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Monday, November 30, 2009

New Ideas for Your Brown-Bag Lunches

Sorry for the blog silence yesterday. I've been swamped at work, trying to finish the first issue of our building's monthly newsletter. The point of this website is to force me to write every day, but I've already been writing all afternoon (and I'm exhausted!). I'm not about to leave my bleaders in the dark, though, so here's something I whipped up for Culmeta.com a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy!

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Brown-bag lunches aren’t just for kids; they’re for anyone dedicated to healthy eating, environmental sustainability, and saving a few bucks on overpriced sandwiches. But how do those people decide what to pack in their paper bags each morning? My bag usually contains last night’s leftover lasagna or a Healthy Choice microwavable dinner, or sometimes just two pieces of nine-grain bread slapped together with a spoonful of store-bought jelly and extra crunchy peanut butter. But I’m ready to change.

If you’re like me, prepared to dedicate yourself to eating healthy and saving a good chunk of cash each day, here are some quick and easy ideas for your brown-bag lunches.

  • We all know tortillas are a healthy alternative to bread, so why not wrap the contents of your sandwich in one of these tasty rounds? Just add veggie slices, lean meats like turkey and chicken, and low- or non-fat cream cheese.
  • Air-popped popcorn is a tasty snack (or dessert) and easy to take with you to work or school. Sprinkle it with a little Parmesan cheese, or, better yet, try my favorite: sweet-and-salty kettle corn. Mmm-Mmm.
  • Getting bored of biting into carrot and celery sticks every afternoon? Next time you’re at Whole Foods or Safeway, pick up a pre-made vegetable sushi roll. Pack a couple of pieces with you each day as a complement to a sandwich or wrap. With sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, and celery enclosed in white rice and seaweed, you’ll get the same nutrients as you would from veggie sticks – but you’ll have twice the fun doing it.
  • Buy a variety of pasta salads at your local deli to last you the week. Add cooked chicken, then split (or mix) the pastas to make a number of servings, and – viola! Zesty lunch à la mode.
  • Cold strips of grilled, leftover chicken with light ranch or honey mustard dip can be a lip-smacking and filling lunch – and a great way to de-clutter your fridge!
  • Forget washing your sandwich down with soda or juice. Flavored water is not only more nourishing but also simple to make at home and painless to transport in a thermos. Just fill a pitcher of tap water with slices of lemon, lime, and orange and stick it in the fridge overnight. For other delicious flavor combos, use: raspberries and strawberries; cucumbers and limes; lemons and mint; strawberries, lemons and cucumbers; and strawberries, oranges and mint. Who knew H2O could be so delicious?
  • Go the über-healthy route and stuff your egg, tuna or chicken salad into hollowed tomato halves instead of bread slices. This is a great way to add variety to an everyday sandwich. You could even try potato- or pasta-salad stuffed tomatoes.
  • If your coworkers bring their lunches to work too, be bold and start a brown-bag lunch club. Make life easy, and have everyone take turns bringing lunch for the group.

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