COURTESY MEGAN CASPER, M.S., RDNVeggie-based meals are a great bet and this eggplant-based stew is a health star. “Ratatouille is a savory, filling, and nutritious comfort food that can be cooked up fast in a slow cooker for a week’s worth of healthy lunch,” says Megan Casper, M.S., RDN a nutrition expert and writer for Nourished Bite. She says the benefits of the dish include high water volume (to fill you up), loads of fiber, and that it’s low-calorie. “Serve on its own or over a half cup of quinoa or whole wheat pasta,” suggests Casper.
Vegan quinoa cakes
COURTESY NATALIA LEVEY, HEALTHYINTENT.COMPacked with protein to keep hunger at bay, this healthy lunch recipe also has the benefit of being quick to put together, says Natalia Levey, a healthy lifestyle expert and founder of Healthy Intent. Made with cooked quinoa, garbanzo beans, and seasonings, try the cakesserved with a simple arugula salad, dressed with olive oil and lemon for a healthy crunch. Alternatively, serve as vegan burgers with a lettuce “bun,” and garlic “aioli.”
Cedar plank grilled salmon
VIA WOODLOCH.COMA great healthy lunch option for the forever fit, cedar plank grilled salmon only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to prepare. “Grilling salmon on the cedar plank gives it a smoky taste with minimal effort,” explains Josh Tomson, executive chef at the Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, Pennsylania, who says this is a favorite lunch option of the mostly female clientele at the resort and spa in the Poconos. “Cedar Planked Grilled Salmon is a perfect choice for thin women as it is loaded with nutrients for the entire body. It is great for heart health, brain health, bones and joints, and even eyesight.” (Note: Cedar Planks or Cedar Sheets are easy to find on Amazon or at gourmet food stores and they add a level of flavor that is hard to beat.)
Spicy summer bean and chickpea salad
COURTESY MARY KASPRZAKMary Kasprzak, a food blogger at Blossom to Stem, says her go-to healthy lunch is this spicy summer bean and chickpea salad. “It takes about 15 minutes to make and it’s loaded with flavor from the garlic and cumin and coriander and has a kicky heat from cayenne pepper,” she says. The chickpeas give this salad heft and provide protein, insoluble fiber (which is great for digestive tract health), and vitamins and minerals including manganese, folate, and iron. “The green and yellow beans make this salad a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach and provide an important source of vitamin K and vitamin C, which are linked to lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes,” she says. If you start with canned chickpeas the work couldn’t be easier: just open and rinse. “The salad holds up well if you make it in the morning or the night before and bring it to the office for lunch,” Kasprzak says.
Tofu “egg” salad
COURTESY CAROL MEERSCHAERT, MBA, RDNA no-cholesterol and vegan swap from traditional egg salad, this tofu “egg”salad that’s high protein is a go-to favorite of Carol Meerschaert, MBA, RD, and marketing executive with Surrey Services for Seniors in Devon, Pennsylvania. It’s easy to make ahead and grab and go, says Meerschaert, who says she enjoy it served on a bed of leaf lettuce or as a dip with celery stalks. “I love this because I can make it days ahead and serve it several ways. I vary the flavor widely by using fresh fennel instead of celery, or even add cubed beets for a red salad.”
COURTESY TALIA KOREN, FOUNDER OF WORKWEEK LUNCHThis is the go-to healthy lunch of Talia Koren, founder of Workweek Lunch, a food blog dedicated to cooking lunches for the work week. “I love this Buddah bowl because it is vegan, lasts four days in the fridge, and is very easy to prep. It also doesn’t stink up the office if you heat it up in the microwave,” she says “Chickpeas are an amazing source of plant-based protein and when combined with fibrous veggies and a complex carb, it keeps me fuller for longer so I don’t go for snacks later in the day.” Koren seasons the chickpeas with cumin, cayenne, paprika, and oregano before quickly sauteeing them in coconut oil. “Chickpeas are versatile enough to change up the flavor if you get bored with them. I roast the sweet potato and zucchini in the oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil. I also add cinnamon and cayenne to the sweet potatoes. I use raw spinach or kale because it will wilt slightly when put together with the hot chickpeas and veggies. Plus it’s one less thing to cook! If you don’t like zucchini, you can easily swap it out for broccoli, asparagus, or any of your favorite greens,” Koren says.
COURTESY LAURA LEEQuiche is a perfect quick, healthy, and filling lunch, says Laura Lea Goldberg, certified holistic chef and editor of Laura Lea Balanced. “It’s ridiculously forgiving and versatile and it tastes fabulous chilled, room temperature, or warm. Recently, I’ve been enjoying slices of my broccoli, mushroom, and cheddar quiche with a sweet potato crust for a wholesome lunch,” Goldberg shares. “I make sure to use pasture-raised eggs, which are packed with nutrients such as vitamins D, B12 and free from added hormones or antibiotics. Broccoli provides fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc (among others), and I love mushrooms for their hearty, meaty texture plus, they have a rainbow of health benefits as well.”
Smokey BBQ beetroot and spinach salad
COURTESY KARA LANDAUJam packed with protein, fiber, and skin-glowing antioxidants, this healthy salad is super quick to prepare, says Kara Landau, a New York City-based dietitian and food blogger at Traveling Dietitian. “I include spinach leaves, ready-made smokey BBQ beetroot strips, diced cucumber, diced red onion, a small amount of left over salmon from the night before, and some hemp seeds scattered on top. The dressing is simply made from fresh lemon juice, spray EVOO, sea salt, and cracked pepper,” she says. By using the beetroot that is already infused with flavor, Landau says it yields huge amount of zest to the dish, without loads of condiments or calorie-filled additions. “I also am able to portion control the added oils quite clearly by using the spray EVOO rather than pouring from a bottle,” she says.