Lunch can be the most difficult meal of the day when you’re working and trying to stay healthy. No matter where your workplace is, the options surrounding you to buy food are likely to be unhealthy. At best, you can get yourself a pre-packaged salad and hope that the dressing isn’t loaded with sugar and fat.
However, making a healthy meal you can bring from home is just as difficult. Nobody wants to eat the same salad day in, day out, but it can be hard to think of a good, healthy meal you can make ahead of time. Luckily, we’re here to help with two great recipe ideas for you to try out.
You can make these as written, or customize them to better fit with your personal tastes; it’s up to you. But you should definitely try them out as healthy and delicious alternatives to a shop-bought sandwich.
Although you can wrap basically anything in lettuce, the concept is traditionally part of Southeast Asian cuisine so we’ve provided a recipe to match. You could make it with shiitake mushrooms for a vegetarian option, or use lean ground beef and replace the sauce with a spicy tomato option for a more Mexican feel.
- 1½ teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ inch piece of root ginger
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ teaspoon cornflour
- 100-125g lean ground chicken
- 15g raw cashews or peanuts
- 1 spring onion
- 1 small carrot
- 4 lettuce leaves – little gem lettuce is probably the best choice for this
First, prepare the sauce. Heat half a teaspoon of the sesame oil in a small pan, then peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger, and gently fry them for about two minutes. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice and honey to the pan and mix well. In a separate bowl, add about ½ a teaspoon of water to the cornflour and stir it together, then combine with the ingredients in the pan and remove from the heat.
Next, finely chop the nuts and slice the spring onions. In a new pan, heat the remaining sesame oil and add the chicken. Stir it occasionally until it has cooked through and is starting to brown, then add about three-quarters of the nuts to the pan. After about two minutes of cooking, add the sauce and mix everything together. Cook it together for another two minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the spring onions.
Divide the chicken mixture between the four lettuce leaves, then top with the remaining nuts. Thinly slice the carrot into matchsticks and add these to the top of the wraps for a bit of extra crunch.
The four wraps will probably make two days’ lunches. Put them in an airtight container and refrigerate them until you are ready to tuck in.
Despite the name, we’re not presenting you with an Asian recipe for this one; a Buddha bowl just refers to a meal made up of a mix of healthy grains, fats and proteins, along with plenty of vegetables and greens. This one has a gorgeous Mediterranean flavour to it.
- 400g can of chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 80-90g quinoa
- 250ml water or vegetable stock
- 1 head romaine lettuce, cored and chopped
- ½ cucumber, chopped
- 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 yellow or orange pepper, diced
- About 75g pitted olives
- 60-70g reduced-fat humus
This recipe creates two servings, and the only bits that need cooking beforehand are the quinoa and the chickpeas. You could bring the ingredients to work and assemble everything there, creating one bowl for that day’s lunch and one for the next.
First, pre-heat your oven to around 175 degrees Celsius and line a tray with baking paper. Drain the can of chickpeas, rinse them and dry them on paper towels, discarding any skins that come off. Add the oil, dried herbs, salt and pepper to the chickpeas and mix well so they’re coated.
Spread them out on the tray in a single layer, and add to the oven. Bake them for 15 minutes, then stir them around and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. They should be hard and crispy at this stage, so take them out and leave them to cool.
For the quinoa, all you need to do is put it in a bowl with the water or stock, cover it and microwave it on full power for about four minutes. Take it out and stir it, then microwave for another two minutes. Let it stand for another minute before taking it out and leaving to cool.
To assemble, place a layer of the lettuce on the bottom of each bowl. Around the outside of each bowl, arrange sections of cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, olives, quinoa and roasted chickpeas. In the middle of each bowl, add a portion of humus. It’s ready to eat, or to save for the next day.