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Weight Loss, Fitness & Health Weight Loss, Fitness & Health

*~ Lunch Ideas ~ *

Posted by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:03 PM
  • 25 Replies

 Best Healthy Lunch Ideas

Ah…the ubiquitous lunchbox. Whether you’re packing your own or one for every kid in the house, there are real challenges when thinking about your mid-day meal. We know you want healthy options that keep you full enough to stay away from the vending machine come mid-afternoon. There’s also a real need for make-ahead recipes…why would those pre-packaged lunch packs and frozen meals be so popular if ease of prep wasn’t the primary goal (since nutrition and flavor certainly aren’t their claims to fame). And most importantly: How can you keep your lunch tasting good day after day? After all, if it doesn’t taste good, vending machines, drive-throughs, and lunch table swaps are inescapable. Enter our lunchbox makeover. Look out for “Nutrition” “Prep,” and “Smart Packing” tips throughout the slideshow, offering our secrets to building a better lunchbox meal.

            How to Build a Better Lunchbox


                                                                                                                        Barb

by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:03 PM
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Replies (1-10):
dntbgmeb4cofe
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:05 PM

Mr. Stripey Tomato, Arugula, and Pancetta Sandwiches

Update your lunch routine with this new spin on the classic BLT. Mr. Stripey tomatoes are a variety of heirlooms with pale, yellow skins with a pinkish-orange blush, occasionally with green stripes. Substitute a beefsteak or other large, firm tomato. Pancetta is Italian cured bacon that gets cooked in the oven (no splattering on the cook-top). Substitute regular cured bacon, if desired. Prepare the mayonnaise mixture and cook the pancetta up to one day ahead.

Smart Packing Tip: To prevent soggy sandwiches, pack separate zip-top bags of tomato slices, arugula, and bread, and then assemble the sandwiches just before eating. Toasting the bread before packing also helps keep everything crisp.

Mr. Stripey Tomato, Arugula, and Pancetta Sandwiches

These sandwiches are a new interpretation of the classic BLT. Pancetta is Italian cured bacon; substitute domestic cured bacon, if necessary. You can prepare the mayonnaise mixture and cook the pancetta up to one day ahead.

 

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)

Ingredients

  • 2  tablespoons  light mayonnaise
  • 1  tablespoon  minced shallots
  • 2  teaspoons  Dijon mustard
  • 1/2  teaspoon  minced fresh sage
  • 2  ounces  pancetta, cut into 8 thin slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 8  (1-ounce) slices rustic sourdough bread, toasted
  • 4  medium Mr. Stripey tomatoes, each cut into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices
  • 1  cup  arugula

Preparation

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl, stirring well.

2. Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange pancetta in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until crisp. Drain on paper towels.

3. Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over bread slices. Top each of 4 bread slices with 2 pancetta slices, 4 tomato slices, and 1/4 cup arugula. Top sandwiches with remaining 4 bread slices.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
282 (28% from fat)
Fat:
8.7g (sat 2.8g,mono 1.7g,poly 4.1g)
Protein:
10.5g
Carbohydrate:
41.9g
Fiber:
3.5g
Cholesterol:
13mg
Iron:
3mg
Sodium:
699mg
Calcium:
44mg
kjbennett26
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:06 PM

That looks super yummy!

dntbgmeb4cofe
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:06 PM

Spelt Salad with White Beans and Artichokes

This vegetarian salad is a lunchbox dream: You can make it ahead, it’s packed with filling protein and fiber, and it’s loaded with flavorful ingredients. And as an added bonus, it tastes nice chilled or at room temperature. Include a cluster of red grapes and crusty Italian bread in your bag, and you’re ready to go.

Nutrition Tip: Spelt (also called farro) is a high-protein grain with a mellow nutty flavor. It is rich in B vitamins for an energy boost as well as a good source of fiber. (Bulgur, quinoa, or whole wheat couscous are good substitutes if you do not have spelt for this dish.)

Spelt Salad with White Beans and Artichokes Recipes

Spelt (also called farro) is a high-protein grain with a mellow nutty flavor, and it provides an alternative to bulgur for those who have wheat allergies. (Bulgur is a good substitute if you do not have spelt for this dish.) It's nice chilled or at room temperature. Include a cluster of red grapes and crusty Italian bread in your bag.

 

Yield: 5 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4  cups  uncooked spelt (farro), rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2  cups  water
  • 1/3  cup  chopped fresh mint
  • 1/3  cup  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4  cup  minced red onion
  • 3  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  (15-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

Preparation

Combine spelt and 2 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until tender and liquid is absorbed.

Combine cooked spelt, mint, and the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well. Cover and store in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
204 (29% from fat)
Fat:
6.5g (sat 0.8g,mono 4g,poly 0.9g)
Protein:
7.4g
Carbohydrate:
30.7g
Fiber:
4.9g
Cholesterol:
0.0mg
Iron:
3.2mg
Sodium:
437mg
Calcium:
40mg
dntbgmeb4cofe
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Curried Chicken Salad with Apples and Raisins

Enjoy this fruit-studded chicken salad with whole-grain crackers, or spread it on whole-wheat bread for a sandwich. The balance of sweet apples and raisins with fragrant curry elevates chicken salad to a new level.

Prep Tip: Put leftovers to good use when preparing your lunches. Consider incorporating some of tonight’s dinner into tomorrow’s lunch. Slice leftover chicken or beef and serve it on top of pasta or salad greens, mix it into a grain salad, or make it into a sandwich. Here, we’ve taken our Grilled Lemon-Herb Chicken and used the leftovers for this quick salad. You can also use store-bought rotisserie chicken in this recipe with great results.

Curried Chicken Salad with Apples and Raisins Recipes

Enjoy this fruit-studded chicken salad with whole-grain crackers, or spread it on whole wheat bread for a sandwich.

 

Yield: 2 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

Ingredients

Preparation

Combine mayonnaise, curry powder, and water in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add the Grilled Lemon-Herb Chicken, chopped apple, celery, raisins, and salt; stir mixture well to combine. Cover and chill.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
222 (22% from fat)
Fat:
5.4g (sat 0.9g,mono 1.7g,poly 2g)
Protein:
17.5g
Carbohydrate:
26.9g
Fiber:
2.5g
Cholesterol:
50mg
Iron:
1.5mg
Sodium:
731mg
Calcium:
30mg
dntbgmeb4cofe
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:09 PM

Fresh Tomato Soup

Nothing says comfort more than a warm bowl of tomato soup.  Ditch the can and prepare this homemade soup with fresh veggies. Buying in season is smart on so many levels: Produce tastes best in season, and it’s usually less expensive. Since we crave tomato soup beyond the peak of summer, this recipe calls for plum tomatoes, which tend to be flavorful all-year long.

Smart Packing Tip: Don’t skimp on soup toppings just because it’s lunch. Add a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkling of basil before packing this soup in your thermos.

Fresh Tomato Soup Recipes

I love tomato soup and have found a way to enjoy it when the weather gets cooler by using plum tomatoes. They are flavorful year-round. -- Danese Blackwell, Farmington, Utah

 

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 3/4  cup  chopped celery
  • 1  tablespoon  thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 1  tablespoon  tomato paste
  • 2  pounds  plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 6  tablespoons  plain low-fat yogurt
  • 3  tablespoons  thinly sliced fresh basil

Preparation

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Place half of tomato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining tomato mixture. Stir in salt and pepper. Ladle 3/4 cup soup into each of 6 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt and 1 1/2 teaspoons basil.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
58 (12% from fat)
Fat:
0.8g (sat 0.3g,mono 0.1g,poly 0.2g)
Protein:
3.1g
Carbohydrate:
11.3g
Fiber:
2.8g
Cholesterol:
1mg
Iron:
1.1mg
Sodium:
382mg
Calcium:
49mg
dntbgmeb4cofe
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:10 PM

Little Italy Chicken Pitas

A smart trick to this zesty sandwich is using oil from the sun-dried tomatoes to prepare the vinaigrette. Prepare the chicken filling ahead of time and pack separately. Fill pitas just before eating.

Nutrition Tip: Fresh, whole fruit is your best option for sides and snacks during the day. Change things up by selected fruit that’s in season--you'll enjoy diverse flavors plus nutritional variety as your choices change naturally throughout the year. An apple, chilled grapes, or mango slices offer a great source of fiber, keeping you feeling fuller longer.

Little Italy Chicken Pitas Recipes

Use oil from the sun-dried tomatoes to prepare the vinaigrette for this zesty sandwich. Chilled green grapes are a cool side.

 

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 stuffed pita halves)

Ingredients

  • 2  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  sun-dried tomato oil
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 4  cups  shredded cooked chicken breast (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1  cup  chopped tomato (about 1 medium)
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated Asiago cheese
  • 1/4  cup  thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 6  (6-inch) pitas, cut in half
  • 3  cups  mixed baby greens

Preparation

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in chicken, tomato, cheese, and basil. Line each pita half with 1/4 cup greens. Divide chicken mixture evenly among pita halves.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
342 (24% from fat)
Fat:
9.1g (sat 2.8g,mono 4.2g,poly 1.3g)
Protein:
26.4g
Carbohydrate:
37.3g
Fiber:
2.4g
Cholesterol:
56mg
Iron:
2.7mg
Sodium:
397mg
Calcium:
162mg
dntbgmeb4cofe
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:11 PM

Blueberry-Orange Parfaits

This snack comes together in a few minutes if you purchase orange sections from the refrigerated part of the produce section. Prepare the parfaits in the morning and refrigerate, covered, for up to four hours; sprinkle with wheat germ just before serving. We’ve layered in the ingredients into a canning jar with a tight-fitting lid—perfect for stashing in your bag for breakfast, lunch, or a healthy snack.

Nutrition Tip: Blueberries are often deemed the “brain berry,” since they’re known to improve memory and protect against short-term memory loss. They are one of the most potent sources of antioxidants, which help counteract heart disease, cancers, and other types of illnesses. Blueberries are also full of fiber and high in vitamin C.

Blueberry-Orange Parfaits Recipes

This snack comes together in a few minutes if you purchase orange sections from the refrigerated part of the produce section. To make ahead, prepare parfaits and refrigerate, covered, for up to four hours; sprinkle with wheat germ just before serving.

 

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 parfait)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  Demerara or turbinado sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  grated orange rind
  • 2  (7-ounce) containers reduced-fat plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 2  cups  fresh blueberries
  • 2  cups  orange sections (about 2 large)
  • 1/4  cup  wheat germ

Preparation

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring until blended. Spoon 1/4 cup blueberries into each of 4 tall glasses. Spoon about 2 1/2 tablespoons yogurt mixture over blueberries in each glass. Add 1/4 cup orange to each serving. Repeat layers with remaining blueberries, yogurt mixture, and orange. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon wheat germ over each serving; serve immediately.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
186
Fat:
3g (sat 1.6g,mono 0.1g,poly 0.5g)
Protein:
11.8g
Carbohydrate:
31.9g
Fiber:
4.2g
Cholesterol:
5mg
Iron:
1mg
Sodium:
34mg
Calcium:
125mg
dntbgmeb4cofe
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Tuna Pan Bagnat

Nicoise salad meets hearty sandwich in this delectable creation. Canned tuna is a great staple of lunch-time fixings, and in this case it’s worth the splurge to go with a premium-quality tuna that’s packed in oil. Paired with hard-boiled eggs, briny nicoise olives, and dressed in lemony vinaigrette, this sandwich is not your typical lunchroom fare.

Smart-Packing Tip: A favorite in southern France, pan bagnat (pan ban-YAH) literally means “bathed bread.” The bread in this sandwich is meant to absorb some liquid from the filling, so it’s great to make ahead of time. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil and enjoy.

Tuna Pan Bagnat Recipes

A favorite in southern France, pan bagnat (pan ban-YAH) means "bathed bread." The bread in this sandwich is meant to absorb some liquid from the filling, so it's fine to assemble it entirely ahead of time. Serve with potato salad, pasta salad, or baked chips.

 

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)

Ingredients

  • 1/3  cup  finely chopped red onion
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped pitted niçoise olives
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  (6-ounce) can premium tuna, packed in oil, drained
  • 1  hard-cooked large egg, chopped
  • 1/4  cup  thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 2  teaspoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  (8-ounce) whole-wheat French bread baguette
  • 1  garlic clove, halved
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced plum tomato (about 1)

Preparation

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine basil and oil; stir with a whisk. Cut bread in half horizontally. Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1-inch-thick shell; reserve torn bread for another use. Rub cut sides of garlic clove over cut sides of bread; discard garlic. Drizzle basil mixture evenly over cut sides of bread. Spoon tuna mixture on bottom half of baguette. Arrange tomato slices over tuna mixture. Cover with top half of baguette. Wrap filled baguette in plastic wrap, and let stand for 20 minutes. Cut filled baguette into 4 (3-inch) equal portions.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
248
Fat:
9.3g (sat 1.4g,mono 4.6g,poly 2g)
Protein:
14.5g
Carbohydrate:
26.3g
Fiber:
2.2g
Cholesterol:
63mg
Iron:
2mg
Sodium:
589mg
Calcium:
84mg
dntbgmeb4cofe
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:14 PM

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

Spice things up for lunch by using intense flavors in hum-drum dishes. There’s nothing boring about this pasta salad, packed with sharp Cheddar, sweet corn, and smoky chipotle. Fresh summer corn is sweet, tender, and juicy—enough so that it doesn’t even require cooking. If your corn is a bit past its prime, boil it for two minutes.

Prep Tip: Making stir-fry for dinner and have a half of this and that leftover? We call for green onions, red bell peppers, and tomatoes in this recipe, but any leftover veggies will work here. Use leftover grilled or roasted chicken or buy a rotisserie chicken.

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad Recipes

Fresh summer corn is sweet, tender, and juicy--cooked or raw. If your corn is a bit past its prime, boil it for two minutes.

 

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups)

Ingredients

  • 1/2  pound  uncooked penne rigate
  • 2  cups  shredded skinless, boneless Grilled Lemon-Herb Chicken (about 8 ounces)
  • 1  cup  fresh corn kernels
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2  cup  sliced green onions
  • 1/2  cup  diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2  cup  chopped plum tomato (about 2 tomatoes)
  • 1/4  cup  fresh orange juice
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
  • 1  tablespoon  extravirgin olive oil
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add Grilled Lemon-Herb Chicken and next 5 ingredients (through tomato); toss well to combine.

Combine orange juice and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over pasta mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
322 (28% from fat)
Fat:
9.9g (sat 3.6g,mono 3.8g,poly 1g)
Protein:
21g
Carbohydrate:
38.2g
Fiber:
2.5g
Cholesterol:
48mg
Iron:
2.1mg
Sodium:
523mg
Calcium:
121mg
dntbgmeb4cofe
by on Apr. 5, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Avocado Soup with Citrus-Shrimp Relish

This lovely no-cook soup is thick and creamy, and a meal in itself with its topping of lemony shrimp. It weighs in at less than 300 calories a bowl, so pair it with a side salad for a well-rounded meal.

Nutrition Tip: If you love the creamy, rich taste of avocados but worry about the fat and calorie content, we can put some of those fears to rest. While avocados are high in fat, most of it is “heart healthy” mono- and polyunsaturated fat. Concerned about calories? One-fifth of a medium-sized avocado has about 50 calories. Not bad considering these versatile fruits are nutrient-rich, containing nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. As long as you use moderation as your guide, avocados are a very nutritious and tasty addition to sandwiches, salads, and dips.

Avocado Soup with Citrus-Shrimp Relish Recipes

This lovely no-cook soup makes a refreshing entrée with a green salad.

 

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • Relish:
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1  teaspoon  grated lemon rind
  • 1  teaspoon  finely chopped red onion
  • 1  teaspoon  extravirgin olive oil
  • 8  ounces  peeled and deveined medium shrimp, steamed and coarsely chopped
  • Soup:
  • 2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 3/4  cups  chopped avocado (about 2)
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1  cup  rinsed and drained canned navy beans
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 1  small jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4  cup  (1 ounce) crumbled queso fresco cheese

Preparation

1. To prepare relish, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl, tossing gently.

2. To prepare soup, combine broth and next 9 ingredients (through jalapeño) in a blender; puree until smooth, scraping sides. Ladle 1 1/4 cups avocado mixture into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 1/4 cup shrimp mixture and 1 tablespoon cheese.

Nutritional Information

Calories:
292 (41% from fat)
Fat:
13.2g (sat 2.2g,mono 7.8g,poly 2.6g)
Protein:
23.9g
Carbohydrate:
22.5g
Fiber:
7.3g
Cholesterol:
118mg
Iron:
3.4mg
Sodium:
832mg
Calcium:
146mg
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