I can't bear to throw out a glass jar so the shelf in my utility room is groaning under the weight. They make perfect plastic-free containers for meals to take to work or even on a picnic.
With 'stress awareness' topical at the moment we are increasingly looking at ways to deal with the various stressors in our lives and reduce them where at all possible. Eating mindlessly at our desks or while on the hoof is quite sadly the norm, as too is skipping lunch, due to occupational stressors such as working as a nurse or doctor, in the emergency services, on call or working shifts.
I'm quite sure most of us are not happy with this 'norm' as missing meals for some can cause blood sugar or hormonal imbalances leading to anxiety or 'hanger' and increasing the risk of snacking on junk to fill the gap. Junk in=junk out.
So, a great way to ensure you always have a healthy meal with you at work is to make it the night before and take it with you, in one of the lovely jars you have rescued from recycling.
Start with your base, the heavier stuff, the protein. Chickpeas, lentils, beans (think cannellini, kidney, butter beans, edamame), quinoa, or if you're an omnivore, some organic chicken or turkey breast.
Next add some colourful veggies in the form of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, grated carrot or courgette, left over from dinner roast veggies or cauliflower.
Now for some good healthy fats such as avocado or boiled eggs, olives, or some sheep or goat's cheese.
For texture add some crunch, seeds and/or nuts, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, walnut
Top with some salad leaves, they don't have to be green, why not include some lovely purple ones too for extra plant power? And they are in season at the moment.
Dress with your favourite homemade dressing before eating. You can keep this in a separate container, also rescued from your recycling bin.
If you include 'mood food' in your jar you get a double whammy of stress busting goodness.
'Mood foods' are those with a high content of an essential amino acid called L-Tryptophan.
L -Tryptophan is essential as our body can't make it therefore, we need to get it in food. It is a precursor to Serotonin, our Happy Hormone and acts like a natural mood regulator, bringing on natural calming.
So where do we find this wonder drug I hear you ask??
Here in the UK there is no government daily recommended allowance, however, in the US the guidelines suggest 280mg per day, recommended daily intake, RDI. Important: this is based on the general population and on food intake , not supplementation.
1 ounce/28g, about 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds = 39% RDI
3 ounces/85g of cooked chicken or turkey breast= 120% RDI
2 hard boiled eggs= 28% RDI
3 ounces/85g of mackerel= 88% RDI
1 cup/180g cooked kidney beans= 66% RDI
SESAME TAHINI DRESSING
2 tablespoons of organic Raw Light Tahini, this is my absolute favourite , link below.
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons of water
pinch of pink salt
1 clove of garlic, minced
This amount serves 2 but you can double or triple the amounts and whizz in a nutribullet for a lovely creamy, nutty, garlicky dressing.
You can get a bit creative too by adding in your favourite herbs or spices. Make it your own.
Nutritional Info on Sesame seeds:
These delicious little seeds are high in the trace mineral, copper, which functions in anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant enzyme systems. Raw Tahini is more nutrient dense than roasted as the enzymatic activity will not be de-activated through high heat.
Thank you for reading,
In good health,
Author: Patricia Alexander-Bird, Registered Nutritional Therapist, Dip NT, mBANT, CNHC
Photo Credit: Mariana Medvedeva
SOURCES AND RESOURCES
Mateljan, G. (2007). The World's Healthiest Foods. New York: GMF Pub.
Chatzianagnostou, K., Del Turco, S., Pingitore, A., Sabatino, L. and Vassalle, C. (2015). The Mediterranean Lifestyle as a Non-Pharmacological and Natural Antioxidant for Healthy Aging. Antioxidants, 4(4), pp.719-736.