FOOD & FITNESS / APR. 12, 2014
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How To Make The Best Pasta Lunches For Work

Our work day is packed with decisions, communication, labour and many other elements that require energy. In order for your body to run at an optimal level, you need to eat properly. Buying a lunch everyday can add up and lets face it, most of the options are not healthy ones. Sandwiches and salads are great lunches that you can pack for yourself. With that being said, having the same type of lunch everyday can be boring. As humans, we are all about variety and change. Think outside the box and start packing pasta lunches.

Pasta is convenient, healthy and highly versatile. Here are some of the main reasons that bringing pasta to work is a smart option:

Energy: This is a big one. Pasta is a carbohydrate that is broken down into sugar within the body. Once broken down, carbohydrates produce energy that your body needs to function. Whatever energy your body does not use right away, will be stored. When needed, this stored energy will be accessed. That is why carbohydrates are recommended for athletes. It is a great energy source.

Nutrients: Stay away from white, refined pasta. Choose pasta that is made from whole grains. Not only will your whole grain pasta provide energy, it will provide various nutrients; fibre, vitamins and minerals to name a few.

Allows You To Get Creative: There are so many pasta options, you can create, so many variations. The great thing about the versatility of pasta is the additions you can make to your meal. You can add all kinds of ingredients that your body will happily accept. Add some chicken for protein, or lots of fresh vegetables for their antioxidants and vitamins.

It's Easy: You can make your pasta the night before (it may even be leftovers from the night prior). I make pasta sauce in a large batch and freeze it in individual portions. The sauce is packed with all kinds of vegetables and only takes a couple minutes to thaw out over the stove.

Hot or Cold: You can bring a hot pasta for those cold days (if your work has somewhere to heat your lunch) or make a nice cold pasta salad for those warmer summer days.

The best pasta for you, is whatever you personally enjoy (try and make it healthy). Here are some tips for bringing pasta to work:

Keep your pasta sauce separate until you are about to eat it. This will allow your pasta to keep its integrity and not go soggy. If you are heating it up at work, just toss your sauce onto your pasta before heating.

Let your pasta fully cool before packing it up and putting a lid on it. The steam will cause your pasta to become soggy and possibly not taste great.

Incorporate as many healthy options as possible. Don't be afraid to stick some greens in there. Wilted spinach is great in pasta; think of options you wouldn't normally try. Get creative with it.

If you are opting for a cold option, keep it refrigerated. It's meant to be eaten cold, so find some space in the fridge at work.

Marinated Italian Pasta Salad

Marinated Italian pasta #salad with yell by Photos by Mavis, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Photos by Mavis 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of dry whole grain pasta
  • 1/4 cup of homemade Italian dressing (see below)
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cucumbers
  • 1/8 cup of spring onion (sliced thinly)
  • 1/4 cup of green pepper (diced)
  • Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (fresh)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice (fresh)

Method

  1. For the dressing: combine all ingredients. You can make this the day before, just keep it refrigerated.
  2. Cook your pasta in salted boiling water (8-12 minutes or until al dente). Drain and let cool. 
  3. Once your pasta has cooled, combine it with all other ingredients including your dressing.
  4. Grate some Parmesan cheese on top if you like and season.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.

*Add whatever you like to this recipe; olives, different cheese, spinach, etc. 

Greek Pasta Salad

Greek Pasta Salad by diettogo1, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  diettogo1 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of dried whole grain pasta
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar 
  • 1 medium tomato (chopped)
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup of chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 cup of cucumber (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of feta
  • Sprinkle of fresh oregano (dried is fine as well)
  • 4-5 olives (sliced)
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente (8-12 minutes). When done, drain and allow to cool.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the tomatoes, oil, garlic and vinegar. 
  3. When your pasta has cooled, add the pasta to the tomato/oil mixture. 
  4. Toss in remaining ingredients and gently toss. 
  5. Season with salt and pepper. 

Tomato Mushroom Pasta 

Mmmm by Danielle Scott, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Danielle Scott 

*This dish is meant to be served hot. If you have a place to warm your food at work, this is a fast and easy option.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of dry whole grain pasta
  • 1/2 can of crushed tomatoes 
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 cup of fresh basil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Sprinkle of Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method

  1. Cook your pasta in salted boiling water until al dente (8-12 minutes). Drain and set aside to cool. 
  2. While the pasta is cooking, add your olive oil and onions to a pan (cook for around 8 minutes).
  3. Once the onions begin to turn translucent, add your garlic and mushrooms (cooking for another 6 minutes).
  4. Add your crushed tomatoes and heat through. Add your fresh basil and stir. 
  5. Allow your pasta and sauce to cool before packing your dish up for work. Once cooled, spoon sauce over pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. 

*Add any ingredients that you enjoy. If you have some leftover chicken, add that to your pasta for added protein. 

What are some of your favourite pasta dishes? Do you have any tips for bringing pasta to work? Comment below! 

Photo credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/naotakem/3389276802

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