With all the emphasis on how important it is to start the day with a satisfying, low-carb breakfast and planning ahead for a delicious evening meal, sometimes lunch becomes a sad little afterthought. But it is just as important, if not sometimes more important, as those other meals. If you don’t put any thought into lunch, it makes it that much easier to resort to fast food or skip it all together, which can lead to cravings and hunger, not to mention a huge energy slump. All of this could easily bring you full circle right back where you started on your journey to better health and weight loss.
If you’ve had your share of ham and turkey lettuce wraps, and you’re ready to spice things up so that lunch is once again a special part of your day, here some fresh new ideas:
You can’t go wrong with tuna salad, chicken salad or egg salad, which are all perfectly acceptable on Atkins. You can make them in advance, and experiment with different spices like curry or these recipes for Canned Tuna and Artichoke Salad or Roasted Chicken Salad.
Spoon them over a bed of mixed greens with chopped cucumber and grape tomatoes, as a sandwich filling between leaves of romaine lettuce or wrapped in a low-carb tortilla. One of the best resources for a healthy, well-balanced lunch remains the salad bar. But before you hit the bar, beware of salad dressings that can drown your diet in carbs. Whether you’re at home, at your desk or ordering out, Caesar, Cobb and chef salads work great as well.
Bring on the bowls: Take any of your leftover protein (steak, poultry, fish or tofu), and make it the start of a satisfying bowl. Toss with mushrooms, broccoli, salad greens, squash, zucchini, bell peppers, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, sliced jicama or whatever vegetables you have on hand. Toss in some tamari, sesame oil, ginger and garlic for an Asian flavor, salsa and guac for a taste of the Southwest or Italian vinaigrette for a Mediterranean twist.
Love your leftovers: Lunch is even easier when you have delicious low-carb leftovers from the night before to feast on. I always make extra servings of a few dinner recipes each week so I can easily heat them up the next day (or even freeze a few servings for those weeks when all the time you have is to pull something from the freezer, defrost and reheat).
Breakfast or dinner for lunch: You can whip up an omelet loaded with your favorite vegetables, some shredded cheese or meat to make a deliciously different lunch. Or go ahead and treat yourself to a steak, a chicken breast or a wonderful piece of fish with a side of veggies for lunch—they’re not just for dinner. It’s a great way to beat lunchtime boredom.
Hopefully these ideas will help get you out of your lunchtime rut!