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Simple ideas to makeover a lunch in just minutes

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Updated: 1/25/2013 10:34 am

(BPT) - Rather than sitting down to a wholesome meal, do you spend your lunch break running errands, catching up on bills or organizing your kid's next big activity? Too often busy parents and working professionals have to choose between eating well and doing important tasks during the lunch hour. With the start of the new year, it's time to take back lunch with a few healthy ideas that will makeover your meals in just minutes.

Here are some quick lunch ideas that will jumpstart your afternoon and give you the energy and nutrients you need to complete your busy day:

Think smart with simple proteins

It's no secret that proteins are healthy and leave you feeling satisfied for longer. But baking a chicken breast is not an option when you're facing a busy lunch break. Instead, reach for proteins that are easy to prepare and store. For example, hard boil a few eggs and bring to them to work. Stock up on yogurt (Greek styles typically have higher levels of protein) and hummus with wholegrain crackers. Other nutritious options are canned tuna, canned chicken or peanut butter. Rather than heading to the drive-through, these options offer plenty of protein and nutrients, leaving you satisfied without the sinking feeling that comes after eating junk foods.

Healthy options you can keep in your desk

Want a wholesome lunch that is easy to keep in a drawer at work and is ready in just 60 seconds? Skip the ramen and opt for a healthier option. Minute(R) Ready to Serve Rice is a healthy solution for the time-crunched lunch crowd. With fully cooked rice, there's nothing to add. Just pop it in the microwave for one minute and you have a savory lunch or afternoon snack. Plus, it's conveniently packaged in two individual single-serve cups, making portion control simple. With a variety of flavors, it's perfect as a stand-alone or when paired with canned soup (also easy to keep in your desk drawer) or mixed into a salad.

Reinvent leftovers with a wrap

Leftovers can be a nutritious lunch option that also saves you a lot of money, but how many times do you get stuck eating the same thing twice, or sometimes three times, in a few days? Reinvent your leftovers by using a tortilla wrap. Whole-wheat wraps are great for just about anything - fill with your leftover pork, beef or chicken, add some cheese and salsa, and you now have a zesty wrap that is good for you too. You can also microwave Minute Ready to Serve Rice and add to a wrap along with leftover meat or beans for a tasty and satisfying creation. Tortillas can stay fresh for long time, so buy a package and store it in a sealed container in the fridge so this handy food is always available for creative lunching.

Stock up on convenient produce

What's healthier than munching on fresh fruits and veggies? And when the weather is cold, fresh produce can really hit the spot, but if you don't have it on hand, you're more tempted to hit the vending machine. At the end of the weekend, cut up a plentiful supply of veggies and fruit to bring with you on Monday to store in the break-room fridge. That way when hunger pangs strike, you have a quick snack that's easy to grab and go, and you always have a wholesome side on days you bring in leftovers or a basic sandwich.

It's time to forget boring, bland and unhealthy lunches. Take back your lunch break with these easy options that are both quick and nutritious. Try these easy recipes today:

Hawaiian Rice
Serves: 2 (about 1 cup each)

Ingredients:

1 container Minute(R) Ready to Serve White Rice
1/2 cup cooked low sodium ham, cubed
1/2 cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks
1/4 cup cooked green peas or sugar snap peas
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce

Directions:

Prepare rice according to package directions. In a medium bowl, combine rice, ham, pineapple, peas, sesame oil and soy sauce; mix well. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and chopped cilantro, if desired.

Provencal Rice Salad
Serves: 2 (about 1 cup each)

Ingredients:

1 container Minute(R) Ready to Serve Multi-Grain Medley or Brown Rice
1 can (6 ounces) canned tuna, drained
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
4 black olives, sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinaigrette
1 cup salad greens

Directions:

Prepare rice according to package directions. In a medium bowl, combine rice, tuna, tomatoes, olives and vinaigrette; mix well. Serve over greens and/or with pita chips.

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