Fresh Fridays 
October 4, 2013
  Vol. V, No. 17     
Sandwich on brown paper with a stainless steel container of green salad behind it.
We know that eating breakfast helps us concentrate through the morning. And we know that sitting down at the table with the family, free of television and cell phones, is the healthiest choice we can make for dinner. But what about lunch? How much time do we spend thinking about that middle meal? It turns out that there are some real reasons to focus on lunch:  
  • Getting away from the desk for lunch has a relaxing effect and reduces cognitive control, which may increase creativity and connection to others, according to a German study published in PLOS ONE this summer. And a  New York Times article reveals that research shows that relaxation improves productivity rather than hampers it.
  • Making your own lunch means eating a healthier meal. When you pack a brown-bag lunch you are in control of the quality of the food, the calories, and the amount of sodium, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that go into your meal. According to the USDA's Economic Research Service, a brown-bag lunch averages 158 calories less than a purchased lunch.
  • Packing lunch saves money. Using ingredients purchased at the grocery store and taking a few minutes to pack a lunch instead of purchasing it can save hundreds of dollars (or more!) per year. Try calculating how much you can save using the Brown Bag Savings Calculator at

Now that we've convinced you that there are compelling reasons to step away from the desk, here are some of our ideas for making the most of that lunch break in Mediterranean style:

  • Pack leftovers from last night's dinner as today's lunch. Taking leftovers for lunch saves time, money, and prevents food waste. Pack leftovers into single-serve containers when you're cleaning up after dinner, then just grab a container out of the refrigerator on your way out the door.
  • Make a pot of soup on the weekend. Ladle it into single-serve containers and store them in the freezer. Pack a container of soup, a slice of whole-grain bread, and a small green salad or veggie sticks for lunch. 
  • Mix up the sandwich and salad options. Our friends at FoodMatch sent along their sandwich and salad suggestions for keeping lunch healthy and interesting: Use Mediterranean spreads like olive, tomato, or artichoke bruschetta on lean meats such as chicken or turkey breast to add some pizazz to your standard sandwich. Tossing green olives, marinated mushrooms, or roasted tomatoes into a salad will make you the envy of the lunch table! Simple substitutions can reap great health benefits: whole grain bread in place of white bread, hummus or tapenade in place of mayo or ketchup, and greens like spinach or arugula in your salad are easy ways to start.
  • Keep healthy foods at the office. If you have a place to store food at your office, keep things like fresh fruit, whole grain bread, a jar of nut butter, and carrot sticks on hand. On those super busy days when you can't get away and the morning was just too hectic to pack a lunch, you'll have a healthy option to turn to.
  • The Mediterranean Diet is about lifestyle, not just food. And your lunch break can be, too. Find time to take a walk during your lunch break. Walk to a nearby bench or park to eat your lunch. Or take a walk around the block when you're finished eating. 

Here are some ideas for Med Diet lunches that can leave you feeling satiated, relaxed, and productive. Click on the titles or photos below to link to the recipes.

12 great ways to use cabbage.

Check out our newest 12 Great Ways... resource! We are introducing a new resource each month on the Oldways Table Blog.

Travel with Oldways.
Painting of basket with bread, brussels sprouts and other bread in front of basket on table.

Spend a glorious week in and around elegant and interesting Madrid led by Oldways President Sara Baer-Sinnott and Ronni Baer, Senior Curator of European Art at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts

Photo of sunflower field with a brown building in the background from Umbria. 

From our base in Perugia we'll fan out on day trips to discover the food, wines, artisinal products, art, and ceramics that make the region of Umbria so special. 

Contact Abby Sloane at 617-896-4875 or [email protected] for more information.     
Win a Book! The Oldways 4-Week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan.

Congratulations to Fresh Fridays reader Sarah Klinker, the winner of our September Mediterranean Diet Pyramid Anniversary book give-away!

While we advocate family meals cooked at home, there are always occasions that call for special nights out. With the growing awareness of the Mediterranean Diet, the restaurant industry's Mediterranean options are becoming more visible.  

Tell us the name and location of your favorite Mediterranean restaurant(s) for your chance to win a copy of The Oldways 4-Week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan.

Entering to win is easy: Just share with us the name and location of your favorite Mediterranean restaurant by posting a comment on our Facebook page, tweeting us @Oldwayspt, or emailing [email protected].    

Pack a wrap and the cabbage mixture separately, and then assemble the sandwich at lunchtime to prevent the wrap from getting soggy. 

An Oldways recipe, created for The Peanut Institute       

Make a pot of soup on the weekend, portion it into single-serve containers, and store them in the freezer to make it easy to put lunch together all week long.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the US Potato Board

Make a vegetarian lasagna for dinner. After dinner wrap up leftovers in single portions for lunches. Lasagna is always delicious the second day!  

An Oldways recipe
Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be.   

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit:     

 Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA)        



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Let the old ways be your guide to  good health and well-being.       



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Book cover for Ten-Minute Bento by Megumi Fujii.
Look for inspiration for creative lunches in Megumi Fujii's Ten-Minute Bento

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