Sunday, June 9, 2013

5 Healthy Office Lunches That Aren't Salad

I eat a lot of salad, especially for lunch when I'm at work. Salad is one of those foods that lack definition, so I feel like I can always change it up and it's never boring. Today I'll add cheese. Tomorrow? Lentils. And it is with a very heavy heart that I recognize a lot of people hate salad. The stereotype that salads are unsatisfying and not filling enough just kills me.

But I get it. And everyone should have some inventive ideas for healthy alternatives for brow-bag lunches to bring to work. Here are a few of my favorites that travel well, are easy to eat, don't make a mess, and still manage to be extremely healthy.
  1. Egg and jalapeño sandwich. Americans notoriously overlook eggs as a lunch option. This sandwich is Boyfriend's go-to weekday meal. Every Sunday, he hard-cooks (i.e., "boils" although you'll have much better quality hard-cooked eggs if you simmer them instead; see how to cook a hard-boiled egg) a couple of eggs, which he slices and puts onto seven-grain bread with mayonnaise, fresh baby spinach, and sliced jalapeños. If you can't take the heat, leave off the jalapeños, but know that capcaisin packs plenty of health benefits from having anti-inflammatory properties to delivering a huge punch of vitamin C. Eggs last a few days, so you can make a stack of three sandwiches on Monday and have lunch for more than half the week ready to go in the fridge.
  2. Smoked salmon sandwich. Similar to the above egg sandwich, smoked salmon sandwiches travel well, keep for a few days, taste delicious, and are loaded with good-for-you proteins, fats, and more. I like mine with sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and avocado, which I keep in a second container so the bread stays dry until lunch time. A few sprigs of dill can elevate this sandwich to a much classier level.
  3. Roasted vegetable platter with feta. If you're roasting up some vegetables for dinner, throw in some extra eggplant (aubergine), zucchini (courgettes), summer squash, onions, fennel, green beans, whatever you like. Pack up the leftovers into a plastic container, toss in a hunk of feta cheese and maybe a slice of bread, or leftover grains if you added rice, pearl barley, bulgur, or some other grain to your dinner. Make sure to let the vegetables cool before you pack them so that they don't sweat and drip off excess liquid, which can cause a mess when transporting the lunch. Roasted vegetables also taste lovely on top of a bed of greens (unless, of course, you are really turned off by salad).
  4. Hummus pocket. Grab a pita -- and while I prefer pocketless pita, there's a time and place for pocket pita, and it's here and now. Pop it open and spread a tablespoon or two of hummus, preferably homemade hummus (it's really easy to make) inside. Add other fillings as you like, such as sliced turkey, cucumbers or pickles, tomatoes, hard-cooked egg slices, avocado (see how I keep coming back to a couple of staples?), or roasted red peppers, which is one of my favorites. Pack a side dish of olives or almonds on if you need extra calories and fat to keep you full.
  5. Frittata or quiche. Here's another way to cook eggs so that they last three or so lunches: make a frittata. If you're handy with your baking skills, you could do a full-on quiche. Or keep it simple and whip together a Spanish tortilla. Use five or six eggs, and you'll have two or three lunches. For add-ins, try mushrooms, bacon or diced bacon, sauteed scallions, mixed herbs (parsley, basil, thyme), cheese, or a combination of those.



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