fish

Reinvent Your Lunch

Lunchtime doesn’t have to be boring or fattening. And it doesn’t have to be hard, either. It’s easy to make lunch a small meal, hoping to save some calories, but if you’re like me you’ll crash by 4 pm and start grazing. For me, the challenge is resisting the candy in the office when I’ve hit that afternoon slump. I’ve found that eating a decent lunch helps stave off that munching.

I used to eat Lean Cuisines for lunch because they were easy and low in calories. Now I am more apt to bring leftovers for lunch or soup and salads. I recently brought a couscous and chicken salad for lunch that I made with leftovers.

I like to pack things for lunch that are “bite sized,” meaning it takes awhile to eat the stuff. A few examples: sliced apples, sliced peppers and carrots, pistachios in the shell. Stuff that takes a long time to eat slows me down. Which I need. 🙂 (Check out this website that lists out some sample menus if you are just getting started trying to lose weight. There are some great suggestions.)

Here are some suggestions that I’ve found work well for my lunches:

1. Eat fish. Salmon is great hot or cold. I often use leftover blackened salmon cold on my salads.

2. Make a big salad. Top it with a rinsed can of chickpeas, some diced ham and lots of veggies. It’s surprisingly filling. Fruit is also excellent on salads–sliced strawberries, cranberries, mandarin oranges…all good. When I was doing the Slow Carb Diet I ate a lot of big salads for lunch. I added leftover salmon or chicken with beans and veggies and was stuffed.

3. Switch from mayo to mustard to spice it up and save the calories.

4. Instead of mayo on sandwiches, use hummus. Try a hummus and cucumber sandwich for something more exotic.

5. Make a lettuce wrap instead of using bread products. You can use deli meat with cream cheese or curried cooked chicken with chopped apples and green onions. Tuna fish works. You can get super creative with lettuce wraps.

(recipe)

6. Switch to soups. This works so great for me! Especially if the soup has beans. Lentil soup, or veggie and bean soup fills me up for hours.

7. Egg sandwiches are good and filling because of the protein. I used to make an “Egg McMuffin” for breakfast at home with an english muffin, a single slice of cheese and scrambled eggs. It was really tasty and would work well for lunch too.

8. Bean burgers or Boca Burgers without the bun. I’ve done this in a pinch when I didn’t have anything else. I just cooked the Boca burger in the microwave with a single slice of cheese and ate some veggies with Ranch dressing on the side.

9. Chili! It’s packed full of protein and will sit in your belly for awhile, especially if there are beans in the chili. If you’re a vegetarian, you can still make a delicious chili and get your protein in.

Meal planning is a big part of this. It takes just a little bit of effort and planning but having a plan will prevent the temptation for pizza or burgers for lunch.

Ever since I switched my lunches to something other than frozen meals, I have felt a million times better and more satisfied. I feel good about myself when I eat food that fills me up and doesn’t make me go off the charts with my calories. Counting calories will always be a part of my life and my daily duties, and I need food that is worth the calories.

QUESTIONS: What’s your typical lunch?

D is for Vitamin D

D is for Vitamin D.

I most definitely suffer from the winter blues. In the Northwest it’s especially hard I think because for the bulk of the year it’s gray and rainy. It starts in about October and the rain sometimes doesn’t stop until July.

I’ve talked about taking antidepressants in the past. I was diagnosed with depression at 14 and was on medication for about 11 years off and on. Mostly on. The crappy thing about it is that I think I was misdiagnosed. I think what I actually suffered from was anxiety. But that’s a whole other topic. When I stopped taking the medications I noticed that I’d suffer from the Winter Blues every year. It would start about December and go until May or so when the spring sun and flowers started to emerge.

A few years ago I saw my doctor and she said that most people in the Northwest were deficient in Vitamin D. She tested me and sure enough. Deficient. During the winter months I take a supplement once a day. I also eat a diet that is pretty high in Vitamin D. The biggest source? Fish! Yay! I eat tons of seafood so that works well for me. I’d much rather get my vitamin D from dinner than a pill.

Vitamin D has many roles in the body–including cell growth, immune function, reduction of inflammation; it promotes calcium absorption in the gut and bone growth. The recommended amount of Vitamin D a day is “200 IU is said to be the daily dosage of vitamin D for adults up to the age of 50.”

How to Get More Vitamin D

1. Salmon: Yet another reason to love salmon! It’s my favorite fish. Salmon has100 IU per ounce of Vitamin D.

2. Shrimp: Shrimp gives you 6 ounces has 64% of your daily needs. Plus shrimp is very low in calories! Extra bonus.

3. Cod: 6 ounces gives you 18% of your daily need.

4. Halibut: 3 ounces has 254% of your daily need of Vitamin D.

5. Eggs: If you eat 1 large egg you get 4% of your daily value, but you have to eat the yolk.

6. Oysters: While oysters are not something I really eat, they are packed with Vitamin D.  1/2 a dozen oysters give you over 60% of your what you need a day!

7. Soy milk: (with added calcium and vitamins A and D) has 297 IU.

The bonus about these foods being high in Vitamin D is that they are also low in calories! Double win!

I would much rather get my Vitamin D from food or sunshine. In fact, one way to battle the winter blues is to escape to some sunshine in the thick of it! This year we left the gray Portland darkness in March for a week in Tucson. It was the perfect reset-button. March is often the worst month in Oregon and having a week in the sunshine helped my brain so much. I came home happier, relaxed and the rain didn’t bother me so much anymore. This might have to become an annual tradition in March…

QUESTION: Are you deficient in Vitamin D? How do you beat the Winter Blues?

A-Abstinence * B-Balance * C-Calories *