Weekday work lunch ideas

Workplace lunches can get uninspiring. The same salad and meat sandwich day after day soon gets tired.  Here’s some ideas for quick lunch ideas that you can make up at work, or at home to take to work.

One quick cup of brown rice, a can of boneless, skinless salmon, plus some Steamfresh vegetables mixed together make a quick easy lunch that you can have ready at work in 5 minutes. This lunch is a good source of fibre, protein and provides omega 3 fats.


 Try this yummy, quick salad.  Mix together baby spinach, red onion, chickpeas, feta and sprinkle over a few walnuts.  Add a squeeze of lemon.  This low GI lunch will help keep you feeling fuller for longer.  Plus you can use some of these ingredients for another idea below.

 Make a wrap with baby spinach, feta, beetroot slices, walnuts and chunky tuna.  High in protein and the crunch of the walnuts make it extra delicious.

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Lentil salad with hazlenut pesto

One habit I’m trying to get into is having more variety at lunch time and this recipe is going on the list for tasty yet quick lunch ideas.  It’s simple, quick recipe that uses all whole foods and is a good source of fibre, protein and healthy fats.  Here’s how:

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Makes 2 servings

1 420g can of brown lentils, drained
3 spring onions, chopped
1/2 avocado, chopped
small bunch parsley
2-3 tablespoons pesto – recipe here
squeeze of lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Eat and enjoy!

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Sunflower Seed, Pecan and Berry Bars


I had the opportunity to review Highlander Sweetened Condensed Milk as I’m a part of the NZ Girl influencer panel, so I decided to make this recipe, which I’ve adapted slightly from the original.  It’s really easy to make, and quite tasty. Perfect for the lunch box or to take to work for something that’s sweet but not too high in fat or sugar.

1/2 cup dried berries
1/2 cup water
1 can of Highlander lite sweetened condensed milk
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

2. Place dried fruit in a saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Simmer gently until the liquid is absorbed. Take off the heat

3. Add the sweetened condensed milk to the saucepan and stir in. Leave until cold.

4. Sift the flour over the dried fruit mixture and add the rolled oats, sunflower seeds and pecans. Mix thoroughly and press into a 27cm x 18cm slice pan lined with baking paper.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Makes 18 bars

Coconut Oil – Is it really a super food?

It seems like everyone’s eating coconut oi right now.   When I was studying it was definitely on the eat rarely list because coconut oil is around 80% saturated fat.  So to see it move from the artery clogging don’t eat category to the eat lots, super food category was a bit of a shock.  It’s been claimed on some popular lifestyle blogs that coconut oil helps you lose weight, stimulates metabolism and stops sugar cravings, which are some pretty impressive claims.   I was keen to find out if coconut oil really is something that we should be adding to our diets.

So I decided to do a bit of research. It was actually quite hard to find good quality research on coconut oil. The “gold standard” in research is peer-reviewed clinical trials – there are none on coconut oil (that I can find). But what I do know, and you may have read elsewhere is that not all coconut oil is created equally.

Conventional coconut oil is produced from dried coconut, producing trans fats.  When it comes to fats, trans fats are the worst of them.  They increase bad cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol levels – a double whammy of heart attack risk.

Virgin coconut oil is different. Made using fresh coconut, it is homogenized into a fine pulp, then gently heated to extract the coconut oil.  While many bloggers and natural health advocates swear by  virgin coconut oil, what’s not yet clear is if this is actually better.  Virgin coconut oil still contains saturated fats, just not the trans fats that conventional coconut oil contains.   And opinions are changing on whether or not saturated fat is the dietary villain that it was once thought.

Saturated fats (well, all fats) are made up of different fatty acids.  Our knowledge and understanding around the health effects of separate fatty acids isn’t complete. We do know that there are some saturated fats, for example, some found in chocolate, that don’t seem to be harmful. One of the fats in coconut is lauric acid which has been shown to have health benefits such as antibacterial and anti viral properties.  Lauric acid also increases the “good” HDL cholesterol levels.  The downside of coconut oil is that it also contains large amounts of myristic acid which has been shown to increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol.   So is saturated fat per say as bad for you as once thought?  Read here to find out more on that.

The Cochrane review group review all of the scientific literature that meets high standards of quality to come up with recommendations on health and nutrition. Their findings suggest:

There is a small but potentially important reduction in cardiovascular risk on modification of dietary fat, but not reduction of total fat, in longer trials. Lifestyle advice to all those at risk of cardiovascular disease and to lower risk population groups, should continue to include permanent reduction of dietary saturated fat and partial replacement by unsaturated fats.

So, bottom line, while it would be fine to enjoy coconut oil every now and then, I don’t think there is enough research to advocate eating large quantities.  Small amounts would be fine, but I wouldn’t be eating it by the tablespoon, which I’ve heard some people have been doing.

Tomorrow, I’ll write a bit more about some of the other claims around coconut oil.

Image found via stock.xchng


Hooper L, Summerbell CD, Thompson R, Sills D, Roberts FG, Moore H, Davey Smith G. Reduced or modified dietary fat for preventing cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD002137. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD002137.pub2

Raspberry, banana and lemon smoothie

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy smoothies and is a good way to get your daily antioxidant fix. This raspberry, banana and lemon fruit smoothie is one I’m enjoying right now as a recovery drink after a hard exercise session or a lazy lunch on a hot day.


1 frozen banana
1/2 cup raspberries
juice from one lemon
1/4 cup coconut water, or natural yoghurt

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and enjoy!

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