Getting through your weekly “to-do” list can be challenging enough, but when you throw figuring out “what’s for lunch” into the mix, you’ve got a whole new set of boxes to tick! With the streets riddled with deep-fried options, you are naturally wired to be attracted to the unhealthy options through what is called “hedonic hunger”. This kind of hunger kicks in to fulfill an energy deficit and drives you to eat for the purpose of pleasure. You can imagine that this would immediately dull the idea of a green salad and just as quickly amplify fantasies of cheeseburgers and greasy sides. But what if your healthy lunch were just as delicious as it was nutritious? Stop your cravings in their tracks with our meal prep ideas. All you’ll need is an hour a week and one of our tasty recipes!
Garlic Zucchini Noodles
Pasta, meet your veggie match! Zucchini noodles have taken the stage as a healthy mealtime alternative. High in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin and protein, this summer squash is also dense in anti-inflammatory properties like beta carotene and vitamin C, placing it in the running for newest “super food”! With an added crunch and so many “good for you” nutrients, skipping carbs has never been so easy. The perfect vessel for a beautiful sauce, try this garlic parmesan iteration on for size.
- 4 medium-sized zucchinis
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup of fresh basil, torn
- 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons of cold water
- Salt and red chili pepper flakes to taste
- ½ tablespoon of Parmesan cheese (optional)
First, get your noodles “up to size”:
- Spiralize or thinly slice your zucchini to roughly the length of a piece of spaghetti.
- In a medium-sized pan, add your olive oil, garlic and chili flakes.
- When things start to heat up, add your zoodles!
- Toss them around your skillet for no more than 6 minutes (any longer and you’ve got mush!) As they loosen up, drop in your tomatoes, basil and cheese.
- Once they’ve softened entirely, remove the noodles from the pan.
- Leave any liquid to simmer.
- In a separate bowl, mix the water and cornstarch.
- Once combined, add to pan.
- Whisk for 1 minute or until mixture thickens to a sauce. Add salt to taste.
- Once ready, pour sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with Parmesan to taste.
- Enjoy immediately!
Recipe adapted from: http://www.inspiredtaste.net/29992/garlic-zucchini-pasta-recipe/
Salad in a jar
Salads have always been a popular lunch food, but as of late, we’ve been skipping the plastic containers and subbing in glass jars. Not only do these recipes give us a huge variety in flavor, but they stay fresh all week, and with a little prep ahead, they’re a quick and easy way to ensure you get the nutrition you need.
The secret to making these a success is the order in which you place your ingredients. The master key? Wet on the bottom, dry on the top! Once you’ve got that principle down, it’s up to you to mix and match ingredients. Layer your choice of dressing, protein, grain/legume, salty/crunchy, sweet/ tangy, greens and voilà your weekday lunches, sorted! Here are a few options:
Spinach, Orzo, Mozzarella and Snap Pea Salad
Star ingredient: Spinach. In 1 cup of raw spinach, your body is receiving 1 g of protein and dietary fibre, 167mg of potassium₁ and 15% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Now THAT’S what we call a “strong foundation”!
- 1 cup of orzo
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped dill, tarragon and chives
- ½ teaspoon of sea salt
- ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup of halved snap peas
- 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella
- 1 cup of spinach
- 4 canning jars with lids
To put them together:
- Cook orzo as per package directions.
- Once cooked, combine lemon zest, juice, oil, salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of dressing in bottom of each jar, to taste.
Now all you’ve got to do is layer your ingredients, wet on the bottom, dry on the top!
Once your jars are complete, screw on lids, pop into fridge and grab as you go!
Recipe adapted from: http://www.earthboundfarm.com/organic-bound/salad-in-a-jar/#.VISuxJPF99k
Star ingredient: Chickpeas. In only 1 cup you get a whopping 15 g of protein and 13 g of fibre, and among the laundry list of nutrients, chickpeas also contain: vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, choline, selenium, iron, B-6 and magnesium.
- 2 tbsp. lemon vinaigrette (juice of one lemon, ½ cup of olive oil, hefty pinch of salt, black pepper combined)
- 1 cup chickpeas
- ½ cup sun-dried or oven-roasted tomatoes
- ¼ cup spring onion, chopped
- ¼ cup red onion, chopped
- ½ cup olives, chopped
- ¼ cup piquillo peppers, chopped
- ½ cup fresh spinach
To put them together:
Once again, simply just layer your ingredients, wet on the bottom, dry on the top!
Recipe adapted from https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-best-new-way-to-bring-your-lunch
A popular take on the Mexican staple, burrito bowls give you all of the filling without the added carbs and sugars of the wrap! Full of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fibre and nutrient-dense veggies, this option makes for easy packing, easy clean-up and an easily delicious and nutritious lunch hour!
Along with 6 containers, you’ll need:
- 4 pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon of chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne
- ½ teaspoon of cumin
- ¼ teaspoon of dried oregano
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of brown rice
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tablespoons of coriander
- sea salt to taste
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 tablespoons of garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons of chopped onion
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 tomato
- ½ jalapeno pepper, diced
Other things you can add:
- ½ cup of black beans
- 2 of your choice colour bell peppers
- ½ cup of corn
- 1 cup of cheddar cheese
- ½ cup of whole milk Greek yogurt
- 2 cups of chopped kale
Directions: For the chicken:
- To begin, place your chicken on a meat-only cutting board. Cover in wax paper, and with a rolling pin, tenderize chicken to desired thickness. Lightly coat each piece of chicken with olive oil. Place all seasonings in a sealed plastic bag, pop in chicken and shake. Put chicken on grill for 3-5 minutes on each side at medium-high temperature. Once cooked all the way through and no pinkness remains, remove chicken from grill and set aside to cool.
Cilantro and Lime Rice
- Cook rice according to directions. Add chopped coriander and lime juice, stir until combined and remove from heat. In a separate pot, put beans in water over high heat. Season with salt and pepper and reduce to low once it has come to a boil. Cook until all water is absorbed. When done, fluff with fork.
- Place all ingredients in a sturdy bowl and mash. Add garlic salt to taste.
To put them together:
- Once all pieces are ready, lay 6 containers across counter. Start with a scoop of rice, top with chicken, beans, cherry tomatoes, peppers, charred corn, cheese, kale, yogurt and guacamole – enjoy!
Recipe adapted from: http://gimmedelicious.com/2017/01/07/meal-prep-chicken-burrito-bowls/
Almond Butter Brown Rice Crispy Treats
2:30 pm should be dubbed the sugar hour. In fact, studies have shown that as we get through the day, our negative impression of junk food subsides, making us more susceptible to a little sweet escape. Your blood sugar drops in the afternoon, making you physically and subconsciously crave foods to bring your energy levels up. Additionally, lack of sleep increases the desire for sugar. Hence, foods with a high glycemic index help you recover energy, but only for a short while. Choose a snack that is low on the glycemic index and high in protein-like these tasty almond butter treats. They’re chock full of protein and low in refined sugar, so they’ll help stabilize your blood sugar and prevent that midday crash. The dark chocolate in this recipe helps give them the perfect balance of sweetness all white providing the benefits of antioxidants.
- 4 cups of sprouted brown rice crisps
- ½ cup of runny almond butter
- ½ cup of brown rice syrup
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- ½ cup dark mini chocolate chips
- a pinch of salt
To begin, line your 9x9” cake pan with wax paper.
- In a large bowl, combine almond butter, rice syrup, vanilla extract and salt.
- Add brown rice crisps gradually and mix until they are all coated generously. Add mini chocolate chips.
- Move mixture into pan. Press and spread evenly.
- Place in freezer for an hour.
- Once solid, use a sharp knife to pop entire piece out of pan and onto a plate. Cut into roughly 9 squares.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and add to packed lunches!
Recipe adapted from http://fitfoodiefinds.com/2016/03/almond-butter-rice-crispy-treats/