Brown Baggin' It and Lovin' Every Bite: 4 Great Lunch Options for Work
Researchers in Minnesota interested in actually measuring the ways in which brown bag lunches improve health recently developed and conducted an interesting study. They recruited 19 women who agreed to eat a prepackaged boxed lunch every day at work for two months. The women were given either a small lunch of 767 calories or a large lunch of 1,528 calories and told to eat as much or as little as they wanted. Data analysis at the end of the study showed the women who had the larger lunch ate 278 more calories per day and gained about two pounds over the course of two months. The results indicate that people can manage their weight by packing lunches that are portion-controlled, tasty, and nutritious.
Spice It Up!
Let's face it: the brown bag lunch has acquired a reputation for being bland and boring. Moreover, it’s easy to hit pitfalls like high-sodium food choices when packing your own lunch. But rest assured; quick and easy makeovers will take your next brown bag from humdrum and somewhat unhealthy to delicious and well-balanced.
Menu 1: Just Like Mom Made
- Grown-Up BLT: Brioche bun,pancetta, baby arugula, lemon mayo, heirloom tomatoes, rotisserie chicken, and a sliced hard-boiled egg
- Fiber-Rich Salad: Canned chickpeas, chopped scallions, couscous,oil, vinegar, salt and pepper
- Homemade Cookie Sandwich: Pepperidge Farm oatmeal cookies with a filling of cream-cheese, sweetened with powdered sugar and a few drops of vanilla
Menu 2: Light and Fresh
- Simple Italian Salad: Lettuce (from the bag), chunks of precooked chicken,sprinkling of low-fat shredded cheese, balsamic dressing, and a side of whole grain crackers or pita bread
Menu 3: Ethnic Twist
- Shrimp and Turkey Spring Rolls: Cooked shrimp, sliced turkey, rice noodles, lettuce, fresh mint, aioli, rice-paper wraps
- Sauteed Snap Peas: Snap peas, fresh ginger, garlic, oil, and a palate cleansing Anjou pear for dessert
Menu 4: Hot Baked Potato
- Topped Potato: Take a potato to work, microwave it, and add your favorite toppings. A few suggestions: 1. salsa and shredded low-fat cheese 2. veggie chili, 3. seasoned lentils, 4. broccoli
- Clementine Orange
- Low-Fat Yogurt
Steer Clear Of...
When planning your brown bag, remember that some foods should be avoided. These include frozen dinners and prepackaged lunch foods like cheese and crackers or processed meat and crackers. Pizza is a common lunch item, but it can be quite high in sodium. Don’t include potato chips, pretzels, or cheese curls that are low in nutrition but high in fat and calories. Hot dogs and jarred spaghetti sauce are additional popular lunch foods, but these, too, are often laden with sodium. Instead, pack light, fresh choices like those mentioned above and pair with tasty fruits and vegetables.