Simple Healthy Lunch Ideas to Avoid that 3pm Slump

by L Matthews on April 1, 2013

sweet curried squash soup

Curried squash soup; put it in your thermos for a simple vegan lunch at work.

Ensuring that you eat a healthy lunch can mean that you skip that 3pm slump and the seemingly necessary coffee and doughnut run and continue to be productive all afternoon. How can you manage this? Simple, learn to get creative with leftovers, have a few tasty vegan staples on hand at work, find good healthy vegan fast-food options nearby and encourage your co-workers to do the same so you’re not tempting each other to go and grab that sugar-laced treat every day.

What is a Healthy Lunch?

Healthy lunches include complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release right up until dinner, along with proteins and good fats to support muscle and brain function and provide additional energy. You don’t need to rely on boring old egg and cheese sandwiches on soggy white bread with a limp leaf of lettuce in order to get through lunch and get back to your desk. Throw some ingredients together at home the night before and be the envy of your non-vegan colleagues.

The Benefits of Healthy Lunches

Eating a healthy vegan lunch has the added benefits of reducing your overall calorie intake, reducing your saturated fat and sugar intake and boosting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre in your diet. It might seem like pie in the sky but a healthy lunch as part of an overall healthy plant-based diet can help you to:

happy salad vegan lunch

FACT: It's impossible to be unhappy when eating salad. Ask the internets.

  • Manage your weight/achieve your target weight to feel good and feel healthy
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease
  • Reduce the risk of cancer
  • Improve mood and your ability to manage stress
  • Enhance concentration and memory
  • Boost digestive health, skin health, and immune system function.

How do you manage all of this? Here are a few simple vegan lunch ideas to keep you on the right track.

Something Healthy and Hearty for Lunch – Soup!

First up, soups! Simple to make, easy to keep healthy and delicious, and a great healthy lunch idea for work when you heat some soup in the morning and take it to work in a thermos. Go for vegetable soups with wholegrains, lentils, chickpeas and beans and you will have sustained energy courtesy of complex carbohydrates, quality plant-based proteins and vegetable fibre to slow down digestion to a healthy speed for better nutrient absorption. Add in a little coconut oil, hemp oil, cashew cream, vegan sour cream or other healthy fat at the end of cooking for an added calorie boost and a creamier mouth-feel. Try this sweet curried squash and lentil soup for sustained energy release and a good dose of beneficial carotenoids and other antioxidants.

Salads – As Boring as the Person Making Them

An ever-popular healthy lunch, salads have a reputation for being boring but I maintain that a salad is only as boring as the person making it. Switch up your limp lettuce for peppery arugula, cilantro, baby spinach leaves and watercress, throw in some toasted almonds, hemp hearts and cranberries, add a homemade sesame, ginger and lemon salad dressing and you will wonder why you haven’t been eating this well all your life. Other great options for healthy salads at lunchtime include kale salad with lightly roasted chickpeas tossed in a mustard, agave, and cider vinegar dressing with a little nutritional yeast for added B vitamins to aid protein metabolism, mood and concentration at work. Consider adding sauces and dressings after serving and taking them to work separately so that food doesn’t become saturated and limp during the morning.

Leftovers – The Easiest Healthy Lunch Idea

Perhaps the simplest healthy lunch idea of all is to make double quantities of dinner and take the leftovers to work. This is great when dinner was a casserole that can be eaten cold, or a rice bowl with hemp hearts, tofu and avocado in a tasty dressing, or even a pie that can be eaten with a side salad the next day for a lighter lunch. Choosing plant-based meals means that there’s little risk of E.coli or Salmonella that comes with animal-based foods, but make sure that your workplace has appropriate facilities to reheat food as necessary as there is still a risk of contamination. When your office manager sees the productivity benefits of eating a healthy vegan lunch it will be hard for them to deny you a microwave or refrigerator, especially if you offer them a taste!

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