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Make a Healthy Lunch: Ideas and Recipes

Easy Recipes With Lean Protein Keep Your Diet on Track

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Updated February 15, 2014

Make a Healthy Lunch: Ideas and Recipes

Enjoy a healthy, hearty low-calorie lunch

mconnors/morguefile

Need a few healthy lunch ideas for work? Does your mid-afternoon meal make you feel fat and sleepy? One of the best ways to feel satisfied at mealtime without ruining your diet is to add lean protein to your meals. Use these easy recipes and tips to create meals and healthy salads that are high in protein but low in fat and calories.

How to Make a Healthy Salad

Nutrition experts know that when we eat high fiber, high protein foods we decrease our risk of becoming overweight. If you eat enough protein, you may be able to boost your metabolism and feel full at mealtime without getting the sugar-fueled energy surge and subsequent crash that makes you want to nap later in the afternoon.

A healthy salad is a great way to get protein and fiber. Salads are easy to carry and easy to make. To build a healthy salad, start by choosing a lean protein.

  • Cubed chicken breast
  • Cooked/seasoned ground turkey
  • Grilled salmon
  • Tuna (seared or packed in water)
  • Beans (garbanzo, kidney, black, pinto, lentils)
  • Hard boiled eggs

Then throw in fiber rich vegetables (or even fruit!) to add color and crunch.

  • Spinach (also a great source of protein)
  • Mixed greens
  • Red or yellow peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Avocado (keep your serving small)
  • Lima beans
  • Cubed,chilled, boiled red potato
  • Peas

Finally, add a very small amount of a dairy product or salad dressing. Choose one or the other. For example, if you choose to add a small amount of cheese, then dress your salad with lemon and herbs instead of an oil or dairy-based dressing.

If you skip the cheese (and croutons, bacon bits and sunflower seeds!) then add salad dressing. But, keep in mind the calorie count of salad goes through the roof when dressing is added. The calorie count of most restaurant salads is over 500 calories and most of that is due to high calorie dressing.

Choose your dressing wisely. Bolthouse has a line of yogurt-based dressings that are creamy but only contain 35-45 calories per serving. You can also choose to make your own vinaigrette. Homemade dressings are often lower in fat than store bought varieties.

Healthy Soup Recipe

If you want a warm and hearty lunch, try making a big pot of soup during the weekend and package it into single serving containers for lunch during the week. This recipe is low in fat but full of flavor. Peas are a great meat-free source of protein. One half cup of peas provides over 4 grams of protein.

Puree Green Pea Soup

This yummy soup recipe comes from Chef Anthony Stewart, Executive Chef at Pritkin Longevity Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa.
  • 2 quarts clear vegetable stock
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1 head fennel chopped
  • 3 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 # potato peeled and chopped
  • 4 # green peas (frozen ok)
  • ½ tsp. baking soda or baking powder
  • 3 tbsp. Pritikin Shake It table blend seasoning
  • 3 tbsp. mustard (no salt added)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp. wasabi powder

Preparation

  1. In a stockpot sauté onion, garlic and fennel. Add vegetable stock and potato and cook until soft and potatoes begin to break apart.
  2. Add thyme, mustard and shake-it blends and cook for another 5 minutes.
  3. Turn the flame off and add baking soda, when it begin to foam add green peas, wasabi powder and remaining ingredients. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Blend and serve.

Nutrition for one serving (240g): calories 130, fat 1gram, carbohydrate 24 grams, fiber 7grams, sugars 8 grams, protein 7 grams

Healthy Lunch Ideas on the Go

If you are on the road in the afternoon, you can still find a healthy lunch. Many grocery stores have sushi available for purchase. Most sushi rolls contain cooked or raw high protein fish and crunchy vegetables.

If sushi isn't available, check the deli section for a three bean or lentil salad. Hard-boiled eggs, a mayo-free turkey sandwich, or Greek yogurt are also good options on the go.

If you are stuck going through the fast food line, opt for a grilled chicken sandwich or salad but tell them to hold the sauce and dressing. And pass on the value meal. The extra fries and soda might be good for your wallet, but your waistline will bear the cost of the extra calories.

Get more lean protein recipes and learn about protein and weight loss.

Sources:

Arne Astrup, Sue D. Pedersen. " Is a protein calorie better for weight control?." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition April 17, 2012.

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