Lockdown Lunches – Harmony and Health
Whether it was nipping out to grab a sandwich, packing the children’s lunch boxes, congregating in the canteen or maybe the luxury of a business lunch – that’s all a distant memory for most. Lockdown lunch is still the order of the day, with what you can fit in between the next online meeting, lesson or lecture.
It’s good to take a break away from your screen, to move and rest your eyes, so try to avoid eating at your desk. This will help you eat mindfully, and your digestion will thank you too.
Avoid rushing meals. Allow 20 minutes minimum per meal, ideally sitting at a table rather than the sofa or bed with 5 minutes break either side to think about what you are going to eat and to let your meal settle. Eat slowly with good posture (granny was right!), away from distractions such as your phone and chew thoroughly. A post-lunch walk is ideal if you can fit some exercise in then to aid digestion and get some fresh air.
When it comes to plant-based nutrition, how can you get the most out of lunch time? Something quick, tasty, satisfying and nutritious? One useful approach can be including foods from all of the food groups:
A source of protein such as lentils, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, soya (tofu),
A portion of high fibre starchy carbs including wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa – ready cooked can save time and flavoured pouches such as Spicy Cajun-Style Lentils and Red Kidney Beans or Smoky Spanish-Style Grains means most of the work has been done for you
Portions of vegetable or salad such as tinned sweetcorn, mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, veg and bean soup plus a portion of fruit such as a couple of satsumas, an apple, small banana or a couple of kiwi fruit.
Calcium containing foods including unsweetened fortified dairy alternatives such as drinks and yogurts, green leafy veg, nuts, a handful of dried fruit such as raisins, prunes, figs and dried apricots, calcium-set tofu
A drink for hydration – water is best otherwise another unsweetened drink
Forage in the fridge for leftovers such as Spicy Cajun-Style Lentils and Red Kidney Beans which can be turned into toppings for baked potatoes, or leftover sauces from cooking a little extra the night before or at the weekend. Tinned vegetables (drain and rinse if in water), pre-cooked, pre-chopped and frozen veg are your friend in throwing together quick, simple tasty and nutritious lunches. Wash and chop up salad veg at the weekend when you have more time and store in airtight boxes in the fridge to save time in the working week.
If you were used to making packed lunches then maybe you could use this time to make some soup or a tray bake instead which will be welcomed on a cold day
Have a rule that everyone eats the same thing but everyone can choose in turn or make lunch DIY (including the clearing up!) so you don’t end up running an unofficial canteen. Communicate what is off limits otherwise you can go to make dinner only to find someone’s eaten the ingredients for lunch. Get the children to help with age appropriate jobs ranging from cooking lunch, laying the table, pouring out water, chopping veg or washing up afterwards. At school they would have to clear their place so why not at home. Following a recipe is brilliant for weighing and measuring – all part of maths.
By Sian Porter, Merchant Gourmet Consultant nutritionist, registered dietitian