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March 20, 2013

Living Independently: Make the Most of Lunch to Power Through the Day

Most of us have heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, don’'t give lunch short shrift. It’s the meal that will keep you going after your morning oatmeal has worn off. According to Kendal at Oberlin dietitian Katie Hoover, your best lunch will be a combination of protein and fiber to power you through the afternoon until you can sit down for dinner.

With our busy schedules, lunch can also be the toughest meal of the day to do right. According to a 2011 survey, Americans eat lunch out more than any other meal. While lunches from restaurants and fast food windows can be healthy, they too often include foods like greasy burgers and French fries, which pack lots of calories and poor nutrition. 

March is National Nutrition Month, so challenge yourself to treat your body right during the lunch hour! Read on for power lunch examples:

Tips for Getting a Healthy Meal Midday

  • Super sandwiches: Sandwiches and lunch go together like, well, peanut butter and jelly. They can stack up protein, carbohydrates, and veggies all in one neat, easy to eat package. For the best nutrition, use a variety of whole grain breads, wraps, and pitas. Try some turkey or hummus for protein and pile on your favorite combination of sliced tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, cucumber, onion, and peppers. Pair your sandwich with a side of carrots and celery sticks, some cottage cheese or yogurt, or pretzels. 
  • Cook in advance: Lazy Sunday afternoons are perfect for cooking. Fire up the oven and make a large pot of soup, chili, baked chicken, pasta, or another favorite. Then portion the meal out in microwave-safe containers for lunches for the week. If you’'re going to eat the food in a few days, most meals will keep just fine in the fridge. If you’'re thinking long-term, look for recipes like vegetable lasagna that keep well in the freezer. At lunchtime, just pop the individual portions in the microwave for an easy and nutritious meal. If you prefer variety, plan to cook extra at dinner and put away leftovers for lunch the next day.
  • Don’t forget the extras: Bottled water and specialty coffee can increase the cost of lunch on the go. Plan ahead and bring your own metal or plastic water bottle. You can also make coffee the way you like it at home and bring it with you in a travel mug. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, enjoy a little treat after lunch; pack yourself some low-fat graham crackers, vanilla wafers or a small piece of chocolate. 

Good nutrition and meal planning can be simple with a little know-how. Get more tips by checking out our Kendal Northern Ohio Blog.


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