A typical healthy lunch for many people is some sort of sandwich or wrap with a piece of fruit. Don’t get me wrong, that is a good lunch, however, I feel we are missing something. Let’s face it: the few pieces of lettuce included on a sandwich usually isn’t a full serving of vegetables.
Salad can be a great lunch idea if you know how to make a healthy, nourishing one. What a lot of people do not realize is that lettuce along with raw vegetables and dressing is not a satisfying meal. It is important to incorporate healthy fat and protein along with your salad to keep you fuller for longer.
Ready Pac Foods™ has a new line of salads called elevᾹte™ with an assortment of toppings to spice it up and offer lunch variability. If you don’t want to pay the extra price for the convenience, take a look at the combination of foods in these salads and make a similar salad at home. Most of them added some type of nuts/seeds, beans or grilled chicken, cheese and dried fruit to about one cup of raw vegetables. I would probably include a Greek yogurt and a ½ piece of whole grain pita bread alongside this salad.
Including any type of vegetable in your lunch is important since most Americans are eating only one serving at dinner time.
According to the CDC, 87% of Americans are not reaching the vegetable intake guidelines of 2-3 cups per day. In California, even more (roughly 91%) are not reaching those guidelines.
I usually recommend at least 3-4 servings of vegetables per day. That accounts to a salad during lunch and dinner, a mid-day vegetable snack (e.g. celery + peanut butter) and an additional serving with dinner (e.g. side of cooked green beans). That is doable, right?
Nutrition goals I am constantly hearing are “eat more vegetables, eat more vegetables, and eat more vegetables”. Maybe the key here is eating more vegetables during the day including lunch and snack-time. Here’s a few ideas for incorporating more vegetables in your lunch:
- Sustainable salad (including healthy fat and protein), try a taco salad with romaine lettuce
- Grain salad – for example quinoa with sautéed vegetables
- Loaded sweet potato with beans, cheese, tomatoes, cilantro or any other vegetables
- Leftover roasted vegetables along with brown rice/quinoa and salmon
- Assortment of raw vegetables with sliced cheese, hummus and whole grain crackers
- Bring a side salad, along with a healthy wrap
- Adding cooked beans to a dish (beans count as a vegetable, too!) or try this recipe
This blog was written by RCHF Registered Dietician, Kelly Weiss. Kelly will be leaving the foundation this summer and her nutritional savvy will be sorely missed! Keep up with her on her website.