Being a holiday junkie like I am, I just LOVE March! We have St. Patrick's Day with itsfestive green foods and gifts, and now we move right into Easter! There are so many fun family traditions to start and enjoy through March and April! With faith, family, & fitness being our focus this month, I wanted to suggest some healthy lunch options.
Scenario: it’s 7am, you’re standing in your kitchen staring blankly at your children and then into the fridge thinking, “What in the world am I going to pack my kids for lunch today? That’s quick to make? That they will actually eat? Wait, what am I going to pack MYSELF for lunch today?” Brown bag lunches are notorious for being filled with PB&Js, chips, a cookie, and a napkin, but they can be so much more nutritious and healthy and actually FUN if you just put a little time into thinking ahead!
It falls on us as parents to make sure that our kids are getting the nutrition that they need and that they are not overloading on unhealthy fats, carbs, and high doses of sugar. Thankfully, lunchtime is set at school so they do not fall into the trap of skipping lunch like so many adults tend to do! Did you all know that Zip Lock has specific sectioned Tupperware that is PERFECT for packing lunches? I recently got an email that had the cutest lunch idea: Lambs and Chicks
What’s in this lunch box?
- granola with a sesame seed candy in the lower left compartment. (whole grains)
- Hard boiled egg chick in the upper left (protein)
- Main compartment contains sandwich cut into a lamb (protein + whole grains)
- Carrots, lettuce, red peppers, and red onions. ( all finger veggies, no fork needed!)
- cup of cuties (Fruit)
And just look at all the nutrition that’s packed into one Zip Lock container and yet it is also fun to eat!
Now don’t worry adults, let's forget that you need lunch as well! A great idea is to make your lunch with leftovers. It’s a cost-conscious way of eating that can also be delicious if you play your cards right! A wonderful idea is to use your leftover steak or chicken, mix that protein with some spinach & shiitake mushrooms which are a bona fide superfood with too many benefits to list, and the greens in the salad give you plenty of nutrients. Delicious!
One WONDERFUL salad that I love to prepare for lunches is
Spinach Salad with Balsamic Fig Dressing.
Spinach Salad with Balsamic Fig Dressing
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Fig preserves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- salt to taste
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 (10 oz) package of baby spinach leaves
- ½ Cup Craisins
- 1 cup Strawberries hulled & sliced thin
- 4 oz crumbled Goat Cheese
- 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Mix vinegar, preserves, pepper, mustard, salt, and olive oil in a small bowl with whisk. In a large salad bowl, toss the remaining ingredients together. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve. Top with grilled chicken or salmon! Goes perfectly with homemade pita chips Enjoy!
And who said that sandwiches had to be boring and plain? Most “Fancy” sandwiches you can get at restaurants seriously pack on the pounds, but not these! I am personally a fan of hummus. A great meat-free lunch is a
Veggie and Hummus Sandwich:
- About 1/4 cup hummus
- 3-4 slices tomato
- 1/4 red bell pepper (I like to cut it into matchsticks)
- Spinach leaves
- Whole wheat bread or whole wheat pita (my favorite)
- salt, pepper, and olive oil
One last recipe for you to add to your collection is one that can be served up as a meal, a side, or can stay in you fridge all week to be added to salads as well!
Farro with Feta, Cucumbers and Sun-dried Tomatoes from Skinnytaste.com
Servings: 4 • Serving Size: 1 cup • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 4 pts Calories: 241 • Fat: 6.5 g • Protein: 9.1 g • Carb: 39.1 g • Fiber: 5.8 g • Sugar: 1.9 g Sodium: 177.3 mg (without salt) Ingredients:
- 1 cup uncooked pearled farro (Earthfare or Whole Foods)
- 2 tbsp minced red onion
- 1/4 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup fresh grated feta
- 2/3 cup finely chopped cucumber, seeds removed
- 1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp finely chopped mint or parsley
- kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste Directions:Cook farro in salted water according to package directions until al dente, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and let cool.
Lunch is so necessary to keep our energy up and refuel us for the day ahead. It can be quick and simple, yet super nutritious if you just put some thought into it! What else can be quick and simple? A lunchtime workout! A 25-minute quick yet effective strength workout during your lunch break (I recommend pre-lunch) can burn just as many calories as a run, yet you are building muscle which in turn will continue to burn calories ALL DAY and leave you feeling refreshed without all the sweat so you can easily return to work!
REV YOUR METABOLISM LUNCH TIME WORKOUT!!!
Up your usual weights by two pounds (you’ll burn more calories and really rev your metabolism) and do 12-15 reps of each move below, resting 30 seconds between sets (longer rests mean you’ll be less drippy!). SQUEEZE in as many sets as time allows.
1. Plank Hold with Hand Tap From a push up position, alternate touching each hand to the opposite shoulder.
2. Reverse Lunge with Dumbbell Curl Hold weights at your sides, then step back into a lunge with your left foot while curling the dumbbells to your chest. Lower them as you return to standing, then repeat on the other side.
3. Tricep Kickbacks Stand with feet slightly bent and engage your core. Bring weights to your shoulders, bending elbows & kick them back extending the arm straight. Return to the starting position and repeat.
4.Tone Legs, Glutes, and Hips with a Squat jump
Squat down feet shoulder width apart & jump high arms going straight over head! Repeat for 12 to 18 repetitions.
5. Target Abs and Waistline with a Dumbbell reach crunch
Lie back on a mat with legs extended toward the ceiling, perpendicular over hips. Hold one dumbbell with both hands, and reach up toward your left toes, lifting shoulders as high as you can while curling torso off the floor. Hold for two counts, then return to starting position. Reach up to right toes, hold, come down, and continue alternating side-to-side reaches 18 to 24 reps per side.
Hope you enjoy these lunchtime foods & activities! Blessings, Caroline