10 quick and healthy ways to spice up your lunch break

Dietitian Dian Porter reveals the packed lunches your colleagues will envy

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LEAFY BEEFY SANDWICH

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424 calories, 4.2g saturated fat, 6.2g sugar, 1.8g salt

Ingredients: 1 tsp horseradish; 1 tbsp low-fat cream cheese; 2 slices oat bread (for example M&S Eatwell Oaty Bloomer made with 30 per cent oats); 2 slices lean roast beef; a handful pea shoots and rocket or watercress (remove thick stalks).

Mix the horseradish and cream cheese and use instead of butter on two slices of oat bread. Add the roast beef, pea shoots and whichever leaves you choose.

Lean beef is a source of zinc — which is good for hair, skin and nails — while the pea shoots (rich in vitamin C) increase iron absorption from the watercress. Oat bread contains oat flour and bran which can lower cholesterol. As well as counting as one of your five-a-day and giving you a quarter of your daily fibre, this sandwich provides 75 per cent of your daily vitamin B12, which helps release energy from food and boosts our immune system and brain.

HIGH PROTEIN POT

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520 Calories, 5.7g saturated fat, <0.5g sugar, 0.6g salt

Ingredients: 50g brown rice, cooked; 1 cooked salmon fillet (100g raw, size of deck of cards) flaked; 2 large handfuls baby spinach; 2 hard-boiled eggs shelled and halved; squeeze lemon or pinch chilli flakes.

Place the brown rice in a lidded tub, then add salmon, spinach and eggs. Squeeze over lemon juice or a sprinkle of chilli flakes to taste.

Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D (for healthy bones), but oily fish such as salmon is a rich source: this pot will provide more than 100 per cent of your daily intake. Salmon is also a good source of essential fatty acids, important for keeping your heart healthy. With 45g protein (90 per cent of your daily needs) to help keep your bones and muscles healthy, and providing one of your five-a day, this pot should be a weekly ritual.

MACKEREL AND BEETROOT

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541 calories, 7.6g saturated fat, 4.9g sugar, 0.4g salt

Ingredients: 4 new potatoes, cooked with skins; 2 large handfuls mixed leaves; 1 fillet smoked mackerel (140g); 1 cooked beetroot or 3 ‘baby’ beets sliced into matchsticks; 1 tbsp chopped dill.

Dressing: ½ tsp Dijon mustard; 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar; 3 tbsp olive oil.

Boil the new potatoes the night before and pop in fridge.

The following morning, slice the potatoes in half or quarters, then mix with all the other ingredients and place in a lidded tub.

Combine the dressing ingredients well in a separate container, then add to taste when you’re ready to eat.

When it comes to oily fish, don’t limit yourself to salmon: mackerel is another fish rich in omega-3s, which have been linked to a lower risk of diseases such as dementia and arthritis. Keeping the skins on potatoes retains most of the fibre and vitamin C, while beetroot contains nitrates to help lower blood pressure and are good for cardiovascular health.

FETA AND MEDITERRANEAN VEG

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533 calories, 5.2g saturated fat, 7.4g sugar, 1.4g salt

Ingredients: 200g frozen Mediterranean veg (or make your own: red onions, peppers, courgettes, aubergine, cherry/plum tomatoes) cooked according to instructions (roast your own in a drizzle of olive oil for 20-25 minutes at 200c/ fan 180c/ gas 6); 75g orzo (rice pasta) cooked; 50g feta, crumbled; 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds; 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves.

Dressing: 2 tbsp natural yoghurt; squeeze lemon juice; pinch ground black pepper; 1 tsp red pesto or tahini.

Mix the cooked vegetables into the pasta and top with feta, pomegranate seeds and basil. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and add just before serving.

Feta is lower in saturated fat than hard cheese, but watch your portions: the size of two thumbs together is about right.

Frozen veg counts towards your five-a-day — this recipe provides three of your daily portions (and frozen packs generally retain more nutrients than fresh). This salad will also provide 30 per cent of your daily potassium, good for blood pressure, muscle function and a healthy nervous system.

SUPER BRIGHT SALAD

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535 Calories, 2.9g saturated fat, 20.7g sugar, 0.4g salt

Ingredients: ¼ roasted butternut squash; 3 serving spoons cooked quinoa (1 serving spoon uncooked); ¼ head broccoli cut into florets; ½ avocado chopped into chunks; ½ red pepper chopped into chunks; 2 large handfuls spinach, kale or mixed leaves; small handful pumpkin seeds.

Dressing: 3 tbsp olive oil; 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar; 1 tsp honey.

Roast the butternut squash and cook the quinoa the night before.

Place quinoa in lidded tub, then scatter on the remaining ingredients, with the leaves and seeds on top. Keep the dressing separate.

We need a ‘rainbow’ of fruit and veg as the compounds in each food work together (for example, vitamin C and beta-carotene boost iron absorption). This lunch provides four of your five-a-day and half your daily fibre; the quinoa and seeds add protein to help you resist an afternoon biscuit. The sugar seems high but half of it comes from the veg.

SARDINE POTATO TOPPING

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259 Calories, 3.6g saturated fat, 5gsugar, 1.1g salt

Ingredients: 1 tin sardines in tomato sauce; 1 in cucumber finely chopped; ¼ green pepper finely chopped; ½ clove garlic crushed; 1 tbsp creme fraiche; squeeze lemon juice; pinch cayenne pepper; 1 medium baked potato or 1 wholegrain pumpkin seed roll.

Mash the sardines then add the remaining ingredients. Use to top a baked potato (microwave at work or bake the night before and reheat) or fill a roll.

As well as providing omega-3, sardines are a rich source of calcium thanks to the soft, edible bones — this mix provides 79 per cent of your daily calcium requirement and 65 per cent of your daily vitamin C, thanks to the green pepper, helping to look after skin and gums.

Using the mix to top a potato raises the calories to 458, however this lunch counts as one-and-a-half portions of fruit and veg, and the potato adds fibre (4g) as well as vitamin B6 which helps regulate your hormones.

(If you have it in a roll, it’s 471 calories and 5.7g fibre, about 20 per cent of the daily recommendation).

CHICKEN BALTI WRAP

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537 Calories, 2.2g saturated fat, 18.4g sugar, 1.2g salt

Ingredients: 1 chicken breast (or chickpeas); 1 tbsp balti paste; 1 tbsp vegetable oil; 1 in cucumber diced; ¼ red onion finely chopped; 1 tbsp natural yoghurt; pinch ground cumin; pinch chilli powder; pinch black pepper; 1 wholegrain seeded wrap; 1 tbsp chunky mango chutney; 1 tbsp chopped coriander.

The night before, slice the chicken into strips and mix with the balti paste. Stir-fry in vegetable oil, then cool.

Mix the cucumber with the onion, yoghurt, cumin, chilli and pepper. Spread the wrap with chutney, then add chicken, veg mix and coriander. Roll, wrap in foil and chill.

A wrap can have less fat than a sandwich. Curry powder is a little-known source of iron and this gives you 27 per cent of your daily needs, as well as 31 per cent of your selenium, needed for healthy thyroid function, male fertility and a healthy immune system. It also provides a good amount of your daily fibre.

CRUNCHY LENTIL SALAD

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461 Calories, 3.5g saturated fat, 27.9 sugar, 0.1g salt

Ingredients: 4 heaped tbsp lentils; 1 green apple, sliced; 1 carrot, grated; handful walnuts, roughly chopped; handful lambs lettuce and rocket. Dressing: ½ tsp Dijon mustard; 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar; 3 tbsp walnut oil; squeeze runny honey; salt and pepper.

The night before, cook lentils in vegetable stock, then the next day place in lidded tub and add apple, carrot and walnuts.

Top with mixed leaves. Mix together dressing, then keep separate until you’re ready to eat.

This salad is bursting with alpha-carotene which your body coverts to vitamin A, essential for a strong immune system and healthy skin and eyes, and lutein and zeaxanthin, to help protect sight. It also provides three of your five-a-day, a third of your daily fibre and a quarter of your protein intake. It gives you a quarter of your iron and the walnuts provide omega-3 for a healthy heart and magnesium for healthy bones, nerves and muscles.

SPICY RICE SALAD

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588 calories, 5.3g saturated fat, 20.6g sugar, 1.7g salt

Ingredients: 50g brown rice; 1 spring onion thinly sliced; 2 slices pineapple cut into pieces (or a handful dried cranberries); ½ pack/2 handfuls bean sprouts labelled ‘ready to eat’; 1 stick celery sliced thickly; ½ red pepper cut into small chunks; handful unsalted, toasted cashew nuts; 1 tbsp unsalted peanuts; 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds.

Dressing: 1 tbsp sesame oil; juice of 1 lime or ½ lemon; 1 clove garlic, crushed; pinch dried chilli flakes; 1 tbsp low-salt soy sauce; 1 tsp honey; 1 tbsp wine vinegar; pinch pepper.

Cook rice, drain and mix well with the remaining ingredients and dressing.

This salad provides more than four of your five-a-day, a third of your daily fibre and more than a third of your protein. It also offers 90 per cent of your folate intake, a B vitamin important for a healthy nervous system. But watch your portion sizes with dried fruit — treat it as if it’s fresh, for example 14 grapes is equal to 14 raisins.

SWEET POTATO HUMMUS

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234 calories, 1.3g saturated fat, 7.8g sugar, 0.3g salt

Ingredients: 1 large cooked sweet potato, mashed; 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed; 30g tahini; 2 tbsp lemon juice; 1 clove garlic, minced; 45ml water; 1 -2 tsp sesame oil.

Blend the potato, chickpeas and tahini with lemon juice and garlic. Add sesame oil and water to loosen the consistency. This makes enough hummus for four portions.

As well as using less oil than standard hummus, this version has more fibre, so is more filling.

Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E which help protect cells against damage. Chickpeas are rich in iron and protein and count as one of your five-a-day (the sweet potato counts as another).

Serve with veg (2 in cucumber, ½ pepper and cherry tomatoes) to get your five-a-day in one hit. Or have it with four mini pittas (adds another 180 calories) or four oatcakes (188 calories). One portion of hummus provides 8.6g fibre, with a wholemeal pitta or veg, that’s half your daily 30g fibre by lunchtime.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

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