In the office, it is easy to munch your way into the next dress size up and you’re left wondering how it’s happened. Christmas is the worst time of year for this. Mince pies, Christmas cake, creamy frothy lattes sprinkled with gingerbread and that’s without factoring in the lunch hour, cheeky snacks and coffee/smoking breaks. Before you’re aware of what’s happened, that beautiful works party outfit you bought in the sale is too tight and you feel... well a little be depressed.
The gym isn’t always an option, especially if you work early and finish late, not even taking into consideration the commuting time. Sometimes, it just isn’t feasible. But do you cut out all the Christmas goodies? HECK NO! It’s Christmas once a year, you’re allowed to have treats, but it’s what you have for meals that will make the difference. If you want the treats and snacks over Christmas, something has to give. It’s time to look at keeping those work lunches ultra light and healthy.
Five ultra yummy and lunches to take to work every day!
#1 Warm Soup
It’s freezing outside, so the last thing you want to eat is salad. We crave stodge and warm foods in winter, but carbs are the devil when it comes to calorie counting. Instead, opt for a warm soup, whether brought in a flask, heated up at work or bought from Pret a Manger or Costa.
Try and stay away from really creamy soups, as they’re loaded in fat and sugar. My favourite is noodle soup from KNORR and at 110 calories for a large serving, you can even afford to have a slice of brown/ granary bread to dip in. Homemade soup is always a winner too, as you know exactly what’s in the soup, because you made it...it’s not hard to make.
My low cal recipe ( 100 cals per serving) for smoky chicken soup is:
smoked chicken sausage
a dash of salt and pepper
1 cup of fennel
- In a large pot heat oil, add leek - 2 minutes.
- Add fennel and mushrooms, until they’re slightly wilted.
- Cut chicken breast into small chunks and cook until mostly white.
- Add sausage and stir.
- Add broth, salt and pepper. Boil for 5 minutes.
- Garnish with parsley and serve.
#2 Pitta or Wraps
If you’re not a soup kind of girl and you really want carbs, then try pitta or wraps. They’re great for cutting carbs and are healthier for you, especially wholemeal. A great lunch for over the festive season is turkey, cranberry and spring onion wraps, with only 267 calories.
Mix together the mayonnaise and pesto. Divide the lettuce leaves, turkey, spring onions and cucumber between the tortillas. Drizzle over the pesto dressing, roll up and eat.
It’s really simple to create and tastes delicious. You won’t even feel like you’re missing out.
#3 Hot Salad
When we hear the word salad, we literally think tasteless lettuce, tomato and cucumber, but salad doesn’t have to be like that. Keeping with the theme of hot foods, try making a filling hot salad, with lots of elements. One of the best hot salads is hot smoked salmon with lentils and pomegranate. 243 calories per serving.
Juice ½ lemon
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 pomegranate, seeds removed
1 tsp clear honey
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
400g can Puy lentils, rinsed and drained
140g hot-smoked salmon
20g pack flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
- Combine the lemon juice, garlic, and honey in a large bowl and season. Toss in the red onion and lentils and set aside to marinate for 10 mins.
- Once cooked, break the salmon into large flakes and fold into the salad with the parsley and pomegranate.
- It’s not for everyone, but it is an alternative to a cold traditional salad.
Now here is a lunch idea that only contains 247 calories and is so filling and tasty that you won’t actually believe you’re healthy eating. The potato, onion, dill and cheese frittata. I told you, it sounds completely unhealthy, so naturally we want it.
2 tbsp olive oil
400g leftover cooked new potatoes, sliced
4 eggs, beaten
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 bunch dill, roughly chopped
25g cheddar, grated
- In a small non-stick frying pan, heat oil over a medium heat. Add potatoes, then fry until beginning to crisp, about 8 mins. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, spring onions, dill and some seasoning. Heat the grill.
- Tip the eggs into frying pan, mix quickly, lower the heat, then sprinkle over cheese. After about 8 mins, once the top side has almost set, pop under the grill for 2-3 mins or until firm and golden.
If you’re making this at work, if you have a little kitchen, eat while hot, but if you don’t make it the night before, chill it and warm up at work in the microwave. It will still taste yummy!
#5 Smoky Beef Stew
Last but certainly not least, the smoky beef stew. This is a lunch idea that you need a lot of prep time, preferably the night before, as the beef does take a while to cook.
1kg stewing beef, cut into large chunks
2 onions, chopped
800g (2 cans) chopped tomatoes
2 tsp each sweet paprika, ground cumin and mild chili powder
2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
400g can butter beans, rinsed and drained
- Heat oven to 160C/ 140C fan/gas 3. Mix the beef, onions, tomatoes, spices, vinegar and sugar in a casserole dish. Cover and bake for 2½ hrs. Stir in the beans and bake for 30 mins more (with the lid off if the casserole is a little wet or lid on if good consistency), until the beef is tender.
- Cool, then freeze in 6-8 portions in small food bags or plastic containers. Defrost in microwave or overnight in fridge, then heat in the morning and transfer to a thermos container, or heat in the microwave at lunchtime.
If you don’t have time in the evening to prepare this, the best way to cook the dish is basically tipping all the ingredients into a slow cooker and have it cook the dish slowly overnight or the day before, while you’re at work. Quick, easy, delicious and only 241 cals. What’s not to like?
There you have it, 5 beautiful dishes you can be proud to eat at lunchtime that contain healthy ingredients and low calories. Now you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging at Christmas, especially with all those calories spare!