time make some suggestions for you to run with, let's get cracking...

Dieting, Healthy Eating & Lunch

A healthy lunch is an important part of any diet, whether you're trying to loose weight or you are just trying to achieve a balanced and nutritious overall diet (which is the best way to diet by the way). The reason why we have lunch is so the body can receive nutrients over the whole day, three main meals and light snacks & fruit in-between. It goes without saying that when we skip lunch, we may be starving the body for periods of time, and this can lead to binge or overeating later in the day.

By definition a balanced intake of food spread at appropriate intervals during the day, is integral to a holistic balanced diet. Part of enjoying a healthy lunch is planning most of us are guilty of just feeling the hunger pains and then trying to think which sandwich shop or bakery we will hit when the time comes. There are obvious pitfalls with this haphazard method of organising one of our main meals.

But this article wasn't written to tell us what we already know, it was conceived to give practical healthy lunch ideas that can inspire and help motivate towards thinking about planning a healthy lunch as part of an overall balanced diet.

Healthy Lunch Ideas :: The Food

Our healthy lunch ideas are based around delicious easy, available and generally convenient meals, which will provide you with a nutritious balanced diet. There are an infinite number of delicious lunches that can be created, these are just the tip of the iceberg, with which we intend to inspire you.

Of course, it's not always possible or practical to bring food from home to work, but when it is it's highly recommended to do it. Purchased sandwiches and ready meals are high in salt, sugar, calories and fat. If you buy your lunches in every day it's going to make it harder to maintain a balanced diet throughout the day.

Home made foods are not only better for us nutritionally, but they are also cheaper that the ready made alternative.

A couple of disappointing facts are that on average as a nation we only take an average of 20 minutes a day for lunch, and 50% of us will scoff that while sat at our desks, without even stretching our legs.

Health Lunch Ideas

It can be safely assumed that all our wraps and bread don't use butter or margarine, some people like to use olive oil as a replacement which is fine, but beware that olive oil come with calories. In our recipes, we don't use anything. Here are a few to get you rolling.

Couscous with fresh herbs and roasted vegetables

Couscous is a great filler, it's robust and easy to cook. In with the cooked couscous roughly chop roasted vegetables (use seasonal vegetables) and mix, add some avocado, nuts, beans and bean sprouts for texture.

Mixed tuna salad

The beauty of this dish is that is can be deconstructed and quickly thrown together to make a fresh, wholesome meal. Use a variety of salad leaves to provide texture and depth of flavour, baby spinach, rocket and watercress all play well together along with a few basil leaves, throw in some roughly cut pepper and red onion.

For the dressing use a base of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper. The dressing can be sweetened by adding a drop of honey. Alternatively, you try adding dijon mustard or lime (lemon) juice to taste.

Spicy Chicken Wrap

No lunchtime menu could consider itself complete unless there is a spicy chicken wrap on it. This one incorporates grilled vegetables, and involves some night before prep; so be prepared! Roughly cut courgettes, peppers and mushrooms into similar sized chunks, dust with paprika and chilli then lightly coat with extra virgin olive oil.

Then grill the veg until soft do the same with chicken until it's cooked the night before. In the morning pack the chicken and veg into a sealed container and wrap the tortillas in tin foil. Construct at work and be the envy of the office.

Cup-a-Omelet

This one will get the chins wagging. Prepare the night before 1 large egg and 1 egg white, place in a sealed container, grate some cheese and add a diced pepper a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Make sure you have a microwave proof cup or bowl that has been coated with a light non-stick grease.

Mix all the ingredients together except for the cheese and microwave for 1 minute, stir and microwave again until the eggs are cooked through, sprinkle the cheese on top to finish.

Chicken & mushroom on a spicy tomato sauce.

You going to be the envy of the pierced lid ready meal brigade with this one, easily prepared in minutes, in the very modest of kitchens. The night before cut the chicken into evenly sized pieces along with a few mushrooms, a chopped tomato & tomato puree, some spring onions, garlic and season using salt pepper and Worcestershire sauce and cook the pasta and keep separately.

Keep the chicken cubes, spring onions, garlic and salt in a separate microwavable bowl, cover and cook on full power for 4 minutes, then add the mushrooms, chopped tomato, tomato puree, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, cook for a further 4 minutes. While this is cooking blanch the pasta with boiling water from the kettle and add to a plate, place the chicken & mushroom sauce on top and enjoy. Cooking times will vary according to individual circumstances.

Healthy Lunch Ideas :: The Planning

The secret to having healthy lunches is planning, as boring as it sounds. Unfortunately, there isn't a magic wand which can be waved or a single secret formula that can be brewed. But if you plan your lunch breaks then you have more chance of eating what you intend to eat; something healthy and nutritious.

Mostly, the day is started with good intentions, but then that extra workload gets piled on us, or we can't take lunch exactly when we usually do. So, because of these unforeseen circumstances there is a certain amount of justification to take the easy option, just pop to the bakers because it will only take 5 minutes.

Having a healthy lunch ideas plan isn't just about packing a sandwich from home, or knowing which group of friends to meet at which sandwich shop and when! It's about being prepared, yes, bring that special sandwich from home or planning to meet friends in a regular restaurant. But also having a back up plan, if you get rushed into a meeting, or separated from your sandwich, what will yo do? Is their a nutritious snack in your brief case or tool box that will see you through without getting over hungry?

Super Foods Are The Perfect Nutritious Snack

Their are many super foods that make a convenient snack, that provide fulfilling nutrition. Chia seeds can be stored for months, if not years without spoiling, they can be left in the glove box of the car or the pocket of a briefcase, likewise with goji berries and a whole range of dried fruits. Beware dried fruits might not store quite as well as chia seeds.

Having a convenient snack which can be stored for long periods is a good way to fill in gaps when unexpected commitments or circumstances arise that stop you from maintaining your normal day to day lunch time routine. Try experimenting with different super foods as well nuts and dried fruits.

To research different places that maybe nearby your office or place of work can help, don't just look for bakers or sandwich shops, try looking for fresh Asian markets or organic shops. Asia markets or any other market for that matter are great places to go and escape for a short time, not just because of the fresh fruits and other snacks that are available, but to people watch and take in the different smells and bright colours; lunch breaks are about more than just eating, change your surroundings for a few minutes, a different perspective can benefit your work as well as your sanity...


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