8 Healthy Lunch Ideas
October 17th, 2016 by Lauren Tharp
We had to write and rewrite this blog post several times before we finally landed on what we wanted to do with it. At first, we were just going to write a list of some of our favorite recipes, but that was a total mess. Plus, most of us already have “go to” lunches that we prefer – and alternative recipes are available widely online if you need something to freshen up your routine.
Instead, we decided to go with a list of ideas to make the lunches you already love much healthier.
That’s right: by making simple substitutions, you can make the meals you already know and love into healthy, nutritious lunches. Here are eight of our favorites:
On its own, yogurt makes a great healthy snack. It’s filled with protein, and the acidophilus inside it is fantastic for your stomach. However, yogurt is extremely versatile and can be so much more.
Try using plain yogurt as a substitute for mayonnaise in sandwiches. It can also be used as a substitute for mayo in chicken or tuna salads.
Speaking of great substitutes for mayonnaise, have you ever tried making an avocado spread for your sandwiches? Not only do avocados whip up nice and smooth – an almost mayo-like texture – but they add delicious flavor to anything you put them on.
High in fiber and with more potassium than bananas, avocados are one of our favorite healthy foods. Studies have shown that avocados:
- Reduce total cholesterol levels significantly.
- Reduce blood triglycerides by up to 20%.
- Lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22% for a healthier heart
- Increase HDL (the “good”) cholesterol by up to 11%.
- Packed full of vitamins like E, C, and K
Check out one of our favorite blogs for even more great healthy food advice!
Also, check out Jackie Miller for some amazing benefits on avocados!
Salads are a lunchtime favorite, but it’s time to switch out your iceberg lettuce (which is mainly water and empty calories) for something more substantial like romaine (which has 17x the vitamins!) or kale.
You can also improve your lunchtime salad by substituting almonds for croutons!
Switching from creamy dressings like ranch to vinegar-based dressings can also improve the healthiness of your salads. Many creamy dressings are not only fattening, but contain other harmful hidden ingredients (like MSG) that can mess you up.
4. PB&J a New Way
PB&Js are a classic lunchtime favorite. However, if you switch out your peanut butter for almond butter, you can get the same nutritional benefit of eating nuts with much less saturated fats.
Also try to opt for sugar-free jelly. If you can find some, there are a lot of great sugar-free jellies out there that are sweetened with white grape juice – so you don’t have to worry about harming your body with chemical-based artificial sweeteners.
Ditch the sodas and the sports drinks and get yourself a cool glass of refreshing water! Your body needs water to thrive.
Don’t care for drinking straight-up water? We get it. Sometimes the transition from flavored drinks to plain water is hard. So, try tea! Tea has no added sugar and is filled with anti-oxidants.
Still not feeling “hype” about plain water? Try coconut water! It has less than half the sugar of sports drinks and up to 16x the potassium.
Switch out your white rice for brown rice. It has more protein and a lot more fiber.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try using quinoa. It has 150% more fiber and almost 100% more protein than white rice!
Ditch the “cream of” whatever soups and try some plant-based soups like minestrone, lentil, split pea, or chili (try to cut back on the beef, and increase the beans and veggies with this one).
If you’re buying canned soups, look for “low sodium” options.
Many of us have more time to craft healthy meals for dinner than we do for lunch. If you went to the trouble to create a healthy dinner for yourself, save some of it for lunch the next day!
What are some of your favorite lunches? And what have you done to make them healthier? Let us know in the comments!