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20 lunch ideas to brighten up your day

Avoid the mid-afternoon slump by eating a lunch that helps to balance blood sugar. The B group of vitamins, magnesium and chromium are important for this, so include some wholegrains like brown rice, quinoa or wholegrain bread and lean meats as well as plenty of leafy greens – watercress, rocket, kale, romaine lettuce are good examples. Combining protein and fibre with carbs will also help to get you through the afternoon.

Top Tips for the middle of the day

Fill up on fibre

Focus on plenty of vegetables and some beans or pulses. This could include a colourful salad or soup.

Watch the Carbs

If you struggle with slumps in the afternoon check you are not overdoing the bread. Instead go for a lighter option – choose a wholegrain wrap instead or ditch the bread altogether and include a couple of oat cakes or rye crispbreads.

Keep the Salt Low

Shop bought sandwiches, soups can be high in salt. Make your own to keep the salt levels down.

Make the most of leftovers

These save time, money and can offer a healthier choice (e.g cold, sliced frittata served with a green salad).

Watch the dressings

Ditch the creamy dressings and dress salads simply with a little balsamic vinegar, lemon juice or olive oil. Other healthy oils for dressings include macadamia nut oil, walnut oil, avocado oil, hemp oil and flaxseed oil.

Go fishing

Try including some oily fish as part of your lunch at least twice a week e.g mackerel salad, canned salmon or sardines or some smoked salmon are easy options and can be served with salad.

Try Quinoa or Wild Rice Salads

Quinoa is a naturally gluten free grain and high in protein and minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Cook up a batch and add a variety of prepared vegetables with some protein to make a healthy salad.

Make soups

Make your own vegetable and bean soup. Keep the saturated fat down by using a tomato based stock rather than cream or cheese. Beans and lentils are rich in soluble fibre known to help lower cholesterol and support bowel health.

Easy Egg dishes and Salad

Whether you make an omelette or fancy some poached eggs they are the perfect option for an energising lunch served with a colourful salad.

Lower Carb Protein Packed Wraps

Keep the carbohydrates low by opting for a wrap instead of a sandwich. Cram it with plenty of lean protein e.g chicken, fish and some leafy greens.

Healthy eating lunch suggestions

Within the following selection of lunches there are some that can be prepared at home in advance to take with you, some that can be part prepped and then finished off on the go and some that can be put together when you’re out and about.

Take a look through the list and see what you like the sound of and then make a plan for when you will try your selected choices so you know what advanced shopping and prepping you’ll need to do. Once you’re in the habit of preparing food in advance it becomes second nature.

As you’re looking through the recipes give some thought to what utensils you might need either at home, in the office or out and about. This might include plates, bowls, cutlery etc, all of which can be plastic or paper (bowls, not cutlery) for ease of use on the move. Think too about Tupperware for transporting food and fridge or cool bag for storage. As above, all of this will become second nature.

The quantities are all guidelines and can be adjusted to taste – add a bit more of what you like or reduce things you’re not so keen on. Experiment with adding or supplementing ingredients that you prefer. You’re looking to develop the healthy eating plan that suits you so it has to work for your taste buds or you won’t be motivated to follow the plan.

Healthy lunch ideas

  1. Turkey wrap with peppers and avocado

  2. Chicken salad

  3. Wholemeal pitta bread with hummus and vegetables

  4. Bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich

  5. Cous cous salad

  6. Brown rice and mixed bean salad

  7. Lentil salad with feta

  8. Smoked mackerel salad

  9. Tuna nicoise salad

  10. Falafel and hummus wrap

  11. Bulgur wheat salad with chickpeas and feta

  12. Kale salad

  13. Lean steak salad

  14. Chilli lime chicken salad

  15. Healthy wrap

  16. Spinach salad

  17. Tuna pitta

  18. Falafels with salad

  19. Chickpea, beetroot and feta salad

  20. Quinoa salad with mackerel

Healthy eating: lunch recipes

1. Turkey wrap with peppers and avocado

  • 2 Slices deli turkey

  • Handful of spinach or rocket

  • 10 Strips chopped red and yellow pepper

  • 1⁄4 avocado, spread as butter

  • 1 Wholemeal wrap

  1. Chop the turkey and peppers

  2. Spread the avocado over the wrap and add the peppers, rocket and turkey

  3. Roll and serve.

Great source of vitamins A, C and E

2. Chicken salad

  • 4 Slices chicken from the deli counter, chopped

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • Mixed salad leaves

  • Chopped peppers

  • 1⁄4 avocado

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • Squeeze of lemon juice

  • 1 Slice of granary bread with a thin spread of butter - optional

  1. Chop all ingredients and place in a large bowl.

  2. Mix together the olive oil and lemon juice and pour over the salad.

  3. Serve immediately with a slice of bread.

This recipe includes avocado, which is a good source of healthy fats and vitamin E. Both of these nutrients help in the prevention of heart disease.

3. Wholemeal pitta bread with hummus and vegetables

  • 2 Pittas

  • Cucumber

  • Carrots

  • Spring Onion

  • 75g Hummus

Slice pittas and vegetables to dip in the hummus

Good source of vitamin A and trace minerals

4. Bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwich

  • 2 slices grilled bacon

  • Rocket or baby spinach

  • Avocado

  • 1⁄2 tomato, sliced

  • 2 slices granary bread

This sandwich can be made in advance or you can make just the bacon in advance, take with you in a Tupperware and assemble the sandwich in the office or on the go.

  1. Pre-heat the grill to a medium heat, then grill the baconfor 10 minutes or until cooked.

  2. Slice the bread and spread avocado thickly over both slices, like butter.

  3. When the bacon is cooked, place on kitchen paper to drain and cut off any visible fat.

  4. Assemble the sandwich.

Grilled and trimmed bacon is much lower in fat than fried and when combined with high fibre bread and salad makes a tasty lunch.

5. Couscous salad

  • 100g wholegrain couscous

  • Red and green peppers, chopped

  • Cucumber

  • 4 Olives

  • 1 tomato, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • A little lemon juice

  • 1 cooked chicken breast or chicken pieces chopped or1⁄2 packet chopped grilled tofu

  • A little salt and pepper

  1. Cook the couscous according to packet instructions.

  2. Chop the chicken or tofu and vegetables.

  3. Stir into the couscous, together with the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Using lemon juice gives this dish a fresh, Mediterranean flavour. You could try adding flaked almonds forextra crunch

6. Brown rice and mixed bean salad

  • Celery stalk, diced

  • 1⁄4 Tomato, diced

  • 1⁄4 Red onion, diced

  • 100g brown rice

  • Mixed beans: quarter tin, drained

Prepare the rice while chopping the vegetables, then assemble the salad and take with you.

Alternatively, prep the rice the night before, chop the vegetables in the morning and place everything in a Tupperware for the journey.

Or you could chop and take the vegetables and then heat up a packet of brown rice at the office in the microwave.

Great source of fibre and trace minerals

7. Lentil salad with feta

  • 100g of dried or tinned puy lentils

  • 1⁄2 Avocado cut into small cubes

  • 1 tbsp Chopped coriander or parsley

  • 1 Tomato finely chopped

  • 1⁄2 Red pepper cut into small cubes

  • 50g Feta cheese cut into small cubes

  • Juice of one lemon

  • 1 tbsp Olive oil

  1. Combine the lentils with double volume of water.

  2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until they are soft.

  3. Rinse with cold water.

  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.

  5. Pour over the lemon and olive oil.

Good source of protein, potassium, vitamin C, zinc, folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin B3 and B5. Make double the amount of lentils and keep in the freezer

8. Smoked mackerel salad

  • 1 Piece of smoked mackerel

  • 1 tbsp Parsley

  • 1⁄2 Apple cut into small cubes

  • 1 Handful of lettuce

  • 1⁄2 Red pepper cut into small cubes

  • 1 tbsp Olive oil

  • 1⁄2 Avocado cut into small cubes

  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon

  • 1 Slice of wholemeal bread with a thin spread of butter

  1. Cut up the mackerel into bite size chunks.

  2. Mix together with the apple, avocado, parsley and red pepper.

  3. Put the lettuce and mackerel mix on a plate.

  4. Mix together the olive oil and lemon then pour over the salad.

Good source of protein, omega 3, vitamin C, zinc, folic acid, vitamin E, vitamin B3 and B5

9. Tuna nicoise salad

200g baby new potatoes

2 x tins tuna

200g rocket

4 medium eggs

100g green beans

1⁄2 avocado

1 red pepper, chopped

Cucumber, chopped into chunks

Cherry tomatoes, halved

Olives, pitted

2 tbsps olive oil

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Boil the potatoes in a large saucepan for approximately 20 minutes. Place the eggs into the same pan and boil for the last 7 minutes. Add the green beans to the pan for the last 3 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the avocado, red pepper and cucumber and halve the tomatoes. Place all ingredients into a large bowl.

Allow the eggs to cool for a few minutes, then peel and chop each into chunks. Add to the bowl. Pour over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and mix through gently with salad servers.

This salad is high in protein and healthy fats, making it more satisfying than most salads.

10. Falafel and hummus wrap

  • 1 wholemeal tortilla wrap

  • 3 small falafels (mashed chickpea balls),

  • 1 tbsp of low fat hummus

  • Handful of spinach

Good source of fibre and folate

11. Bulgur wheat salad with chickpeas and feta

  • 3 tbsp Bulgur wheat,

  • 1⁄2 can of chickpeas

  • 25g feta cheese

  • 5 cherry tomatoes

  • Cucumber

  • Spinach

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Prepare the bulgur wheat salad as per packet instructions, and then combine in a bowl with other ingredients (all chopped with the exception of the chickpeas and the spinach).

Provides 2/3 of your daily fibre, plus protein, calcium and iron

12. Kale salad

  • Half an avocado

  • 100g of kale (chopped)

  • 30g olives

  • 1 tomato (chopped)

  • 30g cucumber (chopped)

  • 15g toasted seeds

  • ½ can chickpeas, drained or 40g feta cheese

  1. Cut up the avocado and add to the kale.

  2. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and using your hands massage in the avocado and salt until the kale softens.

  3. Toss in the vegetables and toasted seeds and top with chickpeas or feta cheese.

Kale is a nutritious leafy green vegetable and makes a delicious filling salad. Assemble and eat immediately, take with you on the go or store in the fridge until needed.

13. Lean steak salad

  • 100g lean beef steak

  • Rocket

  • Baby tomatoes

  • Red onion

  • Olive oil

  • Lemon juice

  • Dijon mustard

  1. Pan fry the steak until done to your liking.

  2. Serve with a mixed salad and dress with a simple mustard dressing made by mixing together the olive oil, lemon juice and Dijon mustard to taste.

14. Chilli lime chicken salad

  • Chicken breast

  • Half a lime

  • Olive oil

  • Crushed garlic

  • Baby gem lettuce

  • Cherry tomatoes

  • ¼ avocado

  • Handful of pitted olives

  • Cucumber, sliced

  1. Take the chicken and pour over the juice of 1⁄2 lime with a little olive oiland crushed garlic and marinate for 30 minutes.

  2. Grill the chicken for 5-7 minutes on each side until cooked through.

  3. Chop a little gem lettuce and place on a plate, top with handful of cherry tomatoes, the avocado chopped, a handful of pitted olives and sliced cucumber.

  4. Drizzle with lime juice and olive oil to serve.

15. Healthy wrap

A variation on the turkey wrap above with the addition of mixed beans for extra protein.

Fill a wholegrain wrap with some lean cooked chicken breast or a can of mixed beans and top with lettuce, tomato and sliced avocado.

16. Spinach salad

  • Spinach

  • Peppers

  • Walnuts

  • Pomegranates

  • Olive oil

  • Pepper

  • Optional – add chicken, turkey, other meat or tofu

Chop where necessary and mix everything together in a bowl and then serve or decant to transport.

17. Tuna pitta

Fill a wholegrain pitta with 100g can of tuna (drained), lettuce and tomato and a little yogurt or salsa.

18. Falafels with salad

Buy some shop bought falafels and serve with hummus and mixed salad

19. Chickpea, beetroot and feta salad

  • 50g spinach leave

  • ½ avocado

  • 2 handfuls of chickpeas

  • 40g feta

  • 1 beetroot

  • Spring onion

  • Lemon juice and olive oil to dress

Put the spinach leaves in a bowl and then chop and add the remaining ingredients.

This is a salad that can be prepared at home or in the office – just be careful with the beetroot!

20. Quinoa salad with mackerel

  • 30g quinoa

  • 100g smoked mackerel fillet

  • 100g mixed vegetables, cooked or raw

  • Salt, pepper and lemon juice to serve

Simmer the quinoa for 15 minutes in water until tender. Drain.

Either serve with whole mackerel fillets or chop the mackerel and mix it in with the vegetables.

Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to serve.



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