A common barrier to eating a healthy lunch is time--either the time it
takes to prepare a lunch or the time that you must take during your hectic
workday to go out and find something to eat. In the morning rush to get
out the door and off to work, you may either forget to pack a nutritious
lunch at all, or you might just grab a less healthy, pre-packaged option.
Once at work, your busy schedule might cause you decide to hit the drive-thru
of a fast food chain during your lunch break so you can eat and run errands
at the same time.
Choosing convenience over proper nutrition will impact your health in the
long run. But with a bit of pre-planning and creativity, you can build
a better lunch without taking a big bite out of your time.
Here are three tips to help you create some healthier lunch options in
a matter of minutes:
Replace your sandwich with a protein-enhanced salad.
It’s best to balance your meals with the right food groups to give
you energy, keep you focused, and help you burn fat and lose unhealthy
weight. To do this effectively, you should increase your intake of vegetables,
fruit and healthy proteins. Salads can be a hearty and simple way to accomplish this.
You might try a baby spinach or kale salad with tomatoes, cucumber and
bell peppers, topped with some salmon in a light dill vinaigrette dressing.
This simple noontime dish combines phytonutrients, healthy fat and protein
for a mid-day boost. The omega-3 fatty acids and protein in the salmon
will help you prevent heart disease and can also increase your memory
efficiency during the day. The baby spinach contains vitamin C and anti-cancer
carotenoids called epoxyxanthophylls, which are also plentiful in spinach.
The tomatoes contain copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin
A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin
E and phosphorus. The cucumbers contain lignans associated with reduced
risk of cardiovascular disease, and bell peppers are chock full of fiber,
antioxidants and folic acid.
Spoon up some great gazpacho.
There are many styles of this tasty tomato-based chilled soup – from
the cold tomato soup variation in the United States to the pureed blender
gazpachos that are like vegetable smoothies, to the flavorful, crisp,
bright-tasting ones found near Valencia. Here is a recipe that balances
the modern American takes on gazpacho with some of the more authentic
versions that are enjoyed in Spain. It is like a salad in a soup bowl,
and it can be paired with a simple protein like chilled chicken breast or fish.
This amazing recipe will deliver six to eight servings of mid-day energy for you.
- 3 cups of fresh tomatoes, diced with juice (you may use two or 3 varieties
or colors of tomatoes)
- 1 cup of cucumbers, seeded, peeled, and diced
- ½ cup each of red peppers, green peppers, and red onions, all finely diced
- 2 cups of tomato juice
Stir the above ingredients together and then place approximately one-third
of this mixture in the bowl of a food processor or a blender, and puree.
After that, add the pureed mixture back into the remaining portion, and
season it all with the following:
- 6 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons of any quality red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- Salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce to taste
* Recipe courtesy of Charles Myers, Big Sky Café (www.bigskycafe.com)
Plan ahead by packing healthy snacks.
Sometimes you just don’t have the time or the appetite for a complete
lunch. Don’t fret—you can make do if you’ve packed nutritious
snacks that you can enjoy whenever you’re in the mood.
By preparing some quick, healthy snacks to graze on during the day, you
can reduce cravings that might otherwise send you to the vending machine.
Sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, celery stalks, carrots or cherry tomatoes
are excellent when dipped in hummus or salsa. Additionally, fresh fruits
liked sliced apples, pears or melons provide a quick and refreshing sweet
bite to keep you from over-eating before or after lunch. For a snack that
comes in its own protective package, there is nothing quite like a hard-boiled
egg with some hot sauce to keep the hunger at bay.
How do you build a better lunch? Share a comment with us.