For many, lunch exceeds breakfast as the most important meal of the day. Lunch is an opportunity for the body and brain to refuel and prepare for what the rest will bring. A midday meal should fill you up without being too heavy, and you should include the right balance of nutrients to avoid falling from 2:00 pm - sometimes it's easier said than done. Fast, simple and low calorie foods will keep you full of energy and maintain your healthy eating habits.
Planning ahead is the best way to make sure you incorporate as many nutrient-rich ingredients as possible.
Lainie Cooper, nutritionist and working mother
Incorporates raw foods
"Incorporating some raw foods every week is a good start that can bring immediate changes, such as even feeling more vibrant and full of energy", said Sarah Cahill, a Florida-based food chef. That energy, explains Cahill, protects against the fall of the afternoon.
But you do not have to go to the extreme to eat raw, says Cahill. Lettuce is an easy and forceful uncooked food. Combine a variety of raw vegetables - think sliced red peppers and cucumbers, diced zucchini, chopped cauliflower and chopped green onions - and let them marinate overnight in red wine vinegar, chopped fresh herbs, salt, pepper and a trickle of olive oil. Place the vegetables on lettuce leaves and fold them like a taco.
"The decision to incorporate raw foods during the midday meal will help eliminate cravings and satisfy the impulse to overeat," said Cahill.
Keep it in the bowl
"When I have a busy week, thinking about what to eat can be difficult," said Lainie Cooper, a nutritionist and mother who works in Denver. "Planning ahead is the best way to make sure to incorporate as many nutrient-rich ingredients as possible. "
Salads from a cereal-based cup, such as cooked brown rice, millet or quinoa are perfect for lunch on the way.
"On Sundays, I make a batch of quinoa, which is high in protein and fiber, and store it in my refrigerator." Then, before work, I toss a portion of quinoa with a handful of other ingredients and mix it to a single-dish meal that I can eat at my desk or when I'm on the road, "Cooper said.
These salads are also perfect on mixed green leaves. Some examples include:
Type "Southwestern": Half a can of low-sodium beans, rinsed in 1/2 red pepper, diced with 1/2 cup of corn, 1/2 cup of breast cubes Chicken, lean meat or shrimp (a great use of leftovers from dinner).Dressing: sour light cream, fresh lemon juice, two finely chopped green onions and a pinch of hot sauce.
Type "Fruit & Nut" (Fruits and Nuts): A handful of dried cranberries, a handful of nuts, sliced almonds, slices and grapes. Dressing: apple cider vinegar, olive oil and Dijon mustard.
Asian Type: 1/4 cup of shredded carrot peel, 1/2 cup of chicken breast, lean meat or shrimp (a large use of leftovers from dinner) 1/2 avocado, diced. Dressing: Soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice and a splash of chili oil or hot sauce.
Four snacks to keep your day the best way
Eating between meals is not just acceptable, it is recommended, says dietitian Lainie Cooper. Having a low-calorie snack in the morning between breakfast and lunch and again between lunch and dinner can help you avoid overeating during the biggest meals of the day. These are some light but satisfying snacks between meals.
Do you want something salty? Cabbage Chips: Put cabbage leaves with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a touch of cayenne, if you like spicy things. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until crisp.
Baked Pita Bread Chips and Creamy Curry: Mix one teaspoon of curry powder and a pinch of salt in 1/4 cup of non-fat yogurt. Use baked pita bread chips to dip them.
Fancy something sweet? Berry rolls: Spread a small whole grain tortilla with a thin layer of Neufchatel cheese and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar (or sugar substitute) and a pinch of cinnamon. Place the raspberries, blueberries or strawberries in slices at the base and knead.
Frozen Chocolate Banana Snacks: Slice a banana into slices 1 inch (2, 5 cm) thick. Press a chocolate on each slice. Place the banana slices on a baking sheet, leaving a few inches between slices, and freeze overnight.