By: Jane Dummer RD

October is Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month. Healthier employees build a happier workplace, have higher productivity and fewer missed workdays, and ultimately contribute to lowering the burden on our stressed public health care system.

Part of the equation for creating a healthy workplace is to implement your own program. I suggest taking time to enjoy your lunch—eat slowly, chew well, and relax while staying off the computer and phone for 30 minutes each workday. Let’s explore how easy this can be with the Barley Lunch Challenge.

Barley Lunch Challenge

When I’m coaching my workplace wellness clients, I ask them to think about how making lunches can save them time and money. To celebrate Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month, I invite you to take the Barley Lunch Challenge for the month of October. The objective is to make your lunch three times per week and include a barley recipe at least once per week.

Getting Started with Barley Lunch Ideas

Let’s get some cholesterol-lowering barley ideas brewing for the Challenge! I recommend practising Food Time Management, and keeping ready-to-go ingredients in the refrigerator and freezer. My quick tip to save time and money: When you’re cooking barley for supper, make extra and use it for lunch the next day or freeze it for the following week.
Here are my three favourite barley recipe ideas for the Challenge.

Barley Greek Salad

Spice up the fibre-rich barley in this Greek Salad with a delicious combination of zesty lemon juice, oregano, feta cheese and antioxidant-rich tomatoes.

Make-ahead planning tip: To avoid the “sog factor” for a salad, pack all the dry ingredients in a small jar and the wet ingredients in a separate container, then assemble your salad at work.

Sausage, Lentil and Barley Soup

With only six delicious ingredients, this Sausage, Lentil and Barley Soup’s preparation time is minimal. Plus, the heart-healthy lentils don’t have to be soaked, so they can be cooked along with the barley without any extra steps.

Make-ahead planning tip: Cook more soup than you need for supper and save the rest for the next day’s lunch.

Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Chili

Imagine a lunch that cooks while you sleep! Chicken Barley Chili cooks overnight in six hours, which makes for quick assembling of your colourful and appetizing lunch the next morning.

Make-ahead planning tip: Ease the busy morning schedule by getting into the habit of planning and making lunches the evening before.

My final suggestion is to invest in a quality set of storage containers for transporting lunches to and from work. The freshness and flavour of a great lunch will add immensely to your workday, and your mind and body will thank you for it. I’d love to hear what your favourite barley lunch is as you take on the Barley Lunch Challenge this month—just leave me a comment below.