It might be too early to talk about lunch…unless you are me! Do you start thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch as soon as you get to work or wherever your first stop of the day happens to be? Once 10 AM hits, I’m consumed with thoughts of soup and sandwiches.
Lunch is my favorite meal of the day, but healthy-wise, lunch foods can be hit or miss. It’s not that it’s so hard to make the right lunch decisions; it’s just so easy to make the wrong ones.
One diet pitfall I often experienced was choosing a healthy, calorie-friendly lunch sandwich…and then wanting the chips or fries that put me over the top. I blame our “Value Meal” oriented culture. It’s hard not to think, “What kind of side do I want with this?” when ordering or packing. I usually crave a crunch with my sandwich, but chips can pack hundreds of calories, saturated fats, weird chemical additives, and no nutrients in a mini bag.
If you can’t wean yourself off chips completely, start with ones that are high in fiber and low in saturated fat. I love TJ’s popped chips and had soy chips every day as my afternoon snack at ELLE. (My intern Aaron gave me a bag as a going away gift; it meant the world to me!) It’s also important to watch portions. I have an open love affair with Food Should Taste Good Tortilla Chips, but just ten chips has 140 calories. It’s worthwhile to be aware of a serving size of your favorite healthy type. And watching out for chips that look healthy, but actually have a considerable amount of fat (Terra Chips–I’m looking at you!).
And there are easy ways to get a little crunch without starting in on the “Once You Pop You Can’t Stop” variety. Here are some ideas!
Apple cut in thin, fry-like shapes
Banana or plantain chips
Crispy Green freeze-dried fruits
Sensible Foods Organic Crunch Dried Sweet Corn (I am considering ordering these by the 24-pack! Yummy!)
Sweet potato fries
Thinly sliced red and orange peppers (a nice upgrade if you like the sweetness of baby carrots)
Salted cucumber slices
Pickles and banana peppers (my interns faithfully ordered these on the side for me every time they’d go out to get Subway for me for lunch; it seems weird at first but it’s perfect)
Kale chips (cut three or four large kale leaves in two-inch pieces, toss with 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and kosher salt; bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees)
It might take a few days to train yourself to enjoy your sandwich sans chips, but you can save calories, include vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and still crunch your lunch!