Stop. Eat Lunch.

(Look, it’s a woman laughing alone with salad!)

Lunch today was a baked sweet potato and a PB&J, so not the most healthy, but I did at least attempt to eat it away from my desk. And science says that’s a good thing.

Basically–and you already know this–taking a break makes you more creative and reduces stress, and eating a balanced lunch powers up your brain.

If you have colleagues to eat with (which is not always true of us freelancers), the social interaction can also help advance your career, Kimberly Elsbach, professor of management at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Davis, told the Washington Post. An official business lunch doesn’t count as a mentally recharging break, she says, but talking casually with a co-worker does, and can be an effective way to network at the same time. Should you try this as a freelancer, it’s a great way to learn what clients in your area are hiring and get tips from other pros.

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What to cook for lunch when you don’t feel like cooking

In The Healthy Freelancer, I share recipes that can be made in quantity ahead of time and then reheated for lunches that taste good and help you power through the second half of your day. I like this kind of recipe because it means you cook once and eat for a week.

But sometimes even that is a lot of work. So I’m going to try to share on this blog a few recipes that take even less hands-on time. One really good trick in that case is the Kale Bowl. You’re not going to win any presentation awards with this, but it will fill you up while tasting good and also delivering tons of vitamins.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup cooked rice (don’t have leftover rice in the fridge? It’s easy to start a pot of rice and ignore it/do work in the other room while it cooks–just set a timer or something to go check on it.)
About 4 cups roughly chopped, loosely packed kale, washed

Put those things in a microwave safe bowl with about two tablespoons (or a splash) of water and microwave on HIGH, checking every minute or so for the kale to become bright green and slightly wilted. Mix vigorously and add your favorite seasonings. A pre-mixed spice blend, like this one, makes lunch super easy, but you could also add sesame seeds, soy sauce, or toasted sesame oil.

Friends of mine say their no-cook meals are popcorn, or pasta with sauce from a jar and a few garlic cloves. What’s your go-to hot lunch when working from home?

Eat this: Alton Brown’s lentil soup

lentilsoup

It’s June but here in D.C. it is COLD, which is making me hungry for soups, stews and roasts. Tuesday I pretty much ate roasted sweet potatoes for lunch, straight up. I was just so excited that it was cold enough that I could turn on the oven, and the potatoes were begging to be eaten, so…

At any rate, this is hands-down the best and easiest lentil soup recipe I’ve ever made. You need some chicken or veggie broth, some veggies like onion, celery, carrot and tomato, and some seasonings like coriander and grains of paradise (the latter I suspect you could skip, though I had it and I did add it).

It cooks up effortlessly and, even better, freezes like a dream so you can make a huge batch of this and never have to wonder “What’s for lunch?” again. Get the recipe here.