4 Fun, Healthy Lunches for Work

Bored with the same old salad you bring every day for lunch, but don’t want to spend the extra money on take-out? To stave off boredom, look for ways to make lunch more interesting. Here are some fun, healthy lunches for work.

1. Mason Jar Salads

It’s time to remake your salad. Mason jar salads give you your leafy greens and protein all in one container. Prepare these salads in advance so you can grab one from the fridge in the morning as you’re headed out the door.

The key to a successful Mason jar salad is the order in which the ingredients are layered. Make sure the dressing goes in first so your salad doesn’t get soggy. Then, add your protein with chunks of chicken or a grain like quinoa. Next come toppings such as dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and nuts. Leafy greens top off the jar. When you’re ready to eat, pour your salad into a bowl and enjoy.

2. Muffin Tin Meals

Cooking smaller versions of your favorite recipes in a muffin tin gives you an easy-to-transport meal and helps you control your portions. Spend some time on the weekend making things like mini lasagna, chicken pot pies or a similar recipe suggested by The Huffington Post. Throughout the week, pack these handy meals for your lunch. They heat up quickly and don’t always require a knife and fork to eat. You can even freeze many of these recipes for future meals.

3. Copycat Recipes

You can make some of your favorite restaurant meals right at home. This lets you control the portion size and the ingredients so you know exactly what you’re eating. For example, Gimme Delicious suggests a recipe that is similar to Chipotle’s burrito bowl and is extremely easy to make on a bed of brown rice. Another great set of healthy lunches for work are Panera Bread‘s broth bowls, which are filled with healthy ingredients, very simple to recreate and all under 400 calories.

4. Lose the Bread

When it comes to lunch, many people resort to a sandwich. But instead of bread, put slices of lunch meat and cheese between two hollowed-out pieces of cucumber. You might even spread peanut butter on various pairs of apple slices and squeeze raisins or nuts in between. Or, use lettuce as a wrapper for a tasty filling in your own turkey tacos.

 

Don’t let lunch be the same every day. Have fun with these healthy lunches for work and you’ll be more productive, in better health and have more money in your pocket.

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

Managing Asthma with Your Diet

Did you know that eating a more balanced diet can do more than just slim your waistline? It could help you breathe better, too. If you have asthma, research has shown that certain foods can open restricted airways and reduce inflammation.

Here’s a list of foods that could help you manage your asthma:

Follow a Mediterranean Diet

You’ve probably heard about the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts. Absent from this list are red meat, margarine and processed foods, according to EatingWell, as they contain the saturated fat that interferes with blood flow.

Items in the Mediterranean diet also have anti-inflammatory properties, which is important for those suffering from asthma since it’s a disease of lung inflammation. Look for freshly grown vegetables and fruits from your local farmers’ market this fall, such as beets, carrots, kale and apples.

Get Vitamins with Fruits and Vegetables

By eating a range of fruits and vegetables, you’ll get an ample amount of vitamins. Mayo Clinic suggests those who receive higher servings of vitamin C, Vitamin D, beta-carotene and vitamin E have fewer symptoms of asthma.

For Vitamin D, local eggs and milk are good sources as well. Of course, you can also consider omega-3 fatty acids, too, which Reader’s Digest says you can find in many kinds of fish in your area: Lake trout contains a high concentration of them, whereas catfish and bass also have it to a lesser extent.

Learn more about managing health conditions.*

Add Ginger

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, ginger may also work as an herbal medication to help manage common asthma symptoms. It’s believed that ginger can help decrease lung inflammation due to the high levels of antioxidants in this plant. Add it as an ingredient to the fresh foods you’re already making, or boil it with water to make tea.

Consider Flaxseeds

These small seeds pack a big nutritional punch. Flaxseeds not only contain protein, fiber and Omega-3 essential fatty acids but also magnesium, which has been shown to relax the muscles of the airway.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Q&A with a Registered Dietitian: Getting Started with Healthy Cooking

One of the biggest challenges when trying to improve your and your family’s eating habits is coming up with healthy family recipes that are quick, easy and tasty. Rather than finding new recipes, however, a quicker strategy may be to recreate the dishes you’ve been making all along.

For a simple food makeover, Rebecca Greer, a Registered Dietitian, shared personal experiences that can help anyone who wants to eat right and serve healthier meals.

Q: How did you get interested in healthy eating?

Rebecca Greer: I’ve always loved food and being around the kitchen. I quickly discovered that if you love good food, it’s handy to be able to make it yourself. I learned a lot about how to make healthy food taste delicious by watching cooking TV shows and reading healthy cookbooks. I had a lot of mishaps in the beginning, so I always encourage people to keep trying. Cooking takes practice.

Q: Are there any aspects about cooking that present unique obstacles?

RG: I find cooking to be enjoyable most of the time, but it can be stressful if I don’t have a meal planned or go to the grocery store ahead of time. I recently spent about ten minutes writing down a list of my family’s favorite recipes. It’s hanging on the fridge, so that way I can plan meals from those if I don’t feel like looking for new ones. I also often tell my clients to make sure they’re selecting easy and quick recipes for weeknights.

Q: What family recipes have you converted to healthy ones?

RG: My mom always made delicious artichoke dip for football games. I’ve made it healthier by swapping out half the mayo for plain low-fat yogurt. I do [this type of] swap a lot. For my mom’s pumpkin bread, I swapped out half the oil for applesauce. For pancakes, I do half whole wheat and half white flour. My mother-in-law makes her greens with olive oil, which is healthier but also delicious. For my husband’s favorite double-chocolate cookies, I switched out half the butter for oil.

Learn more about healthy eating.*

Q: How did you and your family react to the change to heathier recipes? Was there any resistance?

RG: I learned not go on and on about how healthy something was; that usually puts a preconception in someone’s mind that it won’t taste good. Just cook and serve it and see how everyone likes it. After all, flavor is the number-one reason people choose to eat what they do, so even if it’s the healthiest meal in the world, you won’t make it again if it doesn’t taste good.

Q: Where do you buy food for making healthy family recipes?

RG: I go to the grocery store for most things, but I love visiting farmers’ markets when I can. I also have a small garden that helps with the cost of things like herbs. I prefer to spend money on good food and cut back elsewhere, but I’ve found that meal-planning helps keep the cost down.

When starting your own healthy family recipes, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many right away. Begin by giving one of your favorite recipes an adjustment, and when you’ve perfected it, move on to another. Find substitution ingredients and ratios online. By taking these baby steps, you’ll make tremendous progress over the long term.

Judy Wilson is a writer and editor specializing in varied content areas, including health, wellness, food, cooking and nutrition. She enjoys educating others and enabling them to lead fulfilling lives of vibrant health. You can follow Judy on Twitter @EvergreenWords.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.

Seven Easy Vegetarian Tailgating Recipes

No big game is complete without a tailgate party and the delicious food that comes with it. Just because you’re vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Keep reading to discover some delicious vegan and vegetarian tailgating recipes that are simple to transport and don’t require refrigeration.

1. Kale Chips

The leafy green vegetable kale, is as versatile as it is healthy. One easy way to prepare kale that suits both vegetarian and vegan diets is to make kale chips. Simply place washed and cut-up kale in a baking dish, and drizzle with coconut oil and unrefined sea salt. Bake until the snack is nice and crispy.

2. Potato Salad

Potato salad is a traditional tailgating recipe, and you can easily adapt it for vegetarian and vegan eaters. Boil cut-up red potatoes and allow them to cool. Then, chop a few handfuls of red onions, and add red pepper chunks, minced garlic, unrefined sea salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.

3. Tahini Dip and Veggies

Tahini is the result of ground sesame seeds. This dipping sauce has a delightfully nutty flavor, creamy texture and only takes a couple minutes to whip up. Make your own by combining tahini, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a dash of unrefined sea salt. For a spicy kick, add finely minced garlic. Serve this with sliced veggies and chunks such as cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and carrots.

4. Hummus and Pita Bread

Who doesn’t love hummus? You can make it yourself by pureeing chick peas in your blender. Add a dash of unrefined sea salt and any seasonings you enjoy, such as minced garlic or onions. Serve it with pita bread wedges.

5. Quinoa and Black Beans

For a variation on the same old beans and rice, try cooked quinoa mixed with black beans. Drizzle with a healthy, high-quality oil such as extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil or even flaxseed oil — which Mayo Clinic assures has just 130 calories in one tablespoon. Add your favorite spices and seasonings, such as rosemary, parsley, cilantro, minced garlic and onions, unrefined salt and black pepper. This is substantial enough to serve as a main dish, but also great as a side.

6. Trail Mix

Trail mix is an ideal on-the-go snack you can enjoy at the tailgating lot or while traveling to and from the event. Combine your favorite raw nuts like almonds, pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts. Add raw seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Mix in some raisins, dried cranberries, coconut chunks and cacao pieces. The result should be yummy, satisfying and healthy!

7. Fruit Salad

Round out your vegetarian tailgating recipes with seasonal fruit, which makes a great side dish or dessert. Combine whichever fresh fruits are available to you, such as apple chunks, red grapes, berries and pineapple. To keep this fruit from turning brown and soft before you serve it. The Washington Post says to drizzle fresh lemon juice over it. Lemon juice’s acids break down the enzymes that cause food to go bad so quickly. To make this a more substantial dish, however, add your favorite raw nuts or seeds.

After enjoying a bountiful and healthy array of vegetarian tailgating recipes, you’ll have plenty of energy to cheer your team to victory. Go ahead and indulge in your nutritious feast.

Judy Wilson is a writer and editor specializing in varied content areas, including health, wellness, food, cooking and nutrition. She enjoys educating others and enabling them to lead fulfilling lives of vibrant health. You can follow Judy on Twitter @EvergreenWords.

How Diet Affects Your Sleep

Eating well and logging enough sleep are both essential for good health, but what you might not realize is that diet and sleep are closely connected — and could ultimately have an impact on overall health and wellbeing.

Both adults and kids who skimp on sleep tend to be heavier than their well-rested counterparts. In fact, one ongoing study found that women who typically logged just five hours of sleep per night were 30 percent more likely to gain 30 pounds compared to women who regularly snoozed for seven hours or more.

So how can you get your diet and sleep in sync? Here are three things you should know about the relationship between your food choices and your slumber, and how they can help you eat smarter and sleep sounder.

Coffee Isn’t the Only Thing That Keeps You Up

You know consuming caffeine before bed can leave you tossing and turning. But other foods and drinks can mess with your sleep schedule as well. Although alcohol might make it easier to doze off at first, research shows it reduces deep, restorative rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which can lead to daytime drowsiness and trouble concentrating when you need to be focused.

Eating foods that are fatty or greasy before bed can also spell trouble in dreamland too, suggests the National Sleep Foundation. These foods tend to take longer to digest than lighter fare, forcing your stomach to stay awake and work longer while your body is trying to rest.

Certain Foods Can Help You Sleep Better, Too

Luckily, eating right can yield a sounder night’s sleep. Noshing on foods that contain the amino acid, tryptophan — like turkey, eggs and nuts — prompts your body to release the hormone serotonin, which findings suggest can help promote sleep. Starchy carbohydrates, like a banana or toast, can have a similar effect.

If you can’t fall asleep without something sweet, try a bowl of cherries. They’re a natural source of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

Not Just What You Eat, but When You Eat

Between school plays, football games and homework the average time Americans eat dinner is increasingly occurring later in the afternoon. Eating late can result in fluctuations to your normal sleep pattern, including having a harder time falling asleep and waking up more frequently during the night. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that eating less during the night hours could decrease these symptoms of sleep deprivation.

Allowing at least four hours between when you eat your last meal to the time you go to bed can help ensure you get a good nights’ sleep.

Struggling to get Zzzs could be a sign of a more complex condition. Schedule an appointment so you can discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

Marygrace Taylor is is an award-winning health, wellness, and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in Glamour, Redbook, Prevention, and Women’s Health. You can follow her on Twitter @mgtylr, or at marygracetaylor.com.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.