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Lunch slump much?

I got a blog request this week from my friend up in Chicago. She wants to know lunch and snack ideas, as well as times of the day to be eating. Kristin, here you go…it’s a long one!
Eating right while managing a busy career and life can certainly be a challenge, but it’s also certainly very manageable if you keep things fresh, exciting…and plan ahead! As far as times of the day to be eating, this certainly varies on an individual basis. Personally, I bring with me everyday to work a snack to have before lunch, as well as one to have after lunch, which is typically in the car on my way home from work.
Ideally, I don’t recommend going more than 5-6 hours without eating. And 3 smaller meals with 2-3 healthy snacks a day is a great routine to get into. However, listening to your body is extremely important as your body will tell you when it’s hungry. If you’re not hungry, save the snack or have a later lunch. No reason to eat when you’re not hungry. Unless, of course, you’re my husband and refuse breakfast…in which case I recommend stock-piling a box or two of granola bars or cereal in your desk drawer. I force Mark to do this, and he typically has a mid-morning breakfast at work each day. The times at which you eat during the day should fit with your schedule. Find a pattern that works for you and be flexible. Packing things that aren’t too messy, labor-intensive or time-consuming to prepare ahead of time is also key.
Make snacks satisfying – include both carbohydrate and protein in a snack so that they are more satisfying and filling. Great snack ideas include:
– apple slices dipped in ½ c. fat-free yogurt
– 1 ½ sheets of graham crackers and 1 c. low-fat/fat-free milk
– 1 medium banana and 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter
– small handful of almonds
– apple and a 1 oz. slice of cheddar cheese
– string cheese and wheat crackers (6-7)
– a slice of bread or 6-7 crackers with 1-2 Tbsp peanut butter
– a high-fiber granola bar
– 1 serving of animal crackers and an 8 oz. glass of milk
– a Luna bar
– a fat-free/sugar-free pudding cup
– 2/3-3/4 c. cottage cheese and peaches/pineapple/melon
– 2-3 Tbsp hummus and 6-7 crackers
– 1 oz. meat and 1 oz. cheese with 6-7 crackers
– carrots, celery, cucumber, and bell pepper slices with 2 Tbsp light ranch dressing
…to name a few ideas!
As for lunches, here’s some ideas. Those asterisked have recipes below! Be creative…plan ahead…enjoy!
– almond butter and apple slices on wheat bread
– tuna salad in a pita
– chicken salad flatbread (Flatout is a popular, healthy brand)
– crab salad in a whole wheat, high-fiber tortilla
– egg salad* sandwich on whole wheat
– cracker sandwiches made with 2% cheese and lean luncheon meat (turkey, ham, roast beef, chicken)
– cold whole-wheat pasta salad with low-fat Italian dressing (include 2% cheese cubes, turkey pepperoni, salad peppers, olives, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, onion, and cherry tomatoes
– cherry tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil pita with Flaxseed Lemon Vinaigrette*
– BLT sandwich on whole wheat*
– pear and Swiss cheese sandwich on whole grain bread with Flaxseed Lemon Vinaigrette
– taco salad with 1 serving of whole grain tortilla chips
– grilled mozzarella and tomato sandwich on whole wheat
– Chicken Caesar salad pita (use bagged low-fat Caesar salad mixes – just add grilled chicken strips!)
– Pin wheels – roll-up luncheon meat, cheese, veggies, and condiments in a tortilla and cut into rolled bites held together with toothpicks
– Cold pizza!
– Leftovers!
Other suggestions:
– Pre-mix mayonnaise made with canola oil (see Monday’s blog) with yellow, brown, or honey mustard to mix delicious flavors…and cut out fat and calories!
– Make your lunch the night before.
– Commit to trying a new lunch each week
– Aim to make your co-workers jealous of your packed lunches – it’ll happen if you put in a little effort!
– Include something you love – if you’re a salty kinda person, opt for a bag of baked chips for a side to your meal, and if you’re a sweets kinda person, opt for a small cookie or pudding cup to compliment your meal
Recipes (taken from The Flexitarian Diet by Dawn Jackson-Blatner)
Egg Salad
1 boiled egg, chopped**
2 boiled egg whites, chopped**
2 tsp. mustard
1 Tbsp light canola mayonnaise
1 stalk celery, chopped
½ c. cucumber, chopped
Dash of pepper
2 slices of whole wheat bread
Mix the ingredients together and spread onto bread.
**Substitute tofu for the egg for a vegetarian meal!
Nutrition Information: 310 calories, 11 g. fat, 693 mg. sodium, 5 g. fiber
BLT (Balsamic, Lettuce, and Tomato) – This is a favorite of both mine and my parent’s!
4 Tbsp hummus
2 slices of whole grain bread, toasted
¼ avocado, mashed
Romaine lettuce
Tomato, sliced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Spread hummus on one slide of toast and avocado on the other. Top hummus with lettuce and tomato, and drizzle with vinegar. Close sandwich and enjoy!
Nutrition Information: 370 calories, 15 g. fat, 434 mg. sodium, 9 g. fiber
Pear and Swiss Sandwich
2 slices whole-grain bread, toasted
1 small pear, thinly sliced
1 oz. (1 slice) Swiss cheese
2 tsp. mustard
Nutrition Information: 300 calories, 6 g. fat, 440 mg. sodium, 9 g. fiber
Universal Lemon-Flax Vinaigrette
¼ c. lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
¼ c. flaxseed oil
¼ c. white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients together. Keep in fridge up to 7 days.
Nutrition information (2 Tbsp): 88 calories, 9 g. fat, 59 mg. sodium, 0 g. fiber
Get to packin’!
Share With Your Friends!


  1. Kristin
    July 30, 2009 / 2:25 am

    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! My grocery shopping won't be so dull this weekend! I love hummus & whole grain pita chips as a snack. Love the blog!

  2. Nicole M., MS, RD, LD
    July 30, 2009 / 10:55 am

    You're welcome! The BLT and Pear and Swiss are on my grocery list for next week, too! I needed some spicing up, too! 🙂

  3. Natashia
    July 30, 2009 / 2:47 pm

    Thank you so much for this, it has given me some great ideas for lunches. I have commited to taking my lunch to work, and this will help throw some spice in the mix!

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