Healthy Food and Office Meetings Do Mix
The office lunchroom is fraught with obstacles if you’re trying to eat healthy.
Bagels, birthday cake, pizza and donuts are just a few things you might come across.
Office meetings and celebrations don’t have to be fueled by sugar and carbs. In fact, they’re not the best option for productive afternoons. Instead, Avera Medical Group Integrative Medicine Health Coaches Becky Hanzen and Kandace Brands recommend giving office potlucks and work meetings an overhaul.
“Break rooms can be toxic areas,” Hanzen said. “Going with whole foods is key.”
While donuts and pizza can be a low-cost way to provide lunch, Brands added that they come with a cost.
“By feeding pizza to employees you’ll lose productivity because people won’t be able to stay on track.”
Hanzen and Brands recommend getting buy-in from management to offer more healthful foods during meetings and celebrations. And while it might not be as popular at first, they recommend not serving up the less healthy options at all.
If you serve a fruit bowl as a healthy option next to birthday cake, most people will choose the treat and then once they have a taste they won’t go back for fruit, Hanzen said.
- Many long-time favorites can be revamped into healthier options using less sugar or low-carb substitutes. Almond flour can be used for baked goods while cauliflower is a great substitute for rice or potatoes. Bananas are a great natural sweetener in baked goods.
- It’s OK to mix in a bonus. “Bring a bowl of cut up veggies for an event. We don’t even care if you use ranch just as long as you’re getting your veggies,” Hanzen said.
- The same goes for the infamous cheese and cracker tray. One option is to use gluten-free crackers or skip them all together, Brands said. Deli meats like ham, turkey and roast beef are healthier than salami.
- Make sure veggies and fruits are washed, cut up and ready to eat. That’s way it’s easy to grab and looks appetizing.
- Test the water with office-wide food challenges or potlucks, such as everyone bringing in their favorite fat bomb or healthy soup recipes.
Here are healthy options to use throughout the day for office meetings or to bring to a potluck:
- A bowl of cut up fruit
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Egg bake with healthy cheese
- Protein smoothies
- Single serve yogurts or granola parfaits (use low-sugar yogurt and granola)
- Single-sized baked egg and veggie muffins
- Salads with protein (hard-boiled egg, grilled chicken)
- Taco bar (whole-wheat tortillas, spinach for salads)
- Hummus or guacamole and veggies
- Gluten-free chips with guacamole or salsa
- Veggie-filled soups
- Deviled eggs
- Low-carb version of a favorite (i.e., low-carb taco bake, not-potato salad using cauliflower)
- Water (skip the soda and juice)
- Trail mix
- Protein bars
- Fat bombs (These use a combination of healthy fats that fill you up)
- Hummus and veggies
- Banana ice cream bar (add coconut, nuts, fruit)
- Individual dark chocolate pieces (70 percent or higher is best)
- Yogurt parfaits (low-sugar plain yogurt with fresh fruit is best)
- Fruit skewers (dip in yogurt)
- Make a low-carb, low-sugar version of a favorite (oatmeal raisin cookies, peanut butter bars)
Here’s a recipe to get you started that’s great for the next potluck.
Healthy Low-Carb Taco Bake
- 1 package shredded cabbage, about 4 cups
- 1 pound ground turkey or chicken
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies
- ¼ cup of chopped scallions
- 1 red or orange diced bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon organic taco seasoning (Make sure it's no sugar added)
- ½ cup no-sugar-added organic salsa (Add water if it’s too thick or dry)
- ½ cup of shredded mozzarella veggie cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Put your shredded cabbage in the bottom of an 8x9 casserole dish.
- Brown the turkey or chicken and beef in a skillet and drain the grease. Season with taco seasoning; add tomatoes and other veggies.
- Simmer for 10 minutes at least.
- Put the cooked taco meat in the casserole dish on top of the cabbage.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove and enjoy.