Welcome to Nutritionist Non-Confidential, a monthly series where we pick apart a foodie topic like pull-apart bread at dinner. In sweet company with Dr Priya Khorana, founder and CEO of Lifestyle Nutrition Consulting Co., this month’s topic is all about going back to work and/or school post a 6-week lockdown period.
Whilst many of us are having plentiful mixed feelings about going back to the office (we were starting to master the art of conference call lighting), there’s no denying that we’re going back as changed humans.
We learned to cook (or at least: make Dalgona coffee). We did home workouts. We replaced our nightly milk baths with Dettol baths (just kidding, do not try that). And we embraced being more eco-friendly and mindful of our consumption.
Along those tangents, it comes to no surprise, then, that packing your own lunch to work and meal-prepping ahead of time is very much the new back-to-work black. In first line, it allows you to know exactly what ingredients and nutrients you are packing into your food, and to follow a healthier routine. It allows you to be more eco-friendly should you use your own cutlery and lunchbox. And it allows you to show off, share recipes, and provide some talking points at the pantry, should your water cooler conversation skills have deteriorated a little.
Thereby, in an effort to do away with sad desk lunches, we welcome a new era of nutrient-rich desk lunches. Categorised by different scenarios you may face at the office, Dr. Priya presents a few packed lunch ideas to get you started. Get your shopping list ready for your next visit to the grocer’s.
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For When You Want to Impress Your Colleagues…
I love grain bowls — and one that is sure to impress is my curry spiced-paneer barley bowl. Sounds exotic and fancy, doesn’t it? Not only does it taste delicious but the aromas that exude off my spicy barley bowl will be sure to entice even your least favourite colleague. I top off my garam masala spiced sautéed paneer (substitute in firm tofu if you wish) over a bed of barley, with a homemade yogurt and cucumber dressing that packs a punch. This makes for a complete balanced meal with all the major food groups — win win!
Also, if you’re not in the mood for barley, you could also substitute it for basmati rice, rice berry, or even quinoa.
For When You Have A Big Meeting…
My all-time favourite is a slice of whole-grain toast with an avocado egg salad (no mayo) with homemade curd as the dressing. To make this, you combine two boiled eggs, ⅓ mashed avocado, 2-3 tablespoons of homemade curd, a sprinkle of dill, and salt and pepper. Then, spread over toast.
I like to enjoy a meal high in protein and ‘good’ fat when I feel more stressed than usual as this helps to elevate my mood. I often pair this with a hot cocoa I make with raw cacao and Manuka honey with a plant-based milk.
For The Morning After A Long Night…
I often find that a nutrient-dense smoothie makes for the best pick-me-up. My go-to is 100% Peanut butter, half a banana, and a handful of spinach finished off with plant-based milk (I use unsweetened almond milk). It is thick, filling, and delicious! This fills me up and offers the boost of energy I so need after a rough work night.
For Your Mid-Week Treat…
It’s important to treat yourself once in a while (or just to get over the mid-week hump on a Wednesday), and for this treat, there’s nothing like a satisfying sandwich.
I like to make a Greek yogurt chicken salad sandwich, which I can prep the night before — something to look forward to on Tuesdays. Simply grill the chicken breast with garlic and olive oil, and then dice it. Stir in yogurt, grapes, and diced apples. Enjoy with lettuce cups.
For An Overseas Video Call…
Video calls are becoming the new normal for many people, and often these sessions can take up quite some time. If like me you get hungry during a call (or it runs way into your lunch hour), you’re going to want to opt for foods that don’t make too much noise to consume — so that the microphone doesn’t pick up your munching.
A green mac and cheese is a good and delicious idea here. Use pureed spinach and chickpea pasta, and top with unprocessed cheese. I use cheddar and gruyere. Bon appetit!