4 easy, healthy lunch ideas from around the world

Packing a lunch for school or work can be time consuming and get monotonous. Whether you have kids who are back in school or are a working professional looking to eat healthier and save money by bringing your own lunch, here are some culturally creative, and healthy, ways to mix up those noon meals to keep them exciting and appetizing.

Around the world in 30 minutes

Here are four healthy, international lunch ideas inspired by Asian, Indian, Mediterranean and Mexican fodder that will add some zest to your lunch palette. All of these meals can be prepared quickly and are portable, meaning you can store and transport them with ease.

Asian chicken lettuce wraps

Crunchy, savory and sweet, these afternoon delights are a fun alternative to the everyday sandwich.

Asian chicken lettuce wraps

Ingredients:

1 can of drained mandarin oranges
¼ cup plum sauce
1 tbsp rice wine or wine vinegar
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 cups of chopped cooked chicken
1 chopped red bell pepper
½ peeled and chopped English cucumber
2 thinly sliced scallions
8 leaves of romaine lettuce

Directions:

Combine plum sauce, vinegar and ginger in a large bowl and stir together. Mix the oranges, chicken, pepper, cucumber and scallions into the same bowl and toss all of the elements together. Lay out lettuce leaves on a plate. Then, add contents from the bowl onto each leaf of lettuce. Enjoy!If packing a lunch, pour bowl contents into a container suitable for lunch box. Package lettuce leaves in small, plastic bag.

Photo credit: Sifu Renka

Carrot mango sesame salad

This Indian-inspired dish is brimming with spiced vegetables and fruit. Supplement the salad with noodles, rice or chicken for a heartier midday meal.

Ingredients:

1 sliced carrot
1 sliced mango
1 sliced cucumber
Handful of sesame seeds
1 red chili pepper
½ tbsp. jiggery syrup
1 tbsp. peanut powder
Pinch of salt

Directions for the salad dressing:

Dry roast the sesame seeds for three minutes on low-medium heat. De-seed and tear the red chili pepper and combine with the toasted sesame seeds, jiggery syrup, peanut powder and pinch of salt.

Directions for salad:

Toss the carrot, mango and cucumber slivers in the dressing and serve

Mediterranean platterMediterranean platter with hummus, pita wedges and veggies

This easy, light and fresh recipe is convenient and tasty. It can also make for a scrumptious after-school snack.

Ingredients:

Flatbread or pita
Snap peas
Feta
Cucumber
Fresh mint leaves
Coarse sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Red wine vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil
Hummus

Directions:

Cut your flatbread or pita into wedges and drizzle with olive oil. Place the bread on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and ground pepper. Place sheet in oven for 10-15 minutes. Cut the cucumbers and dribble red wine vinegar and olive oil over them. Place flatbread and cucumbers on plate or in a lunch container. Add snap peas and feta to the platter. Sprinkle mints leaves over the vegetables, and then add a dash of coarse sea salt and red pepper. Add a dollop of hummus to platter, or secure separately in small container.

Photo credit: MauraNeill

Quinoa taco salad

This fun and festive version of taco salad is packed with protein and nutrients thanks to special ingredient and super food quinoa. You can even prepare it in a mason jar to keep contents fresh and make your meal easy to grab-and-go.
Quinoa taco salad

Ingredients:

1 cup of quinoa
1 chopped red pepper
1 chopped orange pepper
Halved cherry tomatoes
Chopped half of a red onion
Queso fresco (Mexican crumbly cheese)
1 can of black beans
¼ cup of cilantro
1 sliced avocado
1 lime
1 tbsp cumin
Salsa
Salt and pepper
Whole wheat tortilla (optional)

Directions:

Add two cups of water and one cup of quinoa to a pot and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Reduce to simmer for about 25 minutes. After the water is absorbed, remove the pot from the heat, and pour its contents into a large bowl. Add vegetables and cilantro, squirt a bit of lime juice onto the contents, and stir everything together. Pour these contents into the container you’ll be using for lunch and top off with queso fresco, avocado and salsa before covering. Add tortilla if you’d like to eat as a wrap.

Photo credit: nerdling

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