protein

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?

Baked Chicken Thighs

Simple ingredients. Things we always have on hand (chicken thighs in the freezer from Costco, garlic and shallots–check). When we cook chicken thighs for dinner we usually cook them in the skillet with just salt and pepper. We remove the skin from the chicken too. So this recipe was a little different than the norm.

Baked Chicken Thighs

from The Food Lover’s Primal Palate

Ingredients:

  • 4 free range bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to bake at 425.
  2. Rinse chicken thighs under cold water and place in a broiler pan.
  3. Pat thighs dry with a paper towel.
  4. Gently separate skin from thigh, without removing it completely from the meat at the corners.
  5. Place shallots and garlic on the meat, and cover with the skin.
  6. Lightly rub olive oil on the skin, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  7. Bake for 35 minutes, or until juices run clear.

It was super quick to make this. We did it for lunch one day on the weekend and it was easy and satisfying. My body also loved the protein after my intense workout! The chicken was washed and then dried. I chopped the shallots and the garlic and stuffed them underneath the skin.


I didn’t measure anything I just chopped and then stuffed. I sprinkled salt and pepper on top of the chicken and sprinkled a little oil into the dish.


It baked for less time than the recipe called for–about 25 or 30 instead. I checked the chicken once before taking it out. It was hard to gauge when the chicken was done for some reason (maybe because the skin was still on it?).


The chicken was perfect. It wasn’t dry at all like baked chicken can sometimes be. I think because of the bone-in and the skin was still on the thigh it kept it moist. The skin was crunchy and filled with salty flavor. Normally I don’t eat the skin but it was all really good.


Sometimes when we cook chicken thighs in the skillet I add onion powder to the salt and pepper seasoning and it’s a good addition. I don’t think this recipe needs anything more than what’s here. The shallots and garlic are fantastic.

This recipe would be a fantastic dinner after a long day at work–quick and easy. Add a salad or steam some frozen veggies to go on the side and dinner is satisfying and healthy. This could also be a quickie last-minute dinner for guests. Make a pasta salad to go with it and open a bottle of white wine–perfect. 🙂

QUESTION: What’s your favorite type of chicken and how do you usually prepare it?