Maximize your Mid-Day Metabolism A Week of Healthy Lunches

By admin
May 16, 2016

By Rebecca Turner, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD

By midday does a growling belly and sluggish mind prompt you to ask, “What’s for lunch?” Taking time to eat a well-balanced meal in the middle of daily chaos can provide the energy you need to better manage an over-scheduled afternoon and prevent fatigue. Think of lunch as the second most important meal of the day, with breakfast remaining number one.

The problem with most lunches is that they tend to be too little or too big. Brown baggers often fall victim to repeating the same cycle of boring sandwiches, skimpy salads, or frozen meals. Everyone should strive for at least 500 calories for lunch, even if you are on a weight-loss plan. And be sure to pick from a minimum of 3, but preferably 4-5, of the different food groups: fruit, vegetable, whole-grain, protein, and dairy.

Check this week’s worth of healthy and satisfying lunch options.

Make Ahead MONDAY

Lunch "to go" in glass jarYou can make Mason Jar Salads ahead of time for the entire week.

1-2 Tablespoons Ranch dressing, lite

½ cup Celery, chopped

½ cup Cherry tomatoes, halved

½ a fresh pear, sliced

½ cup Chickpeas, drained

Spinach, to the top

In a wide mouth Mason jar start to build your salad with the dressing on the bottom. Next add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and celery. Layer on the pear slices and top it off with as much spinach as will fit. Close the lid and refrigerate till ready to eat. Simply turn upside down and shake well before eating.

Take It to Go TUESDAY

Fresh fruits milk on woodWhen there is no time to cook, just blend a smoothie and go.

½ cup frozen blueberries

1 frozen banana, small

1 scoop protein powder, unsweetened or sweetened with Stevia

1 cup skim milk

1 handful of fresh spinach

Blend until smooth.


chicken gumbo with crackersTake a break with a warm bowl of soup and a side salad. Fresh soups and side salads are mainstays of many quick serve restaurant menus.

Make up your own by opting for chicken tortilla soup or vegetable soup and pair it with a spring salad or mixed green. Dressing on the side.


Sausage and Pepper Pizza BagelsEnjoy a healthier pizza for lunch. Toasted Bagel Pizzas are sure to please the most discriminating lunch bunch.

3 regular bagels

Pizza sauce, low-sodium

Mushrooms, halved

Broccoli heads, diced

Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Olive oil spray

Preheat oven 400 F. Start by scooping out part of the middle of the bagel. This allows for a nice bowl shape to hold ingredients, plus lowers calories and carbohydrates. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Give the bottoms of the bagel a spritz of olive oil. Arrange scooped bagels on sheet. Spoon a small amount of pizza sauce into bagel, about 1 tsp. Next, pile on the vegetables. Add enough shredded cheese to cover the vegetables. Bake in oven for 7-10 minutes until cheese melts and bagels are nicely toasted.


End the week with a fresh salad. Top this simple salad with grilled chicken, tuna salad or you’re your favorite Gulf seafood.

7 -10 cups fresh baby spinach

5 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1⁄4 cup toasted sliced almonds

1⁄2 cup crumbled feta

Balsamic dressing In a large bowl combine spinach with the strawberries and toasted almonds. Toss with ¼ cup dressing to the whole batch or serve dressing individually on the side. Sprinkle the feta over the top of salad. Serve immediately.


Slow down on Saturday and enjoy a savory Apple & Gouda Grilled Cheese.

4 slices of fresh crusty bread, try sourdough

1 granny smith apple, peeled and sliced thinly

4 slices smoked or regular Gouda cheese


Lay out your bread slices. Add 1 slice of cheese to each slice of bread. Add apple slices on top of each slice of cheese. Top with another slice of cheese, and then place the remaining bread slices on top. Lightly butter the top piece of bread. With skillet over medium heat, lay the sandwich with the buttered bread side down. Lightly butter the other side. Place a heavy skillet bottom on top and press down. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Carefully flip and cook 2-3 minutes on the other side. Slice and eat immediately!


Slow CookerTake the stress out of Sunday lunch by using a crock-pot.

2lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

½ lb. fresh green beans, trimmed (about 2.5 cups)

1 lb. diced red potatoes (about 4 cups)

⅓ cup FRESH lemon juice

¼ cup olive oil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

¼ tsp. onion powder

2 garlic cloves, minced

Start by placing the chicken in the center of a 6-quart crock-pot. Next add the green beans on one side. Mound the potatoes on the other side. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic cloves. Pour this mixture evenly over the chicken, green beans and potatoes. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours till chicken reaches 165 F internally.

Stay Tuned If you can’t stand the heat…get out of the kitchen In the upcoming July/August issue Rebecca will focus on a week of savory summer suppers designed to beat the heat with healthy options that will hit the spot.








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