In the theme of cooking ourselves happy, slim and healthy the next important meal to discuss is lunch. For some of us, lunch is what we look forward to when we get to work in the morning, that 30 minute to 60 minute break where you can sit and relax (if your job allows you to do this that is) and re-fuel. However, does anyone out there agree that sometimes after lunch your productivity declines greatly?? Don’t be shy it happens to the best of us, that big lunch looked so good, tasted so good… you ate it and then you remembered you had 4 hours left of your work day and you can barely keep your eyes open. Yup, this is bad, and we don’t want this to happen any more! So, how can we find a way to make lunch delicious, light, fresh and relaxing?
For starters, as we discussed before, cooking for yourself is the best way to control the healthiness and deliciousness of your meals, and that goes for lunch too. Many people feel that they don’t have the time to prepare their lunch ahead of time so they rely heavily on the cafeterias and local restaurants to fulfill their mid-day meal needs. If there is one thing I truly understand, it is the feeling that there just isn’t enough time in the day. But, what if I told you all it takes is about 10-15 minutes max, and that includes the time it takes to decide what you want?! I bet you can find 10-15 minutes before you go to bed, while you are waiting for your dinner to bake or finish, or even in the morning try hitting the snooze button one less time than normal and preparing before you walk out the door. Wherever you can find those few minutes, take them and you will feel satisfied, refreshed and energized to take on your second half of the day vs. that sluggish, and unproductive version of yourself. You can thank me when your boss’ recognize how fabulous you are in the afternoon now.
So, now you need some new ideas that are easy, don’t take too much thought or time, and are light and savory. Good thing you’re reading because I think I have some examples of exactly what you are looking for. If you will notice each one of these ideas has at least 3 different colors, which we now know how important that is!
Raw Stuffed Pepper:
In a Tupperware container throw some romaine or spinach greens to cover the bottom.
Take a bell pepper, medium sized, and cut it in half taking out all the seeds from the inside.
Take 2-3 slices of thin sliced turkey breast or add in some chicken or tuna salad (one small scoop if its from the store or a little more if you made it at home controlling the amount of mayo involved).
Top this bad boy with any and all veggies you have in your fridge. What works best: cucumbers, carrot sticks, broccoli slaw, tomatoes, a little avocado, broccoli or whatever you have available.
Add a laughing cow cheese wedge when you are ready to eat, for a little creamy, low calorie cheese treat and top with either a small amount of dressing, or even better some mustard. Like honey mustard? You can make your own by mixing Dijon mustard and some agave nectar. Fast, easy, filing, and delicious.
Basically, the same as the above recipe but substitute the pepper for a lettuce cup. Buy the head of lettuce (the round ball of lettuce) and cut off the bottom and you can peel off the layers of the lettuce in a half circle shape that makes for a perfect lettuce wrap.
Make your own chicken salad:
Replace the mayo in the recipe of making your own tuna fish or chicken salad with a few different options. You can use, dijonnaise, the lovely pre mixed half mayo, half mustard spread, you can use a smaller amount of the olive oil mayo, you can use a ripe avocado instead of mayo fully or you can use some avocado and a very little bit of mayo.
Choose which option works best and tastes best to you, and then once it is mixed be sure to add in any or all of the following: diced celery, cilantro, apples, carrot sticks and some lemon juice to make sure your salad is packed with extra nutrients and flavors.
Then, once it’s made you can put it over greens and make a salad or you can make a sandwich. Try deli flats or low carb wraps as options besides bread. If you like a crunch, try out Wasa Crackers. They come in different versions (rye, sour dough, wheat, whole grain, etc) and are roughly 45 calories per “cracker” depending on which version you choose! Throw the tuna or chicken salad right on top of the cracker and top with some sliced cukes or tomato, delish!
(PS when using the Wasa crackers it is best to package the lunch deconstructed. Put all your veggie toppings (lettuce, tomato etc) in a Tupperware with the chicken/tuna salad and put the crackers in some foil or a bag and make it when it is lunch time so you don’t have soggy crackers.)
Not feeling the chicken salad?
Why not take two Wasa crackers and half of a ripe avocado. Layer the avocado on top of a laughing cow cheese on the cracker and then top with some tomato, spinach and cucumbers? Creamy and so yummy. Try it with a little balsamic vinegar on top for some low calorie extra flavor. Are you getting hungry right now? I am.
Never underestimate the power of leftovers!
Was your dinner good the night before?? I bet it would be great the next day too! Time saver alert right here!
Yes, I know this is nothing exciting I am telling you here, but maybe I can give you some new ingredient ideas! Try making salad with new, light, fresh ingredients to keep yourself excited and interested in your pre packaged lunch!
Shelled edamamme make great salad toppers, so do figs, (watch your portions here though, you don’t need to many to get the great flavors, without adding too many calories.) radishes, beets, artichokes, roasted red peppers, mandarin oranges, broccoli slaw, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, beans, corn, strawberries, mangoes, grapes, apples, blueberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, even peanuts! Pick a few, find your favorite combo and mix it up! The combo ideas are endless, you will not be bored!
Cottage cheese with fruit
Friendship brand has made this very easy for you by making a “fit to go” mini cottage cheese serving! Grab one of those with a Chobani or a yogurt of your choice and make your own fruit salad at home. It can be as easy as a few grapes, strawberries and a banana. You will be surprised how filling this simple meal is too!
The Rainbow Salad.
Named by my fabulous cousin, this was a dinner staple when we were roomies, however it makes a fantastic lunch as well. When you make this in advance I guarantee you, you will be looking forward to your lunch all day long!
The essentials of the salad:
½ Ripe Avocado
Part Skim Mozzarella
½ Honey Crisp Apple (really any apple is fine, I am just partial to Honey Crisp because they are always sweet and perfect and have yet to let me down!)
Cut all ingredients into bite sized pieces and put into your Tupperware. In a separate Tupperware make your dressing with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed or red wine vinegar. You can also use fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of truffle oil on top instead of the balsamic/oil combo as well.
As we started to eat this meal over and over again we realized how many additional items are so tasty in this salad. The above are the essentials, but the salad gets better and better the more you add. Examples: Grapes, carrots, sautéed onions, mango chunks, broccoli, strawberries…. pretty much anything…make your own mixture!
Add in a piece of hand fruit or an organic apple sauce on the side of any of these lunches and you have a well rounded, energizing, power packed lunch that leaves you ready to take on round 2 of your work day!
#happyslimhealthy #headtotoewellness on InstaGram for pictures of some of my meal creations. I am looking forward to seeing the meal creations you are coming up with!
- Jenna A. Stock, RDN