This month I'm thrilled to be taking part in Diane Eblin's 30 Days to a Food Revolution - she is on a one woman mission to gather the blogging community into a collective celebration of all that is healthy and wholesome - seasonal and sustainable, and has encouraged one blogger a day to guest post on her site for a whole month. Today is day 15, so be sure to check out the rest of the inspiring posts over the next couple of weeks.
Gordon Gekko once said, ‘Lunch is for wimps!’, in a beautiful illustration of how many people treat their lunch. Lunch can be seen as a nuisance, something to be wolfed down at your desk, grabbed from a take-away stand, eaten in a handy two-second snack-bar format or even avoided altogether. Yet this approach, (often following a similarly hurried breakfast) can lead to a host of problems, from low blood sugar being the major effect, to over emphasising carbohydrates, not chewing for digestion, low vegetable consumption and lack of essential fats.
A meal is a meal, whenever it is eaten and deserves the proper care and respect – as you yourself deserve these things. By making time for your lunch and eating something that qualifies as ‘real’ food and not fast food, you will reap the benefits of better concentration, consistent energy and avoid those mid afternoon treat cravings.
Stocking a lunchbox can seem like a relentless chore if you don’t do a little advance prep, which is why so many people reach for the trusty sandwich as a quick, easy to prepare and portable lunch. But for many people a sandwich has the wrong proportion of carbohydrate, protein and vegetables and can lead to a mid afternoon energy slump, sweet cravings or bloating (although for some it’s perfect and they should carry on as they are!).
For coeliacs, eating gluten free bread at lunch can unbalance blood sugar because it is often made from very refined, high glycaemic index grains. To avoid this, choose bread that is enriched with egg and made from low GI grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, teff and sorghum or high in ground-nuts. Fill it with a source of protein and accompany it with a nice big salad or some crudités. You’ll probably need to make a bread like this yourself, so make two or three loafs, slice and open freeze them so that you can grab them straight from the freezer in the morning, make up your sandwich and then they will have defrosted by the time you need to eat. No stale bread
As I work from home, I have the luxury of cooking my own lunch, but I do need to prepare Finley a nourishing, easy to eat and gluten free lunch every day. Here are a few of the things I give him (Fin eats a lowish salycilate diet too, so most fruits, peppers and tomatoes are off the menu – but you could add them to any of these if you liked):
- Nut bread* sandwiches with cheese, salad, crudités and a fig sweet*.
- Tuna mayonnaise with red onion, gem lettuce, crudités and a marzipan pinwheel*.
- Brown rice salad with fresh basil, gluten free sausage, watercress and cucumber, raw carrot sticks.
- Brown rice salad with feta, watercress, olives, asparagus, red onion and cucumber sticks.
- Thai fishcakes with yogurt and cucumber and romaine lettuce, square of 90% cocoa content chocolate.
- Slices of cold grain free pizza* with salad and carrot sticks
- Thinly sliced roast beef and carrotslaw* (roll the slaw up in the beef).
- Egg crepe rolls* filled with tamari and ginger carrot shreds and king prawns, pear leather* and walnuts.
- Chicken salad with smoked paprika spiked mayonnaise and shredded baby spinach
- Pea and basil pikelets*, cheddar cheese and leaves.
- Courgette Tortilla*, walnut, feta and spinach salad with a raw chocolate truffle*.
- Pea and basil* or squash and caramelised onion soup*, drop scones or a cheese sandwich.
- Gem lettuce with smoked salmon and mayonnaise or feta, paprika almonds* and crudités.
Spend a little time in advance so that you have the right ingredients – some brown rice, a roast chicken, some roast beef, frozen (sustainably farmed) prawns, eggs and leaves. Then you'll find that throwing together something in the morning (or the night before) will be a breeze. Your body will thank you and you will avoid spending money on convenience food, so that you can spend it on wonderful produce instead!
As a final aside – although Tupperware is a very convenient invention, if you use it every day then a third of your food has been in prolonged contact with plastic. Plastic contains hormone disrupters that can interfere with the body’s metabolism – especially important for growing children. Invest in a stainless steel Tiffin Tin that will last for years – far longer than the Tupperware will! Don't just chuck it out though - it can be used to store other things.
Why not let me know what you put in a healthy lunchbox in the comments – hopefully we can inspire each other to eat well even when we are pushed for time.