<--See Pic :)
My first tip is when food shopping, make sure to pick up items that you can use for lunch. You should prepare ahead of time to ensure that you bring your lunch with you to work or school or even have it readily available if you stay at home.
Here are a few lunch staples to pick up the next time you are at the grocery store.
Bread for sandwiches:
Most of us probably don't have the time to make our own bread at home. I like to get bread that has plenty of whole grains, high fiber to keep you full longer and is heart healthy i.e. low sodium, whole grains. This is VERY important so pay close attention. I have found that many people think because packaging says WHOLE WHEAT and the bread has a brown color that it means it contains whole grains and is high in fiber. That is not the case! You MUST read the ingredients. If the first ingredient says "wheat flour" or "enriched bleach flour" etc means white flour and not whole-wheat flour was used. Also, do not be mislead by words like 7 grain or 12 grain. Companies use these key words to fool you.
Ezekial Bread, from food for life company, is a great example of a heart healthy bread option. 7 Sprouted Grains, brown rice bread (Gluten Free) and Ezekial 4:9 sprouted whole grain bread are just a few options.
Between the bread:
Organic Turkey and Chicken: There are a few companies that sell pre-sliced organic turkey and chicken. Applegate farms is sold in several grocery stores around the country. Their commitment to natural and organic ingredients as well as eliminating GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms) is fantastic. Another quick and healthy idea is to buy a pre roasted organic chicken or turkey. Whole Foods Market stores and some local healthy grocery stores are starting to sell these. You can pull the meat off the bone for organic pulled chicken sandwiches or add the meat to salads.
Nut Butters: Organic Peanut Butter and Almond Butter are a great protein alternative for lunches, especially for kids. Of course you want to use the proper serving and stick to the unsalted and unsweetened versions. In addition to protein nuts contain Vitamin E and monounsaturated fats that help to regulate cholesterol by lowering the bad LDL cholesterol while maintaining the good HDL cholesterol. According to a review in the British Journal of Nutrtion, people who eat nuts four times a week may lower their risk of dying of coronary heart disease by 37 percent, compared with people who seldom or never eat nuts. A healthy serving size is about 1tbsp of peanut or almond butter. Some examples of organic peanut and almond butters are Whole Foods 365, MaraNatha and Arrowhead Mills
Peanut or Almond Butter can also be used to make smoothies, baking or just as a snack with apples or celery.
Some other lunch ideas are hummus with carrots, veggie burgers, smoothies and salads. Below are a few quick and healthy lunch recipes. Enjoy!
Chicken and Bean Salad-Serves 4
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp organic orange juice
1/4 cup white-wine vinegar or red-wine vinegar
1 tbsp organic Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup organic red onion (optional to taste)
15 oz black, white beans or other (I prefer boxed organic beans but canned if easier)
2 1/2 cups pulled, sliced or diced organic cooked/roasted chicken breast--you may use the pre cooked/roasted organic chicken as discussed in above post
About 2 small diced zucchini and/or summer squash
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground pepper to taste (optional)
2 cups torn organic spinach, kale, escarole or other to taste
- To prepare vinaigrette: Whisk in 3 tablespoons oil with the 1/4 tsp salt. Add 6 tablespoons orange juice, vinegar, and mustard; whisk until well blended. Taste and whisk in up to 4 tablespoons more juice to mellow the flavor if needed. Set aside at room temperature.
- To prepare salad: Combine beans, chicken, zucchini (and/or summer squash), in a large bowl until well blended. Add chopped basil and 3/4 cup vinaigrette; toss until combined. Taste and season with pepper, if desired.
- Toss the remaining vinaigrette with escarole, spinach, kale or other leafy greans in a medium bowl. Serve the salad on the greens, garnished with fresh basil leaves.
Hearty and Heart Healthy Peanut Butter and Jelly Lunch Smoothie -Serves 2
1 cup ice cubes
1 cup fresh or frozen organic strawberries
1 cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries
1 small organic banana
2 tbsp organic creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp organic milled flax
1 cup water, almond or hemp milk
- Combine all ingredients in a blender in the order listed.
- Blend until smooth.
Sweet Potatoe and Black Bean Burger-Recipe Adapted from the Cafe Flora Cookbook Makes 8 Burgers
Note: This recipe takes some additional time and effort since you must make the burgers yourself. I would recommend finding some time at the beginning or end of your day or even on the weekend. You can store in the fridge or freezer for easy lunches or dinners during the week!
1½ pounds organic or local sweet potatoes (smaller potatoes cook faster)
⅓ cup millet
1 cup old fashioned organic oats (use certified gluten-free oats if you are avoiding gluten)
1 can or box (15 ounces) organic black beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked black beans)
½ small red onion, diced
½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle powder or smoked hot paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne powder (optional, to taste)
½ teaspoon salt
High quality organic vegetable oil for cooking burgers (or coconut oil, if you don't mind the coconut taste, olive oil may burn)
8 organic whole wheat flour hamburger buns (optional)
your favorite burger fixings (avocado or guacamole, tomato or pico de gallo, lettuce, sprouts, ketchup, hot sauce, mustard, pickles, cheese)
- Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the sweet potatoes down the center lengthwise. Place the sweet potatoes cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until they yield to a gentle squeeze, 30 to 40 minutes or longer. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin (it should pull off easily) and roughly chop the insides. Set aside to cool completely.
- Cook the millet: In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Stir in the millet, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender (about 25 minutes). Drain off any remaining liquid and set aside to cool.
- Grind the oats: Use a food processor or blender to grind the oats until the flakes are broken up, but not as fine as flour.
- Mix the burgers: In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the cooled sweet potatoes and millet, black beans, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, chipotle or paprika, cayenne (optional, add to taste for spicier burgers) and salt. Use a potato masher, big mixing spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer to mix really well. It's ok if the black beans get smashed in the process.
- Mix in the oats: Sprinkle the ground oats over the mixture and mix well with a big spoon until the mixture holds together when you shape a portion into a patty. If possible, cover and refrigerate the mixture for best results (the patties will hold together better during cooking if they are chilled first).
- Shape the burgers: Use a measuring cup to measure out ½ cup of the mixture. Gently shape it into a patty about 3½ inches in diameter. Use your hands to gently flatten the burgers and smooth out any jagged edges. Repeat the process for each patty; you should end up with 8. If you would like to toast your hamburger buns, preheat the oven to 350 degrees now.
- Pan fry the burgers: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. When it's hot, place several burgers in the pan, leaving enough room to flip them. Cook each patty until browned and heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet for each pan of burgers you fry.
- Toast the buns (optional): Place the buns on a baking sheet, cut sides up, and bake until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes.
I'm not sure these patties will hold together properly on a grill; panfrying is probably the best but you could also bake them in the oven and if at work possibly the microwave for 20-30 sec.
Also, patties should freeze well for later use