How many times have you found yourself with one hand on the wheel or holding the phone and the other hanging on to lunch? If you're like most busy people today, you've had more than your share of hand-held lunches. The ultimate in convenience food, hand-held meals are the fastest-growing section in the supermarket freezer section. The cases are literally overflowing with all the new poppers, sticks, rolls, puffs and pouches. Sales of hand-held items are predicted to top $2 billion by 2002. But hand-held convenience isn't limited to the freezer aisle. It is showing up in every department of the grocery store. There are breakfast bars, yogurt in a tube, single-serving milk, and soup you heat in a microwave and drink from a sippy cup. Eating food with one hand may be a recent trend -- but we didn't invent it. Every culture has its street foods that don't require a table, a fork or even a place to sit down. There are samosas, calzones, empanadas, sushi and tamales, to name only a few. Unfortunately, most of the hand-held convenience options available to us are less than nutritious. Heavy on the fat and calories and light on the nutrients, they save time but how healthy are they? As with most foods, preparing hand-held items at home is the best way to make them more nutritious and economical. Listed below are some mix and match ideas for healthy hand-held meals.
Wraps: lettuce leaf, tortillas, phyllo, naan and other flatbread, lavash, rice paper, pita, pizza dough, crepes, tofu skins, wonton skins, spring roll wrappers, tofu pockets, cabbage leaves, radicchio leaves.
Spreads and condiments: hoisin sauce, tapenade, herb butters, cheese spread, goat cheese, hummus, flavoured mayonnaise, fresh herbs, flavoured cream cheese, tomato jam, tahini, salsa, vinaigrette, guacamole, dried tomato pesto, roasted red pepper paste, oyster or plum sauce, chutneys.
Fillings: tofu, noodles, smoked fish or seafood, grilled tuna, halibut or salmon, chicken poached in the microwave, roasted potatoes, rice, stir-fries, curries, grilled vegetables, leftover anything.
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