Brown Bag Lunch: Turning Leftovers Into Salad

Last night's dinner is today's tasty lunch

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Happy Monday, everyone! Can you believe that February is almost over? It's been so cold and gloomy that I'm sure most of us can appreciate that spring is less than a month away. Mondays are a little like spring. They're each week's new beginning, when we can forgive and forget any weekend slip-ups and get back on track with our healthy habits. Many of us fall into that cycle of amping up our health habits at the beginning of the new week, month, season, or year. But why wait until then to be the best you? Make a commitment to your health now. That's my challenge for you all today and during this last week of February: Make new goals, or revisit to the resolutions you set out to conquer on January 1. And don't forget that we're in this together!

Follow this blog, in which I describe what members of my nutrition practice, Nutritious Life, are bringing to lunch. Hopefully, you'll love our delicious and filling foods, and be surprised at just how easy it can be to eat healthfully all year long.

Today, I'll let you peek into my lunch bag.

What's in the bag?

  • A salad of mozzarella, tomato, roasted chicken breast, and spinach
  • Green tea bag
  • NL: What's your favorite part of the meal?

    K: I love my salads, because every ingredient I include is jam-packed with flavor and nutrients. I find salads super easy to make in the mornings, even when I'm in a mega rush. Simply toss together any combination of veggies and protein sources, and voila—a delicious, healthy, and satisfying lunch! This particular salad was inspired by a yummy caprese appetizer I had the night before. I just deconstructed the layers and threw it on top of some baby spinach. I often tell my clients to do the same: Pick one of your favorite meals, and find a creative way to turn it into a healthy salad. Leftover tofu stir-fry, for example, can be thrown over arugula.

    The chicken was left over from a dinner I made for the kids. When I make dinner, I usually cook extra servings of the lean protein so that I can eat leftovers for the next day's lunch or even dinner. In this case, I love how simple it was to make something so delicious that I can look forward to all morning.

    I'm a dietitian, so we've got to talk nutrients, too! The mozzarella is a great source of calcium, which many of us struggle to get enough of. Plus, the protein in the chicken and fiber in the spinach helps me feel satisfied and full all afternoon. I topped the salad with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar because I am not a naked salad kind of girl.

    NL: And why the green tea?

    K: Honestly, I was in too much of a rush to grab a side or snack, and I knew I was low on tea in the office. I love green tea every mid-morning or afternoon, because it warms me up in the winter. Plus, it contains more antioxidants than even some of our beloved fruits and veggies. It's also been shown to help us burn more body fat when we exercise, and green-tea drinkers tend to weigh less and have lower body mass indexes. Green tea is truly a super drink that's easy to throw in your lunch bag.

    NL: Is there anything you wish you had packed differently?

    K: I forgot my snack! I should have grabbed a green apple and a packet of nut butter to go. Instead, I stole almonds from my coworker's desk!

    Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

    Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the country. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her fourth book, The New You and Improved Diet, will be released in December. 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!