Brown Bag It!: Healthy DIY Lunch Ideas

Healthy DIY Lunch IdeasTime is of the essence when you are busy taking care of a million and one things. We often let our health fall to the wayside as we scramble to get things done by eating junk food or skipping meals altogether. Here are some healthy and quick ideas to avoid the stomach grumblings. Serve each with a side of fresh fruit such as apples, oranges or pears depending on the seasonality in your area.

Tuscan Tuna Wrap
Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 wraps
3 ounces Light Tuna, drained

1/2 Lemon, juiced

1/2 cup Fresh Corn Kernels

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes,
sliced

1/2 cup Baby Spinach

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Whole-grain Tortillas

Combine the tuna with lemon, corn, oil, tomatoes, spinach, salt, and pepper. Wrap in tortillas.

Turkey Lettuce Wrap
Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 wraps

1 cup Romaine Lettuce,
shredded

4 tablespoons Cottage
Cheese

5 ounces Turkey Breast,
shredded

2 Whole-grain Tortillas

Combine lettuce, cottage cheese, and turkey. Wrap in tortillas.

Baby Spinach Salad
Time: 5-10 minutes
Yield: 2 small salads or 1 large
salad

2 cups Baby Spinach

1 cup Romaine Lettuce,
shredded
1/2cup cranberries

2 tablespoons Sunflower
Seeds

1/2cup Broccoli Florets

1 Hard-boiled Egg, chopped

1/4cup Kidney Beans

6-8 Whole-grain Croutons

2 tablespoons Balsamic
Vinaigrette

Combine all salad ingredients and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.

Quinoa Edamame Salad
Time: 30-35 minutes
Yield: 2 small salads or 1 large
salad

1/4 cup Quinoa, pre-rinsed

1 cup Edamame, shelled

8-10 Cherry Tomatoes, sliced

1/3 cup Red Onion, chopped

2-3 tablespoons Vegetable
Broth

1/4 cup Lemon Juice
(approximately 2 lemons)

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

1 teaspoon Agave Syrup

Salt and Pepper to taste

If pre-rinsed quinoa if unavailable, soak it for 10-15 minutes then rinse thoroughly in a fine mess sieve. Cook quinoa in a pot with roughly 1 1/4 cups of water until it simmers, lower heat and cover. Let stand for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice, mustard, agave, salt, and pepper. Set aside. In a heated pan, pour the vegetable broth and simmer. Add onions, tomatoes, and edamame. Add the quinoa and mix together thoroughly. Flavor with the lemon-mustard dressing. (This recipe takes a bit longer to throw together but it is worth it in the end.)

Peas & Pasta
Time: 10-15 minutes
Yields: 2 servings

4 ounces Whole-wheat
Penne

4 teaspoons Olive Oil

4-5 cloves Garlic, minced

1 cup Fresh Peas, shucked

2 tablespoon Parmesan Cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is translucent. Be mindful of the temperature so as not to burn it, which can happen unexpectedly. Add the peas and cook until heated thoroughly. Drain the pasta once it is al dente and add it to the peas and garlic. Toss to coat and sprinkle with the parmesan.

Chicken, Ham, & Swiss Sandwich
Time: 10-15 minutes
Yield: 2 sandwiches
4 ounces Chicken Breast,
sliced

4 ounces Black Forest Ham,
sliced

2 slices Swiss Cheese

Handful of Baby Spinach

1 Tomato, sliced

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste
4 slices Whole-wheat bread

Start by heating half of the chicken and ham in a small saucepan. Once it is warm to the touch, place a single piece of cheese on top. Cook until it begins to melt around the edges. Remove from the pan and place on a slice of bread. Top with a slice of tomato and salt and pepper as desired. Add a little baby spinach and drizzle with olive oil. Place the second piece of bread on top. Splash approximately one teaspoon of olive oil into the still warm saucepan. Once it is heated, place the sandwich in the pan. Allow it to cook briefly until golden brown then flip over and cook until second side is golden. Repeat the process for second sandwich.

Caprese Salad
Time: 5-10 minutes
Yield: 2 small salads or 1 large salad
4 Roma Tomatoes, cubed

2 ounces Fresh Part-Skim
Mozzarella Cheese, cubed

1/2 cup Fresh Basil, roughly
chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, cheese, and basil. Toss with olive oil and seasonings as desired.

Chicken Quesadilla
Time: 5-10 minutes
Yield: 2 quesadillas
1/2 cup Chicken, diced and
cooked

1/4 cup Monterey Jack
Cheese, shredded

1 tablespoon Cilantro,
chopped

1/2 cup Fresh Corn Kernels

1/4 cup Yellow Onion,
chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 Whole-wheat Tortillas

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Combine the first five ingredients and seasonings. Divide between two tortillas. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Fold each tortilla in half and place in the pan. Heat until the tortilla browns and the cheese melts. Flip and continue cooking until thoroughly heated. Repeat the process for second tortilla.

Crystal Durham is a Certified Journey Baker who studied baking and pastry arts at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone. For comments or questions, she can be contacted at [email protected]

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