Take Your Lunch to Work

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You have to admit that a homemade lunch during the workday will taste better than one you have quickly picked up out an about, not to mention that you will always know more about the nutritional value. Of course it does take some planning ahead. Here are some simple one bowl “take to work” lunch recipes that will help you incorporate whole grains and protein to the mid-day meal!

Sesame Rice Salad with Chicken and Peanuts


  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • ⅓ cup sliced green onions
  • ¼ cup dry-roasted peanuts, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced


  1. Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Transfer rice to a large bowl; fluff with a fork. Cool. Add chicken, carrot, onions, 2 tablespoons peanuts, 2 teaspoons cilantro, and salt to rice; toss to combine.
  2. Combine juice and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle oil mixture over rice mixture; toss to combine. Place 1½ cups salad on each of 4 plates. Sprinkle each serving with 1½ teaspoons remaining peanuts and ¼ teaspoon remaining cilantro.

Yield:  4 servings, each serving contains Calories: 393, Fat: 13.3g, Protein: 27.8g, Carbohydrate: 40.2g, Fiber: 4g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Iron: 1.7mg, Sodium: 424mg, Calcium: 44mg

Southwestern Brown Rice Salad


  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • ½ cup diced plum tomato
  • ⅓ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced seeded pickled jalapeño peppers
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well to combine.
  2. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving

Yield 6 servings, each serving contains Calories: 122, Fat: 3.1g, Protein: 4.1g, Carbohydrate: 22.7g, Fiber: 4.5g, Cholesterol: 0.0mg, Iron: 1.3mg, Sodium: 359mg, Calcium: 32mg

Greek Chicken and Barley Salad



  • 2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 2 cups cubed seeded cucumber
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup cubed yellow bell pepper
  • ⅓ cup reduced-fat feta cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped pitted kalamata olives


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced


  1. To prepare salad, sprinkle chicken with ⅛ teaspoon salt. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Add 1 cup broth; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until done. Cool; shred chicken. Discard broth.
  2. Bring 3 cups broth to a boil in a large saucepan; add barley. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Cool. Combine chicken, barley, cucumber, and next 4 ingredients (through olives) in a large bowl.
  3. To prepare dressing, combine 3 tablespoons oil, rind, and remaining ingredients; stir well. Add to barley mixture; toss well. Cover and chill.

Yields 8, 1 cup servings, each serving contains Calories: 230, Fat: 9.8g, Protein: 18g, Carbohydrate: 18.3g, Fiber: 3.2g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Iron: 1.2mg, Sodium: 611mg, Calcium: 38mg

Monterey Jack Pasta Salad


  • 6 ounces uncooked orzo pasta (about 1 cup)
  • 2¼ cups diced plum tomato (about 14 ounces)
  • ⅓ cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup sliced pickled banana peppers
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 (16-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ounce salami, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
  2. Combine tomato and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add pasta to tomato mixture, tossing well to combine.

Yields 4, 1-½ cup servings, each serving contains Calories: 371, Fat: 11.6g, Protein: 16.6g, Carbohydrate: 51.7g, Fiber: 6.3g, Cholesterol: 21mg, Iron: 3.5mg, Sodium: 919mg, Calcium: 164mg

Black Bean Quinoa Salad with Basil-Lemon Dressing


  • 1½ cups uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 (14-ounce) package reduced-fat firm tofu, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen baby lima beans
  • 4 cups chopped tomato (about 3 medium)
  • ½ cup sliced green onions
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained


  1. Combine quinoa and vegetable broth in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until broth is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat.
  2. Place tofu on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes. Heat 1tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu; sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Sauté tofu 9 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat; cool completely.
  3. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, basil, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until blended. Stir in quinoa.
  4. Cook lima beans according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Cool completely. Add the lima beans, tofu, chopped tomato, green onions, chopped carrot, and black beans to quinoa mixture; stir gently to combine. Store, covered, in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yields 10, 1 cup servings, each serving contains  Calories: 232, Fat: 6.2g, Protein: 9.8g, Carbohydrate: 35.1g, Fiber: 6.7g, Cholesterol: 0.0mg, Iron: 3.8mg, Sodium: 722mg, Calcium: 68mg