We’re right in the middle of American Diabetes Month and today is Healthy Lunch Day. It doesn’t matter whether you brown bag it or eat out, it’s easy to have a healthy lunch.
Packed Healthy Lunch Ideas*
- Try Mozzarella, Tomato, and Chickpea Salad.
- Make Shrimp Salad Stuffed Avocado. Make the shrimp salad ahead, but don’t cut the avocado until you’re ready to eat.
- Take leftovers from last night’s dinner.
- Put a healthy spin on the traditional sandwich. Use 2 pieces of thin whole grain bread and include 2 ounces reduced-sodium lean turkey, hummus, spinach, bell pepper slices, and mustard. Add some carrot sticks and light ranch dressing on the side.
- Mix together some cooked quinoa, rinsed and drained canned white beans, chopped bell pepper, carrots. and broccoli to make a whole grain and veggie salad. Toss with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add a nectarine or some grapes on the side and a small handful of dry roasted almonds, if desired.
- Make a tuna salad with canned light tuna packed in water, light mayo or mashed avocado, diced celery, lemon juice, and freshly ground pepper. Serve it over greens with an apple and nut butter on the side.
- Pack a cup of leftover chili or vegetable soup. Top it with some fresh tomatoes and nonfat plain yogurt instead of sour cream.
- Fill a whole wheat tortilla wrap with rotisserie chicken, hummus, and greens. For more veggie goodness, add roasted or fresh pepper strips.
- Pack a hard-boiled egg, a piece of fruit, a string cheese stick, and 5 whole wheat crackers. And bring as many carrot or celery sticks as you like!
- Throw together a salad with romaine lettuce or spinach and any other nonstarchy vegetables that you like. Top with some cottage cheese, a sprinkle of chopped nuts, and a tablespoon of light salad dressing.
Tips for Eating Out*
- Check the menu ahead of time and plan what you’ll order.
- Try a vegetarian option as long as it isn’t loaded with cheese.
- Opt for grilled fish, poultry, or meat.
- Ask for salad dressing on the side.
- Order the smallest portion available. Eat an appetizer instead of an entrée.
- Choose vegetables or fresh fruit as your sides.
- Drink naturally unsweetened beverages such as water, tea, or coffee.
As for my lunch today, I’m having a leafy green salad topped with grilled chicken and a ginger-spiked salad dressing. The recipe below is from the American Diabetes Association, but I changed it up a little bit. Next time I think I’ll also throw in some mandarin orange slices and slivered almonds.
How I Changed the Recipe
- Chicken: I had some leftover Grilled Marinated Chicken Breasts (without rosemary), so I used them and skipped the first step.
- Greens: I found a blend called Power Greens which included baby spinach, Swiss chard, baby kale, and mizuna. Not familiar with mizuna? It’s a Japanese variety of mustard greens.
- Dressing: I didn’t use bottled salad dressing. I thought about whipping up Balsamic Vinaigrette using raspberry vinegar instead of balsamic, but ended up making my own Asian Vinaigrette instead.
- On the Side: I ate a few flaxseed crackers with the salad because I needed some crunch!
Make it Portable: Cook the chicken ahead and pack it separately from the greens. Carry the dressing in a small container with a tight lid so you can shake it well before using. Put it all together when you’re ready for lunch.
Chicken Kale Salad with Fresh Ginger Dressing
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
- 8 cups packed spinach with baby kale greens
- ¾ cup light raspberry salad dressing such as Newman's Own
- 2 to 3 teaspoons grated ginger root
- Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat the chicken with cooking spray and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, if desired. Cook 6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in center. Let cool and thinly slice.
- Place equal amounts of the greens and chicken on four dinner plates. Whisk together the salad dressing and ginger until well-blended. Spoon equal amounts over all.