Whether you’re cooking or ordering, here are three ways to make lunch lighter, healthier, and just as satisfying
It may not own the distinction “most important meal of the day” but that midday repast deserves just as much thought and attention to calories, fat, and overall nutrition. “It’s easy for lunch to get very heavy, very quickly,” says Brett Sherman, director of food and nutrition services for CareOne at Concord in Concord, MA. “Reaching for a sandwich at lunchtime means two slices of bread or a roll, and condiments that are high in fat and salt.” Sherman has a few tips for making lunch a little lighter and a lot healthier without skimping on taste or a happy belly.
Cut the Carbs
“Bread and pasta are calorie-dense carbohydrates that shouldn’t be eliminated from your diet, but they can be easily reduced,” Sherman says. He recommends sandwiches be made with tortilla wraps instead of bread; or skip the sandwich and toss together a chef’s salad. “The ham, turkey, and eggs in that salad are great sources of protein, and protein heals wounds.” Sherman adds that fresh fruit or low-sodium tomato juice or V8 can be an enjoyable, nutrient-rich side dish instead of a heavy plate of pasta. “Fruit is a sweet, high-calorie carb, but the health benefits outweigh the downside,” he says, so long as the fruit is fresh and not canned in sugary syrup.
Hold the Mayo
Here’s a whopper of a food statistic: 99.9 percent of the calories found in mayonnaise come from fat. Sherman says whenever possible, skip the mayo and “get used to olive oil and vinegar, or low-fat Italian dressing.” Either works on a sandwich or mixed in tuna fish, which Sherman calls a solid protein choice: “It’s easy to make and has a long shelf life.” Although mustard is a fat-free condiment, it tends to be salty. Mayonnaise delivers a load of sodium, too.
Spice It Up
In an effort to lighten up on sodium, “Experiment with different herbs and spices,” advises Sherman. He recommends the Mrs. Dash line of seasoning blends, which is big on taste and totally salt-free. “Even simple onion powder can replace mayo in tuna salad.”