Eating healthy during lunch is one of the biggest challenges for most people. One challenge is many people forget to snack mid-morning, so you end up being STARVING come lunch time.. and that is when people give in to fast food or other unhealthy meal temptations.  So the first fix is check out the “Snack” section and make sure you have a snack with you.  The second challenge is not preparing a decent lunch for yourself either the night before or first thing in the morning.  When we are busy all day it is hard to stop and eat.. let alone MAKE a lunch during your lunchbreak too!   It will take some planning and meal prepping, but it will be worth it.  And with any new habit, after awhile you will figure out a system to make sure you have a good lunch with you at work, in the fridge at home, or keeping cool in a cooler in your car as you go about your business.  It is so easy to run through a drive through, but the options are pretty limited and even the salads they now offer just doesn’t always leave you satisfied.  So, here are some healthy lunch ideas to make the night before, in the morning, or during lunchtime!

~Donna

PS i am in the process of updating my website and am in the process of taking actual pictures of the dishes and uploading to my website!  stay tuned!

Chicken Fiesta Salad

The key to a fulfilling salad is having more than just lettuce and one other ingredient.  I used to literally make a salad with just romaine lettuce and a few tomatoes…. And wondered why I was still hungry??  So I personally have learned over the years how to make a good salad !  Salads are great for throwing in leftovers from the night before and have a protein packed salad that will satisfy you!

 

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or 2 Tysons “Grilled and Ready”
chicken breasts)
1 (1.27 ounce) packet dry fajita seasoning, divided
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup salsa
1 (10 ounce) mixed salad greens (organic if possible)
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, cut into wedges

DIRECTIONS:

  • If using raw chicken: Rub chicken evenly with 1/2 the fajita seasoning.
    • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the chicken 8 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear; set aside.
  • If using Tyson's Grilled and Ready (or other brand): sprinkle fajita seasoning on strips and warm on skillet
  • In a large saucepan, mix beans, salsa and other 1/2 of fajita seasoning. Heat over medium heat until warm.
  • Rinse and prepare the salad by tossing the greens, onion and tomato.
  • Top salad with chicken and beans.

~Enjoy!

Asparagus Salad

This is a great salad to eat as a meal, or as a side dish! Asparagus is full of vitamins that are good for you.  When you look online for other salad ideas, make sure you do NOT include corn. Corn is a common ingredient in salads however corn is a starchy veggie and will spike blood sugars.

SERVINGS: 1

INGREDIENTS:

8 asparagus spears
2 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil
1 garlic clove
2 cups mixed greens
1 hard boiled egg
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
DIRECTIONS:

  • Cut 8 asparagus spears into 2-inch pieces.
  • Sauté asparagus with 2 teaspoons oil and 1 mincedgarlic clove.
  • Top 2 cups rinsed greens with cooked asparagus, 1 chopped hard-boiled egg, 1 tablespoon vinegar.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

 ~Enjoy!

French Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

You can have the most nutritious, tasty salad prepared and ruin it all with the type of salad dressing you use! Many of the favorite creamy dressings have too much of the unhealthy SATURATED fats, chemicals and sugars.  Your best bet is to prepare your own.  You can make extra and store in an airtight jar in your refrigerator, but keep in mind since you are making it fresh, it doesn’t have the preservatives the store bought dressing have.. which means it won’t last as long.  So keep that in mind when you are making extra!

SERVINGS: 3/4 cup

INGREDIENTS:

1 teaspoon minced shallots
1/2 teaspoon minced herbs
Juice of one large lemon or 3 tbs. white-wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil

DIRECTIONS:

  • Whisk together shallots, herbs, lemon juice, Dijon mustard.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Drizzle in oil, whisking constantly.
  • Keeps in the refrigerator for two weeks.

~Enjoy!

"Tacos" and "Wraps"

One of the biggest culprits to developing Gestational Diabetes (and Type 2 Diabetes) is foods made from flour.  It doesn’t matter if the flower is organic, all natural, vegan or gluten free… flour is flour!  Flour based foods are called “refined carbs” because all that great complex carb that it started as (ie a whole rice grain) gets pulverized.  So your body does not need to take its time to digest it, instead it hits your blood sugars quickly.. and spikes it!  So, the key is to REPLACE Flour based products with something healthier.  And that is where romaine lettuce leaves or cabbage leaves come in.  Another reason to replace flour based foods is because many breads do not have the great vitamins and  minerals that dark leafy greens or cabbage leaves have.  So even if you are not concerned about Gestational Diabetes, you will be giving your body more quality nutrition by moving away from breads.  Here are some ideas for making tacos and sandwiches using romaine leaves or cabbage leaves. Be creative and experiment!

NOTE:  For the taco and wrap recipes below, I mention using romaine leaves, but experiment and use these alternatives to the romaine leaves: 

  • Butter lettuce: Break off leaves from base, rinse and dry.
  • Red leaf lettuce: break off leaves from base, rinse and dry.
  • Green cabbage:  Slice off the thick stem and bottom ¼th of the head of cabbage/lettuce. Gently pull off one leaf at a time. Repeat until you have 6 to 8 cabbage leaves.

Ground Beef “Tacos”

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS:

1 Pound Ground Beef
1 Package Taco Seasoning
3/4 Cup Water
Shredded Cheese
8-12 Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Sour Cream
Salsa
4 Romaine Lettuce leaves

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a pan, cook the ground beef until browned.
  • Add the Taco Seasoning and water to the ground beef and simmer for five minutes.
  • Using the Lettuce like a boat to make a wrap, add 1/2 cup taco meat.
  • Add your choice of fixings like tomato’s, cheese, sour cream, etc.

~Enjoy!

 

Salmon Tacos

SERVINGS: 4

Use leftover salmon fillets from dinner to make this a quick lunch to go.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound skinless salmon fillet
1 teaspoon cumin
1/ 8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1 avocado, chopped
3 tablespoons
lime juice
8 romaine leaves, rinsed and dried
cilantro

DIRECTIONS:

  • If not using leftover salmon, prepare the salmon:
    • Season the salmon with the cumin, sea salt and black pepper.
      Cook salmon in 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
    • Turn fillets over after 3 minutes, cooking until middle of fillet is opaque.
  • Toss the cabbage and avocado with lime juice, the remaining oil, and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt.
  • Serve the salmon in the romaine leaves with the slaw and cilantro.

~Enjoy!

 

Cilantro-Lime Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey breast
1 small or medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup packed fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes or bottled)
1/2 cup your favorite green salsa
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
4 leaves of Romaine lettuce
Diced avocado and tomatoes for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a food processor, add onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and green salsa. Pulse until a smooth salsa consistency is reached; set aside.
  • In a medium non-stick sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add ground turkey and cook, breaking up any large pieces, for 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt; stir.
  • Add salsa to turkey and stir to combine and cook until turkey is cooked through about 5 minutes more.
  • Add chicken stock, turn heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Turn heat off and let turkey mixture sit while you prepare the lettuce cups.
  • Tear off Romaine leave from base, so that it is large enough to hold about 1/3 cup of ground turkey.
  • Top each lettuce cup with diced tomato, avocado and extra cilantro if desired.

~Enjoy!

 

Avocado Chicken Wraps

SERVINGS: 1-2

INGREDIENTS:

4-6 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
1 medium avocado
½ lemon
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
1 roma tomato
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/4 diced bell pepper
1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

DIRECTIONS:

  • Cut avocado in half, remove pit and scoop flesh into small bowl.
  • Mash avocado with fork until nearly smooth.
  • Squeeze lemon juice onto avocado and mix to combine.
  • Sprinkle salt and garlic powder into avocado and mix completely.
  • Stir in chicken, tomatoes, onion and bell pepper.
  • Scoop mixture into romaine leaves.

~Enjoy!

 

Egg Salad Lettuce Wraps

SERVINGS:

INGREDIENTS:

8 hard boiled eggs
4 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 romaine leaves, rinsed and dried
12 thin slices onion

DIRECTIONS:

  •  Peel eggs and chop into small pieces in small bowl.
  • Add mayonnaise and mustard and stir with a fork.
  • Mash to consistency you prefer.
  • Stir in chives.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place romaine lettuce leaves on plate.
  • Scoop egg mixture into leaves.
  • Top egg with onion.
  • Wrap leaves around egg mixture like a burrito and enjoy!

~Enjoy!

Chicken Avocado Soup

Not in the mood for a big lunch?  You can create a soup and salad combo, especially for colder seasons.  Here is a simple hearty soup that you can have with a salad or wrap.  Soups are another source for unnecessary fillers like corn and some type of pasta.  Again, as you explore other recipes, leave out the corn and pastas.  Instead add quinoa as your “pasta” for a vitamin and mineral packed meal!

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS:

6 cups chicken broth|
1 teaspoon Sriracha, or to taste
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 avocado, diced
4 scallions
1 clove garlic, crushed (or teaspoon from jar of minced garlic)
1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  • Pour broth into saucepan and place over medium-high heat.
  • Stir in Sriracha. (if your stomach cannot handle spicy, you can skip this step!)
  • While broth is heating up, cut chicken and avocado into bite-size pieces.
  • Slice scallions, separating white and crisp green parts.
  • When broth is simmering, stir in chicken and white part of scallions.
  • Crush in garlic (or scoop in if using minced garlic from jar).
  • Bring back to a simmer, turn burner to low, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper the soup to taste.
  • Pour into bowls.
  • Top soup with avocado and sliced green scallion.
  • Optional: Serve with a side salad or one of the wraps!

~Enjoy!

Kale Chips

Yet another culprit at lunch is eating potato chips or fries.  Even though many chips are marketed as fat free, oven baked or whatever, chips and fries are not a nutritious side.  They are made from potato which is a starchy carb and that means spiking blood sugars.  Also chips and fries don’t contain vitamins and minerals your body needs right now.  So a great replacement is kale chips, which are packed with great vitamins and minerals your body needs!

SERVINGS: 2-3

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch of kale, washed and dried (ideally organic)
2 tablespoons  grape seed oil
1/8 teaspoon unrefined sea salt –or less- to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Remove the center stems and either tear or cut up the leaves.
  • Toss the kale and oil together in a large bowl.
  • Sprinkle with salt.
  • Spread on one or two baking sheets.
  • Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes (turning a couple times ) or until crisp.
    (Note: every time I make kale chips, it seems to go a little different than last time.. not sure why! But the key is to keep an eye on the kale and turn it over frequently so it does not burn! )

~Enjoy!