Save time and money with these 3 tasty packed lunches
New Year, New You... Busy lifestyles mean that the need for healthy, tasty, speedy food has become ever more apparent.
Leading a healthier lifestyle doesn’t need to be difficult and packed lunches are a great starting point when it comes to better nutrition and health for the whole family.
While it’s so easy to regress to preparing the same sandwich every day, why not take the time to get a little more creative and make lunch much more tasty and interesting?
Rice is not often front-of-mind as a lunchtime staple for a school snack or desk dining, but studies show that when you begin with rice, you end up with a meal that’s better for you*. It’s also a great-value choice when thinking of household budgets and meal planning.
Nutritionally, rice is hard to beat. All Uncle Ben's brand parboiled long grain white rice and flavoured rice products are enriched with iron and B vitamins including thiamin, folic acid and niacin. And they naturally have minerals like phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.
Rice is naturally low in fat and saturated fat, has 0% trans fats and is cholesterol free. It’s a natural source of amino acids and a good source of fibre.
From salads to wraps, here are 3 tasty rice-based packed lunches that pack a punch when it comes to being delicious and nutritious:
1 Great Protein Power: Chicken, Apple, Walnut and Brown Rice
This Chicken, Apple, Walnut and brown rice salad is delicious, cool and refreshing, highlighted by the tangy taste of balsamic vinaigrette and the great protein power of chicken breast!
Preparation Time: 15-30 mins
6 tablespoons low-fat balsamic vinaigrette
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 bags Uncle Ben’s Boil-in-Bag Whole Grain Brown Rice
2 cups cooked and shredded boneless, skinless chicken breast cooled.
2 medium green apples, thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped red onion (optional)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
1. Prepare Uncle Ben’s Boil-in-Bag Whole Grain Brown Rice according to package directions. Let cool.
2. If chicken is not already cooked, grill on medium-high heat until cooked through.
3. In a large bowl, toss together rice, chicken, green apple, red onion, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.
4. Garnish with fresh sage. Serve cold or at room temperature.
2. A Great Greek Inspired Salad
Thanks to chewy cranberries and crunchy almonds, this rice is packed with a variety of textures and will make lunchtime more exciting. Serve with a creamy Greek-yoghurt based dressing that's sweet and tangy to add even more taste.
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Uncle Ben’s Ready to Heat Rice 250g Wholegrain and Quinoa
Half a cup of 2% Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons chopped parsley, divided
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 teaspoon lemon zest
One 140g can tuna in water, drained
Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups of mixed baby lettuce
1. Cook the rice according to package instructions. Pour the rice into a medium bowl and let it cool.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the yoghurt, lemon juice, honey and 2 tablespoons of parsley together.
3. When the rice is warm to the touch, but not hot, add the cranberries, almonds, lemon zest, remaining parsley and tuna. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Serve the rice over the lettuce with the dressing on the side.
3. Wrap It: Chicken, Rice and Beans
With melted mozzarella cheese, beans and chicken gravy, this tortilla-wrapped recipe will be a big hit with your family. It’s a great lunchbox treat for school or for the office.
Preparation Time: 15-30 minutes
1kg Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Dry Rice
2 cups frozen green beans
2 cups frozen diced carrots
3 cups cooked, diced chicken breast
1 400g can chicken gravy
1 400g white or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
8 whole grain tortillas (10 inch)
1 / 1/5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Prepare the rice according to package instructions. Keep warm.
2. While the rice is cooking, begin making the remainder of the wrap filling.
3. In a large saucepan, add green beans, carrots and chicken. Cook over medium heat.
4. When warmed through, add gravy and canned beans. Mix well, heat through and keep warm.
5. Warm tortillas in a skillet (stovetop) or in the oven.
6. Place scoop of rice on warmed tortilla. Add the chicken and bean mixture to the top of the rice, portioning it to make 6-8 wraps.
7. Top each with mozzarella cheese. Fold in the sides of the tortilla and wrap to completely enclose the filling. Serve cut in half of whole.
For more delicious healthy meal ideas that are quick and easy to prepare, go to www.unclebens.com/recipes
* Evaluation of impact of Rice Consumption, An Analysis of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2004