FOOD & FITNESS / JUL. 22, 2015
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Top 10 5-Minute Lunch Ideas

The lunch break has unfortunately become a thing of the past as more and more of us are forgoing the traditional hour-long meal and are scarfing down a sandwich at our desks or skipping lunch altogether. But you are doing your health a disservice if you don’t eat lunch. It ensures that you can pay attention during the rest of the afternoon and it keeps your blood sugar steady. If you typically don’t eat this meal because you want to lose that last couple of pounds, that will just make you stuff your face later, so it’s not a good strategy. Are you too swamped at work to even think about packing a lunch or even running down to the latest take-out joint for a soggy sandwich? With these top 10 5-minute lunch ideas, you can prep healthy meals at home and you will never go hungry again.

See Also: How to Deal With Post-Lunch Slump

1. Get On Board With The Avocado Toast Trend

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Smearing avocado on some bread has become a super popular trend. And for good reason. It’s simple and quick and filling, thanks to the healthful fats in an avocado and the whole grain toast that you should use instead of white bread. It’s also a great work lunch since the ingredients are portable and you can even keep the components in your office kitchen and fridge so you can make the toast every day.

The base ingredients are just a slice of whole-grain bread and an avocado, but you can do so much more, so get as creative as you want. Add black beans or chopped up chicken for protein to keep you focused all day long. Add black pepper or red pepper flakes or even hot sauce if you like your food with a little kick. You can even add almond butter and strawberries for a creamy and sweet toast. Try a new combination every day of the week and you will not only be able to make lunch in 5 minutes flat but you will never get a boring take-out sandwich ever again.

2. Make A Chickpea Salad

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Chickpeas aren’t just the primary ingredient in hummus, which you probably enjoy as an afternoon snack with some crackers or carrots. They make a great quick lunch since you can enjoy them raw. Chickpeas pack a protein and fiber punch which are the two necessary components for staying full.

All you need to do is open a can of chickpeas and mix them with some veggies (try chopped carrots, celery and red pepper) and the dressing of your choice. Enjoy with whole-grain crackers or a piece of whole wheat bread. That’s it. You can mix everything together in a few minutes at night before you got to bed or before you leave the house in the morning.

3. Go Mexican With Black Bean Tacos

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Bring a can of black beans, a package of corn tortillas, some shredded cheese and any vegetables you wish and you’ve got the makings of a quick and healthy, not to mention super tasty, lunch. Black beans have the fiber content and protein of other beans but they also have tons of iron which we all need in our diet, particularly if we’re vegetarian and can’t get it from meat.

Compose your tacos and stick them in the office microwave so the beans get all warm and mushy and the cheese melts over everything. You won’t need to heat them for more than a few minutes. You will wonder why you stuck to sandwiches for so long when tacos are just as easy.

4. Stir Together A 5-Minute Tomato Sauce

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Tomato sauce is something that needs to simmer all day long on the stove, right? Not so fast. You cheat and make a super-fast tomato sauce that you can enjoy on leftover grains of pasta for your work lunches all week long.

If you simmer some cherry tomatoes in a pot with olive oil and spices like oregano and basil, you’ve got a version of tomato sauce that will work well. Use any leftover quinoa or millet if you want to benefit from their whole grains. Millet may be a new one for you but it’s a good idea to include it in your healthy diet: it can make sure you don’t get cancer or diabetes, and is good for your heart. To boost the protein content of your quick sauce, pick up a package of already made lentils at the supermarket and heat them up for 2 minutes in the microwave.

5. Open A Can of Tuna

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Tuna is a tricky thing when it comes to the office because, well, it smells. But if you find a version that’s in olive oil it might not stink as much as you expect, and you’re consuming that heart-healthy olive oil which is always a good thing.

Forget the typical mayo and mix the tuna with avocado to get some healthy fats into your lunch routine. You can enjoy in a traditional sandwich, over whole wheat pasta, or even over quinoa. It’s all about using your leftover pasta and grains to your advantage and making sure to turn them into healthy, 5-minute lunches.

6. Wrap It Up

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Sandwiches get old fast, but wraps are a great way of keeping lunchtime interesting and eating something that’s basically a sandwich.

You can find lots of wrap flavors at your local supermarket, from spinach to sundried tomato to traditional whole-wheat. Pick the wrap of your choice and try a new combination from Monday to Friday. To make things super-fast and easy, simply wrap up last night’s leftovers in a wrap. Even chili can work in a lunch-hour wrap if it’s not too watery. Other good choices are leftover salmon or, of course, chicken.

7. Make A Lunchtime Smoothie

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Smoothies don’t need to only be for breakfast. Make a smoothie at noon with some protein powder and you’re guaranteed to be full for hours on end, making getting through the afternoon with enough energy a total breeze. Smart protein powder choices include brown rice protein, pea or whey (if you tolerate dairy). You can also use hemp seed protein powder.

You might want to add some greens into your smoothie since you’re not enjoying it first thing, and it’s a good way to drink your veggies if you’re a vegetable hater. Spinach blends easily and is less offensive than kale which can be very bitter. Add a banana and some nut butter to sweeten things up, and add a cup of milk to boost the calcium and protein and make things blend super easily. You can buy a cheap and small portable blender so you can just bring your smoothie ingredients and whip it up in the office kitchen, or make it the night before and just transport it to work. It’s your choice.

8. Indulge In A Childhood Favourite

peanut butter and jelly sandwich
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You know which one. The old peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Who says you can’t still eat it now that you’re an adult with a full-time job? There is no faster sandwich to put together. Since you’re all grown up now you might want to go beyond peanut butter and try some cashew butter for the same filling protein and healthy fats but for something a bit different. You also might want to find a brand of jam without any sugar added to make sure your blood sugar doesn’t spike, leaving you with a crash later on that will leave you reaching for a chocolate bar. You can even add some chopped pecans or walnuts for some added interest and texture.

9. Warm Up With Slow Cooker Oatmeal

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Oatmeal can be enjoyed any time of day, and if you make it in the slow cooker before you go to sleep, it’s super simple to bring for lunch.

Just add 2 cups rolled oats to your slow cooker with some milk (canned coconut milk and almond milk are good choices to make sure it gets all thick and creamy). Set it on low for 8 hours. When you wake up, simply put it in a container and bring to work. Add any toppings you desire to boost the protein, fiber and nutritional content. Nuts, fruit, nut butter and chia seeds are all great choices. It takes about one minute to top your oatmeal. Breakfast for dinner is popular so why not enjoy breakfast for lunch?

10. Eat Last Night's Leftovers

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There is literally nothing simpler than putting some leftovers in a tupperware container and bringing it to work to heat up in the office kitchen’s microwave. It won’t even take five minutes. Good choices are chili, baked pasta or chicken curry.

See Also: How to Make Cheap Healthy Lunches

Do you usually skip lunch? Are you sick of your same old chicken sandwich? With these top 10 5-minute lunch ideas, you can eat a variety of foods for lunch and it won’t take long at all. You need lunch to keep your energy levels high and to ensure you can concentrate all afternoon long. These ideas are all filled with healthy protein and carbs to ensure you get what you need so you can focus on what’s truly important: your career.

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