The Wholefood Approach
For most people lunch is the least important meal of the day as it is usually eaten on the go and consists of something quick and easy. The great news is you can easily make lunches that are eaten easily when you’re out and about – whilst also ensuring you are getting important nutrients to give you energy throughout the day.
How full and satisfying your lunch is will also dictate whether you tend to snack in the afternoon, whether you overeat at dinner and snack again after dinner. Therefore it is important to ensure when you eat lunch, it consists of food that is going to leave you feeling full and satisfied throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
The Healthy Choice
Today we will discuss all the healthy options for Lunch.
Here are some quick, easy, healthy ideas for lunch:
Leftovers are the easiest lunch to have, because it consists of packing whatever you had for dinner the night before (or even a few nights before) and eating it for lunch. This is why I always encourage you to cook extra whenever you cook, because it allows you to get more meals out of each batch of cooking.
The other option with leftovers is rather than having the exact same meal for lunch that you had for dinner – you instead create a new meal out of it. So for example, if you had roast veggies for dinner, save some of the veggies and throw together a salad the next day for lunch by adding some greens and a dressing. Or you could make it into a wrap.
Sandwiches are a healthy choice for lunch and relatively easy to put together. Buy a loaf of bread for the week, or some wraps and a range of fillings, each day you can mix up what you include in it so you have some variety.
For the bread/wrap – always choose wholemeal/grain bread, rye or sourdough. These breads have the most nutrients.
Fillings can include a huge range of raw or cooked veggies such as beetroot, carrot, alfalfa, rocket, kale, spinach, capsicum, cucumber, avocado. You can also add in some beans such as chickpeas, pinto, white beans, as well as tofu.
A note about butter/margarine: As most people know butter/margarine is mostly fat with zero nutrients, even just a small spread of this on your sandwiches can be well over 100 calories. The simple solution is to go without and if you are use to putting butter/margarine on your sandwiches, initially the taste will be different – but over time you will get use to it. Just make sure that when you cut out butter/margarine, you are adding another ingredient such as a spread of hummus or avocado to enhance the flavour.
Salads are super easy to put together and can easily be packed to be eaten on the go. The one thing to remember with salads is whilst your leafy greens such as spinach, kale, rocket, lettuce etc have a good amount of nutrients, they are low in calories – meaning that won’t help you feel full or give you much energy. Therefore you need to add some bulk to your salads. You can do this by adding roasted veggies – things like cauliflower, sweet potato, pumpkin, as well as grains (pasta, quinoa, buckwheat etc) beans and nuts and seeds. When it comes to dressings, store-bought ones tend to be very high in calories and low in nutrients. It’s easy to make your own with a few simple ingredients.
Time saving tip:
These days in the supermarket there are many pre-packaged salad options. These are great if you are low on time as it saves you chopping up all the veggies yourself, or buying different ingredients to mix together. These salads should just consist of wholefoods (greens, carrots, cabbage etc). Sometimes they contain a dressing which as noted above is high in calories and low in nutrients. These salads are great as a base to a meal, add in some grains, roasted veggies etc and top with homemade dressing.
We will cover Bowls later in the program, however the idea of bowls is really simple and consists of the following:
1. Base – Grain or mixed greens. For example rice, quinoa, buckwheat – or kale, spinach, rocket.
2. Veggies – add some veggies, either cooked or raw.
3. Bean – any type of bean you like, or bean dip such as hummus.
5. Toppings – nuts/seeds, alfalfa, microgreens
There are loads of other options for lunch, so what you choose depends on what works with your lifestyle as most people tend to be the busiest during the day. Below are some other ideas:
– Sushi – brown rice sushi with a range of veggie fillings
– Rice paper rolls
– Soup with wholemeal/grain bread
– Loaded toasts – toast with a variety of veggies/beans on top
– Smoothie (this makes a good option for days that you are very busy)
If you do not typically eat breakfast, or you eat a small breakfast – you can choose to eat a larger breakfast style meal for lunch. For example – you might have a piece of fruit in the morning and around lunch time you would have a oats bowl, or a cooked breakfast. Just remember if you are only eating 2 main meals a day, you need to ensure those meals have a lot of wholefoods so they are packed with the nutrients that you need each day.
In addition to the information above, here are some recipes that you can follow.
Recipe 1 – Roast Veggie leftover Salad
On a night that you are cooking dinner which includes roasting veggies, add in a little extra. Veggies such as cauliflower, pumpkin, sweet potato, potato are perfect for this salad. The next day you can choose to heat up the veggies if you like, otherwise add them to a bowl with some rocket and spinach, chopped capsicum and red onion and drizzle with tahini. You can also add a grain if you like such as quinoa, buckwheat or even some pasta.
Recipe 2 – Brown Rice Sushi
Try the recipe here. Feel free to add a range of ingredients!
Recipe 3 – Chickpea Sandwich
Makes 2-3 sandwiches
This has to be tried to know just how delicious such a simple recipe can taste.
Roughly mash a can of chickpeas (or cooked chickpeas), its ok if there are some chunky bits in there, add in 1/4 cup of chopped red onion and 1/4 cup of chopped celery, 1 tablespoon of capers and roughly chopped pickles.
Cut up 1 nori sheet into small pieces and add to the mixture (this gives a seaweed taste, so if you don’t like this you can leave it out – but nori sheets are incredibly nutritious).
In another bowl mix 3 tablespoons of tahini, 1 tablespoon of maple and 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard, mix together and stir through chickpea mix.
Serve in a sandwich on wholemeal bread.
Recipe 4 – Mexican Bowl
Slice and roast 1 potato or sweet potato in the oven. In a saucepan, fry a chopped onion with some garlic, add in a can of kidney beans (or cooked kidney beans) along with a can of crushed tomatoes, flavour with some paprika, cumin and if you like things spicy add in cayenne pepper or chilli flakes.
In another bowl, make up some guac – mash 1 avocado, add in some chopped red onion and tomato, season with lime and salt. Serve in a bowl and enjoy dipping your potato slices into the mexican beans and topped with guacamole.
Note – this can be made ahead of time and simply heated up, if doing this follow all the steps except the ones to make the guac and only do this when you are ready to eat.
Recipe 5 – Rainbow Rice Paper Rolls
Rice Paper Rolls are so good because you can add any fillings you like. Don’t be scared to roll them, you will get better over time and even if your rolling skills are not great, these rolls will still taste amazing! Try the recipe here.
Which recipes look good to you? Choose 1-2 and aim to make them over the next couple of weeks. If you already make lunch for yourself that you enjoy and which fits in with your lifestyle, ask yourself how you can get more wholefoods in there. Come and talk to me about it so I can give you more suggestions!