Summer is often the time when you feel most motivated to eat healthily. With impending holidays and warmer weather making salads and healthier options seem that bit more tempting. However, even with the best of intentions, you can find your healthy-eating falls by the wayside when you struggle to find the time or inspiration for your packed lunch.
Here at the Proactive Head Office, we have to admit that fast-food, sweet snacks and sandwich meal-deals are a bit of a mainstay at lunchtime. While we all know salads are a much more sensible option, it can be hard to get excited about wilted leaves and soggy slices of cucumber. So, we’ve been reading up on the best ways to liven up a nutritious packed lunch – full of goodness and flavour – and we wanted to share these tips with you.
Get the Right Greens
There’s nothing less appetising than opening up a lunch box full of slimy, wilted leaves. But simply choosing the right greens for the base of your salad can make all the difference. Avoid bags of mixed salad leaves (these are the quickest to go soggy) and instead opt for choices such as rocket, kale (chopped or torn into small pieces) or crisp Romaine leaves.
Bonus tip: Keep your salt at work. If you love a sprinkling on your salad, add it just before you eat to keep it crisp and fresh; salt draws the moisture out of salad leaves!
Choose a Protein
All well-balanced salads should include a source of protein (this will help you feel fuller for longer too). You can prepare a lot of your protein in advance.
Cooked chicken breasts can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days and hardboiled eggs are a great option too (even if they make you a little unpopular with colleagues!) They can be pre-boiled and kept fresh in the fridge for up to a week. Tins of tuna are a speedy and healthy option and for veggies and vegans, alternative proteins like soya, vegetable or mycoproteins are now readily available in supermarkets.
Try Something Different
If you’re not a fan of leafy salads, try basing your salad around grains or pulses. Pasta-salads are a great filling option and can be made in big batches to last you the week. Alternatively, cook up some recipes using beans, lentils or chickpeas, or try a different grain such as wild rice, quinoa, bulgar wheat or couscous – these are all just as good cold! If you’re a fan of coleslaw but want to go light on the mayo, try an Asian-style version… grate carrot, red cabbage and add some chopped spring onion and dress with some lime/lemon juice, soy sauce, a little chilli and some sesame seeds.
Salad lunches never have to be boring – you can always jazz them up with different sprinkles, toppings and dressings. Nuts, seeds and dried or fresh fruit make great nutrient-rich additions and if you like something creamy with your salad, try half an avocado (with a squeeze of lemon to stop it browning) or a dollop of hummus.
We hope you’re inspired to have a go at some different salad lunches to brighten up your lunch hour.