My goodness…the heat in Southern California just won’t let up! Today alone will be in the 90’s. Surely not a good day to cook.
When the heat is on, I crave a sushi-based menu: Chilled carbs, with a little salt and protein added. Above is a photo of food I packed myself: Vege sushi, fried chicken I bought at the grocery store, and salad from the produce section. I’ve also packed a mixture of soy and wasabi for the sushi, as well as dressing for the salad.
Everything you see here can be bought pre-made, including the sushi; many supermarkets offer this item at the deli section. By the way, there’s a widely held belief that sushi is always made with raw fish. Not true! The main ingredient in sushi is short-grain rice flavored with rice vinegar. Although some sushi dishes include raw and cooked fish, other types of sushi incorporate avocado, pickled vege’s, or other foods into the final product.
I would like to mention that the containers in the photo were purchased at bentology.com. This website offers a variety of bento-style lunch boxes which are quite useful for all kinds of brown bag dishes. In addition, the containers are dishwasher and microwave-safe. The Bentology items are pricier than the Walmart lunch containers I recommended in an earlier post (See my “Gadgets/Equipment” category on this site). However, you might enjoy looking at the selections.
When I think of “tea time,” what comes to mind are images of elaborately decorated tea pots, delicate tea sandwiches, and tiered services filled with crumpets and scones. Guess what? A tea time style lunch menu is just as accessible as your local market. And very easy to pack.
Tea sandwiches. We have a nice French baguette market near our condo. It’s always filled with delectable pastries of all shapes and sizes.
Today, I purchased a French baguette filled with ham, cheese, and Dijon mustard. Only 250 calories for half a sandwich.
Sides. Fresh fruit and baked goods are frequently served with sandwiches at a traditional tea. I already had strawberries and scones that I purchased from my local Albertson’s. (Albertson’s scones are a tasty Quickbread that can be heated up in the microwave for 20 seconds. Great by themselves or with a little butter and jam.)
Tea. The most important ingredient! Since the weather is still a bit warm, I chose to purchase some iced tea at Starbucks, which was close by the French baguette shop.
The final product was satisfying….and quite easy to pack for a brown bag lunch!
Until now, this blog has focused on food, recipes, and gadgets that facilitate the preparation of healthy brown-bag menus. Today, I would like to address another topic: How to stay physically fit when you’re working full-time.
It’s not easy. When I was employed as a full-time HR trainer, I typically rose at 5am in order to get to the training site by 7am. I had an hour for lunch, and finished work at 5pm. Because so many of my training assignments were far from home, it sometimes took more than two hours to get back to my condo.
Nevertheless, I found ways to incorporate exercise into my daily schedule. Here are some things that worked for me:
Public transportation. Do you have access to public transportation? Consider using it. On days that I didn’t train, I used Metrolink and subway lines to get to my office in L.A. On the way, I walked through railroad stations and up boarding ramps. Finally, I exited the subway onto Wilshire Blvd and started moving my feet. By the time I got to the office, I had probably walked at least 1/2 mile.
Stair Master, the old-fashioned way. Do you have an upstairs office? Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. It’s a more intense aerobic exercise than walking, and good for you.
Take a stretch break. Keeping fit as an office worker means taking periodic breaks in order to move and stretch, especially if you do a lot of repetitive tasks using office machinery. I learned the hard way that pounding out reports on the computer without an occasional break will send you to Workers Comp with tendinitis, carpal tunnel, or worse.
Program your iPhone to give a reminder every 20 or 30 minutes. When the alarm goes off, spend 5 minutes doing stretching exercises like the ones on this mayoclinic.org link: mayoclinic.org 2006525.
Lunchtime activities. One reason that I advocate bringing your own pre-made lunch to work is that it saves time. Instead of wasting precious minutes ordering and picking up takeout, you can polish off your midday meal and use the rest of the lunch hour doing the following:
Go back to that stairwell that you used earlier, and spend 20 more minutes walking up and down the stairs.
Get together with some of your coworkers and go walking. Making an exercise date with others will be force you to be accountable to the group. No excuses for not putting on those walking shoes!
Do you have a gym at your offices? If so, use it! And If you don’t have time to change into exercise gear, just throw on some tennis shoes and do 20 minutes on the treadmill.
Is there a gym near your offices? I have been an L.A. Fitness Gym member for several years. They have locations all over Southern California. If there was one near my training site, I often spent some time on the treadmill during my lunch break.
Use exercise CD’s. One of my favorites is the Leslie Sansone Walking in Place series. You can get them on CD at amazon.com. You can also download them onto your IT device from the same site. What’s great about Sansone’s aerobic program is that you need very little space to execute the steps.
After work. Okay, you just got home from work. It was a long day, and all you want to do is eat, have a glass of wine, and watch some TV. Well….why not exercise and watch TV at the same time? That’s what I still do almost every night. Again, Leslie Sansone is great! I play my CD on a mini CD player while watching my favorite TV programs. I’ve exercised at night using this method for more than seven years.
I hope that I’ve given you some fitness ideas that you can use at work. And if you have additional suggestions, it would be great to see them in my “Comments” section.
Here I am in the middle of a California summer. It’s way too hot for a heated lunch. So today, my cold lunch alternative is meze.
“Meze” refers to a selection of appetizers commonly served in Middle Eastern countries. In predominantly Muslim regions, meze can be served as part of a multi-course meal. In Greece, Turkey, and the Balkans, meze is often served as a snack with alcoholic beverages.
Foods in a meze menu can include the following:
Dolma (stuffed grape leaves)
Sheep, goat, or cow cheeses
Pita or other breads
Cold vegetables (for example, cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper)
Grain salad (please see my post from last week for an excellent grain and legume salad)
Dips such as hummus, baba ghanoush (mashed eggplant), and tzatziki (yogurt dip)
These are just a few choices. You can find more listed on “Wikipedia” and other culinary resources. Or…just use your imagination. If it’s cold and edible, you can put anything into a meal like this!
I’ve fixed a Meze-style lunch several times for work. It’s easy to assemble, especially if you have access to a Trader Joe’s or Sprouts. Today, all of the ingredients you see in the above photo were purchased at Trader Joe’s. They are pre-made, pre-packaged, and can be dumped into your lunch bag with little preparation on your part.
If you access the Menu section, “Equipment and Gadgets,” my October 18, 2018 post features the lunch bag and plastic containers seen in the photo.
“Meze” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 24 July 2019,. Web. 26 July 2019.
I took this photo during our visit to Buchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. Here are some additional photos of the greenhouse garden:
So: Today’s brown bag recipe is another offering from our Vancouver Island hostess, Gail Bishop. Edamame (Japanese green soy beans) can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. The beans are tasty and filled with high-quality protein.
Try this edamame salad with teriyaki chicken or salmon. You can also serve it as a vegan entree.
EDAMAME, RED PEPPER, AND CORN SALAD (4 servings)
2 tsp. Sodium-reduced soy sauce
1 tsp. Toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. Honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup frozen edamame, thawed and drained
1 cup diced sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
In bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and garlic until blended. Stir in edamame, red pepper and corn.
To all my readers….my husband and I will be on the road until the beginning of July. We are driving up the Pacific coast all the way to Victoria, British Columbia. How exciting!
I will continue to write posts as we make our way north, and then south. I’m anticipating lots of stops at restaurants, diners, etal. It will be interesting to see how the foods we encounter might translate into brown bagging. Also, my husband is expert at RV cooking. Which means that we may have to change this blog to “RV Cooking,” at least for the present, lol!
Meanwhile, there will be lots of opportunities to discuss books and articles I read on the way. I already have a list of books I’d love to recommend.