23 Aug Lunch!
by Zannat Reza, MHSc RD
With summer wrapping up, many of us still experience that back-to-school mentality once September rolls around. That’s often the case even if you don’t have kids.
With the increased workload and need for productivity, lunch is an important part of fueling your success. Why not make it fun by packing your own bento-style lunches – perfect for the big kid in all of us!
(Disclosure: I’ve partnered with the dietitians at Dairy Farmers of Canada to bring you this post on lunch. As always, all content is vetted by me and opinions are 100% mine.)
A quick visual for a balanced bento box is packing half of it with colourful fruits and vegetables. Think cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, peppers, broccoli, corn and peas to name a few.
Another key component is including protein-rich foods. Getting enough protein at lunch is important because protein keeps your energy levels up by curbing your hunger for a longer period of time. More energy means being more productive and you’re likely to skip that afternoon slump.
Protein is also a key part of keeping our immune system healthy. With the surge of an increased workload, we want to keep our immune system primed to handle stress.
For lunch, I like to go for meatless options like cheese, yogurt, milk, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Dairy protein is a high-quality protein meaning it contains all the protein building blocks (aka amino acids) that our body can’t make.
Remember to mix and match your faves with some whole grains: barley, quinoa, brown rice, whole grain bread or crackers, and even popcorn.
A few bento box-style ideas to get your started:
- Tomato, Cheese and Chickpea Salad + mini-pita + grapes (or your fave fruit)
- Marinated bocconcini & vegetables + quinoa crackers + carrots + hummus
Spiced taco salad — Deconstruct this salad so the lentils are separate, use lettuce leaves as wraps, shredded cheddar, cucumber, sliced radishes.
You can even pull together a breakfast-for-lunch idea. Try Greek yogurt + berries + nuts/granola. Or how about whole grain pancakes + peanut butter + apples + milk?