Tuscan Bean and Pasta Salad
Creating workday wellness is a learned skill.
Today we spend most of our working hours sitting and typing. In addition, work environments can greatly impede the ability to make easy healthy choices. Therefore it is important to become an advocate for your own health. This perspective alone can greatly enhance wellness throughout the workday. See the infographic below for some great lunch tips.
Make Every Meal Count
Planning in advance can be the biggest first step towards an enhanced daily work routine. Many people may get breakfast on the go, eat lunch out, and snack on processed goodies between meals. These eating habits can quickly be reduced or eliminated by following the four food tips towards workday wellness:
1. Always, always take time to eat a balanced breakfast.
Eating breakfast in the morning can help your mind and body stay fit and fueled throughout the day. Skipping breakfast or grabbing a coffee and a muffin, can cause your blood sugar to drop and your energy to wean. Adding protein to your morning meal can balance blood sugar and stabilize appetite. Some meal ideas include:
- Veggie scramble with corn tortillas and refried beans.
- Apple and peanut butter.
- Oatmeal with chopped almonds, ground flaxseed, berries, and plain yogurt.
- Chia seed pudding with coconut milk and bananas.
- Whole-wheat toast with avocado, sliced tomato, salt and pepper.
2. Arm yourself with healthy snacks.
When hunger strikes between meals, it is best to be prepared. Stocking healthy snacks at work, whether in the staff refrigerator or in your drawer, can set you up for success. Bring a bag of fresh cut veggies and hummus, whole fruit, nuts and seeds for easy eating.
3. Know all your ingredients.
Although the best option is to bring lunch from home, it can be difficult to always be prepared. Therefore, create a list of restaurants or grocery stores nearby that offer whole food choices. If you can identify every ingredient in your meal, then you are in the clear! Plus you get the benefit of walking back and forth.
4. Bring a water bottle and put it in plain sight.
Staying adequately hydrated is key in monitoring appetite and staying focused. Keeping a water bottle on your desk can be a great gentle reminder to drink throughout the day. Aim for 9-13 cups of fluid per day.
Adding 5-15 minute movement breaks into your day can help support circulation, reduce stress, and help regain focus. Try to break every one to two hours to stretch and move your legs. Great ways to add movement into your day include:
- Cut your lunch in half: eat the first half and walk the second.
- Walk to your favorite lunch location.
- Walk up and down a few flight of stairs.
- Stretch at your desk.
Create a Spirit of Wellness
Sometimes the work environment is the most difficult aspect to change. Being an advocate for workday wellness can be challenging but may also inspire others to join along. Even making simple changes in your day-to-day work routine can positively impact those around you.
In the spirit of making lunches easy, quick, and tasty, I have a delicious recipe for you. It meets the guidelines for building the perfect work lunch, and it is vegan and gluten-free to boot. You can even bring this on a picnic or to potluck because it keeps fresh like a charm.
Tuscan Bean & Pasta Salad
For the marinade:
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 T apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp honey
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
For the salad:
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked whole-wheat rotini pasta (substitute with gluten-free pasta if needed)
3 T sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup finely diced zucchini (1 medium)
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup red onion, finely diced
Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, Italian seasoning, minced garlic, honey, sea salt, and pepper in a large bowl and set aside.
Cook the pasta according to the package for 9 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
Add the garbanzo beans, pasta, sundried tomatoes, diced zucchini, parsley, and red onion and mix to combine. For best flavor allow the bean/pasta mixture to marinate 3 hours or over night.
Toss with fresh baby spinach prior to serving.
**Note: For the perfect work lunch, place 1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach in the bottom of your food container and top with the bean and pasta mixture. Then shake the container to combine prior to eating.