I hope you enjoyed reading part one of my blog series, but if you didn't have a read of it now, Simple Food Swaps For Breakfast. In this part, part two, I share with you my healthy food swaps for lunch.
Ideally, we would all be packing our own lunches and eating only whole foods made from the freshest ingredients. But in the real world, we know that's not always possible. There is so much choice for lunches these days, and I'm really relieved to see that the number of healthy options are increasing all the time.
Working towards a healthier lifestyle doesn't have to mean making a thousand big changes all of a sudden. Taking it step by step and making gradual adaptations makes a big difference over time, and soon making healthier choices becomes second nature. So let’s move on to some healthy options for your lunch.
#1 Swap pasta for quinoa
Pasta in itself isn’t necessarily an unhealthy food source, especially if you choose wholegrain pasta. But many of those pasta lunches you can buy, are often white pasta, and come covered in some kind of sauce or dressing that often contains all sorts of questionable ingredients.
More and more lunch choices include quinoa now. Quinoa comes out top trumps for its high protein and fibre content, and it's low in fat. Being an actual seed as oppose to being made from ground wheat, it’s great for those going gluten-free, too. As an extra health bonus, quinoa’s low glycaemic index will leave you fuller for longer too, win, win!
#2 Swap white bread for wholegrain pita or wraps
With very little fibre and a high glycaemic index (GI), white bread is likely to spike your blood sugar, meaning that afternoon slump will hit you hard! That’s because foods with a high GI often cause a “rebound” drop in your blood sugar, which is responsible for the energy crash and cravings that may hit later on in the day.
By swapping white bread for whole grain bread, pitas, wraps or bagels, you are giving your body a filling and nutritious boost in fibre. Plus, whole grains are great for your heart! A high intake of whole grains has also been associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and obesity, as this British Medical Journal article suggests.
#3 Swap butter and mayonnaise for mashed avocado
When it comes to healthy eating, I always say to people that it's not just about limiting certain unhealthy foods, it's also about getting in more of the good stuff.
So, yes you can still have a buttery, creamy addition to your lunchtime bagel, pitta or wrap, but you can pack it full of goodness if you switch butter and mayonnaise for mashed avocado. This superfood is naturally fatty, with a rich and creamy texture and lower in calories and fat per tablespoon. Full of filling fibre, potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins and more, their mayonnaise-like texture make them the perfect substitute for it and things like butter in certain dishes. A case in point: the ever present but very delicious avocado toast. It’s also great in chocolate avocado cheesecakes too! Add avocado to whole-wheat bread, pitta or wrap, add some more protein such as lean fish, chicken or beans, and your lunch will be a healthy powerhouse, full of the right kind of fats and proteins to keep you fuller and more satisfied!
Bonus Tip: Make cashew mayo by soaking cashews in water overnight then draining and blending with avocado oil, lemon juice, vinegar, fresh garlic, fresh herbs, mustard and seasoning.
I hope this blog post has given you some ideas of ways that you can make healthier lunch swaps. Even some of the meal deals offer healthy choices now, so you don't have get literally weighed down by your lunch choice. Enjoy your more colourful lunch, and let me know in the comments how you get on, or share any other lunch swap ideas.