How-To: Have a Healthy Lunch

Foods that will satisfy and energize
by Katie Cavuto-Boyle MS, RD

As the quest for healthy food in the cafeteria continues, consider taking the matter of feeding your children (and yourself) into your own hands. We asked Philly food celebrity Katie Cavuto-Boyle for some guidelines to help us make the brown bag delicious and nutritious.

  • Use better breads. You can upgrade your sandwich with whole grain bread. Break through the norm with sprouted grain breads, spelt bread, pita, lavash, naan, a wrap or even flavored breads like a whole grain olive loaf.  
  • Pack healthy proteins. Lunch meats are often loaded with preservatives and sodium. Go for the real deal like fresh, oven-roasted turkey breast and local, free range chicken left over from last night’s dinner (always plan to make extra for the next day). Choose an organic, natural peanut butter, almond butter or hazelnut butter, and pair it with a 100 percent fruit spread for a healthier PB&J. Make your own chicken salad, egg salad or tuna salad and swap the mayo for Dijon mustard, which adds flavor without the calories and fat. Slather your sandwich with hummus or fresh pesto for added flavor and load it up with fresh veggies like cucumbers, roasted peppers, sprouts or dark leafy greens.

 

  • Add variety to your meal. Prepare a whole grain pasta salad with seasonal veggies. Be creative with beans, wild or brown rice, and grains such as quinoa and millet for a nutrition-dense meal. Pack a salad in a reusable container (vinaigrette dressing on the side). Load it up with veggies, the more colorful, the more nutrients. Add some protein in the form of beans, nuts, or even fish, chicken or lean beef. The possibilities are endless.

 

  • Snack smart. Skip the chips and opt for baked pita chips or popcorn for crunch. When seasonally appropriate, pack fresh fruit in its whole form or cut up in a fruit salad. Enjoy fruits year-round by stocking up on unsweetened dried varieties when the fresh stuff is out of season. Pair dried fruits with some nuts for added protein, as well as heart-healthy fats. Organic yogurt is a great fruit dip or snack on its own. For a balanced, tasty snack, try raw veggies with hummus or an apple with peanut butter.
  • Drink water. Water is the beverage of choice since every system in your body relies on it. Skip the sodas, juices and sweetened drinks, as they add calories with little to no nutrition. Flavor water with lemon or orange slices; even brew some herbal, fruit-flavored tea.

Katie Cavuto-Boyle, ms, rd is a local registered dietitian, personal chef and owner of Healthy Bites (healthybitesdelivery.com)