Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Health Habits Challenge March: Eat Real Food, Part 3- Tips for Real Food Lunches

Whether we are too busy or just plain forget, we all have good intentions of sending our loved ones out the door with a healthy lunch. A lot of times we resort to the typical PB&J or turkey and cheese sandwich because they are quick and easy. Well hopefully together we can learn a few tips on how to pack an easy and healthy lunch and cut back on the PB&J (although it is delicious!).

Here’s a list of guidelines I recommend sticking to while thinking of your weekly lunches, both for kids AND adults.

1. Prep your lunches for the whole week on Sunday. When I was working I would take a day and prep my lunches for the week. Sometimes I'd cook my chicken a head of time, other days I'd just have it cut and cubed in the freezer ready for me to cook in the morning before I left. I also liked buying pre-packaged foods that were easy, healthy, and fast to prepare. Example: Rice. They have awesome brown rice and quinoa combos that are ready in 90 seconds!

2. Choose lean meats. Chicken, turkey, ham, tuna, and low-fat deli meats are all great options. Extra bonus: They provide you with a great source of protein. A personal tip** My go-to meat is the pre-cooked grilled chicken strips from Foster Farms. They have no added hormones, no added steroids, and 0 trans fat. Makes its SUPER convenient to just toss it in a container and eat it later.

3. Include at least one serving of fruit. This is a great way to take in your vitamin A and C and they also contain fiber, which we all need more of! Try mixing up your typical fruit by either adding different fruits into your lunches to make a fruit salad or cut it up and top it with greek yogurt.

4. Eat your vegetables. If you can get creative with your veggies then your children, and in my case husband, will be more likely to eat it. If you have a sandwich top it with spinach or sprouts rather then lettuce. Pack a healthy salad with carrots, peppers, or cucumbers and place your dressing in a separate container to avoid the soggy-ness.

5. Toss the white bread. I get it, sandwiches are easy for lunch and we have them A LOT. Mix it up with whole grain bread or a whole-wheat pita. Try the thin whole-wheat bagels as a good substitute.

6. Limit snacks and baked goods. These always seem to sneak into lunches. You can cut out so many unnecessary calories by choosing your snacks wisely. Some great alternative snacks are popcorn (unbuttered or low-buttered), pretzels, yogurt dipped raisins, nuts, whole grain bread with a little nutella and coconut on top, etc. Get creative with your healthy foods!

7. For the kids, give them 100% juice. Most of the “juice” drinks out there are really just water and sugar and are doing nothing for your child’s nutrition. Try giving them naturally flavored water, or purchasing the true 100% juice drinks.

There you have it! Those little tips are great baby steps in eating a healthier lunch!

Below are 3 awesome lunch ideas!

Turkey, Apple and Brie Wrap 
Recipe found here.

Open-face Tuna and Avocado Melt
1/2 can tuna in water (drained)
1 slice whole wheat or whole grain bread
1/2 avocado
1 teaspoon low fat mayo
few thin slices of pepper jack cheese (optional)

1. Drain tuna and mix with mayo. 
2. Toast bread. 
3. Immediately after bread is toasted, place cheese on top. 
4. Layer on your tuna and top with a few sliced avocado. 

Mini Salmon and Pico Tacos
7 oz. salmon (cooked and chopped into bite size pieces)
chile lime spice (or spice of your preference)
1 cup chopped lettuce
1 cup pico de gallo (I just used pre made pico)
4 wonton wrappers

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ.
2. Thaw salmon. Cover both sides with your spices. Place on a greased fry pan over medium heat for roughly 10 minutes, flipping half way through. (**you'll know salmon is ready to flip when the bottom half is turning white).  
3. Meanwhile, in a muffin tin place your wonton wrapper in to form a bowl like shape. Grease the edges of wrapper with a little coconut oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Cook in oven until brown and crispy, roughly 10 minutes.
4. While wontons are cooking, chop your lettuce and salmon.
5. In your wonton wrappers start layering your salad! Start with a small layer of lettuce, followed by a generous amount of pico, topped off with a few oz salmon and another layer of pico to top it off!

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