Healthy Lunches for Busy Families

Photo: Girl Smiling and Holding a Tomato

With today’s busy schedules, it can be challenging to eat healthy meals at work or while on-the-go. Too often we find ourselves grabbing convenience foods which may not be the healthiest option. However, you can enjoy healthy snacks and lunches with just a little pre-planning and preparation. Below are some ideas you can incorporate to make it just a little bit easier to eat healthy during the busy work week.

  1. Hummus-Veggie Wrap Use tortillas or pita bread, spread hummus and add lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, sliced cucumber and grated carrots. Other options: tofu, sliced olives, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, fresh basil and Vegenaise (mayonnaise substitute). You can really use any vegetable you feel like.
  2. Eggless Egg Salad This vegetarian spin on a classic salad has less fat and cholesterol. Yields 4-5 Servings
    • Ingredients
    • 1 (12-ounce) block extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry
    • 2-3 stalks celery, minced
    • 3 Tablespoons minced red or sweet onion
    • 1 clove garlic, minced finely
    • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
    • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
    • 1 teaspoon Spike seasoning
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    • 1½ teaspoons mustard
    • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
    • ½ cup vegan mayonnaise
    • Instructions Crumble tofu into a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Serve in sandwiches, wraps or as a dip for chips or veggies. Enjoy!
  3. Burrito Not only are burritos delicious, they are one of the quickest and easiest things you can make. Simply heat up your choice of black, refried or pinto beans (Amy’s brand, sold at Down to Earth, is a good choice) and spread it on a whole-wheat tortilla. Add salsa, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and whatever else you like in your burritos.
  4. Perfect Pesto Panini Yields 4 paninis
    • Ingredients
    • Pesto:
    • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
    • ½ cup olive oil
    • ¼ cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
    • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
    • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • Panini:
    • 8 slices bread of choice
    • 16 provolone cheese slices
    • 1 (16-ounce) jar roasted red peppers
    • 3-4 cups spinach leaves, washed and dried
    • Safflower oil
    • Instructions Process all Pesto ingredients in a food processor until combined well. Spread pesto on 4 slices of bread. Layer each with 2 slices of cheese, peppers and spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with bread slices. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Place panini in skillet and use a heavy sauce pan to weigh it down. Once panini is golden brown on one side, flip and repeat the process. Serve immediately or wrap to take to work. Enjoy!
  5. Bagel & Almond Butter In a fun way to mix up the standard PB&J, use a whole-wheat bagel and spread almond butter on it instead, which has a different flavor from peanut butter, without straying too far from what you might expect. There are many different nut butters on the market too, so change it up once in a while with sunflower seed butter or add jam on top.
  6. Greek Pasta Salad This is a nice pasta salad recipe with a Greek twist, which can be served cold. Use cooked whole-wheat pasta shells and mix in Italian dressing, feta cheese, red bell peppers, kalmata olives, and sundried tomatoes for an extremely portable lunch.
  7. California-Style Veggie Sandwich Here’s a tasty version of the lunch classic. Cut up an onion and let the slices marinate in vinegar for 10 minutes before placing on toasted bread. Spread with vegetarian mayonnaise, lettuce or spinach, avocado, cucumbers and shredded raw beets and carrots. Can add a slice of cheese, marinated tofu, or vegetarian deli meats for extra protein.
  8. High-protein Salad Using cooked lentils, chickpeas or any of your favorite beans; tomatoes, carrots, peas, red cabbage, raisins (or cranberries), and sunflower and pumpkin seeds on a bed of romaine lettuce topped with a low-fat, all-natural salad dressing.