Organic Quick Lunches

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Putting together organic quick lunches doesn't have to be a hassle. With some planning and a little flexibility you can have a tasty lunch that's good for you.

Organic Quick Lunches - The Basics

Going organic in your meal preparation can be a healthier and more responsible way to eat. Organic foods are grown in an environment with few, if any, synthetic pesticides and insecticides, and with no synthetic fertilizers, like those made from petroleum-based products.

Organic agriculture helps keep your family healthy while maintaining a natural balance in farm soil and with surrounding ecosystems. Buying USDA certified organic meats, produce and dairy helps farmers, nature and consumers by encouraging the production of wholesome products that replenish the soil, respect native plants and wildlife, and maintain cleaner water resources. Protecting your family and endorsing agricultural responsibility and reform by going organic is a worthwhile goal, but it can be challenging sometimes. When you're headed off to work, or are packing the kid's lunch, you want something wholesome, reliable and fast. Organic foods can be quick and easy if you keep a few things in mind. Prepared organic foods may or may not be stocked in volume at your local grocery store, but there are specialty stores and farmer's markets that specialize in organics of all types. When you're looking for raw ingredients, like fruits and vegetables, finding organic is pretty straightforward, but when you want processed foods, you'll have to start reading labels closely. It may take another few minutes on shopping day, but it's worth it. USDA organic certification is broken into three categories: Made with organic ingredients, 95 percent organic and 100 percent organic. If a food product is 95 percent organic or higher, it will carry the USDA organic seal. To be sure that you're getting the genuine article, look for the label. Marketing materials that contain terms like "all natural" or "healthy" aren't necessarily organic.

Lunches on the Go

Standard lunchmeats can contain a whole alphabet's worth of chemical additives, like: sodium nitrite, sodium caseinate, propyl gallate, and a variety of stabilizers, thickeners and fillers. When you buy organic lunchmeats, you can lose the chemistry lesson, but finding organic alternatives may require some searching and an investment of from 20 to 40 percent more in food costs.

Once you have a reliable source of organic foods, lunch can be simple. You can make a traditional sandwich or branch out into other, areas:

Vegetables

Eating vegetables fresh is the preferred method for preserving their nutrients. Eating organic food is partly about eating healthier, and what could be healthier than a few sticks of carrots, celery or sliced bell pepper at lunch. You don't have to be a minimalist about it either. Make a refreshing dip using your spice cupboard and some sour cream or yogurt. If you're packing a lunch for a child, offer up some peanut butter as a dip, or try salsa or hummus. Good for you doesn't have to mean bland.

Fruits

Seasonal fruit is another option. Apples are a super sweet treat that's good for you. They are naturally low in calories and contain high levels of antioxidants. Apples also help keep your mouth and gums healthy. Fruits are energy enhancers that have lots to recommend them. From the memory boosting advantages of eating blueberries, to the added fiber you'll get from eating apples, pears or oranges, adding some fruit to your lunch bag is a quick, sweet choice. Oh, and don't forget to try dried fruits too. They're super concentrated and very portable. You don't have to settle for raisins if you don't want to. Dried cranberries, cherries and blueberries are making wrinkled skin look downright attractive.

Cereal

Cereals aren't just for breakfast anymore. Organic dry cereal can be a tasty lunch or afternoon snack that will help you bulk up on fiber, vitamins and minerals. Check out Kellogg's organic cereal line, Kashi, or take a look at General Mills' brand, Cascadian Farm.

Don't be seduced by the certified organic label and forget to look at the sugar content of the cereal, though. Just because a food is organic doesn't mean it isn't high in sugar, fat or sodium.

Yogurt

Organic yogurt is as delicious as its conventional counterpart, but to get the best advantage from your cup, look for the term "live, active cultures" on the label. The presence of these cultures is what makes yogurt so good for you.

Make Something Yourself

If you want to take a more personal approach to organic quick lunches, try making an entrée during the weekend for lunch during the week. If you use organic ingredients and make something you like anyway, you'll be creating healthy meals tailored to your taste for less money than you could buy them already prepared . . . if you could get them already prepared. It may seem like a hassle at first, but making a double batch of a recipe and freezing it, or making a separate recipe that uses similar ingredients to something that you're making for dinner is a sly way to cook more with a lot less work than making a dish from scratch.

Organic Quick Lunches