10 Ways to Make Your Work Lunch Healthier
10 Ways to Make Your Work Lunch Healthier
We reached out to a couple of our favorite dietary experts, Kristina LaRue, RD, CSSD, and Dr. Michael Fenster, MD, FACC, FSCA&I, PEMBA, a faculty member at The University of Montana College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, for their advice on making work lunches healthier. Fruits, vegetables, and healthy snacks such as something that’s protein-rich or loaded with healthy fatty acids all make an appearance in the following list of ways to make your work lunch more nutritionally sound. Click ahead to see 10 Ways to Make Your Work Lunch Healthier.
Add a Vegetable
“If the office is ordering lunch in, make sure to add a veggie,” LaRue says. “Whether you order a side salad or keep a stash of frozen broccoli in the office freezer to heat up when you need it, don’t skimp on the produce if you’re trying to eat healthier lunches.” If you do wind up ordering delivery, make sure to pick something with plenty of vegetables such as a Kale & Grain Bowl featuring Spicy Avocado & Lime or one of Caviar’s other nutritious deliverables.
Choppin’ Broccoli (and other produce) is the fourth step in our Guide to Meal Prepping.
Blend a Nutritious Smoothie
“Keep a blender at the office for smoothies,” suggests LaRue. “When making a meal smoothie, make sure it has fruit, veggies, protein, and healthy fats.” Adding a protein and some healthy fat to your packed lunch is something we’ve been advocating for months now. Why? It works. LaRue also wants to make sure you get your fruits and vegetables in.
“Try frozen fruit so no ice is required,” she says. “Some of my favorite protein options are kefir, no-sugar-added protein powder, or Greek yogurt. Mix it up with fats by using flax and chia seeds or powdered peanut butter! Toss in frozen spinach or kale for good measure and extra nutrients.”
Bring Your Lunch Instead of Eating Out
There’s no need to go to a restaurant where your food’s integrity is out of your own hands. LaRue suggests bringing lunch instead of lunching out with coworkers or ordering in. “To keep portions in check,” says LaRue, “opt for a healthy frozen meal that has a simple ingredient list and then add a side salad for extra veggies.”
Dare Ye, Dairy?
“A recent meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition confirms the findings of a number of previous, smaller studies. Organically produced milk is nutritionally superior [to its non-organic relatives] in a deliciously fatty way. Organic milk is significantly higher in the heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory omega-3 type [of] polyunsaturated fatty acids (more heart-healthy foods you should be eating here). This is the stuff that people on television and Internet are promoting in their fish oil capsules. Since these are beneficial fats, choosing the tasteless, bland, and indolent low-fat, two percent, and no-fat options misses out on this nutritional powerhouse. To get even more bang for your buck; choose a fermented dairy option like yogurt, kefir, or skyr. Fermented foods bring the benefit of probiotics and prebiotics as well as a deliciously tangy mouthfeel,” Dr. Fenster says.
Curious about what probiotics are and how you can incorporate them into your meals? Click here for What Are Probiotics? And 5 Probiotic-Packed Healthy Recipes.
Frozen Foods for the Win
Frozen foods don’t need to be of the ready-to-eat, full-meal variety. “For a simple meal to have on-hand when you need to pack a lunch quickly, look no further than the freezer aisle,” says LaRue. “There you can find frozen brown rice or quinoa (still not quite sure what quinoa is?), pre-cooked shrimp, and broccoli. Keep these in the freezer and toss into a bowl or storage container and warm up in the microwave! Easy and ready to go when you need it.”
Shrimp sound like summer, and we’re ready for warmer weather. Here are 13 Delicious Shrimp Recipes You’ll Want to Make All Summer Long.
Get Creative With Your Crock-Pot
“Utilize the Crock-Pot (no cream of mushroom soup needed) — toss frozen chicken in the Crock-Pot with spices and cook on low heat for six hours to make a simple shredded chicken that makes for a convenient way to get protein in throughout the day. Shred chicken for chicken salad (click for recipes) or top on fresh salad for a go-to lunch option,” says LaRue.
If you’re stumped on how to use your Crock-Pot, try one of our 101 (yes, that’s one-zero-one, as in one more than 100) Best Slow-Cooker Recipes.
Organic Produce: A Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow
“We are constantly reminded that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables,” says Dr. Fenster. “There is increasing evidence that, at least for some types of fruits and vegetables, organically produced options may pack a more powerful phytochemical punch. The organic carrots that are bursting with the color of a Caribbean sunset appear that way because they are loaded with powerful, flavorful, and helpful compounds like carotenes (a bit more on carotenes and carrots here). It is not because they’ve been spray-tanned with orange dye number two. By some estimates, a serving of organic produce may be the equivalent of two servings of conventionally prepared product.”
Put Meat Back on the Menu
“Another recent meta-analysis also published in the British Journal of Nutrition confirmed what had long been suspected,” says Dr. Fenster. “There is a big difference not only in the flavor, but also the nutritional profile of organically versus industrially processed meats. Organic (often more humanely raised) livestock had an overall 47 percent increase in the beneficial and anti-inflammatory omega-3 type of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Raising the animals in a more natural environment and in a more natural way also affects the location and deposition of different types of fats. The increase in flavor is accompanied by a nutritional profile more akin to wild game.”
Side Salads Increase Nutrient Intake
“Build a nutrient-packed salad and top with your favorite frozen veggie burger for a fast office protein,” says LaRue. Note that LaRue suggests a “nutrient-packed salad” and not any salad that tastes good. You’ll want to make healthy salad choices and avoid diet-wrecking salads like these.
Try Making Soup
LaRue suggests making a batch of broth-based soup (as opposed to a creamy or cheesy one) and use it for a few lunches throughout the week. We suggest boldly experimenting with bone broth, one of the latest healthy eating trends.
“Soups are an excellent way to get lots of veggies and lean proteins into your diet,” she says.