The next part in this series “Healthy Meals In A Flash, we will move onto that mid-day meal – lunch!
Eating in the middle of the day, several hours after breakfast, re-energizes your body and can raise blood sugar levels especially when your focus and concentration are dwindling. Even if you only eat a small lunch, you can renew your energy. Eating lunch can help you feel refreshed and ready to finish your workday. In addition, eating lunch keeps your metabolism active, especially if you have a moderately sized meal and a snack before and afterward. “Extended periods of starvation between large meals creates gaps which keep metabolism from staying active,” says Dr. Kurt Hong, the Center for Human Nutrition director of Huntington Medical Foundation.
As much as you need to eat lunch, you also need variety. Lunch can be one of those meals that allows people to fall into a rut. My girls would get stuck on peanut butter and jelly for lunch for what seemed liked months on end. But lunch can be so much more with a smorgasbord of ideas.
So what are some good options for your mid-day meal? There are quite a few that don’t have to include a stop at the fat (oops, meant fast) food chain of your choice. Again, making a plan is key. As I would pack my daughters’ lunches each night, I wasn’t as prepared when deciding what I would eat at work the next day. Without a plan, your best efforts for healthy eating can be sabotaged.
Start with some simple items you can keep on hand and remember that lunches don’t need to have sandwiches in them all the time either. Use a variety of items packed in single servings for your family.
Leftover are a great quick meal. Leftovers from dinner are usually better the next day anyway. Pasta, soups, meats, roasts, and chicken make great lunches. Pack them in containers where they can be reheated but don’t use plastics with BPA’s. Children can also take those leftovers. If they can’t reheat them, wrap up some chicken from the night before, a piece of fruit, grapes or fruit sliced up, and some carrots, zucchini, pepper strips or broccoli pieces and you’re set for a nutritious lunch that’s easy to eat.
Any of the foods listed for breakfast can also be used for lunch. You can make a smoothie the night before and put it in a drink container. When you’re ready to drink your smoothie, give it a good shake or stir and you’re set!
Wraps are a great way to include veggies and meat from the left over dinner findings. You can use lettuce to wrap up any ingredient you like. Use your imagination and try different combinations.
Here is a list of healthy lunch ideas for you to try. Some do need a little prep but most are grab and go!
1. Hard boiled egg, avocado and tuna mixed. Can eat in a wrap of lettuce.
2. Yogurt and banana
3. Hummus, avocado, carrots and spinach wrapped in lettuce
4. Asparagus and salmon wrapped in lettuce
5. Stack cucumber, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and greek olives for Greek Salad bites.
6. Tuna salad made with avocado instead of mayo.
7. Tuna salad on tomato or cucumbers
8. Avocado with sunflower seeds.
9. Make ahead meatballs, freeze and pull out what you need for lunch.
10.Almond butter with apples and bananas.
11.Bake or poach chicken breasts. Cut into strips and refrigerate in separate bags to grab and go,
12.Chicken salad – avocado, cilantro, salt and lime juice.
13.1 cup of vanilla greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup of blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.
14.Salad with veggies and hard boiled egg,
15.Turkey, avocado and hummus wrap.
16.Chicken, berries and avocado salad.
17.Baby spinach, raw apple, sliced toasted almonds, raspberry vinegarette and feta cheese salad
18.Egg salad – mix hummus with eggs instead of mayo.
19.Turkey wrap – sliced turkey, avocado, mustard, tomato wrapped in lettuce.
20.Salmon salad – can of salmon over lettuce with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Whether you make an elaborate meal or pick a few items as you run out the door, you can make a lunch that will give you that pick-me-up until your next meal. Be sure to plan ahead so you can keep those goals you are working so hard toward achieving.
Do you have any favorite lunch recipes?