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Five Workweek Lunch Ideas

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The Mediterranean Diet
By Pia Hinckle and Rebecca Taggart

With a new study showing that eating a Mediterranean-style diet reduces the incidence of heart disease by 30 percent, it is a good time to rethink lunch. The main components of the Mediterranean diet are veggies and fruits, whole grains, and legumes; a moderate amount of fish and white meats and little or no red meat; no commercial sweets and treats; and plenty of extra-virgin olive oil and/or nuts, especially walnuts. You can read the full story about the study here.

Here are five easy lunches for your workweek, based on a Mediterranean diet, and a few tips to help you coordinate them.

  • Plan: Plan lunches on the weekend and buy what you’ll need to make them.
  • Prep: The night before each lunch, wash and prep all vegetables and pre-cook any items (chicken, beans, etc.). Keep lunches refrigerated until you eat.
  • Drinks: Stick with water or seltzer (add sliced citrus, if desired), tea, plain coffee, or fresh-squeezed juice.
  • Dessert: Take fruit of any kind (oranges and tangerines are best for strong sugar cravings).

MONDAY
hummus and veggiesHummus, sliced vegetables, and crackers
(Legumes, vegetables, olive oil, and whole grains)

Hummus is traditionally made with garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), tahini (sesame paste), garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. It’s an easy food to include in your lunch. Eat it with whole-grain crackers and sliced vegetables or fruit, such as carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, celery, radishes, and apples, or spread it on whole-grain bread, pita, or flat bread and add greens and vegetables to make a healthy sandwich.

INGREDIENTS
Hummus (store-bought or homemade)
Vegetables, sliced into finger-sized pieces
Crackers, whole-grain

PREPARATION

  • Wash and slice vegetables the night before and place in an airtight container.
  • Place desired amount of hummus in an airtight container.
  • To eat, scoop hummus with veggies and crackers.

Prep time, 5–10 minutes.

At home: Try these recipes to make your own hummus or cannellini bean hummus. Garbanzo beans make a great addition to any salad; or make a three-bean salad of garbanzo, kidney, and cannellini beans with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Fry garbanzo beans and crushed garlic cloves in a little olive oil for a delicious treat.

TUESDAY
greek salad
Greek Salad
(Vegetables, cheese, olive oil)
Recipe by The FruitGuys

INGREDIENTS
1/2 head (around 3 cups) washed lettuce, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1–2 carrots, shredded
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
2–6 cherry tomatoes
1/2 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
1/4 can pitted black olives, rinsed
Feta cheese, crumbled
Sliced almonds or toasted pine nuts (reserve and add before eating)

Dressing: 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or desired dressing)

PREPARATION

  • In the morning, combine all ingredients except dressing and nuts in a container at home.
  • Just before eating, drizzle with oil and vinegar (or desired dressing) and sprinkle with nuts. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Prep time, 10–15 minutes.

WEDNESDAY
Tuna Bean Salad
(Fish, legumes, olive oil)
Recipe by The FruitGuys

INGREDIENTS
1 can tuna, water- or oil-packed, drained
1 can cannellini or white beans, drained and rinsed
1 handful parsley, chopped
1/4 red onion, finely sliced
1–2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1–2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

  • At home, mix tuna with beans, onions, and parsley in a container (this can be done the night before).
  • Before eating, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Eat with toasted bread drizzled with olive oil or, for an added punch of immune-boosting nutrients, serve over a bed of washed, finely chopped kale.

Prep time, 5–10 minutes.

NOTE: This recipe makes 2 servings. Store half in an airtight container in the fridge for use later in the week, or cut recipe in half for a single portion.

THURSDAY
taco
Bean Tacos and Citrus Slaw
(Legumes, vegetables, olive oil)
Recipe by Delilah’s Farm for The FruitGuys

Bean Tacos

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup refried beans or 2/3 cup whole pinto or black beans, cooked
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon onion, in fine dice
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 avocado
2 corn tortillas
Optional toppings: Cheddar or jack cheese, grated; sour cream; chopped red or green onion; fresh cilantro, chopped; salsa or hot sauce

PREPARATION

  • At home the night before, heat oil in a small saucepan. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onion is soft, about 3–4 minutes.
  • Add beans and heat through. If using whole beans, mash with a fork, if desired.
  • Let bean mixture cool and place in microwaveable container.
  • Put tortillas, citrus slaw (see below)  and any optional toppings in separate containers. Take whole avocado with you to keep it fresh.
  • At work, heat beans in microwave for 20–30 seconds. Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel or cloth napkin and heat for 10–20 seconds.
  • While beans and tortillas are heating, slice avocado in half; reserve the side with the pit for another meal, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate. Slice remaining avocado half into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and scoop out.
  • Place tortillas on a plate and divide the bean mixture between them.
  • Top each with avocado slices, 1/4–1/2 cup of citrus slaw, and any of the optional toppings.

Citrus Slaw

coleslawINGREDIENTS
1 cup cabbage, cut into short strips, 1/4-inch thick
1/4 cup grated carrot
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion (red, white, or green)
1/2 teaspoon orange, lime, or lemon zest
1 tablespoon orange, lime, or lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

PREPARATION

  • Toss together cabbage, carrot, and onion.
  • Whisk together remaining ingredients and toss with vegetables to taste.

Prep time: 15 minutes for tacos, 10 minutes for citrus slaw; cook time, 5–7 minutes.

NOTE: Slaw recipe may be doubled to have extra for later use. It will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a few days.

FRIDAY
cauliflowerCauliflower, Kale, and Almond Salad (with optional Grilled Chicken)
(Vegetables, nuts, olive oil, white meat)
Recipe by The FruitGuys

INGREDIENTS
1/2 head cauliflower, cooked (steamed until tender or boiled 5 minutes in salted water)
1/2 bunch kale, washed, ribs removed, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons–1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

PREPARATION

  • The night before, cook cauliflower and prepare kale but keep separate. Grill chicken breasts, if desired.
  • In the morning, combine cauliflower (cut into your preferred size), chopped kale, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in a large container.
  • Add sliced almonds just before eating to maintain crunchiness.

Prep time, 15–20 minutes.

NOTE: This salad is delicious and a great use of leftover cooked cauliflower. Add a few slices of grilled chicken for extra protein.

See also “9 Lunch Ideas to Improve Your Diet.”

Many of the recipe ingredients included here are commonly featured in The FruitGuys TakeHome “Fruit and Veggie” case. Order yours today!

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