Healthy Alternatives to Conquer Your Caffeine Craving

You just hit it. The 3 o’clock slump. We all know it- the fogginess, the headache, the irritability and the desire to stop all of the work that you’re in the middle of, put your head on your desk and just take a nap. Trust us, we understand! But when you sprint out of your office to get a latte or a frappuccino or a macchiato at Starbucks or Dunkin or your preferred coffee vendor, you may get a temporary jolt of energy but you’re actually causing harm to your body in the long run.

Coffee itself isn’t bad. Since it contains caffeine, which is a stimulant, it can increase energy levels, improve memory, enhance brain function and break down body fat. It’s also the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. and can help protect against various diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and liver cancer. However, it’s when we add sugar and syrups to our coffee that we add in calories and fat and create a need for more sugar. Added sugar is one of the most highly addictive ingredients in the modern diet. When we consume added sugar, dopamine is released in our brain, creating a “high” that our body registers as a reward, causing it to crave more. As we give our bodies more and more added sugar, it builds up a tolerance and releases less dopamine, which causes us to consume more of it to experience the same “high” as before. Unlike natural sugar found in fruits, veggies and proteins, added sugar can cause weight gain, increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer and actually drains your energy faster, because it causes only a temporary spike in blood sugar that drops soon after. Which is why every day at 3PM, your craving for sugar will hit again and you feel the need to quench it with a sugary coffee, creating a vicious cycle of highs and lows.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 200 calories (50 grams) of added sugar each day. Although too much sugar can be harmful, it’s still necessary to give us energy to keep our bodies and brains moving. But every once and a while, we all need a boost. Between work, families, friends.. we all have reasons why we don’t get as much sleep as we should or would like to. So next time you’re feeling the slump, instead of ordering that PSL (which contains 50 grams of sugar aka the amount you’re allotted for one day!), try out one of our suggestions below! It will still give you the caffeine boost that you need, without comprising on the added sugar.

Green Tea: Although green tea has a lower caffeine content than coffee, it will still give you the boost you need without making you feel wired or jittery. It also has a lot of health benefits- it’s high in antioxidants, helps to boost your immune system and decreases the risk of diabetes. The best part about green tea is that most coffee shops sell it and it’s also easy to find green tea bags in your local grocery store to make it on your own!

Matcha: Matcha is a type of stone ground Japanese tea that comes in a powder form. Unlike other green teas whose leaves get steeped in hot water, matcha is created from actual tea leaves that have been ground up. Again it doesn’t have as much caffeine as coffee, but it helps with memory and focus while still being energizing. However, matcha does have a naturally bitter taste so some places will sweeten the powder with added sugar. If you’re interested in matcha, make sure that the tea you’re getting is a good quality matcha.

Unsweetened Iced Tea: Fresh brewed tea is high in caffeine and rich in antioxidants, making it one of the best alternatives to coffee. It helps reduce the risk of stroke and improves heart and gut health. The great thing about unsweetened iced tea is that you can sweeten it naturally (if needed) by adding sugar substitutes such as honey or lemon, which will make it less bitter as you get used to the taste.

Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate has only a small amount of caffeine in it, but it’s a good substitute if you find that you crave the sweetness of coffee more than the coffee itself. Rather than reach for a sugary drink or dessert, dark chocolate is a good way to curb the craving because it also reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and is rich in nutrients.

Black Coffee: If you love the taste of coffee and just can’t avoid it, simple black coffee can always be a fall back option. As we mentioned above, it can increase energy levels, improve memory, protect against a number of diseases and is high in antioxidants. So if you want to keep the coffee taste, try cutting out the added sugar, syrups, milk and cream. That way you’re getting the natural benefits of the coffee and, of course, the caffeine.

 

 

Resources:
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270202.php
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee#section1
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coffee-good-or-bad#section9
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-ways-to-make-your-coffee-super-healthy#section4
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/too-much-sugar#section8
https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/experts-is-sugar-addictive-drug#2
https://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/best-coffee-drinks-starbucks-menu
http://www.healthfitnessrevolution.com/top-10-healthiest-sources-caffeine/
https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/DGA_Cut-Down-On-Added-Sugars.pdf
https://www.earlytorise.com/7-natural-caffeine-sources-arent-coffee/
https://hellogiggles.com/news/caffeine-alternatives-coffee/
https://www.health.com/nutrition/what-is-matcha

Fall Parties You Can Host at the Office!

It’s party season, people! We have officially entered the period of time during which parties and events start happening more and more frequently to celebrate holidays, cultural events, work anniversaries, the new year… you name it, a party is being planned. And personally, we’re pretty stoked about it! What’s better than getting away from your desk for a few hours during the day or after work and enjoying free food and/or drinks with your team?! Nothing. Cause it’s fo free.

But since Halloween is usually the first big party to plan and it’s still more than a month away, we didn’t want you to feel like you had no reason to celebrate right now! There are plenty of ways to liven up the office this season and we’ve got some awesome suggestions to keep your team happy at work.

Keep it culturally relevant. All of the best parties (that we know of) usually have a theme. Whether it’s a holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve) or a cultural event (St. Patrick’s Day, the Oscars, the finale of the Game of Thrones) a theme gives you an idea of what to expect at the party. Focusing the theme around cultural events that are happening in the U.S. or around the world during that time is a great approach because it makes the party more interesting and exciting! People don’t really know what they’re gonna get when they show up, which makes it different from the other parties they’ve been to for years before. Here are our top picks for themes that are culturally relevant right now:

Okoberfest: This German festival runs from September 22nd to October 7th so you have two weeks to get your pretzels, bratwurst and potato pancakes together and prost with some German beer!

Office Tailgate for Monday Night Football: Luckily football is around for about 5 months so there’s no time limit on this party! And Monday Night Football is a great way to get your team hanging out together on a week night at the office (while they enjoy some wings and sliders and chips and guac of course).

Comic Con: Comic Con comes to NYC from October 4th to the 7th! Break out your favorite super hero shirt (or costume) and host a viewing party at your office of the best superhero/action movie from this year. Have your team vote on the choices in the weeks leading up to the party and reveal the winner that night!

It’s all about the bars! Another great way to get your colleagues away from their desks is with any type of “build your own” bar. Build your own is more exciting than a standard lunch or happy hour because you get to be creative and interact with your coworkers as you each make your own designs or dishes! Also, everyone can customize their own meal or drink based on their own tastes, so no one will feel excluded or that there isn’t an option for them. Below are examples of some of our favorite fall-themed bars that you can set up at your office:

Hot Apple Cider Bar: There’s nothing better than a hot drink as the weather starts getting colder. Class up your hot apple cider by adding a cinnamon stick, caramel, or any spice like cloves, nutmeg or ginger! You can keep this virgin or spike with bourbon, whiskey or rum for happy hour 🙂

Top Your Own Chili Bar: Chili is a great option because it can be made with or without meat so you can have an option for vegetarian and meat eaters. Spoon chili out into a bowl and mix in a variety of toppings: shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, crushed tortilla chips, salsa.. the possibilities are endless!

Popcorn Bar: Pop those kernels and mix in literally anything that your heart desires: M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. Make it cute by using some old school popcorn boxes or bags!

Make it for a good cause. We know we said that free food/drinks is the best way to get attendance at a party but sometimes the best way to get your team to come together is to give them a mission and to raise a little money! Using your free time to help others is an uplifting experience that will also bond you as a group. And there are so many worthy causes that need our help! Whether you want to host a fundraiser at the office with all of the proceeds going to a specific cause like Breast Cancer Research (October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month) or donate to a local charity or soup kitchen, hosting a event that creates a positive impact on your community is an amazing action that will make your party matter on a much larger scale.

Board Game Tournament: This is a simple and cost effective way to raise money! Have a few people in the office bring in their favorite board games and charge $10 for each person to participate. Create a bracket so that the schedule is easy to follow and people can play throughout the day. Use a small part of the participation fee to reward the winner with an Amazon or Starbucks gift card and donate the rest!

Trivia Night: Similar to the board game tournament, you can charge a participation fee, but instead of playing alone, have your office create teams of 3 or 4 people (each person paying their own fee)! All of the teams will play at the same time and win points based on every correct answer. The winning team can get a small reward or a “free work from home day” that can be used whenever they want. The rest of the money can be donated to a charity or cause of your office’s choosing.

Canned Potluck: Host a potluck lunch/dinner with your team and have them bring a dish that they made to share, along with a canned good/boxed food that can be donated to a food bank in your area after the meal is over! The team meal will create bonding time for your office and will provide support to local charities that need help, especially around the holiday season.

 

Fall-ing in Love with Grain Bowls this Season!

It’s fall in NYC, which means it’s time for comfy sweaters, pumpkin spice everything and heartier meals! And we’ve got the perfect recipe to keep you warm all season long, without making you feel like you’re getting ready to hibernate!

Our fall grain bowl recipe combines the best of summer and fall: it provides light and healthy ingredients that fill you up but don’t give you the heaviness that you might feel with soup or stew. It also gives you the chance to incorporate some of those autumn veggies back into your diet: sweet potatoes, kale, cabbage, etc., that you may have forgotten about during the summer. The recipe is best served warm and only takes about 45 minutes from prep to plate, so it’s ideal if you’re looking for an easy meal on a chilly afternoon or evening. Also, if you’re into food presentation, the colors in the dish make it as appetizing for your eyes as it is for your stomach! See for yourself by checking out our Instagram highlights: @foodtoeat! Happy eating!

BYO Fall Grain Bowl

Recipe serves 4-6

You’ll Need:

2 cups lucinato kale (also known as dinosaur kale or black kale)

2 cups spinach

2 cups escarole

2 cloves minced garlic

2 bags Uncle Ben’s brown rice (or any instant brown rice or grain)

2 sweet potatoes (large)

6-8 carrots

1 head purple cabbage (small)

1 package of chicken tenderloins (large, at least 10-15 pieces)

olive oil

garlic powder

onion powder

paprika

chili powder

salt

pepper

First step is to roast your veggies in the oven while you prepare the rest of your ingredients! Preheat the oven to 425 and cut your sweet potatoes into 1/2-1 inch cubes. Place in a large bowl and coat with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and toss. Line a sheet pan with tin foil and spray with non-stick baking spray. Transfer sweet potato pieces onto lined sheet pan and spread evenly to bake. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Once your sweet potatoes are in the oven, begin cutting your carrots into 1 1/2 inch pieces (or smaller if you’d like). Repeat the process that you did for the sweet potatoes. Place in a large bowl and coat with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and toss. Line a sheet pan with tin foil and spray with non-stick baking spray. Transfer carrots onto lined sheet pan and spread evenly to bake. Bake for about 25 minutes at 425.

Next, prepare your pulled chicken! Remove chicken tenderloins from package and rinse. Place on paper towels to remove the moisture, pat dry. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of paprika and 1 teaspoon of chili powder. If you have it, heat your cast iron skillet on medium/high heat. If not, a regular non-stick skillet works as well! Place seasoned side of chicken down on skillet first, then season the other side. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Place on plate and let cool. Once cool to the touch, shred chicken with your hands and toss with your favorite BBQ sauce (we used Stubbs BBQ Sauce).

Once your chicken is done, move onto your greens and cabbage! Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add in 1 large clove of minced garlic. Add in lucinato kale, spinach and escarole (feel free to use just one type of green or your favorite green if you don’t want all 3) and saute for 3-5 minutes. Once the greens are wilted, remove from heat and set aside in a bowl. Cut cabbage into quarters and then into thin slices. Repeat the process that you did for your greens. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add in 1 large clove of minced garlic. Add in sliced cabbage and saute for 3-5 minutes. Set aside in a bowl until you’re ready to build your grain bowl!

The final step is to create your grain! We love Uncle Ben’s instant brown rice because you simply add water and microwave. However, you can use your favorite grain as your base. We suggest brown rice, farro or quinoa!

Once all your ingredients are ready, combine in a bowl and enjoy! Pro tip: top with pumpkin seeds for an added crunch!

 

September Vendor of the Month: Jaa Dijo Dom

September is here and it’s back to the grind, people! But don’t be too upset! Jaa Dijo Dom is our Vendor of the Month for September and this amazing African food is the perfect way to boost office morale if your team is feeling some real post-summertime sadness! Jaa Dijo Dom’s focus on good, healthy eating and it’s commitment to providing the most authentic African food, even sourcing it’s peppers and herbs directly from Africa and grinding them in house, will turn a lunch meeting into a meal you will never forget!

Don’t miss this opportunity to taste the delicious food they will only be offering to FoodtoEat clients during the month of September! Check out the menu below and email us at catering@foodtoeat.com today to book your next office meal with Jaa Dijo Dom!

Entrees:

Malawian Spiced Chicken Curry 

Bobotie

Senegalese Fish Yassa

Lentil Dhal with Vegetables (V)

Chickpea, Eggplant and Mushroom Tangine (V)

Vegetables and Sides:

Coconut Rice (V)

Charmoula Potatoes (V)

Chakalaka (V)

Mango Couscous Salad (V)

Tomato and Green Pepper Salad (V)

Charles from Jaa Dijo Dom

Charles Chipengule is the owner and chef behind Jaa Dijo Dom! He was born and raised in Botswana, Africa and growing up he always had a passion for food and loved to cook. After graduating high school, he was able to save up just enough money to open a breakfast food stall, which helped him fund his technical college and culinary courses. However, due to the dire economic conditions in Botswana, Charles eventually had to permanently close down his breakfast stall and after a lot of hard work and perseverance, was able to emigrate to the United States.

After arriving in the U.S, Charles worked at various restaurants and took culinary classes in New York to pursue his cooking dream. It was during this time that he was inspired to open Jaa Dijo Dom (an African name that means “a place to eat”) with the idea of bringing together the various cuisines of African nations to a wider audience. He wanted to share the food that he grew up eating and took the time to select the best dishes and flavors from different countries to create a diverse and flavorful dining experience. All of the unique entrees and sides that he creates have been handed down through generations and are currently being prepared all over Africa on a daily basis.

Since the beginning, Charles’s goal has always been to “create a place where all nations can taste the cuisine from all over Africa” and while doing this, he places a top priority on each customer’s dietary preferences and restrictions. But more than anything else, Charles has created a unique brand and amazing food whose goal is to “leave you satisfied and begging for more”, which it certainly does!

 

 

Lettuce Tell You About Our Asian Chicken Wraps

ROMAINE CALM!!!! We know you’re dying to learn more about our Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps and we’re here to tell you that they’re as delicious as they look and creating them is a breeze. With minimal ingredients, you have a healthy and flavorful meal in less than 20 minutes. 

As usual, the lettuce wraps can be customized to fit your needs: served with or without rice; chicken, beef or tofu as the protein; and topped with hot sauce or keep it plain! It’s up to you! And unlike the lettuce wraps you’re getting from a restaurant, you know exactly what’s going into the wraps that you prepare: only simple ingredients that you can feel good about. Served hot or room temp, these wraps are perfect as a meal prep lunch option or pretty enough to serve to guests if you’re hosting a happy hour! Whatever you prepare them for, these Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps are always a hit!

Asian Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Recipe serves 4

You’ll Need:

1 lb ground chicken

2 teaspoons olive oil

5 tablespoons hoisin sauce (we use Soy Vey hoisin sauce with garlic)

1-2 tablespoons soy sauce (we use low sodium soy sauce)

1-2 teaspoons sriracha (optional)

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon honey

2 large cloves of garlic minced

1 tablespoon of ginger minced

3 scallions sliced

1 pack of baby portobello mushrooms chopped

1 large head of bib or romaine lettuce

1/4 head of thinly sliced purple cabbage

pepper

Heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat. Add scallions and ginger to skillet and cook for 3 minutes. Add ground chicken and mushrooms to skillet and season with black pepper, to your preferred taste. Use a spatula to break down the chicken into crumbles and cook for 3 minutes. Add in minced garlic and cook until ground chicken is fully cooked through. While chicken is cooking, combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sriracha, rice vinegar, sesame oil and honey in a bowl and whisk together. Once the chicken is cooked through, pour sauce on chicken mixture and mix well (for a stickier sauce, add more hoisin sauce). Serve warm chicken in a lettuce wrap and top with fresh sliced scallions, thinly shaved purple cabbage and sriracha for a little kick!

Want to make this meal more filling?! Add brown rice to the lettuce wrap before topping with scallions, cabbage and sriracha or serve it on the side! We suggest Uncle Ben’s 90 second brown rice. 2 bags should be good to serve 4 people!

 

The Top 10 FoodtoEat Favorites for Team Lunch Outside the Office

Team lunch is a perk that we suggest all offices get in the habit of doing on a weekly or monthly basis! Not only does it improve your office culture by bringing everyone together, it also provides an avenue for collaboration between departments that can give birth to new projects, solutions to existing issues and re-invent outdated processes. We advocate for it so much so that we even do it ourselves! Every Thursday our team gets together, orders lunch from a restaurant that we love or want to try and discusses everything and anything from work to our personal lives to the most recent Cardi B clapback on Instagram.

However, work can stressful and overwhelming for everyone and sometimes just getting out of your office can give you that reset that you need to renew your focus and handle tough situations. Which is why every once and a while, if we need a pick me up during a tough week or if we’re celebrating a birthday or a big work anniversary, we’ll take team lunch out of the office, venturing to a restaurant to get some time away from our desks! Although going out to lunch may be a normal occurrence for different people in your office, getting the whole team together and sitting down for a meal is a simple way to make each person feel valued. Even if it’s only once a quarter or twice a year, getting away from your desk for an hour or two and interacting with co-workers outside of your office walls can foster a sense of community within your office and keep up morale!

Based on the lunch ventures that we’ve gone on as a office, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 favorite restaurants to go to for team lunch! All of them are great for a group (some more than others depending on the size of your group) and, of course, the food is delicious! Check out some of our favorites below!

1. The Smith. This restaurant is on the pricier side but the food quality is always good and every meal is delicious. There’s always a great atmosphere with friendly staff who are willing to give recommendations if you’re stuck between a burger or pasta. We love the Midtown location because when the weather is nice, they’ll open the doors in the front so you can people watch while you dine. Also, this location is crowded but big enough that when you walk in with a group, you can usually combine a few tables to fit everyone in your party.

2. Carmine’s. This place may get a bad reputation for being too touristy because it’s better known location is in Times Square but being in business almost 30 years, they must be doing something right! This restaurant is awesome for a group because it’s strictly family style Italian, which means you can order for about half of your group and everyone will still get fed (depending on their appetite..) and the food is great as well! You can make a reservation for up to 20 people, which is a huge plus, but both locations do get very busy during lunch and dinner so we highly suggest making a reservation before stopping in. 

3. Blockheads. Blockheads has 5 locations throughout NYC so you’re never too far away from one (unless you’re in the West Village… sorry!). But the best part about this casual restaurant is it’s pricing. $10 lunch for an entree and a soda?! You just can’t beat it. The food isn’t gourmet but it is filling and definitely worth the visit. However, the restaurant does get pretty packed because of their awesome lunch/happy hour deals, so it might be hard to sit down if you have a bigger group. 

4. Westville. Westville is notorious for being crowded, since their tables always seem to be very close together,  which can be frustrating when you’re with a group. But the healthy options make it a fan favorite with our office. The menu is on the pricier side for a casual place but their focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients make it worth the few extra dollars. This place is also well-known for their market veggies and salads, so it’s a great place to try if you have a lot of vegetarians on your team.

5. The Park. The Park is a little more expensive in regards to lunch prices but the ambiance is really what you pay for here. Seating is available in both the main room and the garden, both of which are beautifully decorated; especially the garden where birds will be hanging out in the trees that are nestled every few feet in this enclosed space. As an added bonus, the food at this restaurant is varied and delicious, which makes it even more enticing! However, they cap the size for dining in these areas at 24 people and under, so if your office is 25 or more, this isn’t the best option for a big group.

6. Ippudo. Ippudo is one of the best ramen places in NYC, which is why it had to make our list, despite the fact that this restaurant doesn’t take reservations and the space is pretty limited. The restaurant recommends only a handful of people per table so a smaller team is ideal. However, the service here is always great. The staff is very friendly and welcoming and the food comes out pretty quickly, so even if you do have to wait for a table, your waiting will be rewarded with their insanely delicious noodles and broth! If you don’t have time to wait for a table at one of their locations, Ippudo recently launched Kuro-Obi (the quick service ramen bar), which is their “take out ramen recipe”, available at the Urbanspace on Lexington and 51st Street or the Urbanspace on Vanderbilt and 45th Street. The Urbanspace locations provide much more room for your team and allow you to experience Ippudo’s amazing food in a more comfortable setting.

7. Shake Shack. There are many Shake Shack locations throughout NYC but the one in Madison Square Park is the best for groups because it has so much seating available! Even if you can’t sit in their designated seating area, there is plenty of room on the grass for a team of any size because everything is outside at this location. Combine the space with the drool-worthy burgers, fries and milkshakes that they serve and you’ve got your office’s favorite spot for a cheat meal! Although this isn’t a sit down restaurant, it still ranks high on our list because it’s great food that isn’t too expensive and an interesting option for your team to try together.

8. The Bonnie. This Astoria hot spot is a little bit outside Manhattan but worth the trip for it’s delicious bar food and outdoor seating. It’s quieter than most places in Manhattan so taking over an area in the back with a larger group shouldn’t be a problem. The menu isn’t as extensive as we’d like it to be but everything we’ve tried has been amazing. The only downside is that it’s only open for lunch during the week on Fridays, 12 – 4PM. So you might be required to make it a late lunch and stay for their happy hour, which starts at 3PM, and try their wide array of beers and cocktails!

9. The Frying Pan. Technically this isn’t a restaurant… it’s actually a historic lighthouse that was built in 1929. But it does have a kitchen on board that creates delicious small plates, street eats, burgers, salads, fries, and of course, traditional fish & chips and lobster rolls for customers to order and enjoy a table! Because you can order at the counter and then sit down, this is a great place for a group to get a bunch of tables together and enjoy the beautiful views this spot offers. Again, it’s not a sit down restaurant so the vibe is a little more laid back but it tends to get pretty crowded the after work crowd descends so it’s better to go early and leave early. Also, disclaimer about The Frying Pan: it sits at Pier 66, on the water. So if you have any team members that get motion sickness or don’t do well on boats, we don’t suggest trying this out!

10. Roberta’s. Would this list even be complete without a staple pizza spot?! Roberta’s in Brooklyn has the best of both world with indoor and outdoor seating to be as formal or relaxed as you’d like. The indoor area has an option for group dining with a prix fixe menu that centers around family-style portions. However, it’s only available Monday-Thursday at 11AM, 12PM or 1PM. If you’re looking for something cheaper and more laid back, you can order from their take out counter next door and eat at the picnic tables outside which are first come first serve. To avoid half of your team standing, it’s better to get there early and take over a few tables! Or, if you can’t get to Brooklyn, Roberta’s pop up at the new Urbanspace on Lexington and 51st Street does the trick, although it lacks the hipster ambiance that the real location provides.

 

Healthy Meal Prep at the Office

It’s hard to keep yourself on a healthy routine, especially during the summer months when the warm weather is constantly calling you outside to all of NYC’s amazing restaurants. With all of the delicious foods that we love to indulge in being available to us 24/7, it gets difficult to maintain a balanced lifestyle when it comes to food. However, it’s important to feed your body the nutritious foods that it needs and that keep you energized during the workday. The best way to make sure that you’re getting the sustenance that you need and to avoid unhealthy foods is to meal prep! The task may seem daunting at first but once you make it a part of your regime and get into the habit of meal prepping, it will make creating meals and eating healthy quicker, easier, more enjoyable and your body will thank you for it!

Make a Schedule: It’s important to be realistic about your schedule and figure out how many days a week you’ll hold yourself accountable to prep the meals that you’ll be eating at the office. If you know that you’re usually on the go on Fridays, focus on meal prepping Monday-Thursday and bringing options for breakfast, lunch, and snacks that you can eat at your desk. Pick one a day a week that you’ll go grocery shopping (we suggest Saturday or Sunday) and plan out your meals for the entire week so that you know exactly what you need when you go. Dedicating a specific time each week to get all your shopping done will keep you from getting overwhelmed and is much easier than trying to plan something out for the next day.

Our Suggestions for Healthy Meals: Every person has different tastes in what they like to eat and how they like to eat. Some people love a big breakfast in the morning and a small lunch and others skip breakfast altogether and go straight to a heavier lunch. We’ve found that skipping meals only makes us hangry, so we suggest prepping breakfast, lunch and 1-2 snacks throughout the day to keep you feeling full. However, it’s important to find what’s right for you and customize your meal prep based on your preferences! Below are some ideas of healthy foods we’ve found that are really easy to transport to the office and store in a fridge or at your desk until you’re ready to eat!

Breakfast: Oatmeal; Yogurt Parfaits; Green Smoothies; Overnight Oats; Fruit Salad; Egg Frittatas; Whole Wheat Breakfast Wraps; Avocado Toast; Breakfast Grain Bowls

Lunch: Quinoa with Grilled Chicken and Veggies; Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry; Lettuce or Whole Wheat Wraps; Salad; Brown Rice or Quinoa Bowls; Assorted Bean and Veggie Salad (no greens); Sweet Potato or Zucchini Noodles; Salmon with Lentils and Veggies; Chickpea Pasta Primavera

Snacks: Hummus and Veggies; Hard-boiled Eggs; Fruit; Nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts); Granola Bars; Dried Fruit; Roasted Chickpeas; Trail Mix; Whole Grain or Veggie Crackers; Air-Popped Popcorn; Almond Butter with Fruit or Veggies; Pumpkin or Sunflower Seeds; Granola; Dark Chocolate 

Keep Yourself Hydrated!!!!: One thing that we do suggest that is crucial to a healthy lifestyle is keeping yourself hydrated! The recommended amount of water that you drink per day is eight 8 oz glasses or about 2 liters, which most people don’t drink! Drinking water is the best way to get rid of waste in your body, help your body burn calories and keep you feeling full. People often confuse thirst with hunger and start snacking when their body is really craving water, since our body depends on water to survive. Drinking water during and between meals will make you full faster and keep you full longer. If you don’t want to be chugging water all day, green tea is another great option for keeping yourself hydrated between meals. It has a bunch of antioxidants and nutrients that your body craves and also improves brain function!

Think Outside the Box: The best thing about meal prepping is that you can get creative with the meals that you make. If you really love a specific fruit or vegetable, check out some recipes that include it so that you can find other ways to incorporate it into more of your meals! Interested in making zucchini noodles as a pasta replacement for lunch?! Research how it’s cooked and give it a shot! There are so many different ideas available to you for healthy meals that you can test out and see what you like or don’t like! You don’t want to get bored with the same meals day after day so be committed to trying out new foods that are delicious and still good for you!

Be Kind to Yourself: Even with your meal prep schedule and your best intentions, there will still be days that you just need pizza or tacos or fries for lunch. And then there will be some weeks where life/work gets really crazy and the meal prep just ain’t gonna happen at all. And that’s okay! A healthy meal prep also includes a healthy mindset, so it’s key to learn to accept when you slip up and move on from it rather than beat yourself up. Treat each individual meal or snack as a clean slate and a new opportunity to get back on your plan. But remember that you know your body and what it needs, so splurge every once and a while so that you don’t ever feel like you’re depriving yourself of something that your body wants. Be proud of the hard work that you put into your meal prep and allow yourself those cheat meals that you need! With food, it’s all about creating the balance that works best for you!

 

Beat the Heat with Our 20 Minute Taco Salad!

The NYC humidity is no joke in July! With the temperature staying around 80/90 degrees the last few weeks, turning on the oven to cook these days is no longer an option. So we’re cooling it down with our delicious taco salad recipe that’s super easy to prepare and will keep you full for that post-work Pilates class or (who are we kidding?!) happy hour drinks! For our salad, we topped it with some zesty, seasoned shrimp but the best thing about this recipe is that you can customize it any way you want: include jalapenos if you’re feeling spicy, or top with tofu if you’re a vegetarian! Mix and match any ingredients that you want to celebrate Taco Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday/Saturday….. 😉

Taco Salad

Recipe serves 3 – 4

You’ll Need:

2 heads of romaine lettuce

shredded taco cheese

sour cream

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 jar medium salsa

1 avocado

cilantro

tortilla chips

Chop romaine lettuce and toss with salsa as a low fat and flavorful dressing. If desired, add a spoonful of sour cream to make dressing creamier. Chop red onion and avocado and add on top. Add cheese, cilantro, tortilla chips as desired.

Seasoned Shrimp

Recipe serves 3 – 4

You’ll Need:

1 tablespoon of avocado oil or olive oil

1/2 pound of fresh, raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon fresh chopped garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh chopped cilantro

Combine dry seasonings except cilantro in a bowl. Add in shrimp and mix until shrimp is well coated. Heat avocado oil or olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add chopped garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and then add shrimp. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat or until shrimp is fully cooked. Turn off heat, add fresh chopped cilantro and mix. Once done, add shrimp to taco salad and enjoy!

If you’re looking for a side dish to complement the taco salad, our go to is always the classic Mexican rice and beans. Check out our 5-minute recipe below if you’re looking for something a little heartier to serve on the side or mix into your taco salad!

Mexican Brown Rice

Recipe serves 6 – 8

You’ll Need:

1 tablespoon of avocado oil or olive oil

2 bags of Uncle Ben’s 90 second brown rice

1 small can of sweet corn

1 small can of black beans (we used reduced sodium)

1/2 jar medium salsa

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Cook both bags of Uncle Ben’s brown rice in microwave for 90 seconds. Heat avocado oil or olive oil in a large skillet or pot on medium heat. Add all of the ingredients listed above except for the cilantro, starting with the cooked brown rice, black beans and corn. Mix well. Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Turn off heat, add fresh chopped cilantro on top and mix!

 

Improve Your Office Meals

If you’re like most offices in NYC, things tend to slow down during the summer months. Whether it’s because of the humidity that keeps New Yorkers from moving at their usual high-speed pace or the fact more people are out on vacation, June, July and August give you a chance to catch up on those projects that may have fallen by the wayside earlier in the year. One of the most important of those being the food. It’s time to take a look at what you’re feeding your office and how you can improve your meals and snacks to get yourself and your team eating and feeling good!

Send out a survey. Get an idea of what your team likes/dislikes for breakfast, lunch (dinner if applicable) and happy hours/snacks! Ask questions such as “Do you eat what is usually provided for breakfast meetings?” “What do you typically enjoy eating for breakfast?” “Which of the snacks that we have in house do you like or dislike?” “What kind of snacks would you like to see more of?” “Do you have any cuisine requests for team lunch?” “What do you think team breakfasts/lunches are lacking?” Getting this information will give you a better idea of what can be improved with the current meals that you’re offering in your office. It’s also crucial to know what dietary restrictions you’re working with and what your team’s eating preferences are when you’re ordering for everyone. Maybe HR recently hired 3 people that are vegetarian and your COO just decided to cut gluten out of his/her diet. Make sure that you include questions on the survey similar to “Are you a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, other?” “Do you have any food allergies? If so, what are they?” so that you can get a clear breakdown of dietary restrictions to keep in mind when putting a meal together, especially if someone on your team has Celiac’s disease or a nut allergy. Finally, make the survey anonymous so that everyone can give their input without fear of judgement (food judgement is real, people!) and anyone in your office that does have a specific request that they want you to be aware of can include his/her name.

Read each survey and starting implementing! Take the time to go through each response that you receive and start making changes in your office based on your team’s comments. At FoodtoEat, we’ve noticed that a lot of companies want to eat healthier during the summer but don’t want boring options. An easy way to do this for lunch is to start introducing more unique cuisines that have proteins, veggies and low-carb starches that are delicious and will keep your team feeling full but aren’t too heavy, such as Vietnamese, African and Cuban. Or try something light and different like a build your own poke bowl! It’s important to also have healthy snacks around your office so that when people do start snacking (which they will), they are eating healthy snacks rather than chips, cookies, candy, etc. We suggest replacing chips with pretzel thins, air-popped popcorn or nuts (almonds, pistachios, peanuts), cookies with granola bars or dark chocolate and candy with low-calories ice pop and dried or fresh fruit.

Send out a meal feedback form post-meal. Once you’ve made the changes that your team requests and ordered a meal based on their suggestions, we advise sending out a meal feedback form to see what everyone thought of the food and gauge whether or not you’re on the right track. The easiest way to do this is to create a template for each meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour) and send it out to everyone in your office 30 minutes or an hour after they’re done eating. This way they can write what they thought while everything is still fresh in their mind. Majority of the time most people in your office probably won’t fill out this form but a handful will and will give you honest and constructive criticism. And once other coworkers start realizing that their feedback can have an influence on what is ordered, they’ll start speaking up as well!

Give yourself some credit (and others will too)! Once you’ve created your survey and feedback forms, make this a recurring process that happens after each meal so that people in your office get used to the emails and look forward to filling them out! Setting up this system will allow you to get the feedback you need to keep coordinating awesome meals for your coworkers and keep your team happy. However, make sure that you keep in mind that no matter what you do, you can’t please everyone. There will always be someone who complains about the food or wants something different. But at the end of the day, making an effort to order a meal that has something for each dietary preference or isn’t from the deli below your building won’t go unnoticed. It may require a little more work on your part but taking the initiative on an area that’s so pivotal to your office culture will make you look good and your coworkers will thank you for it!

 

Immigrants Help Create Economic Growth.

As we celebrate the end of Immigrant Heritage Month, it’s important to understand why supporting local, immigrant-run businesses is important and why it’s part of our mission at FoodtoEat. Although there is a social aspect to our desire to promote a community that is underrepresented throughout the U.S., and the obvious reason that the food found in immigrant-run restaurants is typically the most delicious and authentic, many people don’t realize that without immigrants, the U.S. economy and the workforce would be facing major issues.

Immigrants make up about 13% of the population but contribute almost 15% of the economic output in the U.S. This is due to the fact that immigrants are an integral part of the workforce in our country, participating in the labor force at 73% as opposed to the 71% of native-born Americans.

Being represented in a variety of different industries, losing immigrant employees in any area would create large gaps in the workforce that U.S.-born workers would not be able to fill. This is a result of the fact that immigrants are most heavily filling labor-focused jobs. Studies show that immigration actually pushes U.S.-born workers up in the labor market because immigrants are creating the groundwork to support higher-skilled positions and providing more job opportunities for U.S. workers in those areas. In fact, when an immigrant is willing to fill labor-focused job that might otherwise be left open, it creates an average of 4.64 U.S. jobs.

Immigrants are also job creators in the respect that they are more entrepreneurial than native-born workers. In a recent report done by The Partnership for A New American Economy, researchers found that immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as a native-born American. In general, immigrants are considered bigger “risk takers” because they are willing to leave their homes in pursuit of potential business opportunities in the U.S. Which explains why 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants, such as Apple, IBM and eBay. There is a larger desire to succeed as a immigrant due to the societal pressure both in the U.S. and their home communities to find the “American dream” and more immigrants are willing to accept the challenge.

Food, agriculture and all related industries currently make up about 5% of the U.S. GDP, an area that is only expected to keep growing. Supporting local, immigrant-run businesses in NYC is not only socially important but also crucial to our economy. By working with our team, you can directly impact the economy: creating more jobs for restaurant owners to fill, producing more food for consumers to purchase, increasing the GDP and ultimately putting money back in your own pocket.

So the next time you’re choosing between a chain restaurant and the “hole in the wall” Greek store on the corner, remember the impact that these individuals (and their businesses) will have on our economic future.

 

References:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2011/06/19/40-percent-of-fortune-500-companies-founded-by-immigrants-or-their-children/#dc27f1f4a590
https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/ag-and-food-sectors-and-the-economy/
https://abcnews.go.com/US/immigrants-us-economy-disaster-experts/story?id=45533028
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/immigrants-impact-on-the-u-s-economy-in-7-charts/
https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/sites/all/themes/pnae/openforbusiness.pdf
https://citizenpath.com/immigrant-heritage-month-american-story/