Even if the postholiday malaise still lingers in your heart, it is time to start making smart food choices again. That includes packing your lunch for work, instead of ducking into the nearest overpriced sandwich shop every time noon rolls around. Bringing your own stuff to nosh on is cheaper and usually more healthy. It can also be fun. Here are five ideas for sandwiches suitable for packing in a sophisticated lunch box. These recipes stay away from the standard cold cuts and instead rely on creamy salads and protein-packed fillings to create substantial 'wiches that will keep you full until the clock strikes Time to Go Home.
Michelle Stark, Times food editor
Avocado Chicken Salad
Chicken salad is an ideal work lunch option; it's less smelly than its tuna counterpart and can easily be made ahead of time in bulk then assembled as a sandwich right before you eat it. This recipe uses avocado for extra creaminess. To make, mix ¼ of an avocado, 2 tablespoons plain yogurt and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a bowl until combined. Add ¾ cup cooked shredded chicken and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. To assemble the sandwich, scoop ½ cup of chicken salad onto one slice of an English muffin. Top with 2 thick slices of tomato, a handful of sprouts and some sunflower seeds, then top with other slice of English muffin. Recipe adapted from popsugar.com.
Hummus and Veggie
The key to beefing up veggie sandwiches is to add protein-heavy spreads like hummus. This sandwich takes the idea one step further with the addition of some mashed white beans. To make, spread a teaspoon of hummus each on 2 slices of whole-grain bread. Mash 1 (15-ounce) can of white beans in a bowl with some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon until smooth but still slightly chunky. Top hummus layer with 2 tablespoons of the mashed beans on one slice of bread, then layer on 3 thin slices each of tomato, cucumber and avocado and add ¼ cup of grated carrots. Season with salt and pepper, then top with other slice of bread.
You might not be the most popular person in your cubicle when you pull out this Nicoise salad-inspired tuna sandwich. But the healthy baguette sammy is loaded with fresh Mediterranean flavors that will pop in your mouth. To make, combine 1 (6-ounce) can of tuna in a bowl with ⅓ cup kalamata olives, ¼ cup sliced red bell pepper, ¼ small finely chopped red onion, 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the tuna mixture onto ¼ loaf crusty French baguette. Wrap sandwich well in plastic. Crush it down with your hands a bit and refrigerate overnight. Recipe adapted from food52.com.
Fig and Almond Butter Panini
This sandwich is indulgent enough to eat for dessert, but the protein from the almond butter and banana will keep you full through the workday. To make, spread as much almond butter as you want on a piece of raisin or cinnamon bread. Slice 4 fresh figs into thin rounds, then lay them on top of the almond butter. Slice half of a banana into similarly sized rounds, then place on top of figs. Drizzle with some honey, then place a second piece of raisin or cinnamon bread on top and press down slightly. If you're taking this sandwich to work, you can eat it like this or heat it up for 20 seconds in the microwave. If you're near a panini press, cook the sandwich on the press for 5 minutes until the almond butter starts to ooze out. Recipe adapted from popsugar.com.
Chicken Gyro Pita
This Mediterranean-inspired pita sandwich requires a bit more advance work, but as a result it's simple to assemble come lunchtime. Start by making tzatziki sauce, a bright, fresh, addicting yogurt-based sauce that you spoon on right before eating. In a blender or food processer, puree half of a peeled and diced cucumber, 2 cups cold plain Greek yogurt, 4 teaspoons minced garlic, ⅓ cup chopped dill, 1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Next, pound 4 chicken breasts to ½ inch thickness and season with Italian seasoning, then cook in a large skillet over medium heat for about 6 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove from skillet and cut into strips. To assemble your sandwich, lay four pitas on a flat surface. Divide chicken strips evenly among pita, then thinly slice 1 red pepper and half of a red onion and divide both among sandwiches. Top each with crumbled feta cheese, salt and pepper, roll pita up and wrap in aluminum foil. When you are ready to eat, unwrap and slather on as much tzatziki sauce as you want. Makes 4 sandwiches. Recipe adapted from lecremedelacrumb.com.