Happy September everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing summer and are ready to get back into the swing of things this fall. For many of you, fall means kids going back to school, which means it’s time to start packing lunches again. If the thought of packing lunches stresses you out we’ve got some tips for making healthy and delicious meals that your whole family can enjoy. Even if you aren’t sending kids off to school this fall, making an effort to prepare healthy and delicious lunches for yourself and your family can be a challenge. We hope that with these tips, packing lunches won’t seem like such a daunting task but an activity you will look forward to!
Spice Up Your Sandwiches
Who says sandwiches have to be limited to boring old meat and cheese? Not I! Get creative with a variety of different proteins and toppings. Check out your local butcher to see if they offer high quality, naturally raised, gluten-free lunch meats, or try canned tuna, salmon, or an egg salad. Some of my favourite veggie toppings include shredded carrots, cucumber, diced avocado, and fresh sprouts. The options don’t stop there my friends, thanks to the variety of different gluten-free breads and wraps available you have an endless number of combinations to choose from, WHOO HOO! Lately my favourite bread is something I can get from a local bakery here in Burlington or the classic Udi’s white bread, which seems to be best for those suffering from IBS and digestive upset. I also really love a toasted Glutino English muffin – super delicious for those that are avoiding wheat or gluten. For some inspiration, try my Gluten-Free Veggie Millet-Chia Sandwich (pictured above).
Prevent Soggy Sandwiches
With all of these lovely ingredients you’ve put together, the last thing you want is that masterpiece to turn into a soggy mess by lunchtime. Put tomato and other moist ingredients in the middle of the sandwich surrounded by drier ingredients like lettuce or cheese so that these drier ingredients are touching the bread. You could also consider packing your sandwich ingredients in a separate container and then assemble right before eating. If your sandwich was made warm or grilled before packing, such as a Monte Cristo or Hawaiian Pizza Fingers, then allow it to cool completely before placing in an airtight container. You’ll be surprised at how your sandwich is still crunchy!
Start thinking about your lunch the night before, this way you won’t be left scrambling in the morning without enough time to organize. If you start preparing lunch while you’re cooking dinner, you can save yourself some time (and dishes) by making a little extra – double your roasted chicken or make extra salmon for a salmon salad. By doubling your dinner recipe, you’ll have leftovers for the next day. Or if you aren’t a fan of eating the same meal twice, think of a way to spin it into a second meal or cook extra staple ingredients, like rice or quinoa to use in a cool salad or bowl. Try this roasted vegetable and chicken (or lentil) salad, and check out our tips for using leftovers.
Do you ever find that when you’re trying to eat light, you pack a lunch that’s mostly just veggies and fruit? And then you find that about an hour later your tummy is grumbling for more? While eating lots of fruits and vegetables is wonderful, we need to make sure that we are eating a variety of different foods that will help to keep us satisfied and fuelled for the of the workday.
A balanced lunch should include:
Whole Grains + Protein Source + Vegetables
Whether it’s in the form of a salad, a rice or noodle bowl, or as a bento box-style lunch. Pack a variety of ingredients like whole grain crackers and cheddar cheese, rice cakes with nut butter, Greek yogurt with granola, and veggies and fruit, OR a sandwich or wrap with a side salad. The options are endless! Change it up frequently to avoid getting bored.
Here are just some examples of what a balanced lunch could look like. Experiment to find a combination that you enjoy!
|Quinoa||Toasted Pecans||Spinach & strawberries|
|Brown rice noodles||Cooked chicken||Red pepper & shredded carrots|
|Whole grain crackers||Cheddar cheese||Snow peas & cherry tomatoes|
|Whole wheat wrap||Shaved turkey breast||Avocado (1/8 of a whole is low in FODMAPs), spinach & sprouts|
Cover Your Cravings
If you’re like me and love a little sweetness after a meal, then plan for that! Pack yourself a little sweet treat like some fresh berries, a couple squares of dark chocolate, or a little piece of a homemade treat. By allowing yourself this little treat you can have better control over your cravings. This way you won’t be heading over to the vending machine or local coffee shop for a Boston Cream doughnut shortly after lunch because you feel like you’re missing something.
Another important factor for the best lunch for your digestive health is taking the time to enjoy it! As we talk about in our Top 3 Tips for Healthy Digestion article, eating in a high-stress environment distracts your body from the food you are eating and can result in uncomfortable symptoms such as gas and bloating. I highly recommend moving away from your desk for a period of time to relax and enjoy. Find a quiet staff room, a peaceful picnic table outside, or a calm coffee shop nearby to take a break.
Much love and good lunch eating,
Stephanie and The Team