By Kristin Yancy
In Spain, it is not uncommon to take a long lunch. Traditionally, Spanish businesses close for lunch, the largest meal of the day, which often involves several courses followed by a siesta (a nap or rest), before returning to work. This time is regarded as a special opportunity for a break in the daily activities in order to enjoy the company of family or friends over a leisurely midday meal.
…Unfortunately for us, this is the United States of America, and the notion of a lunch break is rapidly disappearing. For those who work a full time day job, it is not unusual to skip the lunch break altogether, eating at a desk while continuing work or quickly taking advantage of an on-site office pantry. For freelance dancers, the idea of eating lunch at the same time daily can be almost comical, with breaks in the day coming sporadically, if at all. So if you’re eating on the run, how does health play into your daily diet?
Sure, it is admittedly much easier for us to duck into a cafe on the street when looking for a quick bite- but the often healthier and more cost-effective choice is to make our lunches. Our own school days may be over, but as long as those classic brown paper bags still exist (and they do), you can bet that someone out there is bringing their lunch. Why not make it you? With a little help from Women’s Health Magazine and The Huffington Post, we’ve assembled 5 minimal-cooking-required, easy-assembly recipes that will have you saving money, eating healthfully, and still looking forward to lunch.
1.) Italian BLT
What You Will Need: 2 Teaspoons Reduced Fat Pesto; 1 Whole Wheat Sandwich Flatbread, Split; 1/4 Cup Arugula (can be subbed with Mixed Greens or Raw Spinach); 1/2 Vine Ripened Tomato; 3 Slices Cooked Turkey Bacon; 1 Carrot, Cut Into Sticks
What To Do: Spread the pesto on one side of the bread. On the other side, add the arugula, tomato, and bacon. Close the sandwich, cut in half, and serve with the carrot sticks on the side. ~334 Calories
2.) Roast Beef and Horseradish Wrap
What You Will Need: 2 Teaspoons Light Mayo; 1/2 Teaspoon Prepared Horseradish; 1 Whole Wheat Tortilla; 1 Large Romaine Lettuce Leaf; 3 Slices Lean Roast Beef; 1/4 Cup Chopped Tomato
What to Do: Mix the mayo and the horseradish in a small bowl and spread onto one side of the tortilla. Place the lettuce leaf in the center of the tortilla and add the roast beef slices and tomato on top. Fold the outer edges and roll. ~194 Calories
3.) Caesar Salmon Wrap
What You Will Need: 1 Whole Wheat Pita or Tortilla; 1 5oz. Can of Salmon; 2 Tbsp Light Caesar Dressing; 1 Tbsp Grated Parmesan Cheese; 1 Handful Spinach
What To Do: Spread the Caesar Dressing onto one half of the pita or tortilla. Layer spinach and salmon and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. ~364 Calories
4.) Sprout And Spinach Salad
What You Will Need: 2 Cups Baby Spinach; 1/2 Avocado; 1 Handful Alfalfa Sprouts; 1/2 Orange Bell Pepper; 1/2 Carrot; 2 Tbsp Hummus; 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
What To Do: Dice the avocado and the bell pepper. Mix spinach, sprouts, avocado, and bell pepper in a bowl. Grate the carrot on top. For the dressing, mix the hummus and olive oil. ~381 Calories
(Need more protein? Add half of a sliced, grilled chicken breast for only 100 extra calories.)
5.) Sweet Potato and Shitake Mushroom Salad
What You Will Need: 1 Cooked Sweet Potato (tip: toss it in the microwave while you assemble the additional ingredients); 1 Cup Spinach; 4 Shitake Mushrooms; 1/4 Cup Feta Cheese; 2 Slices Tomato; 1 Tbsp Olive Oil; 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard; 1 Squeeze Lemon Juice
What To Do: Slice the mushrooms and the cooked sweet potato. Half the tomato slices. Mix spinach, sweet potato, mushrooms, tomato, and squeeze the lemon juice over the ingredients. Add the feta. For the dressing, mix the olive oil and the Dijon mustard. ~370 Calories
**Many of the ingredients in these recipes can be subbed for one another, so if you want to pare down your grocery list, try mixing it up! Have the Italian BLT in a wrap or the Horseradish and Roast Beef on the whole wheat flatbread. Use that big ‘ol bag of spinach anytime you’re adding greens, or combine it with mushrooms, tomatoes, bell pepper, and feta in a veggie wrap. Got some extra time? Throw the wrap on the grill! The recipes above are just suggestions to jumpstart your lunch making, but a little creativity with the right set of ingredients will go a long way for making healthy eating fun and easy.