During the four and a bit years I have been working in a 9-5 role (well, 8-4 mainly but you get the idea) what I eat for lunch has changed dramatically. When I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed university graduate, I made a lot of less-than-ideal choices (read: rubbish) about what I put in my mouth (mind. gutter. get out). Combine that with adjusting to sitting at a desk for eight hours per day and I quickly became tired, bloated and run down. You know that colleague who catches every cold and drives you crazy with their sniffing and coughing? That was me.
You know that colleague who catches every cold and drives you crazy with their sniffing and coughing? That was me.
I realised after a few months, and after reading The China Study, that something had to change. I switched to a vegetarian diet and began seriously trying to find out what on Earth I should really be eating!
Since then, I have set myself the challenge of finding the perfect work lunch. My lunch varies dramatically between Summer and Winter; in the warmer months, I make a lot of salads. A lot. In the cooler months, I favour warm protein and carbohydrate combinations. The only real constant is avocado because it is, well, amazing. OK, without further ado, I introduce my two favourite quick and easy Winter lunch options (da, da, da, da-rum roll please):
The Choose Your Own Adventure Burger
This meal’s brilliance lies in the fact that you can make it with just about anything. Need to use up that Portobello mushroom? No problem. Got a hankering for some grilled eggplant? Got it covered. Feel like you really should defrost that chickpea or grass-fed beef paddy that has been hiding in your freezer for months? This is the opportunity you have been waiting for.
Just grab whatever salad stuff you have in the fridge (I used avocado, cucumber, tomato and baby spinach in the burger pictured), some cheese if you so desire (haloumi is great if you have it but any cheese will work), your burger paddy and some bread.
When lunch hour rolls around, grill your paddy in a sandwich press, toast your bread, chop up your salad and then assemble your burger. Done.
Oh, I almost forgot: if you have an egg and some silicone egg rings like these you can fry up an egg on the sandwich press. Just remember to leave the top of the press open.
The Egg and Quinoa Muggin (like muffin but with g’s, geddit?)
This gem came from wellness blogger and creator of the hugely successful I Quit Sugar program, Sarah Wilson. It is one of those ideas that is so simple, when you find out about it, you can’t quite believe you didn’t think of it yourself… or maybe you did think of it yourself. In which case, go you!
Just throw some frozen peas and spinach into a mug and put a couple of un-cracked raw eggs on top (I wrapped mine together in cling-wrap to stop them rattling around and breaking). When you are ready to eat, crack the eggs into the cup and whisk everything up then pop it in the microwave for two minutes.
I like to mix things up a bit some days, as well as add an extra punch of protein, by lining the base of the mug with pre-cooked quinoa. I do this the night before so all I have to do in the morning is put in the peas, spinach and eggs.
Another technique that I employ to make sure I always have access to healthy food, even if I’m super busy, is to take a couple of containers of homemade soup to the office and keep them in the freezer. I also always have a couple of tins of organic baked beans in my drawer and some frozen peas in the freezer. I mix the peas in with the beans before microwaving them, and I serve them on toast (I also keep bread in the freezer). While baked beans aren’t something I like to eat often, due to their high sugar content, they stop me from heading to the food court when I’m on the hunt for lunch.
It’s all about finding a few key ingredients that are easily transportable, then just experiment to find out what works for you!