Health begins in the kitchen. This is where we have the opportunity to make something that will either serve as the greatest medicine, or work as the slowest poison- three times per day. As I strive to stick to the “greatest medicine” with my eating, my associate Katherine and I share what we really have for lunch everyday.
Lunch is often considered one of the most challenging meals for people. Breakfast is usually a rotation between a few options. Dinner, most people are at home and have access to their supplies, but lunch is the one that stumps many.
Reasons Why We Often Fail At Lunch:
- Lack of planning.
- Not knowing what to eat.
- Lack of time to prepare.
- Business meetings held at unhealthy restaurants.
- No healthy restaurant options are available.
Here at the clinic it’s busy! But one thing we make sure of doing everyday, is taking some time to sit down, relax, and have a healthy lunch. After all, in Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules, he says “Do all your eating at a table. A desk is not a table”. It is important to make time to eat, so that digestion actually turns on. Otherwise, food will just sit in the stomach and not digest.
Second, and one of the most important reasons I have a healthy lunch, is that it greatly influences my work quality. With a well-balanced lunch in the belly, I am more focused and therefore more productive, and I don’t crash in the afternoon.
It’s not as difficult as you think. I promise. And to show you how simple it can be, we took pictures of our lunches for 20 days, to show you what we do. We hope this gives you more ideas and inspires you to take your own healthy lunch to work.
Meal: Smoked salmon, roasted turmeric cauliflower, beets, organic mixed greens with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
- Smoked salmon is a convenient protein to have on hand in a freezer, if you have one in your workplace. It thaws very quickly in some warm water. Choose salmon from the Pacific that is wild. Cauliflower is leftover from dinner.
- Beets can be pre-boiled in a batch.
- Pre-washed greens can be found in most grocery stores, just add oil and presto!
- We keep a large bottle of EVOO in the clinic at all times. Oil and salt (and sometimes a little bit of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar) makes a healthy quick dressing option. Pre-made dressings almost always have oxidized fats, sweeteners, flavourings, and other unhealthy ingredients.
Meal: Chicken, broccoli, roasted onions and peppers, and rice pilaf.
Comments: All leftovers from dinner.
Meal: Roast chicken leg, turmeric cauliflower, organic mixed green with EVOO.
Comments: Leftovers from dinner with added lettuce.
Meal: Lamb, sautéed swiss chard and red onion, pickles, sauerkraut.
- Pickles and sauerkraut are staples that we keep in the fridge. They are a great source of fermented, probiotic-rich foods, that can be added to most meals.
Meal: Mixed green salad with EVOO and avocado (coated in chia seeds), beef and vegetable stir fry, and olives.
- Mostly leftovers.
- Olives are a great staple to have on hand to add good fats to the meal.
- Having a meal high in fat can help to balance blood sugar levels, so there isn’t an afternoon crash.
Meal: Homemade soup (chicken broth, onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, spinach) with cauliflower and leftover lamb.
- Soup is a quick and easy lunch that is loaded with nutrients. It can be made in batches and frozen, so that you’re never without a healthy option. It’s easily thawed and heated.
Meal: Medium boiled eggs, organic lettuce, peppers, sauerkraut, olives, EVOO.
- For this lunch I picked up s a few things at the local grocery store and made a salad.
- Eggs are an easy and quick protein. All you need is a stove, or hotplate….or, boil them in the morning while you eat your breakfast.
- The sauerkraut and olives, we already had in the fridge.
Meal: Rainbow trout, quinoa concoction, roasted vegetables, and olives.
Comments: Leftovers from dinner, except for the olives.
Meal: Hard boiled organic eggs, roasted turmeric cauliflower, organic mixed greens, vegan caesar dressing.
- Cauliflower was a leftover. Adding turmeric to your cauliflower adds a nice colour, tastes great, and and is an easy way to get more spices into the diet. Spices are potent anti-inflammatories.
Meal: Quinoa concoction, rice concoction, eggs, sauerkraut, olives.
- The quinoa and rice concoctions were both leftovers.
- The eggs on this salad were duck eggs. Sometimes I find duck eggs at the butcher or farmer’s market.
Meal: Baked chicken meatballs, beets, avocado, organic mixed greens with EVOO and herbs.
- Meatballs and beets were prepared the night before.
- Avocado cut fresh.
- Herbs are a great thing to sprinkle on a meal. They have powerful anti-oxidants and anti-cancer activity.
Meal: Greens with orange peppers, eggs, EVOO, herbs, and olives.
Comments: I love eggs on a salad. 🙂
Meal: Homemade pumpkin and sweet potato soup, baked wild mackerel and steamed broccoli.
- Soup was made in advance.
- Mackerel and broccoli were leftovers. If you have a stovetop or hotplate at work, steaming broccoli is an easy and quick thing to do. It only take about 4 minutes.
Meal: Sausage, roasted vegetables, corn, sauerkraut.
- Sausages can be cooked ahead of time, put in the freezer, and then thawed when needed. They also come in so many different varieties. Our local butcher has beef, chicken, bison, venison, wild boar, and turkey.
Meal: Happy sausage, beets, pickled carrot, rice and Brussels sprout pilaf.
Comments: Food can taste good and be fun!
Meal: Rice and Brussels sprout pilaf, with carrots and parsley, halibut with pesto, beets, and olives.
- When we make fish, we will often make enough for lunch the next day. It doesn’t take much more time to prepare.
Meal: Homemade soup (chicken broth, onions, carrots, celery, sweet potato, mushrooms, spinach) with baked chicken meatballs.
Comments: Soup again! Quick and easy.
Meal: Kale greens with smoked trout, Brussels sprouts, bacon, gluten-free croutons, with a creamy caesar dressing (made with EVOO, anchovies, lemon juice, sea salt).
- You can make a healthy versions of classic lunch meals (like a caesar salad) with a good recipe, and/or a little creativity.
Meal: Chili over wild rice noodles.
- Chili is one of may favourite things to batch cook. It’s hearty, loaded with veg, freezes well, and tastes amazing (secret ingredient is a hint of cacao). It can be eaten with or without the noodles.
Meal: Prosciutto, beets, carrot, organic mixed greens with EVOO.
Comments: A light meal today.
Snack: One heaping spoonful of coconut butter.
- For a mid-morning or afternoon snack, I opt for high-fat, high-protein options. This ensures that I will get the energy that I need (calories) without a crash.
- High carbohydrate snacks like crackers, cookies, donuts, chips, energy bars, chocolate, or anything that might be hanging around in the communal kitchen, are recipes for disaster. They will surely spike your blood sugar, followed by a reactive crash accompanied with fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, short temper, and anxiety in some people. It’s difficult to put out your best work when you’re “hangry”.
- Nuts are quick, easy, portable, nutrient dense, and delicious. I always have a healthy supply kicking around.
My hope is that you see that taking a healthy lunch to work, or making one daily, isn’t as difficult as it seems. It just takes a little bit of planning.
Remember, all health begins in the kitchen.
Here are a few of my favourites places to get recipes:
- The Undiet Cookbook
- Practical Paleo
- Meals That Heal Inflammation