For lots of us, it’s been a long (and strange) time spent away from the office. Perhaps you’ve missed the endless Colin the Caterpillars and office treats, or maybe you’ve settled into healthier eating patterns while working from home. Whichever camp you fall into, packing a few healthy snacks for work will stand you in good stead for a productive day.September 28, 2021 3:37 pm August 19, 2021 10:30 am
A return to prepackaged sandwiches?
When we’re working in an office it’s all too easy to pop out for a quick coffee (maybe a croissant as well), or grab a pre-packaged sandwich to eat ‘al desko’ during a packed lunch hour.
And yet all of us know that we’d be much better off taking in our own meals and snacks.
Before the pandemic, the average office worker spent a stomach-churning £1,580 per year on lunch. That’s around £6 a day, going up to £15 for Londoners!(1)
As if we needed context, that amount would cover a week for two in a luxury hotel in the Maldives.
Bet that sad sandwich isn’t looking so appealing now. But even disregarding price for a moment, we also know that pre-packaged and processed foods aren’t particularly good for our health.
Many are laden with hidden fat, calories and fillers, not to mention chemical ingredients that indicate the food is ultra-processed. Trans fats and ‘Mono- and Di-Acetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids’ in your cheese and onion, anyone?
Fall back in love with your lunchbox
Not only will packing your own lunch and snacks save you a bucket-load of money, you have complete control over what you’re eating. As a result, you can make healthier choices.
Plus, it’s unlikely that you’ll have any ‘Mono- and Di-Acetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Di-Glycerides of Fatty Acids’ lying around the kitchen to throw into your meals.
The main reason many of us don’t make a packed lunch or our own healthy snacks for work is time. And it’s true, taking your own food in does require a bit of organisation. However, there are plenty of easy hacks you can use to get around that.
By putting a bit of time in at home, making the most of leftovers and stocking up on some convenient healthy essentials, you’ll be lunchboxing like a pro in no time.
Without further ado, here are our top healthy snacks for work (or school). For each, we’ve also included some easy ways to save time so you can spend more time relaxing and less time prepping.
1. Homemade hummus with crudités
Five minutes spent wisely in the evening will provide you with a good few portions of delicious, homemade hummus for your lunchbox.
It is extremely easy to make. Simply tip a tin of chickpeas, 3 tbsp good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a tablespoon of tahini into a blender and whizz away. For an extra smooth consistency, drizzle in a little ice cold water near the end of your blending time.
If you want to take it up a notch, try adding a crushed garlic clove or a sprinkling of cumin. Or, go the whole hog and make our tasty artichoke hummus recipe.
Then simply chop carrots, cucumber and peppers into sticks for dipping at your desk.
Save time: Tempted to get supermarket hummus? Check the label first. If you see any ingredients you wouldn’t have in your own kitchen, move on. Good quality organic hummus which does not contain these ingredients can be bought from health food shops.
Can’t be bothered to chop veggies every night? Neither can we. Chop up a few portions in one go and keep them in the fridge until needed. The best way is to store them in bags; for carrots and peppers, add a moist paper towel in with the veggies to keep them from drying out. Cucumber is happiest in a sealed bag on its own. Remember to re-use your bags once done!
2. Energy balls
Once again, the blender is your friend here. You can whizz a batch of energy balls together in minutes and make lots of them at once. Plus, they keep well, so you can pack a couple in your lunchbox for days to come.
The key to a good energy ball is dates. They’re naturally sweet, with a lovely toffee-like flavour, and their stickiness helps bind everything together.
For the remaining ingredients, choose a selection of nuts, seeds, oats and other flavours you enjoy. For example, it’s tough to beat a classic peanut butter energy ball (we love to roll ours in desiccated coconut) or a chocolatey one made with raw cacao!
Seize the opportunity to sneak in extra healthy ingredients. We never make an energy ball without adding in Jerusalem Artichoke Powder. It’s packed with prebiotic inulin fibre, and has such a mild, sweet flavour that you’ll never taste it in the final energy ball. Alternatively, our Sea Buckthorn Powder adds a fruity kick and lots of beta-carotene and omega-7 to your ball!
To make the dough, simply whizz your selection of fruit, nuts and flavours together in a blender. Tip into a bowl and take about a heaped teaspoon at a time. With wet hands (to prevent sticking), roll the dough into little balls and line them up on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Done!
We have a lovely recipe for cashew nut and sea buckthorn energy balls here as well.
Save time: let us do the hard work for you. We make three delicious flavours of raw energy balls here at Erbology. They’re all made with activated nuts and seeds for easy digestion, contain no added sugar, and provide prebiotic fibre to boot.
3. Healthier biscuits
Grabbing a biscuit with your midmorning cuppa is as natural as breathing to most of us, but it’s probably not doing your health any favours.
Luckily, if you make your own, you can keep the comforting ritual in place while using healthier ingredients. There are plenty of biscuit recipes out there that provide a crisp and delicious partner for your cuppa without the need for lots of butter, sugar and artificial ingredients.
For example, take the classic Tuscan biscotti (or to be strictly correct, biscotto). Here’s a biscuit that was literally invented for armies on the move, so it’ll provide the energy to power your morning. Yet, you can make a whole batch of our almond biscotti recipe with no eggs or dairy, and only 2 tbsp oil and 1/3 cup sugar for ten biscuits!
Save time: Did you know that biscuits are really easy to freeze? Save yourself work by making up a double batch and freezing some for later. For the biscotti recipe above, make the dough up to the point where you shape it into a log and then wrap in cling film and pop in the freezer. When you’re ready, thaw it on a baking sheet and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Even better, there are lots of other types of biscuit and cookie that you can freeze before baking, too. Simply bake them straight from the freezer, adding a minute or two onto your normal cooking time.
"By putting a bit of time in at home, making the most of leftovers and stocking up on some convenient healthy essentials, you’ll be lunchboxing like a pro in no time."
3. Homemade granola
While often thought to be a healthy option for breakfast, commercial granolas often contain lots of unnecessary sugar and fat. (More on this in our article: is granola good for you?)
Yet the foundations of granola itself are pretty healthy. Oats provide energy, fibre and protein, while you can keep the GI level of your granola down by choosing natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. Add in healthy fruits and nuts and you’re well on your way to a healthy snack.
Just as with energy balls, homemade granola is an excellent place to sneak in extra healthy ingredients. We have a tasty recipe for granola made with puffed amaranth, which is bursting with minerals, protein and squalene. Skincare lovers will know that this last component is fantastic for moisturising your skin and hair.
Make your own granola by toasting your oats and nuts on a large, lightly oiled baking tray in the oven until golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven and toss with your chosen sweetener. Bake at a low temperature for 30-40 minutes, checking on it and giving it a stir every ten minutes or so.
If you like, add in your dried fruit about ten minutes from the end of cooking time to encourage it to caramelise slightly. Or, mix it in once your granola mix has cooled.
Store in an airtight jar for up to a month.
Save time: As with the biscuits, you can make up a big batch of granola to last you the whole month, providing both breakfast and snacking opportunities. Alternatively, pick up a box of our delicious Tigernut Granola.
Tigernut is a tuber which is naturally rich in prebiotic, gut-friendly fibre. Our filling granola comes in three unique flavours: Jerusalem Artichoke and Raw Cacao, Sea Buckthorn and Aronia Berry, and Apple, Chia and Nopal Cactus.
4. Veggie dips and crackers
Hummus may be winning the popularity contest, but it isn’t the only veggie dip that can light up a lunchbox. If you prefer savoury snacks and are looking for an alternative to the classic, look no further.
You can enjoy these nutritious dips as a snack, or can even delicious lunch if served with a selection of veg and some filling Erbology crackers.
Or how about our sweet potato dip, packed with fibre and beta-carotene?
Save time: choose a recipe like our raw muhammara, which can be made in seconds using a blender. To turn your dip into a healthy lunch, add a pack of our Erbology raw activated crackers.
Unlike normal crackers, which are made with wheat and water, ours are made from activated linseeds and sunflower seeds. This means the healthy nutrients within the seeds can be easily accessed by our bodies. What’s more, all of our crackers are low or low-medium GI, meaning they provide a steady flow of energy.
5. Protein bar
Shop-bought protein bars are generally a bad bet thanks to the sugar, fat and chemicals they often contain. What’s more, they also frequently contain protein that has come from a highly processed source. This is mind-boggling when you think of all the natural foods that contain plenty of protein on their own!
Yet, the theory of having a protein bar as a snack is sound: protein helps you to feel full. It is also helpful if you’re snacking to provide energy for a workout, as it helps you to build muscle mass.
The answer? Make your own! Our recipe uses amaranth and nut butter to provide natural protein and crunch, while dates handle the sweetness.
Save time: Our amaranth protein bars can be kept in an airtight container for up to four weeks! Spend 15 minutes throwing these tasty bars together and you’ll have healthy work snacks for a month.
6. Chocolate plums
If you’ve had a fraught meeting, sometimes only chocolate will do. Our chocolate plums are perhaps the healthiest chocolates you can eat: simply delicious dried plums encased in antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
These are especially good if you struggle with your digestion, as prunes are a well-known (and effective!) digestive aid. The natural fibre in the prunes will help fill you up and stop you from overindulging on the chocolate.
What’s more, prunes are high in potassium, which helps with kidney and heart function.
Save time: A snack bowl of prunes and broken pieces of dark chocolate provides the same nutritional value and flavour in a slightly less polished form. Even better, you can easily keep a bar of high quality dark chocolate and a pack of prunes in your desk drawer for times of need.
7. Banana bread
Done right, banana bread can be a healthy and nutritious snack to take to work. It stays moist for about a week, giving you a sweet treat to take into work for your afternoon snack.
That said, be careful with your banana bread recipe, as they vary wildly in terms of ingredients (and healthiness). Some are more indulgent teatime cakes, which you should only eat now and again. However others are made in a healthier way which makes them a convenient healthy snacking option.
Look for recipes which are low in sugar. Our banana bread recipe with crunchy walnut and melty dark chocolate pieces only uses 1/3 cup sugar and 3 tbsp of a natural sweetener such as agave syrup for eight servings.
Save time: Banana bread also freezes exceptionally well. Slice your baked banana bread into portions and freeze each one individually, wrapping it tightly with cling film or tin foil to prevent freezer burn. Then, grab a slice from the freezer in the morning as you head off to work. By lunchtime, it’ll be thawed and ready to enjoy.
8. Homemade muffins
Like banana bread, muffins vary enormously in their nutritional content. However, if you bake them at home you can pack them full of goodness!
If you prefer a savoury muffin, try our vegan carrot and onion muffins. They’re packed with healthy veg and have an addictive cheesy flavour thanks to nutritional yeast.
Alternatively, for a mid-morning coffee break, try our streusel coffee muffins; they need only 1/2 cup sugar for 12 muffins.
Save time: Just like our banana bread recipe, either of these muffin recipes can be frozen once baked and will happily defrost in your lunchbox.
Healthy snacks for work
With a little bit of prep, it’s easy to stock up on healthy snacks for work or school. Just a few minutes one evening or weekend can set you up with plenty of snacks for the week, and save you buying chocolate bars and crisps from the corner shop.
However, if you’re really short on time or simply don’t feel that confident in the kitchen, try our range of healthy snacks. Our crackers, granola and energy balls are all made with natural whole foods, with no unpronounceable ingredients, added sugar or preservatives. Just as if you’d made them at home.
Plus, they’re all perfectly lunchbox sized and easy to grab on your way to your first meeting!
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