10 Healthy Lunches To Eat At Your Desk

10 Healthy Lunches To Eat At Your Desk

Struggling for lunch inspiration? Skipping food prep for a daily dash to Pret? Try these simple yet tasty meals from some of SL’s favourites wellbeing and nutrition experts. With ten dishes to choose from, you’ve got no excuse not to reach for the crisps come 3pm...
Photography: Fresh n' Lean

Louise Parker, Sustainable Weight Loss Expert

What are your four favourite go-to work lunches?

1. Coco’s Coronation Chicken (makes two portions) 
This salad is so speedy. I often make a batch of this for work and midweek suppers, then pop the mixture into wholemeal wraps to add variety. Great for making in batches. You can prepare it the night before but add the chicken mixture to the beans and lettuce just before you eat.
100g low-fat greek yogurt
1 ripe peach, stoned and chopped
1 tablespoon mild curry paste
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
150g cooked chicken, cut into strips
1 apple, cored and chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
50g walnuts, chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced
Handful of parsley leaves, chopped
200g green beans, cooked and cooled
1 baby gem lettuce, thickly sliced
Whizz the yoghurt, peach, curry paste and salt in a blender until smooth.
Empty into a large bowl and mix in the chicken, apple, celery, walnuts, spring onions and parsley.
Serve the chicken mixture on a bed of beans and lettuce.

2. Crunchy Crab Salad (makes two portions) 
I adore crab and this always cheers me up: the richness works well so with the crunchy veg. If I have time, I’ll toast the cashew nuts too, but you can do that the night before and add them at lunchtime. You can also prepare the dressing the night before and bring into work in a small bottle or container.
1 little gem lettuce, shredded
1/2 cucumber, chopped
2 carrots, coarsely grated
100g beansprouts
150g white and brown crab meat or just white if you prefer
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon white or black sesame seeds
25g unsalted cashew nuts, chopped
For the dressing:
1/2 tablespoon groundnut oil
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
Place all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Add all the salad ingredients, toss well to combine and taste, adding a little more soy sauce if you like. So simple, so tasty.

3. Spiced Carrot and Red Lentil Soup (makes four portions) 
I love to top this soup with crumbled goats’ cheese. You can add it just before you eat. This is another soup that lends itself to batch-cooking and freezing in portions for an instant meal. You can simply heat up at work.
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil, plus extra to drizzle
1 onion, finely chopped
3 large carrots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
300g dried lentils, rinsed in cold water
800ml good vegetable stock
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and gently sauté the onion and carrots until the onions are translucent. Now add the spices and lentils and fry until the spices are fragrant and toasted.
Stir in the stock and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. I like this soup as it is, but feel free to blend it if you prefer a smooth texture.
Season to taste and serve sprinkled with the pumpkin seeds and a little drizzle of oil.

4. Savoury Granola (makes eight portions) 
This recipe for seedy savoury granola is great for chucking on salads or sprinkling on a soup. A handful of these and a piece of fruit makes a fast, delicious snack.
50g pumpkin seeds
100g jumbo oats
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
50g pecans
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg white
Preheat the oven to 180c. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, mix well and bread on a small baking tray lined with baking paper – not too thinly or the mixture may burn.
Bake for 15-20 min minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasted and golden.
Allow to cool completely on the tray. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

What do you have to hand on your desk to enhance a workplace lunch?

Make sure you always have lots of herbs, seasoning and condiments in your cupboards, plus balsamic vinegar and oils for dressings. Nuts for snacks, chilli flakes, a bottle of Tabasco, and a pouch of Merchant Gourmet cooked lentils which can be used as a great protein base for salads and can be eaten cold or heated up in a microwave.
Visit LouiseParker.com

Gabriela Peacock, Nutritionist

What are your three favourite go-to work lunches?

1. Mini Egg Muffins
I love these as a portable snack or meal, served with a large mixed salad. They re-heat easily. You can vary the vegetables and add some chorizo, or pancetta if you want, or some grated cheese on top but I like to keep them simple.

Small onion, chopped
Red pepper, chopped
Large tomato, chopped
Bag of spinach
6 eggs
100ml milk
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of chilli
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper

Chop the onion, red pepper and tomato and fry until soft.

Add the spinach, and wilt down, then remove from heat.

Break the eggs into a large bowl, then add the milk, paprika, chilli, salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork.

Mix in the vegetables.

Grease a muffin tin and divide the mixture between the cups. Bake for 15-20 mins until they are cooked through.

2. Seed Crackers (makes enough for one-week’s worth of snacking)

I love healthy snacks and tend to take rye or buckwheat crackers with me so I don’t have to eat bread. I’m always making this seed crackers recipe by Anna Jones.

100g sunflower seeds
100g pumpkin seeds
100g sesame seeds
50g poppy seeds
50g chia seeds
200g rolled oats
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
350ml water

Preheat your oven to 190°C. Get all your ingredients together, and line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

Combine all the dry ingredients, including one of the optional flavourings if you are using them, and stir well.

Mix the maple syrup, coconut oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add to the dry ingredients and mix very well, until everything is completely soaked and the mixture becomes very thick.

Divide between the two lined trays and even out a bit, then put another piece of greaseproof on top. Use a rolling pin to roll out the mixture until it is about 1⁄2cm thick.

Take the top layer of greaseproof off and use the tip of a sharp knife to score the mixture into rectangles.

Bake the crackers for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the sheet over, then peel off the greaseproof to expose the underside of the crackers. Put back into the oven for another 20 minutes. They are ready when they are firm and golden round the edges. Allow to cool, then break along the lines where they have been scored.

3. Simple Mackerel Salad
Another easy one for the office is based around a tin of mackerel. I often keep these in a work drawer in case I’m hungry. It’s loaded with green veggies too.

Green beans, spinach, rocket, cucumber and ½ avocado
1 tin of mackerel in tomato sauce
2 tablespoon toasted seeds (sunflower or pumpkin)
Squeeze of lemon juice

Make the dressing by mixing the lemon juice with the tomato sauce provided with the mackerel.

Add and the ingredients together and combine. Simple.

What do you have to hand on your desk to enhance a workplace lunch?

Tamari sauce as it’s better than soya, cayenne pepper to add spice, lemon or vinegar to drizzle over dishes and a stash of kombucha in the fridge.

Visit GPNutrition.com

Jasmine Hemsley, Wellness & Nutrition Expert

What are your three favourite go-to work lunches?

1. Quinoa and Sweet Potato Kitchari
Get up early and cook on the hob, or pop all the ingredients into a slow-cooker the night before, ready to pop straight into your thermos the next morning for a hot lunch, since a good stainless steel thermos will keep your food hot for up to ten hours. You can look forward to a delicious, freshly made, easy on the pocket lunch without the need to stand in line with the rest of town, giving you the chance to head out to a quiet spot, well away from your desk and make a proper break of it.

1 cup (200g) yellow mung dal
½ cup (100g) white/pearl quinoa, soaked overnight
1 sweet potato, peeled if the skin is tough and chopped into chunks
2 tbsp ghee (or coconut oil)
4 cups (1 litre) water, or more
1 teaspoon of: black pepper, ground coriander, ground cumin, sea salt
2 teaspoons of: black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, fennel seeds, ground ginger or finely chopped fresh ginger

Soak the quinoa overnight in double the amount of water. When you’re ready to cook, rinse the quinoa and rice until the water runs clear.

Measure out all of the spices into a cup — this makes it less likely that you'll burn your spices while searching for the others.

Heat the ghee or oil in a large pot. Add all the spices and sauté together on medium heat for a minute until fragrant. Be careful not to overdo this stage – it's better to err on the side of caution on your first attempt than risk frazzling the spices and making them bitter or burnt.

Stir in the mung dal and quinoa. Add 4 cups of water, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, lid on.

Cook for 10 minutes, then add the sweet potato. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes (longer if using whole green mung beans), or until the dal is completely soft (easily squashed between finger and thumb), the kitchari has a porridge-like consistency and the ghee has risen to the top, adding more water if necessary. Adjust the seasoning and garnish with fresh chopped herbs or the fresh green chutney if you like.

2. Rasta Daal
Hot meals are great, especially at this time of year, when a salad or other raw or cold foods just won’t cut it. This recipe features dal aka split lentils — protein-rich, easy to cook and affordable. Stock up on mung dal and red split lentils as these are the easiest to digest and quickest to cook. If you struggle with time in the morning and don’t have a slow-cooker, then batch-cook one evening and reheat in the morning.

1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced, or a pinch of asafoetida3cm (1¼ in) piece of fresh ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
½ tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of chilli powder
1 carrot, chopped
250g red split lentils, rinsed
500ml water
1 x 400ml tin of full-fat coconut milk
4 fresh tomatoes, skinned and deseeded, very finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh coriander leaves and toasted cashews to serve

Melt the ghee and gently fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic, if using, and cook until soft. Add the ginger, cumin, mustard, turmeric, cinnamon and chilli and cook for 30 seconds. Add the asafoetida (if not using garlic), then the carrot, and stir through.

Add the lentils, water and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20—30 minutes, lid on, but stirring from time to time, until the lentils are cooked.

Add the tomatoes and cook for few more minutes until they are soft. Add the lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with coriander and toasted cashews on top, if you like.

3. Winter Sunset Soup
The beauty of soups, stews and dals is that you can’t really mess them up. They’re easy to tweak and you can taste as you go; just be sure that everything is wonderfully tender (whole lentils take much longer from scratch, but freshly cooked is always better than tinned) and cooked through before serving, for best digestion.

1 tablespoon ghee (or coconut oil for a vegan option)
½ large leek, sliced
2-3 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoon cumin powder
2 medium parsnips, chopped into small chunks
1 large or 2 small beets, chopped into small chunks
1 large sweet potato, chopped into small chunks
750ml-1 litre bone broth or veg stock
3 small sprigs rosemary
½ cup red split lentils
½ teaspoon sea salt (if using homemade bone broth, otherwise adjust to taste at the end)
Generous grind of black pepper

In a large pan, sauté the leeks in the ghee until soft. Add the chopped ginger and cumin and sauté again.

Add the parsnips first and cook for a few minutes, then add the beetroot and sweet potato.

Add 750ml of bone broth or veg stock, and the rosemary, split lentils and sea salt if using.

Bring to the boil, cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are completely tender. Carefully remove the sprigs of rosemary and discard.

Use a stick blender to purée the soup to your liking, adding more hot water, broth or stock if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning, stirring in a generous grind of black pepper and ladle into bowls.

Dress with extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a final grind of black pepper to serve.

What do you have to hand on your desk to enhance a workplace lunch?

Keep a good extra-virgin olive oil (or organic ghee) at your desk, especially in winter if you’re feeling dry and your body might be craving more healthy fats than usual, along with black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon or ginger powder (or get a little spice tin and have them all!) These spices are all great for adding a bit of heat to the body if you are feeling cold at work or need a revitalising boost in the afternoon — add them to your lunch or even infuse in hot water for a spiced tea.

Visit JasmineHemsley.com

Fashion. Beauty. Culture. Life. Home
Delivered to your inbox, daily