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It might take a little planning on your part, but bringing a healthy homemade lunch to work every day is not impossible. What helps make it easier is having a fully stocked kitchen. Having all of your favorite good-for-you foods, along with storage containers for transporting, is the first step to making sure you maintain a healthy diet.

A couple additional tips:

1. Prepare your lunch menu on the weekends. Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand and ready to go.
2. Batch cook on the weekend. Prepare soups, salads, dressings and veggies in advance.
3. Pack lunch the night before so you are not scrambling in the morning.
4. Keep non-perishable snacks at your desk for those days you don’t have time to pack. A good example would be whole wheat crackers and nuts.
5. Use small containers to portion out lunches for the entire week. Have them ready to grab-and-go in the morning. Using small containers eliminates the temptation to overeat.

Click “Launch Gallery” now for 17 Healthy Brown Bag Lunches For Adults To Bring To Work

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Theresa Greco is the creator of The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine, where she shares her passion for delicious food and a healthy lifestyle with recipes and reviews. She spends her days working as a Law Librarian, but her nights and weekends are spent as a home chef, avid food writer and social media expert. She enjoys motivating people to eat healthier both in and out of the kitchen with recipes and dining choices that are inspired by her love for home cooked/non-processed foods.

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Theresa Greco is the creator of The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine, where she shares her passion for delicious food and a healthy lifestyle with recipes and reviews. She spends her days working as a Law Librarian, but her nights and weekends are spent as a home chef, avid food writer and social media expert. She enjoys motivating people to eat healthier both in and out of the kitchen with recipes and dining choices that are inspired by her love for home cooked/non-processed foods.

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Pritikin-style healthy brown bag lunches are much better for you in other ways. A Quizno’s Tuna Melt has 31 grams of artery-busting saturated fat. That’s the equivalent of eating three Big Macs. By contrast, your homemade Pritikin tuna sandwich has less than 1 gram of saturated fat. Oh, how your heart’s gonna love you!

Read on for more tips on making your midday meal scrumptious, money-saving, and healthy. Chances are, you’ll discover some ideas for healthy brown bag lunches for kids, too.

Contents

7 Things You Should Pack For A Healthy Lunch

1

Simple, Sensational Sandwiches

Put together a sandwich of tuna (canned – preferably low-sodium, light, and packed in water) with 1 tablespoon nonfat mayo or nonfat plain yogurt, chopped celery, and onions, topped with baby spinach or peppery arugula, on 100% whole-wheat bread.

Or get a great dose of heart-healthy omega 3s by combining salmon (canned, low-sodium) or strips of fresh grilled salmon from last night’s dinner with cucumber, onion, and fresh dill. Stuff into a 100% whole-wheat pita.

Go juicy hamburger-style (and very healthy) with a veggie burger (choose lower-sodium varieties) topped with lettuce, slices of fresh tomato, and mustard in a whole-wheat bun.

2

Veggies, Veggies, Veggies

A veggie-packed lunch gives you lots of food, lots of nutrients, and zippo for calories compared to many other lunch choices. Here are healthy brown bag lunch ideas brimming with crunchy, colorful vegetables.

Fill a big bag of cut-up varieties that you can munch on all day long – baby carrots, celery, radishes, cherry tomatoes, and more. Spice them up, if you want, with a little bean dip. Make your own zesty, low-cal, and inexpensive Mexican-style dip by combining pinto beans, chopped red onion, fresh cilantro leaves, and lime juice in a food processor and blend.

For more veggie goodness, trade your brown bag for a small icebox, like an Igloo, and pack a HUGE salad, like Pritikin Longevity Center alums David and Kathy Heetland of Skokie, Illinois. The couple goes through a bag of greens for lunch a day PLUS, in their salads, diced sweet potatoes, yellow squash, red bell peppers, cucumbers, red cabbage, red onions, and more. Says David: “Pritikin showed us that all kinds of food can go into salads.”

Three heaping cups of salad full of fresh veggies add up to a mere 100 calories.

But boy-oh-boy, don’t let the word “salad” delude you into thinking that all salads are healthy. Three cups of salad with cheese, full-fat dressings, and bacon bits tally up 600 calories and more. The Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad packs 860 calories, 46 grams of total fat, 14 grams of which are saturated fat.

For salad dressings that are slimming, use vinegars, lemon juice, fresh salsas, or your own homemade combinations, like wasabi and rice vinegar, Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar, or fat-free plain yogurt sassed up with a little horseradish.

3

Fruit Galore

Like vegetables, fruits are fabulous weight-loss foods because they’re “big” foods, that is, foods that are bulked up by lots of fiber and water. With “big” foods, you’ll be eating a lot of food (which will satisfy your hunger) but not a lot of calories.

Here’s a great example: For the same number of calories that are in a handful of peanuts (about two ounces), you can eat 2½pounds of strawberries (about five of those green boxes that strawberries come in.) Eating “big” foods like strawberries, salads, and other fruits and vegetables can prevent hunger from taking over and taking you places you don’t want to go.

You can even turn fruit into a delicious sandwich. Combine fresh pineapple chunks with nonfat ricotta cheese. Smooth over a slice of whole-wheat toast. Delish!

4

Wrap It All Up

For “on the go” lunches, keep several types of greens and chopped veggies like carrots, onions, celery, and tomatoes in the fridge.

When you’re ready to leave the house, just spread out a large whole-grain wrap. Lavash bread is a good choice too. Top with greens, veggies, and a little balsamic vinegar or low-cal, low-sodium salad dressing. If you have leftovers like roasted chicken, crabmeat, or turkey breast, add them. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Roll the wrap up, and you’re out the door with a big, tasty lunch the size of a small football.

5

Thermos Magic

Soup or vegetarian/bean chili made the night before often tastes even better the next day. To keep hot entrees hot, use an insulated wide-mouth thermos.

In several studies at Penn State University, scientists found that people who ate veggie- and grain-rich soups and stews tended to eat significantly fewer calories overall by day’s end than people who didn’t.

6

South of the Border

It’s scary how much belt-busting trouble you can get into at many Mexican restaurants. One cheese enchilada at On the Border Restaurant, Nutrition Action newsletter recently reported, tallies up 1,600 calories and 53 grams of saturated fat. Yes, 53 grams! Think of it as 20 pats of butter.

Take in a fraction of calories (only about 200) and absolutely no sat fat by making your own Mexican-style bowl of corn, black beans, and salsa. Simply combine 1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained), 2 cups of frozen no-salt-added corn kernels (thawed), and 1 cup of fresh salsa.

7

Baked Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Corn – Warm, Yummy, and Very Filling

Think outside the sandwich. A big baked potato topped with a calorie-light dressing like nonfat plain yogurt, mustard, salsa, or nonfat sour cream weighs in at just 300 to 350 calories.

Enjoy the rich flavor of sweet potatoes? While home on Sundays, cook up a batch. Wrap each one in foil and bake for about an hour at 425 degrees F, or until their luscious, sweet juices start to ooze out into the foil. At work the following week, just pop one in the microwave for a quick warm-up. They’re loaded with taste, and they don’t need any extra toppings. Best of all, they REALLY fill you up.

Craving corn on the cob? Easy! Just microwave it, husk and all, for three to five minutes.

More Healthy Brown Bag Lunch Ideas | Video

Join Pritikin Nutrition Director Kimberly Gomer and Chef Vincenzo Della Polla as they share a bunch of healthy brown bag lunch ideas. Watch the Video

Things You Should NOT Pack…

The Dry Stuff

Rid your pantry of all those chips, crackers, goldfish, Cheetos, cookies, trail mix, and other dry snacks that the food industry has packaged of late into petite 100-calorie serving-size bags. What good are they if you’ve got to rip open three or four before you’re feeling full?

All dry foods, even healthier options like pretzels, dried cereals, fat-free chips, and dried fruit, pack a whole lot of calories into very small packages.

Instead, fill up on water-rich, fiber-filled foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, hot cereals, potatoes, corn, yams, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice. Foods with a lot of water usually provide a lot of stomach-filling volume, but not a lot of calories.

A whole pound of veggies, for example, adds up to a mere 65 to 195 calories. By contrast, a pound of dried cereal or fat-free chips is packed with 1,600 to 1,725 calories.

The Cheesy Stuff

Since 1970, Americans’ consumption of cheese has risen 350%. That’s a huge problem because there’s nothing worse for your heart than cheese because it’s full of artery-injuring saturated fat. “If you want to die early,” Nathan Pritikin said, “eat a lot of cheese.”

Adding just one ounce of American cheese to a sandwich adds six grams of saturated fat (that’s more than you’d get in a McDonald’s Sausage Patty.)

Calorie-Filled Drinks

We’ve become a nation of beverage bloat, and it’s bloating our bodies. The average American drinks 28 ounces of sugary soft drinks a day (nearly 300 calories), which is nearly six ounces more than a decade or two ago, recently reported the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Liquid calories are especially troublesome if you’re trying to lose weight because they do not quell appetite as much as solid foods do.

The good news: If you replace calorie-laden drinks with no-calorie drinks like water, the pounds will melt off. Studying more than 3,000 children and teenagers, researchers at Columbia School of Public Health recently reported that when the kids drank water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, their total calorie intake dropped an average of 235 calories each day.(Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, April 2009)

Eliminating 235 calories each day could help most people drop about 23 pounds within one year. 23 pounds! And all it took was one simple change: switching to water.

Turn your water into lemonade (and do it very cheaply) by squeezing several slices of lemon into a glass of icy water. Stir in a packet of Splenda, and voila! Tasty lemonade. Great for your wallet. And GREAT for your waistline.

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 Ready to healthify your lunch routine?

The start of a new year is a great time for changing up our old routines. You know, breaking away from bad habits-or just boring ones-and trying something new.

Where better to start than with your lunch box?

After all, we all have to eat lunch every day, but there’s no reason it has to be the same lunch every day. Sure, it’s easy to keep packing the same old turkey sandwich and apple and chips, Monday through Friday-but then one day, after three weeks straight of the same thing, you can find yourself pulling out that box at lunch time and realizing you just can’t face one more turkey sandwich.

And next thing you know, you’re hitting the drive-through and wolfing down a bacon double cheeseburger and spending the rest of the afternoon feeling bloated and greasy. So stop that Micky D’s run before it starts with a little lunchtime variety. Here’s a whole slew of fresh ideas for lunchtime-some from my blog, some from friends-that should keep your taste buds interested all month long.

Click link or image for lunch details and or recipe:

Avocado Chicken Salad

Mixed green salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Chickpea Salad and Olive Spread

The Best Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Crockpot Lasagna Soup

Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups

Baked Salmon & Avocado

Avocado Shrimp Salad

Healthified Chicken Caeser Pita

Stuffed Bagels

Valentine’s Salad with guacamole

Crockpot Cool Ranch Chicken Wrap

Easy Kale Salad ( kale and shredded deli meat) with s side of leftover Pizza Dip

Cowboy Caviar with some multigrain chips

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad on a bed of lettuce.

Leftover Vegetable Pie with lunch meat, cracker, and fresh fruit.

Quinoa Burger

Snack-box Style Lunch

Chopped salad with lentils and avocado

Salad topped with Crockpot Cool Ranch Chicken

Fiesta Chopped Salad

Here’s even MORE work lunch ideas from fellow bloggers.

75 Office Lunch Ideas || Laura Fuentes

12 Easy Work Lunch Ideas || iPackLunch.com

Adult Lunches to Pack for Lunch || EasyLunchboxes

Quick, Easy and Healthy Work Lunch Ideas || Keeley McGuire

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Adults || Following In My Shoes

3 Cures for the Common Salad || The Kitchn

Tons of Beautiful Salad Ideas || Biting The Hand That Feeds You

14 Satisfying 400 Calorie Lunchbox Ideas || Eclectic Lamb

Do you love Family Fresh Meals? Never miss out on FUN new meals or easy lunchbox ideas for thefamily andSIGN UPto have my posts sent right to your inbox! It’s EASY PEASY! Justand enter your email!

XO
Corey, Darryl, Big D & Little D

Here’s what I love to use to pack my work lunches!

Click on image for details!

(Post contains affiliate links.)

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It’s that time again, back to school and back to work! Here are my top 25 Healthy Lunch ideas to try out this week that are mostly plant-based and veggie-driven. Most of these healthy lunch recipes can be made ahead and are packable.

Many are vegan or vegan-adaptable and gluten-free! Pick out a few to try this week and feel nourished and energized all week long!

Have a favorite? Please leave me a note in the comments below!

  1. Fresh Spring Rolls with BEST EVER Peanut Sauce! These vegan spring rolls can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for healthy meals and packable lunches on the go! A delicious healthy lunch recipe.

2. Vegan Banh Mi Noodle Bowls with Sriracha Tofu, rice noodles, pickled carrots and radishes, crunchy cucumber and cabbage and a creamy vegan spicy Bahn Mi dressing. Make these ahead for the busy work week- a healthy delicious lunch idea!

3. Lentil Wrap with Spicy Tahini Sauce – This easy vegan lentil wrap is full of crunchy raw veggies like carrots, beets, and cabbage with a spicy Sriracha Tahini sauce spooned over top. Simple, energizing and easy. Vegan!

4. Tuscan White Bean & Tuna Salad with arugula, radishes, tomatoes and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. A fast and healthy lunch recipe made with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry!

5. Spring Goddess Sandwich ( or wrap) with make-ahead, smashed chickpea salad, crunchy carrots & radishes, cucumber, avocado and sprouts. Vegan and Gluten-free adaptable! A fast and healthy lunch!

6. A delicious recipe for Superfood Walnut Pesto Noodles, loaded up with healthy veggies- a flavorful healthy lunch that is packable and can be made ahead!

7. Carrot Quinoa Salad with Almonds with Apple Cider Vinaigrette- a delicious make-ahead lunch that is healthy, vegan and full of flavor!

8. Vegan Curry Tofu Cashew Salad – Turn it into a hearty wrap, stuff it into an avocado or served over a bowl of tender greens! Flavorful and healthy!

9. Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce – A delicious, vegan make-ahead salad with the best peanut sauce ever! Loaded up with lots of healthy veggies, keep this gluten-free by using rice noodles. Make a big batch for the busy week!

Kimchi Burritos! A 20-minute dinner recipe, loaded up with healthy veggies, black beans, leftover rice and flavorful kimchi! Easy and delicious!

10.) Kale & Quinoa Salad with Apples, Chickpeas and Currants! A hearty vegan salad that can be made ahead- perfect for potlucks, gatherings or midweek lunches!

11. My favorite, a Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich which if you are gluten-free, forgo the bread and eat it out of the bowl, or over greens or try it in a wrap! Vegan and gluten-free adaptable!

12. Tarragon Chicken Salad can be turned into a sandwich, wrap or served over a bed of tender greens. Fast easy and full of flavor! A healthy delicious low-carb lunch! Keto friendly.

12. Nordic Nicoise Salad with smoked salmon over a bed of greens with radish, cucumber, baby potatoes, capers, dill, and horseradish-spiked Nicoise dressing. A delicious healthy lunch!

13. Middle Eastern Salad Tacos with spiced chickpeas, hummus and a mound of lemony salad, topped with fresh herbs and scallions. FAST, Vegan & sooooo Delicious!

14. Luscious Zucchini Basil Soup! Make this ahead for the busy work week and keep it vegan or swirl in a little yogurt. A healthy delicious lunch recipe perfect when zucchinis are aplenty!

15. Sushi Burrito with Brown Rice, Avocado, Ahi Tuna ( or sub Tofu) carrots and kimchi– a healthy delicious lunch! Vegan and GF adaptable!

16. Make Life Simple- Instant Pot Lentil Soup– make a big batch of soup on Sunday for easy healthy midweek lunches! Vegan and Gluten-free!

17. Green Goddess Egg Salad with Avocado – this can be served on delicious whole grain bread like you see here, over a bed of lightly dressed greens or spooned into toasted pita or tortillas. Instead of using traditional mayo, try using plain yogurt or vegan mayo.

18. Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps with Chicken (or Tofu) – easy, fast, no cooking required, just assemble! Substitute baked tofu or seared shiitake mushrooms for the chicken. The flavorful sauce is called Nuoc Cham – a Vietnamese staple and the great thing is, it is totally oil-free. Gluten-free and lean.

19. This Heirloom Tomato Sandwich with arugula is delicious when juicy summer tomatoes are in season. Keep it vegan or add fresh mozzarella or goat cheese. My very first recipe on the blog. 🙂

20. Soba Noodle Salad with Cucumber and Smoked Salmon (or tofu) – a tasty salad with gluten-free buckwheat noodles, smoked salmon ( or tofu) cucumbers, scallions, and a delicious Sesame Dressing.

21. Rainbow Wraps! These vegan collard greens wraps are filled with hummus, crispy tofu, shredded beets, carrots and avocado! Make them ahead and drizzle with Tahini sauce! A delicious healthy lunch!

22. “Kicked-up” Picante Tuna Salad – This spicy tuna salad is made with radishes, cilantro, jalapeño, capers and zesty lime juice. Serve it over a bed of greens, piled onto an avocado, or spooned into tortillas or a wrap. Sometimes I’ll just eat it out of a bowl. A fast and easy lunch idea.

23. Middle Eastern-inspired Balela Salad, stuffed into a pita – made with chickpeas, bell peppers, olives, cucumbers and parsley in a lemony dressing. Serve it in a pita with creamy tahini sauce or over a bed of greens. Either way you will love it! A simple healthy lunch idea!

24. Sesame Cabbage Noodle Salad with rice noodles, tofu scallions cilantro and crunchy roasted peanuts. Vegan, Gluten-free!

25. Middle Eastern Eggplant Wrap with a Lemony Kale Slaw with Creamy Tahini Sauce. Keep it vegan or add feta! A delicious healthy lunch that can be made ahead!

26. Smoky Chipotle Black Bean Burgers that can be made in under 30 minutes! Serve them in a bun or over tender greens! Vegan adaptable and perfect for Sunday meal prep! An energizing healthy lunch recipe!

27. Baked Falafel Bowls! Meal-prep these authentic falafels and freeze for the busy workweek. Easy, delicious, authentic falafel recipe! Vegan and Gluten-free!

Quinoa Chicken Salad with tomatoes, arugula, chickpeas, parsley, mint and a simple lemony dressing. A packable and easy lunch idea!

28. Too busy for lunch? This Matcha, Kale and Pineapple Smoothie will give you a burst of energy! It is not only delicious, but it is also filling and very energizing!

I hope these simple healthy lunches inspire you to try something new the next few weeks!

Pick out a few, print them out, make a shopping list and prep them ahead for the busy the work week.

Think how nourished your body will feel!

xoxo

Sylvia

25 Healthy Lunches!

25 Healthy Lunch ideas to keep you feeling energized all week long! Vegan and Gluten-free adaptable! Make-ahead for the busy work week. Packable!

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: lunch
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: global

Ingredients

  • wraps
  • salads
  • sandwiches

Instructions

make according to directions!

Keywords: healthy lunch ideas, healthy lunches, fast lunches, easy lunches, vegan lunches, vegan lunch ideas, packable lunches, healthy lunch ideas,

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30 Healthy Lunch Ideas That Aren’t Salad

When you’re looking to eat healthier, salads are usually a go-to healthy meal choice, especially for lunch. They are chock-full of healthy veggies, filling, and easy to eat in between meetings. But five-times-a-week salads can get redundant, especially if you turn to the same combo day after day. This could lead you to become so bored with your go-to meal, you reach for something entirely unhealthy instead. Change things up by incorporating these healthy lunch ideas, each of which is packed with nutrients that provide much-needed energy to get you through the rest of the day.

1

AVOCADO TOAST

Upgrade your whole wheat toast with tasty avocados. Not only are they a delicious topping to your toast (we recommend Ezekiel bread), but they’re also full of healthy monounsaturated fats. Add an egg on top of this nutritious lunch choice for an added boost of protein. Make sure to use no more than half an avocado, which clocks in at 161 calories and 14 grams of fat.

2

BROWN RICE TORTILLA QUESADILLA

Courtesy of Running To The Kitchen

Cut calories and carbs by making the switch to brown rice tortillas for your quesadilla. Fill this up with your favorite veggies, like corn, peppers, and beans, and add a lean protein like grilled chicken for a satisfying lunch loaded with the perfect balance of protein and carbs.

Get the recipe from Running to The Kitchen.

3

PESTO ZOODLES WITH CHERRY TOMATOES

You don’t need carbs to enjoy your favorite Italian dish. Substituting regular pasta with zucchini noodles is a great way to cut off excess carbs and calories. Instead of using a creamy sauce that’s loaded with fat, try using a simple basil and olive oil pesto: it only has 80 calories in one serving.

4

LENTIL SOUP

Creamy soups are packed to the brim with extra fat and calories, thanks to a cream base and usually lots of cheese. Go for something broth-based, like a cup of lentil soup. Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber, and according to a study conducted by St. Michael’s Hospital, they can also help lower your cholesterol.

5

CAULIFLOWER CRUST PIZZA

Instead of using white bread pizza dough, which is filled with refined carbs, use this versatile veggie to make a yummy and perfectly crunchy pizza crust. Cauliflower is a great crust substitute, and only has 146 calories per serving. Make sure to top off your pizza with nutrition-packed veggies and low-fat cheeses, like feta or mozzarella.

6

PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA TOAST

If you’re craving something sweet, this toast will definitely leave you satisfied. Peanut butter and bananas on whole wheat toast is a perfect lunch that’s packed with protein that will leave you full until dinnertime. Be sure to stick to the two tablespoons serving size of your favorite nut butter.

7

LIGHTENED UP BREAKFAST SANDWICH

Who said breakfast sandwiches can only be enjoyed in the morning? Give this sandwich a healthy upgrade so you don’t feel guilty about having brunch: try using egg whites, low-fat cheeses, and lean meats like ham or turkey bacon for a triple-dose of protein. For the bread, use a whole wheat English muffin for some added fiber without too many calories.

8

LETTUCE WRAPS

Courtesy of Natasha’s Kitchen

Ditch the white tortilla and try using some leafy greens as a wrap instead. Lettuce and collard greens are great tortilla substitutes and don’t have nearly as many calories and carbs as regular flour tortillas do (one 10-inch flour tortilla has 218 calories!). Fill this wrap up with veggies and lean meats for a delicious and nutritious lunchtime meal.

9

PROTEIN BENTO BOX

We’ve all seen the protein boxes from Starbucks, most of which are a definite Eat This! winner over their not-so-healthy peers in the café’s cooler. Save a few dollars by making your own at home by using two hard boiled eggs, a few slices of cheese and turkey, plain Greek yogurt, and carrots with hummus.

10

ITALIAN LENTIL PASTA SALAD

Courtesy of FoodieCrush

Pasta salad is a lunchtime favorite for many people, but it can also be packed with calories, fat, and carbs if made wrong. Give your pasta salad a nutritional upgrade by adding a colorful mixture of vegetables, and use lentil pasta noodles (or any other vegetable-based noodles of your choosing) instead of regular white pasta.

Get the recipe from FoodieCrush.

11

BURRITO BOWLS

You don’t need the calorie and carb-filled tortilla to enjoy all of the fun flavors of a burrito. Cutting out the tortilla will save you the refined carbs. Choose your toppings wisely: load up on lettuce, peppers, and black beans and avoid the cheese and sour cream.

12

TACOS

Tacos are also a healthy Mexican option for your next lunch break. Make them with lean meats like spicy shrimp or chicken tacos, or make them vegetarian by combining black beans, sweet potato, and homemade guacamole. The American Heart Association recommends legumes like black beans as a key food group to help prevent heart-related diseases. They’re also high in fiber, which provides extra help for easy digestion.

13

TURKEY WRAPS

Turkey is a great base for your next wrap to get a boost of protein without all of the saturated fat of red meat. A serving of turkey breast has approximately 125 calories and wrapping it with healthy additions like lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers are a great way to add some extra nutrition to your meal. Make sure you use a whole grain wrap (or even a lettuce leaf!) instead of white flour tortillas to cut down your calorie and carb intake.

14

GRASS-FED BURGER

Using a patty made with grass-fed beef instead of the regular stuff is not only tastier, but also better for you. Grass-fed beef contains more Omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy for your heart, and is lower in saturated and trans fats in comparison to grain-fed beef. If you’re not a fan of red meat, use lean ground chicken or turkey with fresh herbs to make a burger patty that will cut the fat in half and still give you that hearty burger taste. Go for a whole wheat bun or skip it altogether and just use lettuce. When it comes to classic condiments, switch out mayo for Greek yogurt, avocado or hot sauce for a protein-packed lunch.

15

PHO

If you’re craving Asian food, put down the takeout menu and grab a bowl of pho. These Vietnamese noodles can be light and healthy if made right. Instead of adding sauce, use veggies for a flavorful meal and stick to lean meats and low-sodium broths (or even go meatless!) to cut back on calories.

16

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

There’s a reason why chicken noodle soup has such a great health reputation: it’s a low-calorie meal, and is filled with protein, vitamins, and is filling. However, some canned soups can carry a hefty amount of salt, so try to get a low-sodium soup or go the homemade route to cut down on your salt intake.

17

CAULIFLOWER ‘FRIED’ RICE

Courtesy of SkinnyTaste

Instead of using regular rice, shave some carbs off your lunch plate with cauliflower rice. This tasty alternative is much healthier than traditional fried rice since it’s filled with low-calorie, vitamin-rich veggies like carrots and peas. The best part is that you don’t have to make the rice yourself: many places, like Trader Joe’s, Target, and Walmart, now sell cauliflower rice!

Get the recipe from SkinnyTaste.

18

VEGGIE FARRO BOWLS

Courtesy of FoodieCrush

If you’re really craving some grains, try swapping refined grains for whole ones like farro. These grains still contain their bountiful nutritional content, unlike bleached white grains.

Get the recipe from FoodieCrush.

19

CHICKEN STIR FRY

Chicken, a lean meat with a high protein count, is a great base for this stir-fry. Cook this with low-sodium soy sauce and veggies like peppers, onions, and mushrooms for an added fiber and vitamin boost.

20

SUSHI

Sushi is a very hit-or-miss meal when it comes to a healthy lunch pick, but if you make the right choices, you can find something light and low-calorie. You want to ditch the heavy sauces such as spicy mayo, and swap tempura rolls for lighter ones like cucumber-avocado or salmon rolls. Also, subbing white rice with brown rice will give you a boost of complex carbs and fiber.

21

PROTEIN-PACKED SMOOTHIE

If you want a light lunch, sipping on a protein-packed smoothie will do the trick. Grabbing a smoothie or shake that has a filling protein powder and lots of green veggies will keep you satisfied for the rest of your day.

22

TURKEY CHILI

Put down the sloppy Joe and grab a cup of this hearty turkey chili. It has all of the mouth-watering flavors of regular chili without all of the fat. Load it with some beans to get an added protein boost.

23

SPAGHETTI SQUASH

Swap regular spaghetti pasta for spaghetti squash, which is a healthy low-carb alternative. Cut your squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some salt, and roast in an oven at 400 degrees until tender. When it’s cooked, just scrape out the “noodles.” Top with some low-fat turkey sausage and your favorite veggies for a quick and easy Italian-inspired dinner.

24

NO-MAYO CHICKEN SALAD

Courtesy of Panning The Globe

Although mayo is fine in moderation, it can quickly become a calorie and saturated fat bomb when used in abundance in recipes like chicken salad. If you’re craving some savory chicken salad, try using heart-healthy avocado for a creamy base. Although calorie-dense, a little avocado goes a long way in this recipe and is much healthier than oily mayo. If avocado isn’t your thing, you can also use unsweetened Greek yogurt as the main ingredient for a tangy, yet creamy taste.

Get the recipe from Panning The Globe.

25

GREEK YOGURT PARFAIT

Mixing some unsweetened plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit will definitely stop your sweet cravings while giving you all of the calcium, protein, and vitamins you need to get through the rest of your day. Adding low-sugar granola or chia seeds will give an added nutritional bonus while giving your parfait some texture.

26

MEDITERRANEAN BEAN SALAD

Courtesy of SkinnyTaste

This isn’t your average salad: this one ditches leafy greens and instead uses protein-packed black beans, chickpeas, and fills it up with veggies including onion, tomato, and cucumbers for a Mediterranean flare. The combo of complex carbs and protein will keep you full until dinnertime!

Get the recipe from SkinnyTaste.

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TUNA SANDWICH

If you’re craving something simple (and cheap!), go for a tuna sandwich. Tuna is a great source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3s, and one of the most affordable sources of fish you can find. To cut back on the mercury intake, opt for canned chunk light tuna.

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GREEK CUCUMBER SALAD

If you’re not a fan of lettuce, you’ll love this Greek “salad.” Just chop up some cucumbers, tomatoes, and other tasty veggies like onions and kalamata olives, and mix them together with orzo pasta for a scrumptious lunch that’s packed with good-for-you ingredients. Top it off with a little bit of feta cheese for a hearty kick.

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ROASTED VEGGIE WRAP WITH GOAT CHEESE

You don’t need meat to have a hearty and tasty wrap; roasted vegetables will give you some juicy and savory flavor. Grill up some zucchini, peppers, and/or portabella mushrooms and put them on a whole wheat wrap with some goat cheese for a filling lunch with half the calories of your usual wrap.

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CAPRESE SANDWICH

This Italian sandwich is filling and relatively low-calorie; one ounce is 90 calories. Up the flavor with fresh basil and sliced tomato. Adding a lean protein like grilled chicken and using whole wheat bread with a light drizzle of low-sodium balsamic dressing will keep you satisfied and keep hunger at bay until dinnertime.

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11 healthy, non-boring brown bag lunches that will revolutionize your lunch game

As fall approaches, you might be realizing that you were a little too liberal with your wallet this summer (all those outdoor brunches and roof-top happy hours don’t come cheap). But a change of season is a perfect time for new habits — and one stellar option is a healthy and cost-efficient brown-bag lunch.

One of the smartest things we can all do for our budgets (and often, our health) is to pack a work lunch. And we know, we know — not only does this take time and planning, but it all-too-often evokes terrible sense-memories of the dry turkey sammies or soggy PB&J’s that we endured as kids. But fear not — we’re absolutely not suggesting you brown bag a sad little sandwich and bag of chips. Because there are so many tastier options nowadays.

Check out the below options for awesome, delicious brown bag lunches that will make you forget all about eating out.

It’s Taco Tuesday everyday when you pack this spicy, healthy bowl. After this, you’ll be asking, “Chipotle, who?” Find the recipe at Sweet Pea and Saffron.

2Chickpea Caesar Pasta Salad

Add some heartiness to a vegan Caesar salad with some healthy, whole grain pasta. You can even go gluten free, if you’d rather. This update on the classic will totally taste like a step up from your usual salad. You can find the tasty recipe at Emilie Eats.

3Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Lettuce Wraps

Looking to keep your meals lower carb? This spicy shrimp wrap packs a ton of flavor into a super healthy package. Plus, the healthy fats and fiber of avocado will keep you full until dinner. Get your shrimp fix at The Garlic Diaries.

4Greek Chicken Bowl

We love bringing bowls for lunch, because they’re so versatile. This Mediterranean flavored bowl packs together some of our favorite Greek flavors into one convenient bowl. And if you prefer different flavor combos, they’re so easy to swap out. Check out this tasty option at Eazy Peazy Mealz.

5Grilled Zucchini Hummus Wrap

When you’re looking for filling vegan lunches, sometimes things get a little monotonous. But don’t discount the power of the grill. A little sear on some zucchini, and it tastes like an entirely different vegetable. Get your grill on from Maebells.

6Sushi Roll Bowl

Get the flavor of sushi without having to learn how to roll your own. Because we’ve tried it, and there’s a reason why the pros do it. And it can easily be made vegan by leaving out the seafood. Get the recipe from the very aptly named Wonky Wonderful.

7Buffalo Chicken Mason Jar Salad

Not only are mason jar salads beautiful to look at, they’re also very functional. Layer the heartier veggies on the bottom with the dressing, and the lettuce on top. When you tip it over, everything will be dressed, but the lettuce won’t be soggy! This buffalo chicken combo makes a perfect spicy, cool lunch option. Get the recipe from Organize Yourself Skinny.

8Garlic and Goat Cheese BLT

One way to update your lunch options is to update your favorite sandwich. Because there’s an art to it. This stunning update to the BLT adds some healthy avocado and tangy goat cheese, while keeping the crispy bacon and bread combo that we love. Get the recipe from The Kitchn.

9Spicy Tuna Wrap

Another sushi alternative is this delectable spicy tuna wrap. It’s got all the pieces you love, but in a much more brown-bag-lunch friendly package. Get the recipe at Eating Well.

10Homemade Hot Pockets

Yep, that’s right. The classic I-don’t-have-enough-time-to-think-about-lunch food can be updated to be better for you and way more delicious! Using pre-packaged dough and organic ingredients, you don’t have to feel bad packing this classic in your lunchbox. Find the details on how to make a homemade Hot Pocket on Say Yes.

11Salmon Lox Quesadilla

If you want to bring a little brunch for lunch, try this delicious fusion option. The guys of El Nosh put together this recipe for a delicious salmon quesadilla that sounds both cheesy and fresh. Find their recipe at Popsugar.

And if you despise the whole “brown bag” part of the brown-bagged lunch, we’ve got your covered there, too. You can find a list of some of the cutest grown-up lunch boxes around here. Go forth and bring your lunch.

  • By Sarah Terry

Now that we know how to start off our day right with a nutritious breakfast, let’s explore lunch. We asked Judy Simon, dietitian at the UW Medical Center Roosevelt Clinic, adjunct faculty member of the Nutritional Sciences program, and host of our Ask the Dietitian Wednesday Q&A on our Eating Well group, if she would give us a few pointers. Together with her student intern Julian Whitford, she provided us some easy tips to create tasty, balanced meals.

What foods make a nutritious lunch?

Lunches, like any other meals, should be nutritionally balanced and enjoyable. An easy way to help build a balanced lunch is to include foods from at least 3 food groups (vegetables, fruits, grains, protein and dairy/calcium-rich foods).

What should my lunch never lack?

Good and tasty food! The most nutritious foods in the world are no good if we don’t enjoy eating them.

What foods should I limit?

Try and limit processed foods (such as canned soups and sauces, deli meats, pre-made meals, and sodas). Choose mostly whole foods (fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, and whole grains) and lightly processed foods (pre-cut and frozen vegetables and fruit, hard-boiled eggs, canned tuna).

What are some ideas for quick and easy lunches?

What about portion size?

Size depends on your needs! Some people do well with a larger lunch if they have an active day. Other people may eat small snacks throughout the day and, for them, a light lunch is enough. I encourage folks to be intuitive with their food. If they are satisfied with ¾ of their lunch, save the rest for a snack later or keep it for the next day.

Packing your lunch vs. eating out – Does it really make a big difference?

You can have nutritious meals whether you are eating out or bringing food to work from home. However, eating meals that you prepared gives you control and knowledge of what and how much you are eating. Sodium and fat are usually much higher when eating out, and there are often many hidden calories from added fat or inexpensive processed grains.

Do you have any tips on how to plan in advance?

  • Write down some easy-to-prepare lunch ideas before the work week begins. Try writing down a weeks’ worth of lunches ahead of time.
  • When cooking dinner, make more than enough for the meal and use the leftovers as an easy lunch.
  • Prepare multiple lunches at one time.

What are some of your favorite lunch recipes?

During the workweek I love leftovers such as a hearty split pea soup, fruit and ak mak crackers when the weather is cold. I enjoy making entrée salads in Mason jars or grain bowls when I prefer a cold meal (check out these fun, tasty Mason jar recipes). On the weekends I love soup and splitting a grilled sandwich with my husband. It’s often grilled cheese and tomato on fresh bread with a little olive oil in the pan and fruit on the side.

Share your lunch pictures and recipes on the Whole U Eating Well Facebook Group this week and we’ll send you a Whole U multi-use measuring spoon (pictured at left). There is still time to register for the Put Your Best Fork Forward for 28 Days challenge we designed to celebrate National Nutrition Month. Register here and commit to making a small change each week for the next 3 weeks for what, with a little daily dedication, will amount to significantly better nutrition habits.

What does a balanced meal look like?

There’s some truth in the old saying, ‘you are what you eat’. Everything you eat affects how your body functions. Combined with regular exercise, eating a well-balanced diet helps you to stay healthy and lowers the risk of developing heart disease, cancer and diabetes. It’s also important for your immune system, and for maintaining a healthy weight.

Your body’s needs depend on various factors including age, gender and physical activity, and will change over the course of your life. However, there are a few basic principles that make up a typical balanced meal – these apply specifically to adults, since children’s needs are slightly different.

The 5 main food groups:

Essential for growing, repairing and building body tissues and cells. Needed to produce hormones and enzymes.

The primary fuel for the brain and body, and a good source of fibre.

The main source of vitamins and minerals.

Insulates the body, protects organs, and is required for hormone production and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K. Essential and unsaturated fats omega-3 and omega-6 lower the risk of heart disease, and reduce inflammation.

A good source of protein and calcium.

How much should I eat per meal?!

Ideally, you want your meal plate to be made up of…

  • ¼ protein foods,
  • ¼ carbohydrates,
  • ½ vegetables.

A small portion of your meal can include dairy and fats like example oil, butter, cheese and cream.

Average Portion Sizes:

Protein

  • Meat, fish and chicken, 100-125g
  • Lentils and pulses, 80-100g (cooked)
  • Tofu, 100g
  • 2 eggs, 120g
  • Nuts and seeds, 25g

Carbohydrates

  • Rice, couscous and bulgur, 60g (uncooked)
  • Potatoes, 170g
  • Pasta, 70g (uncooked)

Vegetables

The average portion size for raw vegetables is 80g per serving

Fats: oils, butter

Approximately 10ml.

Dairy

  • Cheese, 25g
  • Feta, 30g
  • Yoghurt, 50-100ml
  • Mozzarella, 60-125g
  • Crème fraiche, 50-100ml

If you have any other questions about eating balanced meals, or you’d like to know the average portion size for another food, leave a comment and I’ll respond to you as soon as possible!

15 balanced lunch ideas that take less than 10 minutes to throw together and will keep you going the rest of the afternoon!

I know that sometimes it can feel like a struggle to put together a lunch that will taste good, fill you up and get you through the rest of the afternoon.

As always, when I build my meals I aim to include: whole grains, protein (including plant-based and dairy), fruits/veggies and heart-healthy fats.

BROWN RICE VEGGIE SUSHI WITH EDAMAME & FRUIT

Literally the easiest meal ever. I buy mine pre-made in my local grocery store’s sushi section (most will even make a fresh one right in front of you if you ask!) but you can also get it from your favorite sushi restaurant. You’re getting veggies and heart-healthy fats from the sushi rolls, so I pair it with edamame for some protein and fruit to finish it out. So good!

GREEK SALAD WITH WHOLE GRAIN PITA WEDGES AND FRUIT

If you ask me, there’s nothing better than a Greek salad (though I’m Greek myself so I may be a bit biased!). I toss mixed greens with tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, feta cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries, olive oil and red wine vinegar (you can also add chickpeas or chicken!). I like to pair it with whole grain pita bread and a piece of fruit (or 3!).

HUMMUS & VEGGIE SANDWICH ON WHOLE WHEAT BREAD WITH STRAWBERRIES

I love this sandwich because it’s an awesome way to pack TONS of veggies into a convenient little bite! To make it, I simply spread two slices of whole wheat bread with hummus then layer in mozzarella cheese, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, avocado, onion, tomato and pickles. Serve with a side of your favorite fruit!

SALAD WRAP WITH FRUIT

Take your favorite salad (like this easy mediterranean chopped salad!), mix it together with the dressing, chop it up (I use my food processor) then roll it into a whole grain wrap (Joseph’s Lavash is my favorite). Pair with fruit and you’ve got yourself a lunch!

FARMER’S SALAD WITH AN ORANGE

This farmer’s salad has everything you could want and more. Flavor, crisp veggies and tender whole grain croutons. You’re getting almost all your food groups in one bowl which I love. Pair with a piece of fruit and you’re good to go.

LOWER SODIUM LENTIL VEGGIE SOUP WITH WHOLE GRAIN CRACKERS, FRUIT & A CHEESE STICK

I love Amy’s light in sodium lentil vegetable soup as a quick and easy lunch option (if lentils aren’t your thing, they make many delicious varieties). I pair with some whole grain crackers, a cheese stick and a piece of fruit and boom! Lunch is done!

TURKEY & CHEESE WHOLE WHEAT BAGEL SANDWICH WITH CARROTS & AN APPLE

This is a super simple but oh-so-satisfying meal. I love Thomas’ 100% Whole Wheat bagels. I then add a slather of hummus, lower sodium Boar’s Head turkey breast, a slice of mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and avocado. I pair it with a piece of fruit and some sliced veggies and lunch is served.

RICED SWEET POTATO & CAULIFLOWER BLACK BEAN QUESADILLA WITH PLAIN YOGURT, AVOCADO, SALSA & HOT SAUCE

Layer a whole wheat or corn tortilla with gently sautéed sweet potato & cauliflower rice, mexican blend cheese and roughly chopped canned black beans that have been drained and rinsed. Cook in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until cheese is melted and just browned on either side.

CHEESY SCRAMBLED VEGGIE EGGS, WHOLE GRAIN TOAST & FRUIT

I’ve talked about this before, but I love egg because they’re a perfect vehicle for sneaking some veggies in. I like to sauté chopped tomatoes and broccoli florets or spinach until tender, add eggs and then finish off with a little cheese. I serve with whole grain toast and a piece of fruit to balance it all out.

WHOLE GRAIN GRILLED CHEESE WITH FRUIT & A SIDE SALAD

I’m convinced grilled cheese and salad were made for each other. I take 2 slices of whole wheat bread, slather the outsides with earth balance then add 2 slices of mozzarella in the middle. I pair it with a side salad (whatever you like!) and top with olive oil and balsamic glaze then pair with a piece of fruit. If you really want to be crazy, chop the grilled cheese up like croutons over the salad – it’s sooo good.

CHILI TOPPED WITH MEXICAN BLEND CHEESE, PLAIN YOGURT, AVOCADO, SALSA & HOT SAUCE SERVED WITH TORTILLA CHIPS

Once again, I love Amy’s lines of chilis but you can also make a batch of your own over the weekend to eat all week. Regardless of what you choose, all you have to do is scoop it into a bowl, heat it, top with avocado, mexican blend cheese and plain yogurt then serve with some tortilla chips for crunch!

EASY WHOLE GRAIN FLATBREAD PIZZAS WITH A SIDE SALAD

These easy whole grain flatbread pizzas provide whole grains, veggies, protein and heart-healthy fat all in one bite! I like to pair it with a side salad for even more fiber but that’s not even necessary since you’re getting everything from the pizza that you need!

TUNA MELT ON WHOLE WHEAT BREAD SERVED WITH CHOPPED VEGGIES & A PIECE OF FRUIT

I make my tuna salad by mixing chunk light tuna with plain greek yogurt and spicy mustard. I also like to add diced red onion and celery or carrots for crunch. I then place on one slice of whole with bread and top with a slice of cheese and toast until the cheese is melted. I add lettuce and tomato (and sometimes pickles!) then place the second slice of bread on top! Serve with veggies and a piece of fruit.

READY-MADE BURRITO WITH AVOCADO, SALSA AND PLAIN YOGURT

I love Amy’s burritos (can you tell they’re one of my go-to convenience food picks?!) and Trader Joe’s Super Burrito. Then I just pair with plain greek yogurt, salsa and avocado and I’m done.

WHOLE GRAIN CHICKEN MEATBALL MELT WITH A SIDE SALAD

Once again you can make your own meatballs over the weekend to use all week, or buy a ready-made option (Aidell’s is my favorite). Warm, then simply place on top of 2 slices of whole wheat toast (a whole wheat sub would work too!), top with a little mozzarella and additional marinara sauce and pop under the broiler just until the cheese melts. Pair with a side salad and you’re ready to eat.

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Brown bag lunch ideas

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