Whether you are working or volunteering outside your home, eating healthy meals can be a challenge, but not mission impossible. Perhaps because you or a loved one came down with a serious illness, which served as a wake-up call, or you decided that prevention is preferable, and are now ready to take the bull by the horn, and take better care of the one body you have! Eating lunch out daily or munching on health-destroying, waist-expanding fare is expensive and counterproductive.
After reading this article make a list of ingredients for easy and quick make-ahead food you can take to work, and portable lunch and snack ideas such as sandwiches, yogurt, fruit, veggie salads etc. Post the list inside a kitchen cabinet door. Before shopping, check your list, pantry, and fridge so you can keep them stocked with a variety of selections.
There are numerous scrumptious and wholesome choices suitable for meals away from home: mouthwatering sandwiches made with quality whole grain bread. Fillings can be hummus, sliced tomato, sweet onion, avocado, and alfalfa sprouts; or low fat mayo, roasted chicken, celery stalk (thinly sliced), dried cranberries, walnuts, and shredded Romaine lettuce, etc. To prevent sandwiches from becoming soggy if the filling is moist, lightly toast the bread first and/or coat with a thin layer of butter. You can also keep the filling in a separate, airtight container, and load up your sandwich just before consuming it. Other food-to-go selections can be:
- Low-fat plain yogurt with or without the addition of fresh or dried fruit pieces, nuts and/or seeds. Commercially added fruit is replete with sugar, artificial colors, flavors and other unhealthy additives.
- A piece of fruit, or cut up raw vegetables and a small cup low fat cottage cheese.
- Make a batch of trail-mix, combining two or more of the following: peanuts, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or dried fruit. Divide into small portions and store in snack bags.
- Rice cake, whole grain bagel or muffin, with pure, additive-free peanut butter. (The peanut butter may contain a small amount of salt, but no other additives).
Cooking larger quantities in advance (for home and work), of simple, quick, and health-promoting dishes, is an excellent option as well. The “leftovers” can then be taken with you. Many work-places offer the use of a refrigerator and microwave, or you can bring your food with an ice pack. Some cooked alternatives are:
- Lentil salad, accompanied by toasted whole grain pita wedges.
- Cook up a pot of full-of-goodness veggie soup or stew, with all fresh vegetables, olive oil, herbs and whole grain pasta. Divide into portions, freeze, and use as needed.
- Brown rice salad.
- Bulgur salad (Tabboule).
- Whole grain pasta salad.
- One hard-cooked egg.
- A slice of home-cooked turkey meatloaf, on whole grain bread and fresh vegetables
- Rotisserie chicken presents a variety of possibilities, such as sandwiches or adding chunks to soups, stews or pasta salad.
- Cook a cupful of dry beans as directed. They can then be added to salads, soups and stews. (Canned beans are dead on arrival, containing little nutritional value).
- Avoid sodas and other junk beverages. (Have you ever heard of anyone with a soda deficiency?) The best means of hydration is water. Our bodies require lots of it – but only a little during or immediately after meals.
Cooking nourishing meals can easily and efficiently be done in advance, on weekends, or while house cleaning, paying bills, or checking your e-mail. Just keep track to prevent your smoke alarm from declaring that your food had been ready… After a couple of weeks of implementing the ideas presented here, these new habits will become automatic. Consistency and determination are the keys to your success! Oh, and while you are busy cooking, turn off that darn cell phone… the little creature in your pocket, bent on gobbling up your time and distracting you.
Doughnuts, pop tarts, sodas, coffee, white bread or chemical-laden processed cereals are health robbers! Before going to work start your day with a nutritious breakfast, and enjoy home-prepared, delish, clean, nutritious food-to-go!
“Mission Nutrition” Tips and Recipe from Judy E. Buss, Health Columnist, Nutritional Cooking Instructor.
Excerpted from Judy E. Buss’ article, first published in the “Feeling Fit” Magazine, Sun Coast Media Group newspapers, Florida.
Stay tuned for more Judy E. Buss’ “Mission Nutrition” words of wisdom and recipes.