Luscious Lose Weight Lunches
Energy levels are often falling by lunchtime and it is tempting, if you are trying to lose weight, to think about missing lunch altogether. But don't, it's invariably a mistake, unless it is a planned fast day, as often by later in the afternoon you will be starving and then you are likely to reach for whatever is at hand which may well be biscuits, cakes or crisps.
If you are trying to lose weight, every meal and snack you have is important so do plan them, and take time to enjoy them, Whether you are at work, in an office, shop, factory, outdoors, or at home.Try whenever possible to STOP for lunch and savour it a bit, this is easier when you have some lovely, tasty, nutritious food to eat.
Many of the lunches work well if they need to be packed to take to work. But if this is the case then do make sure they are stored in a refrigerator, especially when the weather is warm. Not only is food which is meant to served chilled not very appetising if it is warm, limp lettuce is simply never a winner, but other food can be a health hazard if left get warm in a car or in bag by your desk.
The video below talks about food safety for children's packed lunches, but the principles are just the same for adults.
Food Safety for Packed Lunches
Pates, Dips and Crudités
This has to rank as one of my favourite sort of lunches because you can eat loads of crudités, which makes you feel like you are having a lot to eat, but if they are made from cucumber, celery, carrots or peppers they contain very few calories. Crunchy vegetables also take a while to chew which means you can spend quite a while actually eating!
In terms of the dips,try hummus or cottage cheese, both naturally low calorie and nutritious and they can often be bought in handy sized containers to take to work or presented in an attractive way for a lunch to share. You can also try making a bean dip yourself by whizzing a can of butter or cannellini beans with a tablespoon of Greek yoghurt, and some spring onions and garlic. Guacamole is also great for dipping.
My own favourite great dip is home made mackerel pate. Simply put a smoked mackerel fillet (skin removed) or a small tin of mackerel, drained, in a blender with a tablespoon of Greek yogurt, some salt, pepper and a dessert spoon of lemon juice. Then blend until it is the desired texture. I like it quite 'chunky' so in fact I often make it without the blender by simply making the mackerel with a fork and then working in the other ingredients. This recipe also works well with tinned tuna.
At this time of year salads are a great lunch option. It is possible to make a different salad every day for weeks. Start with lots of salad veg, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, using different varieties of lettuce, adding radishes for example or peppers, then ring the changes by swopping ingredients, use crispy hearts of romaine one day, rocket the next, change cherry tomatoes for larger ones, alternate between red onions, white, or spring onions and you can change the look and taste of the salad every time you make one.
Next, add a few interesting 'veg' items, artichokes or avocado, olives or sugar snap peas, but just be aware that some vegetables are more calorific than others.
Then add some protein, try fish like mackerel, or tuna, meat such as chicken breasts or lean ham or beef or maybe cheese such as feta but again be aware of the fat and calories in cheese so only very small portions unless it is a naturally low fat cheese.
You can also use beans, lentils and eggs as protein. I love butter beans with tomatoes for example, and don't forget about fruit, seeds and nuts. To add nutrients as well as interest try using pine nuts or pumpkin seeds in your salad.
Dressings make salads really come to life but if you are losing weight try using lemon juice or balsamic vinegar as a dressing and if you are taking it as a packed lunch I suggest not dressing the salad (if it contains leaves) until just before you eat it or the leaves can go really soggy.
These have got to be a winter favourite but on days at home in the summer I also enjoy them.
I never personally use tinned or shop bought soups because HONESTLY they are so easy to make.
For a really simple (low calorie) tomato soup simply skin and chop 4 large tomatoes then place in a saucepan with some chopped onion, chopped or crushed garlic, salt pepper and basil. Add about 250 mls of stock bring to boil then simmer over a low heat for 20 mins then blend.
Mushroom soup is also super easy - simply sauté some roughly sliced mushrooms (about 200g)and a finely chopped onion in a small amount of butter then add 250 mls of stock, seasoning, herbs and simmer for 20 minutes and then blend. I also like to add some milk or cream towards the end but of course this does 'up' the fat and calorie count of the soup.
Smooth soups can be made with any vegetable combination you like - leek and potato, butternut squash, carrot and coriander, red pepper and tomato the list is almost endless. If you are conscious of the calories and trying to lose weight then avoid potatoes or pasta in the soups and miss out the additional fats like cream and butter which make soups richer (and often tastier) and opt for a small amount of natural yoghurt instead.
But not all soups need to be blended, chunky vegetable soups are great too. Try simply putting some chopped carrot, onion, green pepper, leek and tomato in a pan with some seasoning, herbs and stock and cook for 30 minutes for a tasty filling soup, adjust the vegetables used according to your own tastes.
Remember too that lentils and beans can be used to make tasty low fat, protein rich soups
Meal times are made to enjoy so follow these principles to make sure you eat well, enjoy your food and can then lose weight.
Never say never to any food BUT choices have consequences, if you want to lose weight, some foods need to be restricted
- Fill up on fresh vegetables and salad
- Make sure protein portion would fit in the palm of your hand
- Opt for low fat dressings
- Remember fruit can make a great lunch and it is usually easy to transport
- Don't wait until lunchtime to decide what you will eat - it's too easy to reach for the wrong food
- Enjoy your food - pick the foods you like to make a salad or a soup
- Try to vary lunches, a salad one day, soup another etc
I confess to being an egg fan and on days I am at home I enjoy a variety of tasty egg based lunches.
- One of my favourites is simple scrambled eggs served with smoked salmon and cherry tomatoes, it's quick and easy to prepare low in calories and fat, and it's very tasty.
- Frittatas are also a favourite but I tend to use spinach or another green vegetable like courgettes instead of potatoes and I try to use just a dribble of oil. Served with some rocket and tomatoes it feels like a filling meal. Frittatas can of course be served cold so if you make it in advance and chill, it is an option for a pack up.
- Poached eggs are also good to have, maybe with baked beans (harder to take as a packed lunch) or try serving on a bed of spinach, or adding to a fresh green salad. Boiled eggs are a firm favourite in salads, I like them with olives, capers and tuna served on a bed of simple lettuce and dressed with wine vinegar, I do like them with mayonnaise but it just adds extra calories.