When we’re busy or in a rush, we can sometimes make bad food choices. Getting it right at lunchtime can be difficult for many people who are forced to grab lunch on the go.
However, the key to eating healthy is preparation.
Don’t let yourself be sidetracked by a busy day and give in to carb-heavy fast food.
Instead, try out some of these simple low-calorie lunch recipes, all with under 350 calories, making your lunchtimes healthier and more interesting.
Grilled Chicken, Arugula, Tomato & Goat’s Cheese Salad
Chicken is great at lunchtime, as its high protein content boosts your energy and keeps you full throughout the afternoon.
Tomatoes are high in antioxidants and help reduce water retention; arugula is a leafy green high in vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, and iron; and goat’s cheese contains fatty acid, which helps you feel full and burn fat.
This recipe makes one serving.
Grill a skinless, boneless chicken breast seasoned with a little black pepper. While the chicken cooks, combine a cup of arugula, four halved cherry tomatoes, a little thinly sliced red onion, five olives, and a quarter cup of crumbled goat’s cheese.
Drizzle the salad with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss to coat; then, slice the chicken breast and arrange it on top.
This Mexican dish is a great way to reap the benefits of beans, which are packed with fiber and nutrients, not to mention filling.
When combined with whole wheat bread, this lunch will keep you satisfied all afternoon.
The recipe also includes cheese, which is high in calcium; avocados, which provide omega-3 fatty acids; plus cabbage and onions, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients. This recipe makes four servings.
While canned beans are more convenient, they are also higher in sodium, so you should either cook your own dried beans or rinse canned beans before making the torta.
You will need 15 ounces of black beans or pinto beans, which you will then need to mash with three tablespoons of prepared salsa and half a teaspoon of cumin.
In a separate bowl, mash an avocado, two tablespoons of minced onion, and a tablespoon of lime juice.
Take a 16-inch whole wheat baguette and cut it into four equal lengths, split each part horizontally, then pull out most of the soft bread from the center, leaving mainly the crust.
Spread the bean mixture over the bottom half of the baguette, then add a little grated low-fat cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, and distribute a third of a cup of shredded lettuce over the cheese.
Spread the avocado mixture on the top of the baguette, combine the two halves, cut each section in half and serve.
Quinoa, Spinach & Cranberry Salad
Quinoa is more like a vegetable than a grain, as it is a close relative of leafy greens such as spinach and kale, and it is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, leaving you feeling very satisfied.
Spinach is another great weight loss food, helping ease bloating while providing fiber and vitamins. Cranberries are loaded with organic acids that researchers believe are useful in dissolving fat deposits.
Cook half a cup of quinoa for around 10 minutes until it is fluffy and the water has disappeared.
Roughly tear three ounces of baby spinach and add this and the quinoa to a large bowl, plus a quarter of a cup of dried cranberries.
To make the dressing, mix two tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of orange juice, half a minced clove of garlic, black pepper, and half a finely chopped onion, then drizzle this over the salad and toss to coat.
Finally, chop some nuts of your choice and sprinkle them over the salad for an added crunchy texture.
This recipe should provide enough for four, so you can make it for the whole family’s lunch or have it for several days throughout the week.
A frittata is something you can make at night for the following day’s lunch.
The eggs provide protein and complex B vitamins to boost energy and help you feel full, and the zucchini, tomatoes, and herbs add extra nutrients and vitamins.
This recipe makes two servings, or you could cut it into four and serve it with a salad for fewer calories and more vegetables.
Heat a little olive oil in a pan, add a cup of diced zucchini and half a cup of chopped onion, allowing them to simmer for about four minutes.
Once the zucchini is tender, add half a cup of chopped cherry tomatoes, a quarter cup of chopped basil, a quarter cup of chopped mint, and a little black pepper, cooking for about 30 seconds.
Whisk five large eggs and two ounces of feta cheese in a large bowl, then add the zucchini mixture to the bowl. Preheat the broiler.
Clean the pan, then add a little oil and place it over medium-low heat; pour the frittata mixture into the pan and tilt the pan so the mixture reaches the edges.
Cook this way for about two minutes, until the bottom is golden.
Place the pan under the broiler and broil until the frittata is set and the top is golden, which should take another two minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.
Peanut Tofu Wrap
Tofu is high in protein, making it a great meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans; plus, it helps lower cholesterol and reduces free radicals, making it beneficial for meat-eaters to add tofu to their diet.
This recipe also contains peanut sauce, which is a good source of protein, plus snow peas and red pepper, which are full of vitamins and minerals, and a whole wheat tortilla for extra fiber.
This recipe serves one person per tortilla.
Spread one tablespoon of Thai peanut sauce onto an 8-inch whole wheat tortilla. If you don’t have any peanut sauce, a tablespoon of natural peanut butter mixed with a dash of soy sauce makes a good alternative.
Place two ounces of thinly sliced baked tofu, a quarter cup of sliced red peppers, and eight thinly sliced snow peas onto the tortilla, fold the sides over the filling, and roll.
Are you already salivating over the delicious recipes and heading to the kitchen? I know I am!
These lunch ideas show us all that eating healthy most certainly does not have to be boring – or time-consuming, for that matter.
And keep in mind, if there are ingredients in these recipes you don’t like, you can always swap them for a different vegetable, fruit, or kind of cheese.
Get creative, have fun, and most importantly, enjoy all the great low-calorie foods!
We would love to hear from you if you have tried out these lunchtime recipe ideas or if you have any recipes of your own… Please comment below!