Five Quick and Easy Lunch Ideas
By Brian St. Pierre, CSCS, CISSN
Lunch is definitely one of those meals where people often have the best intentions, but things often go awry. If you don’t prep and pack your lunch in the morning for the day, and instead, rely on your ability to make good decisions when you are starving and faced with multiple opportunities to stray from your usual intake, you are in trouble.
While some people do have an iron will, resist the temptation and make good choices, that is not most of us! This is where packing your own delicious and healthy lunch can come in and prevent that from ever being an issue in the first place.
Since time is always an issue, here are 5 quick lunch recipes that you can make in 10 minutes or less before you head off to work and take with you.
One quick note is that many of these recipes call for pre-cooked chicken breasts, as this can be a HUGE timesaver. In a large Pyrex dish, cook chicken breasts that have been cut in half (so they are half as thick) or chopped at about 350°F for approximately 20 minutes, or until done. To retain moisture, cover dish with tin foil. Season these breasts to taste with sea salt, garlic powder, Montreal chicken seasoning, or anything you like prior to cooking.
1. Chicken, Pesto & Guacamole Wrap: This is a quick and delicious wrap that is loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats, vegetables, protein, and quality carbs. You can make this in less than 5 minutes!
• 1 cooked chicken breast, chopped and seasoned to taste
• 1 sprouted-grain or whole-grain wrap
• 1-2 large handfuls baby spinach
• 1/4 cup chopped cucumbers
• 2 tbsp basil evoo pesto
• 2 tbsp guacamole
• 1 plum or other small piece of fruit
Directions: Evenly spread pesto onto wrap. Lay spinach on top in an even layer. Then lay down chicken breast on top of spinach. Spread guacamole on top of chicken breast and toss in diced cucumbers.
Enjoy with carrots and hummus or other produce of choice. Makes 1 serving for men, and 2 for women.
2. Spinach, Chicken & Feta Salad: This is a quick and delicious salad that is loaded with protein, vegetables, monounsaturated fats, and blood sugar-controlling vinegar.
• 1 chicken breast, chopped and seasoned to taste
• 2 cups baby spinach
• ½ cup red onion, chopped
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
• 2 tbsp feta cheese
• 4 large kalamata olives (optional)
• ¼ cup black beans (optional)
Directions: Mix all ingredients together to make this delicious salad!
For some people, salads don’t seem to hold them over as long as other meals, so adding ¼ cup of black beans can add a small amount of starchy carbs and fiber to keep you fuller, longer. Makes 1 serving.
3. Tuna Salad Sandwich: Tuna salad is usually made from regular mayonnaise (which is made with low-quality vegetable oils) and higher-mercury tuna. Making it yourself allows you to use a mayonnaise made from healthier oils and wild-caught tuna that is lower in mercury. This meal can also be made into a wrap if preferred.
• 1 can wild-caught tuna
• 1 tbsp expeller pressed canola oil mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup chopped onions
• 1/4 cup chopped cucumbers
• 1/4 mashed avocado (or 2 tbsp guacamole)
• 1 handful baby spinach
• 2 slices sprouted-grain or whole-grain bread, toasted
• sea salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Toast bread. In a large bowl mix tuna, expeller pressed canola oil mayonnaise, onions, cucumbers, and avocado (or guacamole). Set aside. Lay spinach on top of toasted bread. Spoon tuna salad onto bed of spinach. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Enjoy with sliced peppers or other produce of choice. Makes 1 serving for men, and 2 for women.
4. Vanilla, Fruit & Yogurt Parfait: While most people think of yogurt as a simple snack food or addition to your lunch, in a pinch it can make a delicious and nutritious lunch by itself. Do be aware that fruit flavored yogurts are either loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners, and you want no part of either one.
This recipe provides plenty of high-quality protein, probiotics, healthy fats, fiber, and berries to keep you full until dinner!
• 6-8oz 2% plain Greek yogurt or whole-fat regular yogurt
• ½ to 1 scoop Vanilla Jaylabpro Protein
• ½ to 1 tbsp milled flax or chia seeds
• 1 to 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
• ½ to 1 cup fresh or frozen berries of choice
Directions: Mix the protein powder and seeds in with the yogurt until evenly distributed. Add in fruit and sprinkle chopped walnuts on top. For women use the smaller portion sizes, for men the larger. Makes 1 serving.
5. Lunch Portion of Dinner Leftovers or Large Batch of Chili, Stew, etc.: A simple way to have a healthy lunch is to make an extra large dinner the night before. Purposefully make your dinner with an extra serving that you simply refrigerate. Come the next morning, you have a healthy lunch already made and packed!
Another option is to make a large batch of chili or beef stew, which can provide you with several lunch servings throughout the week. This is a perfect meal to make on Sunday, providing you lunch for most of the work week!
Here is a delicious chili recipe that fits the bill nicely.
• ~1.5 lbs of lean ground beef, grass-fed if possible
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 large green pepper, chopped
• 2 cans stewed tomatoes, 14oz each
• 1 can tomato sauce, 16oz
• 1 can light red kidney beans
• 1 can dark red kidney beans
• 1 can garbanzo beans
• 1 small can of corn
• 2 tbsp chili powder
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Directions: Cook the beef, onion, and green pepper in a large skillet over medium heat with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. In a large pot combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, corn, and chili powder and cook over medium heat. Do not drain canned goods. Once the beef, onion, and green pepper mixture is thoroughly cooked, add to the large pot. Stir and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
Makes 5 servings for men, and up to 10 servings for women.
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