Lunch time is often a hard meal to figure out, especially when you’re out and about or at school. Reheating food is often times impossible, so you’re left with a cold lunch that sometimes tastes disgusting. We here at One Green Planet don’t ever want that to happen to you, though, so we’ve got some recipes that are great choices for lunch. We want you to firstly have a beautifully delicious meal, but also to have a meal that will keep you mentally alert until dinner time and full of healthy, plant-based foods.
The carbohydrates in fruit supply a quick dose of fructose to refresh the body while the vegetable carbohydrates keep the stomach busy digesting all those fibers. If you choose to have some gluten-free grains along with your lunch, the carbohydrates in them will also serve as a perfect, quick fuel for the body. Protein maintains that full feeling in the stomach; even a small serving of beans or nuts delivers a strong feeling of satiety, so that you’ll be full and alert until you or your kid gets home from work or school.
Balancing carbohydrates with protein to create the perfect lunch doesn’t have to be difficult! Here are lists of the best common, light, clean sources of both macronutrients.
1. Beans (Bean Salad, Bean Burrito, and Hummus)
Think lentils, garbanzo, kidney, and pinto beans here. You can whip up a quick bean salad that includes kidney, garbanzo, and green beans along with some sharp red onions, or you could open a can of refried beans and smack some of them on a whole grain or gluten free tortilla. This tomato basil bean salad, if you’re not a fan of traditional three bean salad, is just the recipe you’ve been looking for!
A kid favorite would be to put some baby carrots in a bag and some homemade hummus in a cute container — its a fun side dish packed with a big crunch!
2. Nuts (Raw Almonds, Sunflower Seed/Peanut Butter Sandwich, Walnuts)
Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein, and you can add nut butter or the crunchy beauties themselves to almost anything, from main attractions down to simple salad toppers. Get your hands on some peanut butter and a knife, and slather it on a piece of gluten free bread, give it to your kid, and watch them gobble it down because that’s the most classic lunch time food (it’s even better with some homemade, low-sugar jam!). If you want to be more fancy, you could put the peanut butter in the bread like this recipe does!
It’s fantastically delicious, just saying. You can also just eat raw almonds, sunflower seeds, or walnuts alone with your lunch. This salad features the wonderful and fragrant almond as a protein source and for crunch-factor. Sure, your kid might not like kale, but at least give it a shot!
1. Vegetables (Carrots, Broccoli, Roasted Vegetables, Ratatouille)
Getting your kid excited about vegetables can be a hard task, but if you don’t force them to do anything, especially to eat something, then they will get their fitting eventually. Meanwhile, make vegetables fun like this orange cauliflower recipe — it tastes like orange chicken and its just to die for! In a lunch-box this cauliflower would make anyone happy.
This ratatouille is also the perfect dish to fix for lunches and its super delicious. Have your kid watch the Pixar movie, and they’ll instantly want to try the dish, so make it!
2. Fruits (Berries, Apples, Dates, Bananas, Figs)
Fruits can be eaten in a variety of ways for lunch. The best and simplest way to consume sweet, vitamin-rich fruit is whole and unadulterated before any other food, but you can get creative with them.
You could also cut some fruit up, and make a fruit salad if you wanted to, and I’m sure your kid would appreciate your effort and love if you do so. Another way of eating fruit for lunch would be in smoothie form, but its a bit difficult to keep one in your lunch box unless you’ve got a decent container or thermos.
3. Starches (Leftover Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Gluten-Free Bread, Quinoa)
This category is very versatile, and there are a wide variety of ways to consume these starches. Try this rice salad recipe, or this creamy mashed potato recipe. Here is a great quinoa and bean burger recipe too! The possibilities are endless!
Preferably, if you consume fruit with your lunch, do it before your main meal so it digests better. Then, eat your salad or vegetables followed by your protein and starches. You can easily use these principles to make lunch for you or your child, and by following them, you’ll see a key improvement in mental focus and fullness. If you can’t get your child to eat salad, then make them a lighter sandwich on gluten-free bread and pair that with carrots or broccoli and some fruit to start. Or, make your kid a burrito with beans for protein and vegetables. As an adult too, you can make these meals. Keep this lunchtime formula in mind and see the miracles that happen when you employ them!
Image Source: Melissa/ Flickr