Packing a healthy lunch each day can be time-consuming and well, a drag. Between balancing work, having a social life, and spending time with family, I understand how, even with the best of intentions, eating healthfully can be put on the back burner. As a dietitian, people are always asking me what I eat in general—and specifically, for lunch. In this column, you'll get a peek at what myself and members of my nutrition practice, Nutritious Life, are brown-bagging. Here, you'll learn the foods we like to pack up and perhaps pick up some healthful tips.
What's the deal with the meal?
• Balsamic-grilled chicken sandwich with ½ avocado
• Arugula side salad with lentils and veggies
NL: What did you enjoy most about your lunch?
A: The grilled chicken and avocado for sure. I love the combination of these two foods. The rich but subtle taste of avocado goes well with grilled chicken—especially this balsamic chicken I make regularly. I try to add avocado to my sandwiches whenever possible. I always remind my clients that avocados are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fat. Studies show that people who eat avocados on a regular basis can significantly improve their cholesterol levels. The fat content is actually a plus because it helps you (and me!) feel satisfied. This sandwich is my go-to because its super easy to throw together after dinner while cleaning up the dishes.
NL: Why the side salad?
A: I love to warm up with lentil soup in the winter; during the summer I like to sprinkle lentils onto cold salads. I always keep crudités and fresh lettuce in my refrigerator, so throwing together a salad is a no-brainer. Lentils are packed with fiber and protein, and they taste so good! These little guys are great because they're really versatile—I use them in tuna salads, vegetable dishes, or top them with a pinch of salt and pepper and eat them plain. I keep my own dressing in the fridge at work, because I prefer to use cold-pressed olive oil, lemon, and herbs and spices rather than processed dressings. I always remind my clients that store-bought dressings can be loaded with calories and filled with sugar, so homemade is the way to go. I don't like to dress my salads before work because by the time I get around to eating them in the afternoon the lettuce is soggy, and who likes that?
NL: Is there anything you wish you had packed differently?
A: Hmmm. I have to admit at around 4:00 p.m. I found myself wandering into the kitchen for an afternoon snack. Normally, I bring fresh fruit for the afternoon but it completely slipped by mind… oops! Sometimes I can't control my sweet tooth and I need just a bite of something yummy to satisfy my craving. I ended up sneaking a frozen strawberry greek yogurt pop that was sent to our office. At home, I like to make my own fruit pops with greek yogurt and sliced strawberries and bananas, they're delish! They have less sugar than most commercial frozen ice pop brands so they're a great healthy treat. Ooo, the tables have turned… I like being interviewed!
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Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the U.S. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored three books: Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on Youtube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!