12 healthy lunch recipes

Boring lunches are so 2014. This year it’s all about tasty and healthy lunches.

We know the reasons we should pack our lunch instead of buying it out. (Healthier and cheaper!)

But it’s not easy. It takes planning and prepping. And most importantly, precious time. But as annoying as it is to actually do it, you’ll be so glad you spent a little time when you get to sit down to a tasty and healthy lunch. I prefer to set aside some time each Sunday to prep the components for lunches so that I only have to spend a few minutes getting lunch ready the night before.

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

It’s also important to start small. It would be crazy to make a different meal each day of the week, so I aim to make the same lunch for three days and leave the other two days open for leftovers, frozen meals or meals out.

Here are some of my favorites that can be prepped ahead of time and easily packed up for work. Pick a new recipe to try each week and you’ll never suffer through a boring lunch again!

Green Salads:

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Summer Harvest Salad (Trader Joe’s Copycat!) I’m so glad I found this recipe again, it’s such a good one and it’s full of satisfying ingredients topped with a yummy mustard-y dressing.

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Simple Kale Salad Sometimes you just want a simple kale salad…and here it is. It’s a superfood salad!

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Waldorf Salad Sweet, crunchy and full of fresh produce. Low in calories (300) and high in protein, if you’re looking for something light but filling, this is your salad.

Grain Salads:

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Quinoa & Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette Is it wrong to say that I love this salad because the arugula can be used as-is and it doesn’t require washing any vegetables?! It’s the truth. But it’s also delicious.

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Roasted Asparagus & Red Pepper Quinoa Salad Hmmm, so many good ingredients in this quinoa salad.

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Black Bean Quinoa Salad This vegetarian salad has a whopping 23 grams of protein per serving. It’s a satisfying one! Quinoa, black beans and a little cheese – what else do you need in life?

Soups and Sandwiches:

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Italian Chicken Sausage & Vegetable Soup Make a huge batch of this soup and freeze for many lunches to come. If you eat salads often, this vegetable-packed soup will be a nice change of pace.

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Curried Lentil Turkey Soup Oh I love this soup. So much curry flavor going on and so many satisfying ingredients (lentils and turkey).

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Egg, Avocado & Cheese Toast This is about the only recipe that can’t be packed up for lunches, but I had to include it because it’s such a staple in my life. Add two of my favorite foods to avocado toast and I could eat this for every meal of my life!

Chicken Salads:

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Curried Chicken Salad If you like curry, you’ll love this curried chicken salad. Chicken salads are perfect for lunch because you can top a simple green salad with a dollop of chicken salad and you have quick lunch for a few days.

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Spring Chicken Salad The best spring produce (peas and leeks) shine in this chicken salad that’s made with greek yogurt and a small amount of mayonnaise.

12 Healthy Lunch Ideas | anutritionisteats.com

Fall Chicken Salad This is a copycat from a favorite little cafe of mine and I might have to consider it my favorite. (I’m not sure I can fully commit but it’s definitely up there on the list.)

PS. If you want more… Healthy lunch ideas!

What’s your favorite healthy lunch? 

slow cooker pork sandwiches

Slow Cooker Pork Sandwiches | anutritionisteats.com

So not Christmas cookies. Or Christmas brunch ideas or even really Christmas-related. Which given that we’re only a few days out from Christmas, may not make sense.

But it’s time to start thinking about New Year’s Eve. I’m not trying to rush Christmas, or anything crazy like that. But menus need to be planned, food needs to be considered and drinks, drinks definitely deserve a little thought.

So what are you doing? I’m flying back to LA on New Year’s Eve and to be perfectly honest, I’m not feeling very confident that I’ll be able to stay up until midnight. Last year we had friends over for dinner and we drank fancy champagne – it was perfect! This year? Maybe a nice dinner at home.

Slow Cooker Pork Sandwiches | anutritionisteats.com

But we’re getting off-track. These slow-cooked pork sandwiches? Perfect for casual New Year’s Eve get-togethers or New Year’s Day football and lounging.

I absolutely love slow-cooked pork. It’s so versatile, so comforting and so tasty. Usually I keep it ridiculously simple and season it with some garlic, salt and pepper before letting the slow-cooker do it’s magic.

Slow Cooker Pork Sandwiches | anutritionisteats.com

Here, pork is seasoned with a flavorful rub and then slow cooks away, until it shreds with the slightest touch. The rub is easy and SO worth the few minutes it takes to pull-together.

Slow Cooker Pork Sandwiches | anutritionisteats.com

So the pork cooks away and your work is essentially done. There are a few things to prep, but really, it’s nothing.

Serve the pork sandwiches on baguettes or soft buns with:

  • a variety of mustards (hot, yellow, spicy, etc.)
  • pickles (I went with sweet, but dill would also be great)
  • freshly chopped parsley (always a good idea)
  • cooking juice/broth

Slow Cooker Pork Sandwiches | anutritionisteats.com

The mustard and pickles cut through the succulent pork in a superb way. You definitely don’t want to skip them!

Slow Cooker Pork Sandwiches | anutritionisteats.com

Oh, and serve with plenty of napkins – it’s juicy!

Slow Cooker Pork Sandwiches
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 3 Tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • 3.5-4 lb pork shoulder
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 baguettes or 8 buns
  • various mustards
  • pickle chips
  • freshly chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Mix together orange zest, rosemary, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes and salt & pepper.
  2. Cut 6 small slits into pork and fill with garlic cloves.
  3. Rub pork with spice mixture.
  4. Pour orange juice around the pork.
  5. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 5-6 hours.
  6. Season with salt & pepper if necessary.
  7. Serve pork sandwiches with various mustards, chopped parsley and pickle chips.
Notes
Nutrition info is for 8 sandwiches.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 561 Fat: 30 grams Carbohydrates: 35 grams Sugar: 3 grams Fiber: 3 grams Protein: 37 grams

 

waldorf salad

Waldorf Salad | anutritionisteats.com

I love this time of year. The lights, the cheer – everyone seems so happy! And I can’t forget the constant stream of sweet treats. I don’t know about your office, but between the gift sweets and homemade sweets, it’s hard to stay away from the kitchen. And then there’s my own kitchen…which has seen its own constant stream of sweet treats lately. Dessert > Wine. (Only while pregnant.)

Waldorf Salad | anutritionisteats.com

But with all of the extra treats, it’s also a time of year when cutting back elsewhere needs to happen. Cookies > Other Carbs.

It’s not something that I actively keep track of, or even stress out about, but I make sure that salads are a staple for lunch and dinners are built around protein and vegetables. For me, it feels easy (and honestly, salads at lunch are the norm) but painless. I still get to enjoy the treats and while I’ll be gaining weight this year no matter what, at a minimum, I can feel good about fitting in some nutritious foods into each day.

Waldorf Salad | anutritionisteats.com

But it’s not the time to cut-back too much – meals still need to be filling! This salad, though pretty light in calories, still packs a protein and fiber punch, and it will keep you satisfied until your cookie snack! :)

Need more convincing? This salad is:

  • high in protein (32 grams!)
  • full of fresh produce (crunchy romaine and celery + sweet apples!)
  • healthy fats from almonds
  • light and tasty yogurt-based dressing

Enjoy every cookie. And every salad!

Waldorf Salad
 
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1-lb chicken breasts
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • ½ cup plain yogurt (not greek)
  • 2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
  • salt & pepper
  • 2-3 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 2 cups thinly sliced celery
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
Instructions
  1. Grill or broil chicken until cooked through.
  2. Let cool and thinly slice. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together lemon juice, yogurt and mayonnaise.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate.
  5. Layer lettuce, celery, chicken, apples and almonds on each plate.
  6. Drizzle with dressing.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 308 Fat: 12 grams Carbohydrates: 19 grams Sugar: 12 grams Fiber: 5 grams Protein: 32 grams

How do you balance things this time of year?  

italian chicken sausage & vegetable soup

Italian Chicken Sausage & Vegetable Soup | anutritionisteats.com

Back when we lived in Minnesota, soups were a regular lunch rotation while I suffered through winters.

Now that winter = 60 degrees, I find myself forgetting to make soups and stews, always waiting until it “cools down just a bit more.” Well, no more. I figured that since my office always feels cold, there’s no reason to wait until it cools down.

Italian Chicken Sausage & Vegetable Soup | anutritionisteats.com

The (very hot!) day I decided to make this soup, I watched Giada make a Vegetable & Barley Soup and I took two things from the episode: 1) Use a parmesan rind to help flavor soup (which I’ve always meant to do) and 2) Use the sausage as a topping instead of letting it simmer in the soup.

Like any good lunch or dinner – it’s healthy and tasty!

italiansausagesoup3

I wanted the soup to be full of vegetables as well as a good source of protein and fiber. So it’s simple. Fill the soup with tender-crisp vegetables and throw in some chicken sausage for a protein boost, it’s a filling combo. It happens to be gluten-free and paleo, if you’re into those things!

Italian Chicken Sausage & Vegetable Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • about 1 heart of celery (2 cups chopped)
  • about 1 pound of carrots (2 cups chopped)
  • 10-12 cups of chopped kale
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • parmesan rind (optional)
  • 12 oz italian chicken sausage
  • salt & pepper
  • parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pot.
  2. Add onion and sauté for a few minutes.
  3. Add garlic, celery and carrots and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add kale, broth, water, tomatoes and parmesan rind and simmer for about 35-40 minutes.
  5. While soup is cooking, thinly slice chicken sausage in half lengthwise and then chop.
  6. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp of olive in in medium pan and sauté about 3-4 minutes, until brown, set aside.
  7. To serve, top serving of soup with chicken sausage and parmesan cheese if desired.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 370 Fat: 17 grams Carbohydrates: 35 grams Fiber: 10 grams Protein: 25 grams