As an active adult, you know just how problematic it can be to run on empty, even just once in awhile. Energy levels get low, irritation and lack of patience tends to kick in, and the motivation to get that to-do list done becomes pretty unimportant as the day plays on. And while it might seem like eating out at a restaurant or picking up packaged food at a convenience store is the only option, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
With just a little spare time spent in the kitchen (you only need about an hour), you can create scrumptious protein-rich lunches for the entire week that are ready to pack up quickly throughout the week to fuel your busy days and nights. Some can be made the same day within less than 15 minutes, while others can be made beforehand and kept in the freezer or fridge until they’re needed.
Here are five pretty delicious options that will help you get a personalized meal preparation routine started:
1. B.L.T. Avo Salad
Traditional B.L.T. salads might seem at least somewhat healthy thanks to the bed of lettuce the meal is built on. But the truth is that they’re typically filled with cholesterol and a whole lot more calories than it appears. Luckily, there are lots of high protein vegan replacements to choose from that can be used to make a great B.L.T. salad (or sandwich!) without all the grease and unhealthy fat.
Simply buy or make your own tempeh or tofu bacon to top your greens with. Both of these fakin’ bacon options taste awesome and offer a hefty protein and texture boost to your lunch. Add some fresh tomato chunks, a little creamy salad dressing, and top everything with fresh avocado or guacamole to take advantage of healthy fats that will keep you feeling full until dinner time.
2. Fiesta Black Bean Wrap
Wraps are tasty, easy to eat, and can hold any ingredients you happen to be in the mood for. Fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, sprouts, greens – even nuts and seeds – can all play a role in creating an awesome wrap. Black beans happen to be an excellent choice because they’re packed with protein, fiber, and a variety of nutrients the body needs to maintain high energy levels. Black beans are hardy, and they’re a bit sticky which helps to keep all of your other ingredients in place.
Whether you’re using canned, fresh, pureed or whole, just add a spoonful of them to your vessel (think tortillas or collard leaves) and top them with tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, olives, and a little salsa for a fiesta lunch. If you’d like to take your taste buds to Italy, consider mixing your black beans with a couple tablespoons of tomato sauce and a teaspoon or dried Italian herbs along with shredded spinach, carrots, and bell peppers. Then fill your wraps and you’re on your way!
3. Curried Lentil Burger
Who doesn’t love a good burger in the middle of the day when a burst of energy is appreciated? Making a batch of curried lentil burgers and freezing them will give you a supply of super simple lunches throughout the week that are high in protein, flavor, and texture. They can be served on a bun traditional style, crumbled over pasta, or added to sandwiches and wraps as you see fit.
Make your own curried lentil burgers, use a large bowl to thoroughly mix together a cup each of raw oats and cooked red lentils, a tablespoon of ground flax seed, curry powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and pepper. When the concoction is well mixed and has the texture of dough, shape the mixture into burger shapes (you should be able to make about six) and then put them on a greased baking sheet. Bake the burgers at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes or until they’re firm to the touch. Let them cool then freeze them until they are to be used.
4. Zesty Tofu Poppers
Protein-rich tofu is featured in a myriad of recipes from stir-fry to faux meatloaf. If you’re like most people who enjoy the occasional (or regular) tofu meal, you’re probably always looking for new ways to work with it in the kitchen. If you haven’t tried making spicy jalapeno poppers with tofu, you are really missing out. To make a batch, start by blending a box of firm silken tofu with the juice of a lemon, a couple cloves of garlic, and two tablespoons of nutritional yeast.
Cut half a dozen jalapenos in half lengthwise (it’s a good idea to wear kitchen gloves!) and clean out the insides of them. Fill the jalapeno halves with the tofu “cheese” and pack the ends with a spoon so the mixture is tightly stored. Then roll jalapeno halves in a mixture of corn meal and nutritional yeast and bake (or fry) them at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about ten minutes or until they start to brown. Pair them with a big salad or coleslaw and enjoy!
5. Sprouted Spring Rolls
Sprouts contain up to a whopping 35 percent protein, and offer an abundance of nutrients such as vitamins C, E, and A. There are all kinds of awesome sprouts to choose from including alfalfa, broccoli, and mung beans. They’re also pretty filling, and although each type has their own unique flavor, they all tend to combine well with just about any other flavors that are in a particular dish.
Sprouted spring rolls are fun to eat and they’re filling, but they won’t sit in your stomach and hold you back from a busy afternoon at work or an evening run. Soak rice papers in water and then fill them with hummus, sprouts, and shredded carrots along with any other ingredients that tickle your taste buds. Roll the papers up around your ingredients and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy them.
There isn’t a need to spend hours in the kitchen or break the bank at restaurants in order to make sure that you’re healthfully fueled in the middle of the day. Incorporate these easy lunch ideas into your plan and your calendar, taste buds, and wallet will thank you for it.
Lead Image Source: Clean and Healthy Veggie Paper Rolls