5 No Fuss, Healthy Lunches

Do you ever read a magazine like Glamour or Shape where they come up with suggested menus as part of some diet scheme they’ve come up with?

When I read them, I sometimes think they seem like to much work, too much preparation that I don’t have time for on my schedule. Now, I’m not dieting, but I am trying to make healthier choices  and learning to use new ingredients (and I wouldn’t be upset if I dropped a few pounds in the process ) So, I came up with five days of  no fuss, healthy lunches of my own.

My thinking is everyone has a different schedule. Some people can go home for lunch, others sit in a cafeteria. And some might have access to a kitchen of sorts. That being said, the prep for most of these meals can take place the night before if you don’t have time to go home during the day.

And no, it does not involve a turkey and cheese on wheat sandwich every day, which is what I often take to work.

1. The tuna melt

This is for the day you can run home for an hour. There should actually be two slices shown here, but I ate one before I remembered to take the picture. I was hungry! 🙂

Ingredients: 2 slices of Nature’s Own Double Fiber Wheat bread, 1 can of tuna, 1 tbsp of Kraft’s Fat Free Mayo, 2 slices of low fat Sargento provolone.

Directions: Mix tuna and mayo, while toasting bread and preheating the oven to 300. Then transfer the tuna to the bread and place a slice of cheese on top. Cook in oven for a few minutes until cheese is melted.

Nutrition: 310 calories (1 can of tuna is 100 calories, two slices of cheese are 100 as are two slices of the double fiber wheat. One tbsp of mayo is 10 calories)

2. Baked Sweet Potato and vegetable

For most of my life, I thought I didn’t like sweet potatoes. I associated sweet potatoes with that marshmallow-y thing that my grandma used to served at Thanksgiving. And I did not like that at all.

But when Mom started hosting Thanksgiving, she didn’t serve the sweet potato-marshmallow concoction. She roasted them with butter and walnuts one year and whipped them like mashed potatoes this past year.  It was then that I discovered that I kind of liked sweet potatoes.

However, I still didn’t think of them as anything other than Thanksgiving food until I was reading a healthy living blog where the author photographed her lunch — a sweet potato and some vegetables. I thought I’d give it a try. I now ❤ sweet potatoes.

Ingredients: 1 sweet potato and your choice of vegetable. I zapped some green beans in the microwave.

Directions: For oven, preheat to 400 and cook for about 50 minutes. For microwave, cook on high for about 5 minutes. Remember to pierce holes in the potato before putting it in the oven or microwave so that it can breathe and not explode all over your cooking aparatus.

Nutrition: Nutritiondata.com says a big sweet potato is 162 calories with 6 grams of fiber. (In comparison, a regular large baked potato is about 278 calories with 7 grams of fiber, according to nutritiondata.com.)  Adding a little butter will kick up the calorie count a bit, but the taste is incredible.   A side serving of veggies will likely add about 100 to 150 additional calories, so in total, you’re looking at about a 350 calorie lunch.

3.  Grilled chicken salad

OK, this involves some preparation the night before if you’re going to take it to work.

Ingredients: 2 cups spinach leaves, 1 chicken breast, 2 tbsp Italian dressing, 4-5 strawberries

Directions: Coat the chicken in the Italian dressing and then grill on a George Foreman or pop in the oven for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, wash and cut up strawberries.  When the chicken is finished, cut up into small pieces and serve over spinach leaves with strawberries.

Nutrition: No chicken breast is created equal, but it seems like the ones I buy are somewhere between 110 and 150 calories. The spinach leaves are about 20 calories per cup and strawberries are 9 calories per large strawberry. The zesty Italian dressing currently in my refrigerator is 70 cal per tbsp.  So, you’re probably looking at a meal somewhere between 335 calories to 365 calories, give or take a few.

4. Turkey Chili

This is also another prepare the night before kind of dish, but you’ll have lots of leftovers. So freeze some and pull it out a month from now when you’re craving chili.

Ingredients: Pound of ground turkey/beef, 2 1/2 cups tomato juice, 1/4 cup green pepper pieces, two 15 oz can of kidney beans, drained, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp garlic powder

Directions: Brown meat in big pot over high heat and then add the remaining ingredients. Then allow to simmer for 20 minutes before serving.

Nutrition: This is a little harder to provide a calorie count for because the ground turkey didn’t have a nutrition label. However, Web research seems to put 1 pound of ground turkey anywhere between 676 to 720 calories. The two cans of beans = 770 calories and the tomato juice = 90 calories. You can also tack on about 10 calories for the green peppers. Chili and garlic powder don’t have calories though. If you add that all up and divide by four, you get 397.5 calories.

5. Roasted veggies over while rice

This is more a do-at-home type meal, but you could probably make it at home first and then reheat in the office microwave.

Ingredients: Vegetables of your choice. I usually buy zucchini, portabella muchrooms, and tomatoes. If I have butternut squash handy, I’ll throw that in too.  1 cup wild rice ( I buy the pouch you can heat up in the microwave for 90 seconds), 1 tbsp olive oil, basil and oregano

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and cut up vegetables, then toss with olive oil and spices. Roast vegetables for 15 minutes, then serve over wild rice.

Nutrition: The nutritional value depends on the vegetables you choose, but you can’t really go wrong with fresh veggies. 1 cup of wild rice is 220 calories and 1 tbsp of olive oil is 110 calories.  But here are some veggie guidelines from nutritiondata.com and nutrition labels from my refrigerator to help.

1 medium zucchini = 31 calories

1  tomato = 18 calories

1 package of baby bellas = 50 calories (that’s 2.5 servings)

1 cup of butternut squash cubes = 82 calories

OK, that’s all for me. I’m off to enjoy what’s left of my Sunday!

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One comment

  1. Amy Dawson · May 4, 2010

    For more ideas (and to share yours on our site and let us calculate nutrition for you, and credit you) visit http://www.lunchtaker.com
    lots of great ideas – thanks for sharing 🙂

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