Although a healthy breakfast is the most important meal of the day, a healthy lunch is not far behind. Since more than half of the day remains, it’s important to fuel up with a healthy lunch to ensure maximum productivity and enjoyment.
Skip lunch and your body and mind will not operate at their full capacity. This is especially true if you skip breakfast since your body wouldn’t have had any nutrition for 12-14 hours by the time you eat lunch.
Your second largest meal of the day should be lunch. Dinner should be your smallest if you want to control your weight. Breakfast should be your biggest meal. But it should be a healthy breakfast even so.
Much of what I will describe for a healthy lunch can be used for preparing a healthy dinner, but I recommend that you reduce the portions of all the ingredients by 20-30 percent.
You can also adapt my healthy lunch recipe to how you order a healthy meal at a restaurant or select it from a salad bar. Whoops! I give up some of my ingredients. You can really blow your diet and health goals at a restaurant and especially a salad bar if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The salad dressings, cheeses, meats, pasta, and other sides that you find at restaurant salad bars can put more bad fats in your body than a double cheeseburger, large French fry, and a shake!
The healthy lunch that I am about to describe contains all the healthiest ingredients I could identify. It includes high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber. Some of the ingredients contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which promote heart and cardiovascular health and cancer prevention.
My Healthy Lunch
- Health nut salad (as I call it) with cabbage slaw; broccoli slaw; carrots; celery; unsalted, raw or dry roasted peanuts, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds (Pepitas); warm salmon, turkey breast, chicken breast, tofu, or tuna; avocado; and cherry or grape tomatoes. Seasoned with ground red or black pepper. (Full recipe & downloadable copy below.)
- Vegetable or fruit juice (unsweetened) – Vegetable mixture (juiced or store-bought): apples, carrots, celery, broccoli, beets, and tomatoes. Fruit mixture (blended with banana, strawberries, and melon or store-bought): blueberry, pomegranate, acai berry, and/or cranberry. 4 oz. (When I make these with my juicer or blender, I sometimes save some for a mid-afternoon energizer.)
- Filtered water with fresh squeezed (or concentrated) lemon and/or lime juice. 24 oz.
- Update: Now drink homemade super water.
- Dessert is either fresh or dried unsweetened mango, papaya, dates, or non-sorbate (preservative) pitted prunes (plums). (All available at Trader Joe’s.) During hot weather months, frozen black grapes. (Freezing them makes them sweeter. It’s like eating tiny balls of sorbet (not to be confused with the preservative mentioned above).
- No coffee. Gave it up!
Health Nut Salad – Recipe
Ingredients (1 serving.)
- 1 1/2 cups of cabbage slaw with carrots. (Plain – no dressing.) I use pre-cut cabbage slaw that comes prepackaged in 14 oz. bags found in the produce section of a grocery store. (Cabbage is better for you than lettuce and it lasts longer and stays crunchy.)
- 2/3 cup of broccoli slaw with carrots. (Plain – no dressing.) I use pre-cut broccoli slaw that comes prepackaged in 12 oz. bags found in the produce section of a grocery store. (Broccoli is one of the most health-benefiting vegetables of all. Many nutrition experts place it at the top of their list.)
- 1/4 cup of diced or chopped celery.
- 1 1/4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
- 1 1/4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. I use white balsamic vinegar. It’s milder and it doesn’t stain your teeth. Available at Trader Joe’s.
- 1 teaspoon unsalted peanuts. Higher quantity used because peanuts add heartiness and richness, and they are inexpensive.
- 1/2 teaspoon unsalted chopped walnuts.
- 1/2 teaspoon unsalted slivered almonds.
- 1/2 teaspoon unsalted sunflower seeds.
- 1/2 teaspoon unsalted pumpkin seeds.
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red or black pepper.
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup diced or broken up salmon, turkey breast, chicken breast, tuna, or tofu. I used canned skinless/boneless salmon, canned turkey breast, canned chicken breast, canned white albacore tuna, or refrigerated extra-firm tofu.
- 1/2 diced small (Hass) avocado.
- 5-7 (based on size) cherry or grape tomatoes.
- Large (deep, 6-8” diameter) salad bowl.
- Medium-size microwave-safe cooking bowl with cover.
- Heat protection pads or gloves.
- Cutting board.
- Multi-purpose kitchen knife.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of cabbage slaw to a large (deep, 6”-8” diameter) salad bowl.
- Add 2/3 cup of broccoli slaw.
- Add 1/4 cup of diced or chopped celery.
- Add 1 1/4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
- Mix olive oil with other ingredients thoroughly.
- Add 1 1/4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.
- Mix vinegar with other ingredients thoroughly.
- Add 1 teaspoon of unsalted peanuts.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon each of unsalted chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
- Add 1/8 teaspoon ground red or black pepper or other low or non-sodium (salt) seasoning.
- Mix seasoning with other ingredients thoroughly.
- Place 1/2 – 3/4 cup of diced or broken up salmon, turkey breast, chicken breast, or tofu in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle on some seasoning if you want (chili powder is best), cover, and microwave on high for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 minutes. Heating brings out the flavor and cooks in the seasoning. Drain before adding to the salad. Tuna is served at room temperature or cold. Notes: (1) Adding seasoning is optional. (2) Liquid seasonings are not recommended as they make the recipe watery.
- Add meat or tofu.
- Mix in meat or tofu.
- Add 1/2 diced small avocado on top.
- Add 5-7 (based on size) cherry or grape tomatoes on top.
You don’t have to measure each ingredient exactly or include every item. If there are ingredients that you like or don’t like, increase, reduce, or eliminate them. However, I encourage you to not remove ingredients simply because you’ve never eaten this particular combination of foods before. Be bold! Try it!
Here’s a downloadable copy of this healthy lunch recipe. It is in PDF format. You’ll need Adobe Reader to view and make a copy of it. To download a FREE copy of this software, go to Adobe.com.
Download a copy of this recipe here: Health Nut Salad Recipe
You can get into the habit of eating a healthy lunch, by just doing it without internal debate and learning about the benefits as you go along.
To your health and fitness.