Top tips for beating the brown-bag blahs

Lunch can be dreadfully boring if you pack the same brown bag everyday. To make matters worse, mornings can be hectic with everyone getting ready for school and work, leaving little time to make a lunch that is delicious and good for you.

* "It is easy to forgo the lunchbox for the vending machine or fast food restaurant, which can be less healthy and more expensive," commented Ann L. Albright, PhD, RD, president of health care & education, American Diabetes Association. "But you can turn lunchtime from the 'same old, same old' back to the part of the day you look forward to and make it healthy with a few simple changes."

A nutritious lunch as part of a healthy meal plan can help prevent type 2 diabetes and diabetes complications such as heart disease and stroke. The American Diabetes Association offers these healthy and creative tips to brighten up the brown bag lunch saving time, money, and in some cases, a little sanity.

* Plot your course. Just a little preparation in the evening or on the weekend can alleviate the frantic morning rush. Make a big pot of soup or pasta salad to eat throughout the week. Wash and slice veggies into bite size pieces. Scoop nuts or low-fat cottage cheese into single-serving containers.

* Get the gear. Invest in some insulated containers, ice and heat packs, and a thermos. Not only does this expand the options of what you can pack, it will help to keep your foods tasty.

* Step away from the PBJ. While peanut butter and jelly has been a lunchbox tradition for ages, it might produce a yawn from some kids. Change up your sandwich routine by tossing in some sliced fruit, such as apples or avocados. Or leave the bread behind and use low-fat tortillas or pitas.

* Make some noise. Crunchy foods can be more satisfying because they take longer to eat. Besides, kids – and adults – love any excuse to make noise with their food. Jazz up fresh vegetables with low fat dips, salsas, or chutneys.

For more tips and recipes, visit the American Diabetes Association website call 1-800-DIABETES.

Mexican Pinwheels

Serving Size: 1 tortilla roll, sliced into pinwheels

Total Servings: 1

Prep time: 15 minutes

Chilling time: 2 hours


2 Tbsp canned fat-free refried beans

1 10-inch tortilla

2 Tbsp diced tomato

2 Tbsp drained cooked corn, cooled

1 Tbsp reduced-fat sharp cheddar (optional)

1/2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro (optional)

2 Tbsp mashed avocado

1 Tbsp fat-free sour cream

2 Tbsp salsa

Spread the refried beans on the tortilla Sprinkle tomato, corn, and if desired, cheese and cilantro onto refried beans Mix avocado, sour cream, and salsa. Spread on top. Roll up, chill for at least 2 hours. Slice into 1-inch pinwheels.

Copyright (C) 2005 American Diabetes Association From The Healthy Lunchbox. Reprinted with permission from the American Diabetes Association. To order this book, please call 1-800-232-6733 or order online at