Whilst many of us have already returned from our summer holidays, there’s no reason not to hang onto that summer feeling for as long as possible. And this includes keeping a holiday-theme going in our lunchtime menus.
By planning your ‘back-to-work’ lunches so that you’re never without something nourishing and energising during the day, it can really help banish the post-holiday blues.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her top lunch-box tips to keep you in the summertime mood!
Thoughts of the Mediterranean
Packing up a chicken salad with a Mediterranean theme doesn’t need to take long in the morning. As with everything, it’s all about planning. If you roast a large enough chicken on a Sunday, then you’ll have plenty left-over for your Mediterranean chicken salad on a Monday and beyond.
Simply slice the chicken, then add some spinach leaves, chopped spring onions, baby tomatoes and chopped red cabbage with some French dressing drizzled over, and you have your lunch right there.
It’s especially important to have enough protein at lunchtime in order to avoid the 3pm slump, which chicken more than delivers. Additionally, spinach is rich in energising iron and tomatoes are packed with vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene, to help protect the body from the upcoming ‘bug’ season.
There are lots of reason to love Spain and one of them is the Spanish omelette. It’s a great option to make the night before and it also serves as a satisfying dinner. Plus, eggs are one of the best sources of protein, as they contain all the essential amino acids.
Traditional Spanish omelette is so easy to make; it needs chopped potatoes and onion lightly fried until soft, with beaten egg cooked until the mixture is completely ‘set’. You can also add tomatoes and parsley for extra flavour and nutrition. Throw in a few salad leaves as well and this is an excellent lunchtime re-fuel that will keep you going all afternoon.
Wraps are some of the quickest and easiest packed lunch choices. Plus, if you fill them right, you’ll be serving yourself some nutritional powerhouses.
Great fillings are:
Beetroot (in season right now and a nutritional powerhouse), with feta (excellent low, fat protein), and a choice of crunchy leaves.
Avocado (a great source of skin-loving vitamin E), hummus (vegetable protein) and cucumber
Tuna, which provides low-fat protein, sweetcorn and energising spinach
All are nutrient-packed and delicious; just remember to use wholemeal wraps which are rich in B-vitamins and will also help keep energy levels sustained through the rest of the day.
Cooked egg noodles can be eaten hot or cold and can simply be put into a lunchbox with whatever happens to be in your store cupboard. The great thing about egg noodles is that they’re light so won’t make you feel heavy and bloated later in the day.
Why not add some tinned wild salmon, grated ginger, soy sauce, red peppers and spring onions to keep thoughts of sunshine not too far away? You will have created a perfectly balanced lunch-time meal, full of protein and immune-boosting vitamin C.
A Mexican theme
Talk of beans and thoughts often turn to Mexico; beans are one of Mexico’s staple foods. They’re also one of the best sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans, as well as for meat eaters. Even better, they’re easy to put into a lunchbox.
Simply use a tin of black beans and add some feta cheese, spring onion, chopped tomato and avocado. You can then choose how much ‘heat’ you want to add. This dish is always delicious using chopped coriander and parsley, but you can also add some cumin, for a real Mexican feel.
There will certainly be enough here to last for a couple of days, and you’ll feel completely satiated until dinner time.
So keep that holiday feeling alive in your lunchbox for as long as you can – you’ll also be benefitting from some great nutritional choices too!
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