Brown Bag Makeover
Give your lunch routine a healthy new twist
DOES YOUR LUNCH ROUTINE too often consist of
staring blankly at a vending machine, trying to justify to yourself
that toaster pastries and a beef stick qualify as a well-balanced
It's time to change your habits. Eating a high-calorie noontime
meal can make that number you see on the scale rise, and a lack of
proper nutrients could be what's causing you to want to nod off
well before quitting time. To keep your energy level high and your
body healthy, grab your lunchbox and pack a healthy meal before
your workday starts.
Attack of the hidden calories
According to a poll by Harris Interactive, 48 percent of U.S.
adults were packing their own lunches in 2010. In fact, The
Wall Street Journal recently reported on a trend about "The
New Power Lunch," pointing at Japanese bento boxes as the
inspiration for compartmentalized lunch carriers taking off in the
United States. While traditional bento boxes are filled with rice,
vegetables and fish, your healthy and modern take on the brown bag
lunch has endless possibilities-as long as they're homemade
Packing your lunch is a great way to avoid the high-calorie
additives lurking in processed or restaurant meals. Sure, a deli
tuna sandwich sounds healthy-it's tuna, you rationalize-but with
all the mayonnaise added to the mixture, you're usually getting 530
calories and 30 grams of fat.
You're Spending More Than You Think
Bringing your lunch means your waistline can get smaller while
your wallet gets bigger. If you consider that the average takeout
lunch costs $8, eating out can add up to more than $2,000 a year.
Pack your lunch just three times a week and you'll have an extra
$1,100 in your pocket.
Ready to join the lunchbox brigade? We've made it easy for you
by providing three exciting noontime "makeovers."
Breakfast at Noon
The Menu: Create yummy
gourmet bagel sandwiches by spreading low-fat whipped cream cheese
on two minibagel halves. Top with slices of smoked salmon,
scallions and the other halves of the bagels. Complement them with
a crunchy fruit salad of sliced bananas, strawberries and low-fat
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Calories: 454
[Calorie counter: mini-bagels (2): 134; smoked
salmon (2 oz.): 112; cream cheese (1 Tbsp.): 34;
granola cereal (¼ c.): 90; banana (½): 60;
strawberries (½ c.): 25]
The Vineyard Lunch
The Menu: Treat yourself to
a picnic at the office. Using the separate containers of a bento
box, assemble your favorite crackers, a selection of fresh fruits,
and two or three types of cheeses sliced into crackersized pieces.
Choose a variety, such as Gouda, Brie, Gruyere, or lower-fat cheese
spreads. Enjoy your meal alfresco, and you might just feel as if
you're on vacation.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Calories: 403
[Calorie counter: Brie (0.5 oz.): 47; Gouda (0.5 oz.):
51; Gruyere (0.5 oz.) 58; Triscuits (1 serving): 120;
apple (1): 65; grapes (1 c.): 62]
A New Twist on Salad
The Menu: Start by cooking
up whole-wheat couscous, then cooling it. Combine it with cubed
grilled chicken breast, cherry tomatoes, sliced zucchini, shredded
carrots and a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Toss with a light
vinaigrette dressing (create a homemade version with olive oil, red
wine vinegar, garlic and lemon juice).
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Calories: 485
[Calorie counter: couscous: 210; chicken breast (3 oz.):
100; tomatoes (½ c.): 13; zucchini (½ c.): 14; carrots (½ c.): 26;
Parmesan cheese (1 Tbsp.): 22; vinaigrette (2 Tbsp.): 50]
-By Amanda Myers