Saturday, September 25, 2010

Great Lunches

With all the kiddies going back to school these past couple weeks I've been getting lots of questions from parents about healthy fun options for lunches. This is something that I think about a lot, not only for kids but adults too! Packing lunch is a great way to stay healthy and spend less money...but sometimes it gets so boring and people get stuck in ruts. Plain ol' PB&J and turkey sandwiches can get pretty boring. So I've been coming up with snack and meal ideas that kids AND adults can pack to take to school and/or work.

One thing that I found this week are those Arnold's sandwich thins! I know, I know..they've been out for a while but I've never tried them until this week when I was shopping for my own lunches. I believe Pepperidge Farms also has Deli Flats. With 100 calories per thin and 5 grams of fiber I was in heaven! They also taste great (I like them much more than regular bread for my sandwiches, honestly!).

I bought some cajun spiced turkey breast from the deli along with some pepper jack cheese sliced extra thin (I think each slice ended up being about 0.5 ounces), avocado, tomatoes, and organic romaine lettuce to make my sandwiches extra yummy! I mash about 1/4 avocado and mix with a bit of garlic powder to add a bit more flavor to the sandwich and it really made me excited for my lunchtime sandwich!

I also got some Garden Salsa Sunchips, fat free greek yogurt (plain, honey and strawberry), kiwis, bananas, nectarines, strawberries (on sale!), angel food cake dessert cups, frozen veggies, Delmonte Fruit Naturals fruit cups, frozen chicken breasts, pretzel thins, and Babybel cheese (love these!).

So my lunch tips:

  • Make your sandwiches more interesting! 
    • Use different meats (they have honey roasted ham and turkey, spiced meats..think cajun, peppered, herbed, etc...lean roast beef, chicken, etc); 
    • Try making veggie sandwiches with eggplant, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, basil, spinach, squash, etc. and cheese (think Feta, provolone, fresh mozzarella)
    • Add a variety of vegetables TO your meat sandwiches
    • Top with flavored spreads like hummus, light mayo (try mixing with garlic and herbs or hot sauce= yum!), mashed avocado, whole grain or spicy mustard, hot sauce, plain yogurt, etc. If you are using mayo or avocado that are high in fat (even though it can be good fat) make sure you use them sparingly to avoid too many calories from fat. You just want enough for the flavor, not enough to overpower the meal. 
    • Vary your breads- I already mentioned the sandwich thins but there are so many other whole grain options that are delicious too! Try whole grain oatmeal, multi-grains, honey whole wheat, breads with seeds and nuts in them, mini dinner rolls (kids love this!), pretzel sandwich rolls (if they are large just use half!), whole grain bagels and English muffins (again, try out the mini bagels for sandwiches with kids), pita pockets, whole wheat tortillas, etc.
    • Bring back old favorites- yes, PB&J with natural peanut butter and all-fruit jam really is a tasty healthy treat! I also love whole grain bread with peanut butter, honey and banana.
  • Try snacking it! - Kids and adults alike love snacking for meals. Try cheese sticks or mini babybel cheese with crackers, baked chips or pretzels, fresh veggies (sliced carrots, cucumber, celery, zucchini/yellow squash, bell peppers, fresh broccoli and/or cauliflower, fresh string beans, etc) with low fat dips (hummus, dressings), low fat/fat free puddings and yogurts, fresh fruit and fresh fruit cups, rice cakes and peanut butter, 100 calorie snack packs, deli meats rolled with cheese slices, etc.
  • Utilize your left-overs! Make sure to buy a few ice packs to freeze and place in a reusable lunch bag to keep foods safe or freeze mini bottles of water or 100% juice.
    • Add last night's baked chicken, pork or beef to a salad or sandwich/pita
    • Make leftover pasta into a pasta salad with light Italian dressing, fresh veggies, turkey pepperoni, and some cheese
    • Mix rice, quinoa or couscous with cooked veggies for a nice healthy side
    • Pizza (topped with veggies and lean protein!) is great left over
    • Store cooked veggies, soups/stews, casseroles in small microwave safe plastic containers to take along
  • Frozen meals are always a convenient option if you don't have time to pack a lunch or just want something quick and easy. Now, I'm not always a fan of the frozen meals because there can be a lot of preservatives and unhealthy things added but Kashi, Amy's meals and Lean Cuisine are some of my favorites. I always keep a few on hand for times when I'm in a pinch. 
Last Sunday after my trip to the market I wanted something new for lunch and nothing too heavy. I was tired of my regular sandwich since I've been saving them for work lunches and decided to try something a bit lower in carbs. I had a couple pieces of turkey leftover so I thought, why not try a turkey roll-up :)

  • 2 Thin slices turkey breast
  • Handful of herb lettuce mix
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • 2 thin slices of Pepper Jack cheese (1oz total)
I rolled them up and ate them with a few thin crisp Rosemary crackers and a sliced kiwi...and on the side a spicy virgin bloody mary :) 

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas! I definitely need to get more creative with my lunches!