In this blog I’ll cover the importance of protein as part of a balanced lunch, and share a selection of different lunch recipes that you can try.
Power of protein
From a nutrition point of view, protein content in lunches is often too low resulting in mid-afternoon energy crashes and craving stimulants such as coffee or cake.
As an approximation if you wish to maintain your current weight, guidelines suggest 0.75g protein per day per kg body weight.
As an example, if you weigh 11 stone you should aim for 53g protein per day. Approximate protein examples include:
- Chicken breast contains 35g protein
- A tin of tuna contains 25g protein
- An egg contains 6g protein
In effect a 70kg person should have almost a full tin of tuna for lunch assuming an egg for breakfast and chicken breast for dinner. The government guidelines for protein consumption are 50g protein per day which as a registered Nutritional Therapist I think is a little low.
To help compare brands to identify which is the healthier brand, look at the per 100g column on food labels. If you have no known health concerns focus on the amount of protein in bought lunches. If your cholesterol is a little high, choose items with lower saturated fat. If you have hypertension choose lunches which are low in salt, and if you are diabetic choose lunch options which have lower sugar content.
Sandwiches, wraps or pitta bread
Some people have uncomfortable bloating feelings after eating sliced bread sandwiches. Replace sliced bread with wraps or pitta bread and see if the bloating resolves itself in a couple of days.
Here are some lunch ideas you can make at home to tempt taste buds:
- 2 handfuls of spinach (high in iron)
- 2 tsp lemon juice (to help activate the iron in spinach)
- ½ red pepper sliced (high in vitamin C)
- Handful of pomegranate seeds (antioxidants)
- Handful olives
- 1 tbsp pine nuts
- Palm size amount of protein (chicken, fish, 2 eggs, feta or goats cheese)
Method: mix all ingredients together and add other vegetables if desired.
Baked sweet potato
- 1 large sweet potato (baked)
- Toppings (beans, guacamole and salad)
Method: bake potato and fill with toppings
Quinoa vegetable mix
- 1 cup quinoa (cooked)
- Dressing (tahini, apple cider vinegar, ½ mashed avocado)
- Fresh or cooked vegetables
Method: Mix all together once each has been cooked.
- 2/3 cup brown rice
- 1 carrot grated
- Handful tomatoes
- ½ avocado sliced
- Sesame seeds
Method: cook the rice and once drained add the vegetables to the top adding the final piece - the hummous.
- 1 potato
- ½ onion finely chopped
- 1 medium egg whisked
- 1 tsp plain flour
- Olive oil to cook
- Handful mushrooms and tomatoes grilled (to serve)
Method: peel then grate the potato. Mix with other ingredients. Heat oil in hot pan. Divide the mixture into two and cook for 10 to 12 minutes each side or until golden brown. Serve with grilled mushrooms and tomatoes.
- 250g carrots peeled and finely chopped
- 250g sweet potato peeled and chopped
- 100ml can coconut milk
- ½ garlic clove
Method: Boil potatoes and steam carrots until cooked. Blend both together adding coconut milk and garlic. Add pepper to season.
Written by: The Natural Alternative Health & Wellbeing Ltd
The Natural Alternative Health & Wellbeing Ltd was founded in 2006 by Anjanette Fraser whose previous career was in Corporate Finance at PricewaterhouseCoopers, London. With a previous career in finance and studying a MSc in Nutritional Medicine, Anjanette translates the latest scientific research into an easier to understand format to improve employee health, and making healthcare more accessible by bringing Nutrition health professionals into the workplace.