Packing a healthy lunch might just be one of life’s greatest first-world challenges – let alone a healthy lunch you actually enjoy. And while it’s not that hard to wack a bunch of healthy ingredients together, it can be incredibly difficult to make sure that when you tuck into that tupperware container at around lunch time, it tastes delicious. And not soggy. And at the same time as getting the rest of the family’s lunch sorted.
We don’t know about you, but we’re always up for more tips and tricks, and healthy lunch ideas for work. So here’s three things you should keep in mind for your meal prep:
1. Make healthy swaps for comfort food
Something warm is always on the cards for pretty much every meal of winter, but it doesn’t have to be laden with carbs, calories, saturated fats, added sugar and/or sodium. Veggies should form a vital part of your meal prep because they are virtually fat-free and help bulk up your daily fibre intake without filling out your waist line.
At least 50% of every meal should consist of fresh fruit or veggies. The remaining 50% should be split evenly between some form of lean protein and a low GI carbohydrate such as pasta or rice. This is not a hard-and-fast rule and depending on various factors including your body type and level of physical activity, fruit and vegetables could take up much more than half of your diet if done right. For example:
- Try replacing creamy soups for vegetable-based soups such as our Cook With Us video recipe for Hearty Vegetable Soup.
- Choose vegetarian proteins for cooking things like slow-cooked meals, as using meat in your recipes can increase the fat content far more than it should. Instead, opt for a vegetarian protein source such as legumes or lentils.
- Replace heavy carbs like pastas and risottos with warm salads, which brings us to our next tip.
2. Jazz up your salads for Winter
Warm salads are a great choice and there are some fabulous vegetables in season during the colder months. Think of ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potato, beetroot and even brussel sprouts. Choose a salad that doesn’t contain ingredients that don’t heat well such as lettuce, cucumber or avocado. Then, whack it in the microwave for a toasty warm yet incredibly nourishing lunch.
3. Eat food for better energy in the afternoon
This is where carbs get useful. If your blood sugar levels get too low, you will start feeling sluggish and peckish for a sugar hit. If you opt for a lunch that has a low GI carbohydrate (i.e. one that takes your body longer to digest and absorb), your blood sugars will be much more stable, thus providing more constant energy throughout the afternoon.
But just as important for combatting that afternoon slump is fibre. This is because:
- Most fibre rich foods require a lot of chewing, thus they taken longer to eat. The longer food is in the mouth, the more time the brain has to realise that we are no longer starving, thus preventing over consumption.
- Fibre rich foods tend to be really low in energy.
- Fibre helps slow digestion thus stabilise blood sugar levels (generally the higher the fibre content of a food the lower the GI). By slowing digestion and keeping our blood sugar levels more stable, we are less likely to seek out an afternoon sugar hit.
When it comes to fibre and providing a natural sugar boost, fresh fruit is your friend! And with so many in-season varieties such as tangelos, apples and bananas that were practically made for on-the-go eating available at Your Local Greengrocer, they’re the perfect substitute for that secret drawer of sugar-loaded snacks you keep going for.
Original article by Mama Mia