TECH, BUSINESS AND CAREER INSIGHTS

Brown Bagging It: How to Take Packed Lunches to a New Level

By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars

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One of our core values is "Employee Safety,  Health and Happiness." What you put into your body to fuel it for breakfast, lunch and dinner is vitally important to your health. Lunchtime should be a chance to break up the day with a few relaxing bites that energize the rest of the afternoon. Unfortunately, when things get busy or we’re just plain stuck in a brown-bag rut, lunchtime can become a monotony of leftovers, fast food repetition, or the vending machine crunch.

Putting together gourmet-level lunches that are actually worth looking forward to doesn’t have to take a million years or a million bucks. These healthy “recipes” are quick, easy, and cheap, and they can be mixed and matched at will for diverse flavors. It’s easy to experiment until you find favorites, and best of all, you don’t need measuring cups, which means less to wash later.

DIY Hummus
Lots of people are impressed by homemade hummus, but that’s only because they’ve never tried to make it. Amazing, creamy, protein-packed hummus is as easy as chucking a few basic ingredients into the food processor. Take two cans of chickpeas (also called garbanzos) and pour the liquid out of one. Empty both cans into the food processor and add a few pinches or small handful or raw or toasted sesame seeds, a drizzle of olive oil, a few squirts of lemon juice, and one peeled garlic clove. Blend until creamy, and enjoy!

Once you try your fist hummus blend, you can add a huge variety of ingredients to spice it up or boost the vitamin count. Consider throwing in ground cumin, salt, pepper, spinach, parsley, fresh or sundried tomatoes, fresh or roasted red peppers, creole seasoning, Italian seasoning, mint—anything you want. Hummus is filling and delicious as a snack or lunch addition, and you can make it any way you like.

DIY Pita Chips
Pita bread is delicious plain or toasted. Pita chips have also become popular in the deli line, but if you love their crunch, you don’t have to spend extra money on premade ones. Grab your pizza slicer, fire up the toaster oven, and make them yourself!

Slice pita bread into triangles or squares (or, if you want to make someone’s day, stamp in shapes with a cookie cutter). Toss in a covered bowl with a little melted butter or olive oil, or for sweeter chips try coconut oil. Lay slices flat on a baking sheet and sprinkle on some seasoning, whether you’re in the mood for Italian herbs with Parmesan, plain salt, spicy cayenne pepper, or cinnamon sugar. Bake just until golden brown, checking halfway through to see if chips need to be flipped over. Cool, bag into snack portions, and you’re done.

Start with basics, then add extras
These two simple foundations—pita and hummus—can combine into tons of lunchtime combos. Spread hummus on toasted pita bread and enjoy as-is, sprinkle crunchy nuts on top, or add fresh greens and dressing for a new foldable take on salad. Break pita chips in pieces to add extra crunch and flavor to a bowl of your favorite greens. Cinnamon sugar pita chips are great with a little cream cheese for a sweet breakfast or snack. Or dip chips in peanut butter and honey for a remix on the classic PB&J.

Mastering the art of lunch doesn’t have to be hard. Find a few quick basics you love, then play with them to discover exciting new ways to refuel during the day.

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