My favourite packed lunch for the winter is just to carry a very large flask of soup to work every day. You need some or preferably all of the following in it;
- Protein – either a fish/meat or vegetarian source such as beans or lentils
- A slow release carbohydrate e.g. brown basmati rice, barley, etc
- Loads of vegetables in a spectrum of colours
You don’t need to use more than one or two vegetables at a time but you could also pile in six if you wanted. If you use butternut squash or sweet potato that covers any carbohydrate needs.
Use a variety of fresh vegetables. Chop into pieces and cook. You don’t need to add any oil just chop up the vegetables and add them to the stock. This is a great low calorie option as it is chunky but still low calorie. You can then add a tin of beans or lentils for additional protein.
This soup could also be creamed if you prefer a smoother soup.
Spicy Coconut and Butternut Squash
Cook a butternut squash and scrape out the flesh. Add to stock along with some onion and garlic you have previously sautéed for a few minutes. Cook for a few minutes and add a tsp of pataks balti curry paste along with a heaped dssp of coconut powder. If you like it strongly curried add more of the paste. Whizz and season to taste. For an enhanced look top with a tiny amount of toasted coconut.
Dinner ‘in a bowl’
I make two soups that are meals in bowl- A large bowl of this might be enough to see you through from lunch till dinner.
Chicken and Rice
Organic chicken pieces or whole chicken
Brown basmati rice
Marigold yeast free bouillon
First cook chicken pieces in a pot or pressure cooker. Take it out and cool stock. Put cooled stock into freezer and take off all fat before stock actually freezes. Add brown basmati and vegetables and cook for either 50min or 10 min under pressure. Add back in some of the chicken retaining some for another dish.
Tai Spicy Prawn soup
8 oz prawns
Carrot – chopped longways (sticks)
Courgette – chopped longways (sticks)
Unsweetened soya milk
Marigold yeast free bouillon
Large onion – sliced
Spicy seasonings of choice e.g. chilli, curry paste
Coconut powder – tablespoon
Tsp olive oil
Sauté onion add stock, vegetables and prawns and cook for a few minutes till tender. Add soya milk (do not boil hard) and spicy seasonings plus some fresh coriander. Thicken with cornflour to a thin sauce or dropping consistency.Season to taste. Before soya milk is added one can add skinny rice noodles or serve the dish with a wholemeal chapatti. Top with fresh coriander.
Moroccan spiced lentil soup
1 pint vegetable stock
1 tub ‘bio’ low-fat yoghurt
1 cup red onion
Garlic to taste
750ml cooked lentils (red, green or brown) –can use tinned
½-1 tsp marjoram
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ -½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp cinnamon
Salt & pepper as needed
Mix all together and cook adding yoghurt at end of cooking.
When it’s not wintery weather and I don’t need warmed up then a salad option is my preferred choice as I really love raw vegetables used in a variety of ways. You can make up a couple of bowls of salad and vary what you pop into your lunch box every day.
If you keep up the variety then you will never be bored and feel you are eating the same old thing every day! Some of my favourites are ;
- Spicy Coleslaw -use green and red cabbage as well as carrots and chilli
- Waldorf – apple, walnut and celery
- Rice Salad – mix in flaked toasted almonds and/or pumpkin seeds, raisins and/or cranberries, sweet corn, chopped peppers, etc.
- Green salad with avocado (green leaves, spring onion, cucumber, green pepper
- Mixed bean salad
- Beetroot and feta
- Quinoa and vegetable
I dress my salads with natural yoghurt and a splash of balsamic or I may make an oil and lemon juice and/or apple cider vinegar dressing. To that I will add garlic and mustard.
Here are a few recipes to get you started
This salad consists of celery, apple and walnuts in quantities that suit your palate (better to go low on the nuts i.e. no more than one ounce if you want to lose weight ). Chop the celery and apple, add chopped nuts and flavour with low-fat ‘bio’ yoghurt mixed with a little lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Season to taste and add herbs if desired.
A delicious (cheap) coleslaw can be made from chopped white and red cabbage, grated carrot, grated onion and/or grated apple. Note – if using grated apple the coleslaw will go brown so it needs to be used immediately. Instead of using mayonnaise, use goat plain yoghurt and a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Quinoa is the highest protein grain on the market with the extremely low G.I. of 30. It is a perfect food for diabetics.
Recipe (serves 6)
400ml hot vegetable stock
2 tblsp olive oil
1 medium onion
2 tsp curry powder
250g cooked chickpeas
2 tblsp mango pickle
3 tblsp goats natural yoghurt
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Chopped coriander leaves
Chopped mint leaves
Segments of orange, chopped
150g cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 little gem lettuces
Cook quinoa in stock for 15mins, drain and leave to cool. Sweat onion and curry powder in the oil for 5mins. Tip in drained chickpeas and cook 2 mins. Mix through quinoa. Mix yoghurt with mango chutney and seasoning. Mix in rest of ingredients and add mango/yoghurt mix. Line bowl with lettuce and spoon mix into centre.
Mixed Bean Salad
A salad with a mix of beans with a delicious dressing to provide omega fatty acids. I use tinned chilli beans as well as plain tinned beans. Another favourite addition is to steam green beans and add them into the mix.
Also avocado is delicious in salads. This could be served with a ginger or mustard dressing.
Another interesting option is to produce a bean dip/spread and eat this along with a salad and oatcakes.
This spread is a great option to cheese with none of the saturated fat -and is low in calories. It is great with oatcakes or served with a salad. Also, it can be used as a dip and served with crudités e.g. carrot sticks, cucumber, peppers, broccoli
- Soak and cook your favourite beans or if short on time open a tin
from a variety of bean e.g. butter, cannelloni, haricot.
- Add some onion and/or garlic.
- If desired, add a little nut/seed butter e.g. tahini, sunflower.
- Add flavor with some of the following options –
- Spicy pickle e.g. pataks’ brinjal pickle
- Pesto – there are vegetarian options e.g. zest rocket/walnut
- Sun dried tomato
- Herbs or Spices e.g. chilli, coriander, basil, parsley
- Season if necessary
Barlotti bean dip
Open a tin of barlotti beans
Add juice of a lemon (or less)
One tsp cummin
20g (level tblsp) tahini
Garlic if desired
- Chopped coriander
- Black olive pate
- Tomato puree/sundried tomatoes
- Tablespoon pesto
- Soaked almonds – soak almonds overnight or for 24 hrs. Rinse and pop into a small plastic container.
- Eat natural bar
- Square of dark chocolate (But a bar of 75% chocolate with large squares) and individually wrap them so there is portion control
- Fruit and Nuts
- Mixed seeds
- Flavoured oatcakes
- Stuffed dates – fill dates with some home made marzipan