10 Healthy Lunches for When You Just Can't Handle Another Salad
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2017
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Sick of salad? There are many ways to eat healthfully at lunchtime and still get your greens. First, keep an open mind about leafy options. The varieties are plentiful, including kale, collards, chard, arugula, spinach and dandelion greens. They can be swapped around to keep your meals interesting. And if you need extra encouragement, know that every leaf is loaded with nutrients that can play a key role in heart health, eye health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention and more. So go ahead, treat your health to these 10 simple and scrumptious lunches full of greenness.
VEGAN POWER GREENS BURRITO
These burritos burst with good stuff, including greens and beans. Guacamole and pico de gallo are served on the side so the burrito isn’t overstuffed. But there’s more to love about this Mexican-inspired lunch than its size. It’s packed with superfoods and super flavor. Use a mixture of greens, such as baby kale and spinach, for flavor and nutrient variety. Keep this recipe in your weekly repertoire: It’s a delicious way to boost fiber intake. Your digestive system will thank you!
Related: For the Full Recipe -- Vegan Power Greens Burrito
CALIFORNIA WHITE BEAN AND CHARD CHILI
Whet your appetite with this hearty bowl of chili. It’s a football-season favorite! But don’t feel that you need to wait for a sporting event to whip up a batch of this vegan comfort food. It provides all-year-round deliciousness in every bowlful. And it’s packed with plant-based nutrition from virtually every ingredient: Swiss chard, beans, tomatoes, garlic, onion, orange juice and spices. The addition of chard is what makes this chili unique; plus, it provides a flavonoid called syringic acid, which studies find may be beneficial for diabetes management.
Related: For the Full Recipe -- California White Bean and Chard Chili
kitten and dog snuggle together
EASY ARUGULA AND FIG PIZZA
Eat pizza: It’s good for you! Well, this is true only if the pizza is topped thoughtfully and healthfully. And this one definitely is. You’ll spread creamy goat cheese onto whole-grain pocketless pitas, top with onion and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and bake till crisp. Then you’ll finish with fresh arugula, gorgeous figs and a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar, sea salt and a little more olive oil. Arugula is rich in an isothiocyanate called erucin, which has cancer-preventive properties.
Related: For the Full Recipe -- Easy Arugula and Fig Pizza
COLLARD-WRAPPED ROTISSERIE CHICKEN AND GRAPE SALAD
Give your chicken salad sandwich an upgrade! Toss in red grapes, sliced natural almonds and fresh tarragon for fruity sweetness, nuttiness and herbal flair, respectively. Wrap it all up in Mother Earth’s original “tortillas”: collard greens! The leaves make clever, sturdy and, yes, green wraps naturally. Simply cut away the stems, trim the ribs and use the raw leaves -- no cooking or blanching required. Enjoy this fresh chicken salad wrap knowing that collard greens have an aggregate nutrient density index (ANDI) score of 1,000, which is basically a “perfect 10” in terms of nutrient richness.
Related: For the Full Recipe -- Collard-Wrapped Rotisserie Chicken and Grape Salad
GRILLED GOAT CHEESE AND DANDELION GREENS
You don’t need dozens of ingredients to make a recipe delicious. In fact, five or fewer can be a winner. Here, goat cheese, raspberry fruit spread, dandelion greens and whole-grain bread along with a spritz of natural cooking spray is all you need. You'll end up with a grilled cheese sandwich unlike any other! Dandelion greens may help boost immunity due in part to its anti-inflammatory properties. And preliminary research suggests that dandelion leaf extract may have an antiobesity effect too.
Related: For the Full Recipe -- Grilled Goat Cheese and Dandelion Greens Sandwich
CHILLED SESAME NOODLES WITH BOK CHOY
You’ve gotta love a bowl of noodles -- especially when bathed in such a flavorful sauce! You’ll toss wheat lo mein noodles with a high-flavored mixture of toasted sesame oil, natural peanut butter, tamari, lime juice and coconut nectar. And there’s more! You’ll add fresh cilantro for a distinctive herbal note and baby bok choy for color and crunch. Bok choy is a cruciferous veggie that has dozens of phenolic compounds. And to further entice your taste buds, you’ll complete these Asian-inspired noodles with a sprinkling of sweet and spicy gochujang (a Korean red chili paste) and sesame seeds.
Related: For the Full Recipe -- Chilled Sesame Noodles With Bok Choy
MAC AND CHEESE AND GREENS
Only have time to zap a frozen entree? Sure, the occasional choice of macaroni and cheese is fine. But choose an entree that contains absolutely nothing artificial, then pump it up with healthfulness. Here, you’ll wilt baby spinach with seasonings then stir it into the prepared mac and cheese. In health terms, spinach is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin. The American Optometric Association suggests that Americans may need at least triple the average daily intake of these carotenoids to help decrease the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. And in culinary terms, spinach transforms this entree into a tastier (and bigger) meal.
Related: For the Full Recipe -- Mac and Cheese and Greens
MIDDLE EASTERN LUNCHEON PLATTER
A fun way to “do lunch” is to create a platter of small bites, such as this collection of Middle Eastern small plates (called mezze). This mezze features hummus, tzatziki, stuffed grape leaves and grape tomatoes. You don’t have to make the dips or grape leaves. Just head over to a natural-foods market; you should be able to find them there. This platter also features Belgian endive leaves. OK, so endive doesn’t quite fit the theme; but a head of it provides only 15 calories! That’s far fewer calories than if pita bread or chips were your dippers.
Related: For the Full Recipe -- Middle Eastern Luncheon Platter
CHEATER’S SQUASH CURRY WITH GREENS
Don’t wait for dinner! Savor this satisfying bowl of stew at lunchtime; it doesn’t have to take you tons of prep time. You’ll start with a cup of “clean” premade butternut or other winter squash soup — then you’ll glam it up. Once you’ve measured out all ingredients, including baby spinach, cannellini beans, precooked brown rice and seasonings, you’ll simply bring everything to a boil for one minute. That’s it! As a bonus, this stew is surprisingly bone-friendly due to the combination of vitamin K, calcium and magnesium from spinach.
Related: For the Full Recipe -- Cheater’s Squash Curry With Greens
MAKE-AHEAD PASTA AND KALE BOWL
Sometimes nothing beats a good bowl of pasta. But it’s not always that easy to enjoy for lunch. This recipe proves otherwise! Ideally, you’ll be making this pasta in advance and storing it overnight in the fridge. For lunch, you’ll just need to reheat the DIY refrigerator meal in the microwave until steaming hot. Simple, right? The goat cheese makes it especially comforting. And the baby kale kicks up the nutrition -- offering cancer-fighting properties from its glucosinolates.
Related: For the Full Recipe -- Make-Ahead Pasta and Kale Bowl
sandwiches with avocado, cheese, cabbage and cheese and herb topping
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you eat leafy greens daily? Why or why not? Do you ever get tired of eating salad? What’s your favorite way to enjoy leafy greens at lunch? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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