What you consume for lunch can have a significant impact on how you feel throughout the afternoon, despite the fact that it is often overlooked when planning meals.
Substitute these foods for your deli sandwich and package of chips to increase the health benefits of your lunch without spending too much time in the kitchen.
1. Canned Tuna
Fish and seafood are loaded with protein, which helps you feel full and satiated. It is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to heart and brain health, Canned tuna is one of the most affordable and accessible ways to incorporate seafood into your diet, and because it is shelf stable, you can keep it on hand at all times.
Tuna (and other canned seafood) can be used in a variety of dishes, including sandwiches, salads, casseroles, and pasta. A classic tuna stew is an obvious choice.
2. Mini Sweet Peppers
If you find it difficult to fill half your lunch plate with vegetables, try keeping a container of colorful mini peppers or other ready-to-eat vegetables in your refrigerator.
Ready-to-eat vegetables, such as mini sweet peppers or carrot chips, are convenient and have a satisfying crunch, making them an excellent alternative to chips when paired with a sandwich.
With no trimming, cooking, or preparation required, there is no reason not to consume them! Knott suggests finding raw vegetables that you appreciate and keeping them on hand as a simple meal complement. If you don’t like micro peppers, try snap peas, cherry tomatoes, carrots, or cucumbers.
Vegetables not only contribute health-promoting vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, but also fiber, which can help you feel satiated longer.
Add your preferred dip or dressing to make them more enjoyable to consume.
If you’re weary of quinoa (or simply don’t care for it), make Farro the foundation of your next grain bowl. With 6 g of protein and 3 g of fiber per 12 cups (45 g) cooked, it will help you feel satisfied throughout the afternoon.
Protein, and fiber in farro take longer to metabolize, thereby slowing the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream. This helps you feel full for an extended period of time and avoid a mid-afternoon slump.
Farro can be substituted for almost any other grain (unless you’re gluten-free). It is an excellent foundation for salads, grain bowls, and even stuffed chiles.
4. Veggie Burgers
Veggie burgers are an excellent method to incorporate more plant-based meals into your weekly diet. “They are convenient, filling, and can be a good source of fiber and protein.
Make your own burgers on the weekend (try our lentil burger or zucchini chickpea burger) and freeze them for quick weekday sandwiches.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for less than 400 milligrams of sodium per burger (see all of our purchasing recommendations for the healthiest veggie burgers). Look for high-protein options, particularly those made with beans, lentils, tofu, and other soy products, to stay satisfied for hours, whether you make them yourself or purchase them.
Beyond the traditional bun with your preferred toppings, vegetarian burgers can be added to grain bowls, salads, or wrapped in butter-leaf lettuce. Be inventive with your garnishes as well! Try pesto or guacamole for flavorful fats that are also healthful.
5. Ricotta Cheese
Do you believe this ultra-creamy cheese is only for lasagna? Consider again. “This dairy product can lend flavor and texture to both sweet and savory lunches. In addition, it contains both protein and fat to keep you feeling satisfied for longer.
As with any dairy product, the majority of the fat is saturated, so you should consider how it works in your overall diet. If you consume other full-fat dairy products and red meat, you may wish to opt for part-skim ricotta.
To serve, spread ricotta on whole-grain toast and garnish with your preferred toppings. Carroll suggests arugula, sliced beets or roasted winter squash, and a drizzle of balsamic marinade for a savory option. Try sliced bananas or strawberries with sliced almonds and honey for a delectable option.
For a fast, well-balanced lunch, pair either option with a piece of fruit or, for some crunch, some raw vegetables.
6. Black Beans
Along with other legumes, black beans are an underappreciated superfood. As one of the most cost-effective protein sources, lentils are rich in fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and folate. They provide a lot of bang for the greenback.
They’re simple to keep on hand for a fast meal because they’re canned and shelf-stable. In addition, the fiber found in legumes promotes gut health.
Adding beans to salads or grain bowls for a quick protein and fiber boost is the simplest method to utilize beans. If you have time on the weekends prepare a large quantity of black bean soup or chili and store it in individual containers for weekday lunches.
Try our vegetarian chili made in a slow cooker or our bean and beef taco soup for a supper that requires minimal effort and can be prepared in advance.
Would it even be a wholesome food article if avocado wasn’t mentioned? This fiber- and healthy-fat-rich fruit is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Eating avocado (and the nutrients contained in this fruit) may be associated with improved cholesterol levels, weight maintenance, and even enhanced concentration.
Use pureed avocado as a sandwich spread, or combine it with tuna instead of mayonnaise. Add it to salads, tacos, grain bowls, wraps, or the top of your chili or black bean broth. And sure, guacamole is still a healthy food!
Made from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, herbs, and seasonings, hummus is loaded with ingredients associated with numerous health benefits. Enhance your wrap or sandwich by substituting humus for mayonnaise or other condiments. It is also suitable for a “snack lunch.
The old adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away contains some truth. The phytonutrients, vitamins, and prebiotic fiber found in apples have been linked to numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, and cancer.
Alzheimer’s disease, as well as improved digestive health. In addition, apples are readily transportable and require no packaging, making them an ideal addition to almost any lunch.
While we find them delectable on their own, slicing them and adding them to a sandwich, grilled cheese, or wild rice salad enhances their flavor and crunch.
10. Whole-Grain Bread
One of the greatest improvements you can make to a lunch sandwich is to substitute whole-grain bread for white.
Whole-grain bread contains more fiber and protein than white bread, which “is the key to avoiding that mid-afternoon crash.
Check the ingredient list for “whole wheat” or “whole grain” listed first. This signifies that the bread’s primary flour is derived from whole grains and has not been stripped of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.