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Not all the suggestions in the article are SB legal, but they might provide some inspiration. K

Best Brown-bag Lunches All Miavita Features

by Susan D. Moores, R.D.

Buying lunch at the office every day is risky business. We settle for "extra value meals" and other fast fare, typically loaded with calories and fat. Some bargain: First, they lighten our wallets, then they weigh us down for the rest of the day.

In one study, women who ate at least five restaurant/takeout meals a week took in almost 300 more calories a day than women who ate out less often, with a larger proportion of calories from fat. Over a year's time, those calories can add up to an extra 15 - 20 pounds.

To get more energy and feel good all afternoon, the trick is to eat a lighter meal that combines the right foods -- an easy job if you bring your lunch from home. Follow our guide, and a feel-good midday meal is in the bag!

What Makes a Nutritious Lunch?

* Minimally processed carbohydrates: Whole-wheat bread, whole-grain crackers, pasta, brown rice or bulgur.

* Protein: Lean deli meat (chicken or turkey breast), low-fat or fat-free cheese, canned tuna or salmon.

* Any fruit and any vegetable.

* Low-fat dairy. Yogurt, pudding, certain low-fat cheeses, skim milk.

8 Great Lunch Ideas

Using these building blocks, here are some brown-bag suggestions to beat the low-energy blues.

For an office with a refrigerator and microwave:

* Spinach and lettuce salad (from a convenience package) with shredded carrots and cabbage, and herb-vinaigrette dressing; a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese; whole-grain breadsticks; a wedge of cantaloupe.

* Chili beans and shredded low-fat cheese in a whole-wheat pita (warmed in the microwave); pea pods and cherry tomatoes; berries and plain low-fat yogurt.

* Wheat berry or bean salad from a grocery deli or salad bar; a wedge of part-skim mozzarella cheese; foccacia bread with a sun-dried tomato spread; baby carrots; a nectarine.

* Tuna wrap in a whole-wheat tortilla with lettuce and cucumbers*; yogurt dill dip and vegetable sticks; apple wedges; a cookie (avoid cookies with partially hydrogenated oils; choose healthy varieties such as fig bars, or Health Valley Low-fat Chocolate Biscottis or Fat-free Oatmeal Raisin).

* Note: To avoid soggy sandwiches, pack watery vegetables in a separate bag. Add them to your sandwich just before eating.

For an office without a refrigerator or microwave:

* Vegetable soup, chili or stew in a thermos; whole-grain baguette or roll; grapes; a small fat-free oatmeal-raisin cookie.

* Goat cheese, tomato and green pepper sandwich on a whole-grain bagel; blueberries; lemon wafer cookies.

* Peanut butter and mashed banana sandwich on whole-grain bread; jicama (an almost sweet, crisp root vegetable), celery and red pepper sticks; whole-grain pretzels; an apple.

* Low-fat mozzarella string cheese; baked tortilla chips with salsa or bean dip; dried fruit mix; single-serving low-fat pudding.

Tip: Insulated lunch bags and small freezer packs can keep any lunch cold until noon. Use them and you expand your packing possibilities.

Pack a Snack

Snacking is a must. Eating something every three to four hours sustains energy and prevents hunger, helps build a day's worth of good nutrition and prevents overeating. Stock your desk with the right stuff:

* Ready-to-eat cereals (preferably with a whole grain as the first ingredient)
* Microwave popcorn (single-serving size)
* Vanilla wafers, fig bars or ginger snaps (without hydrogenated oils)
* Fruit juices (single serving)
* Low-fat pudding (single serving)
* Instant oatmeal
* Applesauce
* Canned fruit (in its own juice)

5 Tips for a Power Lunch

1. Splurge.
You spend a lot less money when you brown-bag it, so use the savings to explore interesting foods -- European-style breads, hummus, baba ganoush, low-fat vegetable spreads, gourmet roasted veggies and more.

2. Think single serving.
There are hundreds of single-serve options in the supermarket perfect for packing in a lunch bag.

3. Accessorize.
Go all out to garnish sandwiches, leftovers, salads and soups. Add dark green lettuces, tomatoes, bell pepper strips, sprouts, shredded cabbage, mandarin oranges and diced mango for flavor and health.

4. Pick a beverage that counts.
Instead of coffee or soda, choose a drink that adds some nutrition value to the meal. Skim milk, 100% fruit or vegetable juices, sparkling or regular water, and tea are excellent choices.

5. Start a lunch pool.
Find a couple of officemates interested in sharing lunch duty. Each person takes one day a week to make lunch for the rest of the crew -- discuss likes, dislikes and expectations up front.

Susan D. Moores is a Registered Dietitian. She has contributed nutrition tips to the Wall Street Journal.
Gosh! In response to the study of women who ate 5 times a week or more etc, adding an extra 15-20 per year I am shocked. That is a lot!

Love Lolly
I know, it's enough to make you want to lose your lunch!!
laugh.gif Pun intended, Les? laugh.gif
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