Can’t Wait for Lunch

The Happy Gal Can't Wait for Lunch

It’s time to take back lunch, ladies.  I’m serious.  Ask yourself (and be honest:) do you look forward to lunch?  If the answer is no, then take a good look at what you’ve been eating:  crusts from the kids’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?  The half of the grilled cheese that your two-year-old rejected?  Leftover lasagna from dinner for the third day in a row?  Would you ever feed this to anyone in your family and expect them to eat it?  So why do you do it to yourself?

Based on the nutrition philosophy I’ve shared with you, I focus my lunch around a lean protein, and I skip the bread.  Those standards would have paralyzed me a few years ago.  I couldn’t think outside the sandwich box.  But with a little insight and experience, I’ve discovered some great solutions.

Salads 

Hold on!  Don’t go anywhere.  I’m not talking about the open-a-bag-of-lettuce-and-pour-ranch-over-it kind of salad.  That is the emotional equivalent of the kids’ crusts. I’m talking about gourmet, out-to-lunch, makes-my-mouth-water-just-thinking-about-it kind of salad.  I have a whole army of them, and I’ve already shared several with you on my C.H.O.W. posts, such as Chicken Craisin Salad, Buffalo Chicken Salad, and even using Salsa Chicken to make a great salad.  Salads come together easily with just a few strategies (which I will share soon in my upcoming post, “Salad Strategies”) and give you a lunch you can look forward to.

Sandwiches and Wraps

Remember, the idea is to minimize or eliminate the amount of bread you consume.  Any of your favorite sandwiches can be adapted by substituting a low-carb wrap or bun…or better yet, skip the bread altogether and wrap in a romaine leaf.  Replace mayonnaise with fat free honey mustard, mustard, or low fat salad dressings.   Taco fillings also make good wraps.

Baked Potato Bar

Regular potatoes are high on the glycemic index, so as someone who has never been overly attached to potatoes, making the switch to sweet potatoes and yams has been natural and easy.  Explore a variety of toppings.  One of my favorite tricks is piling on the green onions, pecans, feta cheese, and craisins (see my upcoming C.H.O.W. post called “Loaded Yam.”)  I know it sounds like a weird combination, but you’ve got to try it!

Soups

I love soups in the fall and winter.  Some of my favorites are taco soup, chicken tortilla soup, and white bean chili (All coming soon on C.H.O.W.  Give me some time, ladies! I can’t post everything all at once.)  I love these recipes because I can top them with so many delicious and healthy garnishes – green onion, chopped tomato, sliced avocado, olives, fat free sour cream, fat free cheese, cilantro.  Yum!  Now, surely you know me well enough by now.  I’m not whipping up a fresh pot of soup at 11:30 every morning.  Think smarter, not harder.  I am cooking ahead and utilizing my freezer meals.  I simply plan to make dinners that will give me good leftovers for lunch, or freeze dinners in single-serving portions to pull out for lunch.

I could go on, but you have other things to do today besides read this post.  What I’m trying to say is, there’s no need to dread lunch.

Sometimes I have a stray thought suggesting to me that I’m selfish for preparing myself such a nice lunch.  After all, my poor kids are still eating peanut butter and jam!  But here is the reality:  my body deserves to be nourished, and no one else is going to do it for me.  And maybe the best part about it is what I’m teaching my children- that you can easily take good care of yourself even when you are taking care of other people, too. So invest in yourself, because no one else will.  Plan good lunches for the week that you can both look forward to with anticipation, and remember eating without any guilt.

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