What’s for Lunch?
Whether you’re thinking about school lunches, trying to plan ahead for the workweek or simply trying to maintain a healthy pattern of eating, lunch is an important meal that helps fuel your body throughout the day. The UOHI Top 10 Tips for Healthy Eating and the Eating Healthy section on the Prevention & Wellness Centre website are great reference tools and provide many suggestions for preparing heart healthy lunches. Some tips that help with lunch preparations:
- Eat a variety of vegetables and fruit at every meal. Include a few brightly coloured whole vegetables and fruit with each lunch.
- Plan and prepare ahead of time. Spend a few minutes each night or take time at the start of the week to prepare and portion out snacks and meals that will keep well for a few days.
- Keep healthy foods in easy reach. Keep a fruit bowl stocked on the counter. Wash and cut up vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower and store in containers in the fridge. It can also help to reserve an area in your fridge and cupboard for these go-to ingredients. Having these ready to go makes for easy lunch preparation and also provides an easy-to-reach-for snack option.
- Include a variety of foods in your lunch for good health and to keep things interesting. Choose different combinations of food you have prepared for each meal of the week. For example: mini rice cakes, whole grain crackers, hummus, fresh berries, cooked corn on the cob, almonds, nut free butter or your favourite nut butter on crackers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, cubed cantaloupe, sliced banana, grapes, pear slices sprinkled with cinnamon, apple slices or a piece of your favourite fruit. Leftovers like home-made muffins, whole grain pasta or roast chicken also work great when paired with some fruit and vegetables.
- You might also like to keep food separate by using a lunch box with divided compartments. This will also help you to remember to include something from each food group for a healthy, nutritious meal.
Looking to try something different for lunch this week? Here are a few easy, tasty and nutritious recipes that can be enjoyed now or prepared ahead for a quick and easy lunch. They can be paired with fresh fruit or veggies that are ready to go in your refrigerator.
Avocado Egg Salad Sandwiches
(makes 2 sandwiches)
Tip: You can double this recipe and refrigerate for up to three days in a sealed container.
Smashed Chickpea Sandwich
(makes 2 sandwiches)
Garlic Herb Sauce (optional)
Tip: Sunflower-chickpea mixture will keep covered in the fridge for up to three days, making it great for quick weekday lunches.
- 2 large corn or whole grain flour tortillas (or gluten free option)
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 head of romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
- 1 (15 ounce) can of no salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups of cooked frozen corn, defrosted
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- 2/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
Salsa Yogurt dressing:
- ¼ cup prepared low sodium salsa
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- Place oven rack in the center and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Stack the tortillas and cut them in half, then slice each half into 1/2-inch strips.
- Scatter the strips in the middle of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat, then spread them into a single layer.
- Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes, turning halfway through. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a large, non-stick skillet, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium high. Add the turkey, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Break up the meat and stir with a spoon until it is cooked through, about 7-8 minutes.
- In a small bowl, stir together the salsa and Greek yogurt to make the dressing and set aside.
- Place the lettuce in a large serving bowl. Top with 1/4 cup of the salsa-yogurt mixture, the turkey, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, cheese, and green onions. Toss lightly to combine, then sprinkle the tortilla strips over the top.
- Serve immediately with remaining salsa-yogurt dressing as desired.
- If using corn tortillas, check the baking time a few minutes early, as the corn tortillas may crisp more quickly.
- To make the recipe vegetarian, omit the ground turkey and add 1 cup of lightly roasted and coarsely chopped walnuts along with ½ cup of roasted pumpkin seeds to the black bean mixture.
- To make it ahead, store the cooked ground turkey in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, the corn and black beans in a separate container for up to 4 days, the dressing in a container for up to 3 days and the chopped tomatoes in a container for up to 3 days. Washed, chopped lettuce can also be stored in the crisper drawer for 2 to 3 days. Assemble the salad just before serving.