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Reshaping Your Menu – PART TWO *Lunch*

MNU-ICONS-HEALTH 

Part Two in our five part series

 

TomatoSalad

The first part of our series focused on breakfast.  This time we will concentrate on lunch.  I find it particularly helpful to make a few things on the weekends that I can use for lunch all week.  That way, I make better choices and it’s also easy.  Now who doesn’t want easy??

Consider also portion size.  I love traveling in Europe because I don’t worry about portion size.  They serve everything there in smaller versions.  Do you really need to super size it? No, actually, you don’t.  I try to eat several small meals during the day, which not only helps my calorie intake because I am never really starving, but also keeps my metabolism in motion (at least that’s the intent).  As we get older, our metabolism slows down, so by eating a little bit every few hours, we keep things moving.  On to lunch!

 

LUNCH

 

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Soup

I love soup. I eat it almost every day, in some form or fashion.  On Sundays, I make a big batch of something, and then I have it readily available for lunch.  There is something about warm, cozy broths that not only satiate your hunger, but keep you on track because generally they are pretty healthy (gotta watch out for those cream soups). Favorites at our house are lentil, vegetable barley, split pea, and any number of butternut squash versions or beans – white, black, you name it.  SuperHubs makes a mean chicken noodle, and I have modified my grandmother’s famous beef vegetable pastina to just a vegetable pastina (that’s a small Italian pasta).  So throw some veggies in some broth, spice it up and freeze a few containers.  That way, you always have something healthy in the freezer that you can pull out in a crunch.

 

saladSalad

I go on salad benders (oh, how times have changed, right?)  I love a Nicoise (tuna, green beans, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes and potatoes), a hearty Greek (feta, pepperoncini, tomato, cucumber) or a good old veggie.  I make black bean salads (like taco salad, with beans instead of meat) or arugula, pepper and lemon or avocado, tomato and egg (Chef salad sans meat). The list goes on and on.  There is something truly satisfying about crisp, ripe vegetables in a light dressing.  Oh yeah, dressing.  That is where it can all go awry.  I use olive oil and lemon or red wine vinegar.  One tablespoon of a fatty dressing can completely wipe out the many nutritional benefits of a salad, so go easy.  Why mask the taste of all of that good stuff with something creamy or heavy anyway?

  

beans

Beans

Wrap them up in a high fiber tortilla with some salsa, throw them in a salad, make a soup, have some hummus, use as a side to a lean protein.  Beans are full of protein, fiber, antioxidants, isoflavones (heart healthy!), low in fat and help keep things moving in your system.  If you are leaning towards a more plant-based diet, these little guys are a must-have for a protein source.  They are also great for those watching their sugar intake, because they have a low glycemic index.  Throw some of them in whatever you are eating, and pump up it up a notch!

 

Greens

leafygreens

 

Kale, Swiss chard, spinach, bok choy are all great additions to your midday meal.  Try a kale salad, throw some Swiss chard into soup, add spinach to your wraps, steam some bok choy.  Just get some leafy greens in there somewhere.  Lettuce is rich in anthocyanins, which is one of the best antioxidants.   I have been known to throw lettuce in my smoothies (I hate for vegetables to go bad, so why not??), so add some leafy green lettuce on a sandwich, in a salad (obviously) or use it as a bread substitute.  Just wrap it around your turkey burger or use instead of a tortilla for wraps, and you forgo the extra calories and empty carbs.

 

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Tomatoes

Did you know that 2 to 4 servings of tomato sauce a week can cut your prostate cancer risk by 34%?  They are also my favorite vegetable, and I eat them like candy.  Grape, cherry, heirloom, roma, beefsteak, you name it, I will eat it.  They are so versatile and easy to pop in to so many dishes.  They are high in lycopene, which is a big cancer fighter, and also an inflammatory.  They even help with cognitive dysfunction, osteoporosis and skin damage.  Add to eggs for breakfast, salads for lunch or soups anytime. 

 

Fish

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Eating one serving of fish per week can halve your risk of a sudden fatal heart attack. The secret ingredient in fish is omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is especially high in them. Fish also contains other important nutrients like antioxidants, selenium (which is good for the metabolism), and of course, protein. 

 

 

Lean Proteins

If you eat animal-based proteins like someone in my house, then 3 to 5 oz. of organic chicken, pork or grass-fed beef is the way to go.  Just double up on the vegetables and make that your main portion, with a side of the protein. 

 

Mediterranean

Mediterranean-Diet

There is a reason why this is touted as one of the best ways to eat.  Low in saturated fat and high in fruits, vegetables, legumes and proteins, it just makes you want to go to Italy. Or Greece. But anyway, try hummus and pita wraps with tabbouleh (Lebanese Bulgar, which is nutty and nutritious), baba ghanoush (eggplant spread), or whole wheat pasta with a bright tomato sauce.

 

As with breakfast, the healthy choices you make at each meal will not only help you get through the day with more energy but will also help you become a better you.  One meal at a time! – AK

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