FOOD & FITNESS / MAR. 07, 2014
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Health at Work: Calorie-Conscious Lunches

The dilemma about carrying a home-made and packed lunch to the office is not the decision in itself but rather “what” to carry and “how” to carry it. Not only should the lunch in itself be healthy and wholesome but it should look presentable, smell good and be easy enough to eat in a public lunch room or at your desk.

A home-made lunch does win hands down over its café, cafeteria or street-vendor served counterpart in health, calories and hygiene. So what are the easiest and healthiest lunches to take to office?

It’s a wrap:

The best thing about leftovers is that they make great wrap fillings. Any and all leftover meats, veggies and even that extra-large salad that you couldn’t finish for dinner work pretty well when rolled into a wrap. Just make sure there’s no “gravy” or wetness in filling. For the wrap itself, dig into the freezer for those naans, rotis or tortilla wraps that you bought and are yet to use. In case you’re not the adventurous type, simply take a square bread slice and use a rolling pin (or any long cylindrical object like a bottle) to flatten it into a thinner layer. Put the filling on one of the end and roll up into a wrap, folding in the ends to hold everything in. You can eat this cold, or zap in the microwave or even grill it for a yummy, healthy lunch.

 

A quick-and-easy casserole:

Three- or five-ingredient casseroles work beautifully at lunch – and are equally easy to prepare. For a single serving, take 1/3 cup of raw rice, 2/3 cup of chicken or vegetable stock (you can even use packet soup), a few chopped veggies like mushrooms, carrots and spinach, a tablespoon of cream cheese and your favorite seasonings to taste. Wash the rice and then mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Zap this in the microwave for 14-18 minutes on high, till the rice is cooked and all the liquid has been soaked. Voila – easy lunch that’s healthy and easy to eat from the box. You can also add in cooked and diced chicken or eggs for an added protein fix.

 

A burst of green:

For a veggie treat, simply chop some tomatoes, cucumbers or gherkins, some assorted salad leaves and any fruits you have at hand. Add in a few berries, shred in cheese and throw in a handful of nuts. You can choose to add some luncheon meat, boiled eggs or tofu to add to the protein value. For the dressing, whip a little yoghurt with some salt and seasoning and add in a dash of mustard or Tabasco for a spicy kick. Carry the salad and the dressing separately – at work just mix the two with a fork and dig in. Finish off with a glass of water for a lunch that keeps you full and yet active.

 

Cup-a-soup:

Soups are a great way to avoid any extra calories and yet are filling enough to quell those hunger pangs. Carrying a homemade soup is a tad dicey since even the best of thermos or containers tend to let the liquid cool before lunch. Plus there’s always a chance of a leak or spill. A better way is to carry a ready-to-eat packet soup, or a canned one – whichever way your preference may lie. Packet soups simply need to be stirred in with hot water and there you go – liquid lunch at your disposal.

If you still like the homemade soups, start with chopped and peeled vegetables of your choice – potatoes, tomatoes, gourds, mushrooms, carrots and pumpkin make for great soups. Add in water, salt and seasoning of your choice and then cook till soft and cooked through – ensure there’s enough liquid in the pot at all times. Now cool and puree the lot – don’t strain. To make the soup, put the puree back on the boil and add in some milk, chopped garnish veggies like carrots, cucumber, spring onions and check the seasoning to taste. You can also add in cooked pasta, rice or even sprouts for carbohydrate benefit and chopped sausages for extra zing. There you go – homemade and wholesome soup at your disposal.

 

Bite into fruits:

Non-messy fruits make for a great lunch – you can chop them up in a box or simply chomp on them whole. Apples, pears, bananas, grapes, berries et al make for great and wholesome lunches – and easy to carry and dig in. Melons, pawpaws, mangoes and other such juicy fruits are better pre-cut and packed into a lunchbox for ease of eating.

 

So there you go; five easy and simple lunch ideas that ensure you steer clear of the greasy fare that gives you that belly ache and paunch!

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