Meat can be a nutritious addition to your midday meal because it supplies a healthy dose of protein for afternoon energy, as well as vitamins and minerals you need for good health. If the only meat that shows up in your lunch is processed, you may be decreasing the nutritional value of your meal. Processed meats, such as cold cuts and hot dogs, are high in sodium and fat and also contain nitrates and nitrites that may increase your risk for certain diseases. Replace processed meat with fresh meat and your lunch will be more nutritious, but just as tasty.
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Grilled Chicken Sandwich
A deli meat sandwich is a common addition to a lunchbox, but using fresh meat is another, and more nutritious, way to make a sandwich. Grill a boneless, skinless chicken breast over medium heat until it is no longer pink in the center. Place on one half of a whole-wheat bun. Top with freshly sliced tomatoes and a leaf of romaine lettuce. Use mashed avocado in place of mayonnaise to reduce the saturated fat content while also adding fiber and potassium. Add a slice of low-fat cheese to add calcium to your sandwich. Top with the remaining half of the bun and enjoy with a side of fresh vegetable sticks or chopped fruit.
Many restaurant or deli salads include pepperoni, cubed ham or salami, which are all high-sodium processed meats. Replacing these meats with lean sirloin steak will increase your protein intake while also decreasing your intake of salt. Grill your steak to the desired doneness and slice into thin strips. Add the steak strips to a bed of chopped spinach and romaine lettuce. Top with your favorite salad ingredients, such as black beans, corn, tomatoes, cucumber slices, broccoli florets and chopped onion. Use a low-fat salad dressing to keep your salad low in calories and fat.
Turkey Noodle Soup
Turkey is a nutritious meat that can replace the same old chicken in a bowl of soup. Use white meat turkey for a low-fat, high-protein soup. Prepare the soup the night before for a healthy dinner and then eat the leftovers the next day for lunch. Use whole-wheat noodles for a boost in fiber, as well as plenty of vegetables for vitamin A and potassium. Potatoes, carrots, celery and onions all pair well with turkey and vegetables. Enjoy your bowl of soup with fresh fruit or a glass of milk.
Barbecue Pork Sandwich
The combination of cooked and shredded pork and barbecue sauce is a traditional sandwich at restaurants across the country. Make your own barbecue pork sandwich at home using fresh pork roast and you will likely have a more nutrient-dense version. Cook a pork roast in your slow cooker for eight to nine hours and then shred into bite-sized pieces. Combine with low-sodium barbecue sauce and serve on warm whole-wheat buns. Top with sliced onions for a bit of vitamin C. Eat your sandwich with fresh fruits or vegetables as a healthy side dish.
- "Lunch Boxes and Snacks"; Annabel Karmel; 2007
- Colorado State University: Sodium in the Diet
- Harvard School of Public Health: Eating Processed Meats, But Not Unprocessed Red Meats, May Raise Risk of Heart Disease and Diabetes