How to Eat Better Meal by Meal – Lunch

It’s easy to get in the habit of eating lunches out or settling for the same old boring lunch from home. It doesn’t have to be that way. Keep your taste buds excited at lunchtime with these simple, healthy, and delicious ideas. Not only will you eat better, but you’ll reap some unexpected rewards.

Download On Track with Barix: Eat Better Meal by Meal – Lunch

The High Cost of Eating Out

The average restaurant meal has 250 more calories than a meal prepared at home. Those extra calories really add up—about 62,500 (or 18 pounds worth) in a year. Calories aren’t the only thing restaurant meals will cost you; the average person who eats most meals out spends an extra $1000 or more a year.  What would you do with an extra $1000 right now?

But, I Have No Time

If you add up the time spent getting to and from the restaurant or cafeteria, standing in line to order, and waiting for your food to be prepared; you may realize that you really do have time to make a lunch. Sure, there’s a need to plan, shop, and prepare, but with some simple tips, you’ll make great lunches in no time. Then, instead of running out to lunch, you’ll have time to relax and savor your meal.

But, Brown Bag Lunches are Boring

It’s easy to fall into a ho-hum lunch routine, but it doesn’t have to be that way. A little extra effort and creativity goes a long way. Sometimes making a lunch meal special is as simple as adding an ingredient, sauce or dressing. Keep reading  for great ideas on upping your lunch game.

Plan Ahead

A little pre-planning makes life easier.  A simple way to start is to make a list of your favorite healthy lunch foods.  When planning for other family members, be sure to get their input and ideas.  It sounds elementary, but having that list in front of you lets you see just how many options there are. Then, once a week, review your list and decide which foods you’d like to have the following week. If you’re cost conscience, check the grocery store sales flyer first and include dinner left-overs.  Finally, put the foods and ingredients on your grocery list and hit the store.

Meal Prep

There is no right way to meal prep and it may be a little different depending on the menu. To keep foods from getting soggy, pack dressings and sauces in separate containers and be sure to purchase microwave-safe containers for reheating.

  • Cut up veggies and cook protein, leaving assembly for the night before.
  • Assemble an entire week’s worth of meals all at one time.
  • Make a large pot of chili, soup or an entree and freeze in individual portion containers.
  • Cycle your favorites—chicken salad this week, black bean chili next week, and beef stew the third week. That way you’ll have minimal food prep time.
  • Leftovers are a good lunch option. You may want to purposely prepare more for dinner meals so you’ll have extra to pack.
  • Utilize healthy pre-packaged foods. Individual packs are convenient and have the added advantage of controlling portions. Just to name a few: tuna, cottage cheese, string cheese, yogurt, fruit cups, crackers, raisins, and soup all come in single-serving packages.
  • Another route is to buy foods in bulk and then divide it up into single-serving reusable containers. This takes a bit more time and dishwashing, but is almost always a big money-saver and better for the environment.

Packing Tips

  • Pack your lunch the night before to keep your mornings stress-free. Another good option is to take a week’s worth of lunches and stock the work refrigerator.
  • Have the right type of containers on hand. The inexpensive semi-disposable type are fine for salads and sandwiches, but you’ll want something microwave safe for hot foods. Newer thermos containers hold soups hot until mealtime. Small dressing, condiment, sauce containers keep foods from getting soggy.
  • Get equipped with a lunch bag. Brown paper bags and plastic sandwich bags still work just fine, but there are lots of other options. An insulated lunch bag and a re-freezable ice pack will help your lunch to stay safe and fresh if there isn’t a refrigerator available. Some lunch boxes have handy built-in dividers.
  • While you’re at it, be sure to take along calorie-free beverages and healthy high-protein snacks to round out your work day.

Put a little extra effort into your lunches for some extra pizzazz. Here are some ideas to keep your lunch hour fresh and exciting.

Salads

  • Top your greens and veggies with hard-cooked eggs, thinly-sliced steak, tuna, shrimp, low-fat cheese, beans, taco meat/fat-free sour cream/avocado/salsa, or chicken for a protein-rich lunch.
  • Tomato and cucumber salad–add feta cheese, olive oil and vinegar, and tuna salad. Eat alone or in a wrap.
  • Fluff—Gotta love this quick easy lunch or snack treat. Sprinkle sugar-free gelatin powder on fat-free cottage cheese and add a couple tablespoons of sugar-free Cool Whip.  Mix together and you have a high-protein treat.  Add fruit if desired.

 Sandwiches

Interesting sandwiches are a welcome change from the ordinary.  Use wraps, low carb tortillas, pita bread, light bread, or lettuce wraps. Add low fat Miracle Whip or mayo, pesto, alfalfa sprouts, avocado, fresh basil, sliced cucumbers, onions, greens, tomatoes or horseradish sauce. Cut your sandwich into small strips to remind yourself to take small bites and chew well.

  • California wrap—Mix together chopped ham, shredded low-fat cheese, lettuce, tomato and low-fat Italian dressing. Wrap in a whole-wheat tortilla just prior to serving.
  • Chicken salad—Make your favorite low-fat version and eat it by itself or with a few crackers.
  • Ham roll-ups—fat-free cream cheese spread on lean deli ham, then rolled up make a delicious lunch. Add green onions if desired.
  • Deli rolls—choose your favorite low-fat deli meat (roast beef, chicken, turkey, or ham), add your favorite accompaniments (low-fat cheese, fat-free cream cheese, veggies, and mustard) and roll up in a light wrap, low carb tortilla, or lettuce wrap.
  • Grilled chicken Caesar pita–fill a whole wheat pita with mixed greens, grilled chicken and light Caesar dressing.
  • PB& J–peanut butter and no-added-sugar jelly on light bread or crackers, or dip banana or apple slices in peanut butter.

Bento Box Lunch

Bento boxes (divided containers) are a great way to pack a portion-controlled lunch with lots of variety. Fill up the containers with a variety of healthy foods like light cheese, lean meat, hard cooked eggs, veggies, fresh fruit, and your lunch is done.

Drinks

  • Smoothie—when you don’t have time to chew well, consider a smoothie. Use milk, yogurt, cottage cheese or protein powder as a protein source.
  • Ready-to-drink protein drinks are the ultimate in convenience and great to have on hand for those times when nothing on your eating plan is available.

Dairy

  • Greek Yogurt is naturally high in protein—add fresh fruit.
  • Cottage Cheese is a quick lunch option. Add fresh or canned fruit (packed in water).
  • Fairlife milk has 13 grams of protein per cup for a light lunch.

Mexican

  • Spread refried beans on a low carb tortilla and heat. Top with lettuce, tomato, salsa, guacamole and shredded cheddar.
  • Heat taco meat and top with a small dollop of sour cream and salsa for a satisfying lunch.
  • Prep Mexican bowls for the week: start with a base of chicken, salsa, and black or refried beans and divide into microwave safe containers. Portion out shredded lettuce, diced tomato, jalapeno peppers (optional), and a slice of avocado in a separate set of containers.
  • Top a salad with black beans, pico de gallo, taco meat, and avocado slices

Hors d’oeuvres

  • Hummus—eat it with pita bread, or better yet, fresh veggies.
  • Layer lean ham and cheese with cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes.
  • Wrap lean deli meat around a piece of string cheese and round out with fresh fruit.
  • Shrimp cocktail—buy peeled, cooked and frozen. Thaw out just what you need and add a little cocktail sauce and lemon.

Hot Meals

  • Meal prep really comes in handy if you enjoy lunch hot. Make up larger portions, put in microwave safe containers and refrigerate or freeze until time to eat.
  • Soups are a great lunch choice as the weather turns cold or the building’s air conditioner is a little too effective. Select broth based soups, chicken or beef chili, or stews. Add in extra protein (think rotisserie chicken) to boost protein.
  • Last night’s dinner or that way-too-large restaurant meal is perfect reheated for the next day’s lunch.

Where lunch is concerned, a little extra effort goes a long way to engaging your taste buds and enjoyment.

White Chicken Chili 

1-1/2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper sauce
2 cans (15.8 oz size) great northern beans
1 can (15.25 oz size) corn (chickpeas may be substituted)
2 Tbsp. Fresh cilantro, chopped

Place chicken, onion, garlic, broth, cumin, oregano, salt, and red pepper sauce in a large pot. Add water to cover chicken. Cook on medium heat until chicken done. Use a meat thermometer in the largest part of the breast to insure that a safe temperature of 180° is reached. Remove chicken from the pan, shred and return to the pot. Add beans, cilantro and additional water if needed. Cook for an additional 20 minutes and serve. Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 150 calories, 23 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 17 grams
carbohydrate, 466 mg sodium.

South of the Border Lettuce Wraps

3 cups chicken breast, cooked and cubed
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
½ cup salsa
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
1 can (4 oz) green chilies, chopped
¼ cup sweet red pepper, finely chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup reduced fat sour cream
12 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves

In a large bowl, combine the first 11 ingredients.  Refrigerate until serving.  Stir in avocado just before serving.

Place ½ cup chicken mixture on each lettuce leaf.  Top with 2 teaspoons of sour cream.  Fold lettuce over mixture to make a wrap.  Makes 12 small wraps.

Nutrition information per serving:  130 calories, 13 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 239 mg sodium.

 

Posted in On Track With Barix Newsletter | Comments Off on How to Eat Better Meal by Meal – Lunch

Want to Conquer the Holidays this Year? Keep a Gratitude Journal

Fresh tips to help you do just that.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

A surprising choice impacts our health as much as the foods we eat and the exercise we do; an outlook of gratitude. This is something we all can have. It comes naturally for some, but most of us need to work at being grateful. You might be surprised to find just how important gratitude is and how easy it is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Most of us find it pretty easy to feel grateful when we land an amazing job, someone goes out of their way to help us, or we walk away from a car accident unscathed. Ordinary daily life presents a wealth of opportunities to feel grateful if we just tune in. At our frenzied pace, cultivating gratitude for the little things throughout the day takes effort, but you may find that it is easier than you think.

Science backs up this connection between our sense of gratitude and our health. Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough are psychologists who specialize in gratitude research and they have found a very clear link between being grateful and health. Their studies show the impressive benefits of keeping a gratitude journal or gratitude list. Those who journal their gratitude exercise more, report fewer physical symptoms, feel better about life as a whole, are more optimistic, are more likely to make progress towards important personal goals, and have higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination and attentiveness. Quite a list!

Posted in Barix Healthful Tips | Comments Off on Want to Conquer the Holidays this Year? Keep a Gratitude Journal

Want to Conquer the Holidays this Year?

Fresh tips to help you do just that.

Fruit Dip

1 Carton Dannon Triple Zero Greek yogurt
4 oz cream cheese, fat-free
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp stevia or other sweetener

Place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix with hand mixer until smooth and creamy.

Serve with fresh fruit. Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving:  59 calories, 7 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 7 grams carbohydrate, 191 mg sodium.

Posted in Barix Recipes | Comments Off on Want to Conquer the Holidays this Year?

Want to Conquer the Holidays this Year?

Fresh tips to help you do just that.

Holiday Shopping

  • Wear a pedometer and keep track of your steps. Shoot for at least 10,000 steps a day. Hit your goal by doing at least some of your shopping at stores rather than online.
  • Don’t skip meals and take a healthy snack or two with you; being famished makes it harder to resist mall indulgences. A portion of almonds or a protein bar work great for this circumstance.
  • Keep shopping stress to a minimum by making a list, keeping it simple, and buying items on sale. Set and stick to a budget. Talk to family about setting dollar limits on gifts, draw names to limit the number of gifts to buy, or cut back on who you purchase gifts for. The financial strain of overspending can derail your peace of mind and health.
  • Consider gifts that help others to live a healthy lifestyle–a yoga mat, an olive oil sprayer or mister, a massage gift certificate, a fruit basket, a pedometer, a subscription to a health magazine, or other health-inspiring gifts.
Posted in Barix Healthful Tips | Comments Off on Want to Conquer the Holidays this Year?

Want to Conquer the Holidays this Year?

Fresh tips to help you do just that.

Best Brownies

1/4 lb butter (1 stick)
2 cups erythritol (powdered, not granulated)
1 Tbsp vanilla
4 eggs (room temp is best)
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp salt
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 cups flax seed meal
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup cream
2/3 cup water
1 cup Splenda or Stevia
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a 9X13 pan.

Cream the butter until fluffy. Add powdered erythritol and cream them together until fully combined with a fluffy texture.  Add vanilla.  Beat eggs into the mixture, one at a time. Add salt and cocoa, beat well. Add chocolate, beat until fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine.

Pour mixture into a pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until top springs back or a toothpick comes out clean. Cool. Cut into 32 squares. Makes 32 servings.

Nutrition information per serving:  120 calories, 4 grams protein, 11 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, 107 mg sodium.

Posted in Barix Recipes | Comments Off on Want to Conquer the Holidays this Year?