Leftover takeout or a simple sandwich may make for a quick and easy lunch, but a nutritionally lame midday meal just sets us up for a wicked afternoon slump.
If you want to power a productive, energized afternoon—whether you’re at the gym or in the office—you’ve got to step up your lunch game. The following nutritionist-created lunches are not only jam-packed with superfood ingredients, but they’re also crazy-delicious, satisfying, and easy to make.
If you love a bowl but need to control your Chipotle habit, this Buddha bowl from dietitian Sharon Palmer, R.D.N., makes for a hearty and nutritious lunch. Made with the whole grain sorghum, fresh vegetables like asparagus and cucumbers, avocado, and white beans, it’s a great plant-powered meal you don’t have to be vegan to love. (The green goddess dressing is to die for.) Plus, the recipe yields four servings, so you can make and pack yourself a whole week’s worth of lunches in one shot.
“This one of my favorite superfood lunches, and it only takes 10 minutes to make,” says nutrition coach Malorie Thompson, PNL1. The arugula offers an impressive dose of micronutrients, like vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, and manganese. Then, the oranges add vitamin C while the avocados provide healthy fats to keep you satisfied.
If your idea of a salad is iceberg lettuce topped with dry croutons and shredded cheddar cheese, this recipe will change everything you thought you knew about what a salad can be.
“This salad will help you stay full while also providing the important nutrients and calories you need to keep you working at your best,” says Davidson, MS.c., R.D.
Taco Tuesday or not, holistic nutritionists Jenni Bourque, R.H.N., and Mirna Sharafeddine, R.H.N., love to make these vegan tacos for lunch. By skipping the meat, you save more room for antioxidant-rich veggies like tomatoes (which are rich in lycopene) and crunchy cabbage. The black beans provide a good dose of plant-based protein, but you can always add a dollop of plain coconut yogurt or full-fat Greek yogurt to up the protein further.
Bourque and Sharafeddine recommend swapping flour tortillas for corn. Traditional masa tortillas are made with stone-ground corn and lime, making them a healthier than their white flour counterparts.
“These bento box lunches from Ambitious Kitchen are high in protein, so they keep you feeling satisfied between meals,” says dietitian Jillian Kubala, R.D.
The mix-and-match meals all include a source of healthy fats, a protein, some complex carbs, and a couple of fruits and vegetables, providing a variety of nutrients and flavors. “Different combinations of foods could include hard boiled eggs, raw sliced veggies, grilled chicken, tuna, smoked salmon, fruit, whole grains, cheeses, crackers, and nuts,” suggests Kubala.
“The shining quality of this lunch is that it won’t leave you slumped over at your desk with fatigue but satiates you for a few hours until snack time,” suggests Monica Auslander Moreno, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition.
The quinoa and chickpeas added to the avocados provide satisfying protein and fiber to keep you full and energized. The avocados themselves provide vitamin E and monounsaturated fats, while the tomatoes and spinach provide the antioxidant lycopene and vitamin K.
Plus, the flavorings used in this dish (cumin, mustard, honey, and garlic) offer anti-inflammatory benefits.
These plant-based patties from Lucy & Lentils make for a delicious burger alternative, says nutritionist Rania Batayneh, M.P.H., best-selling author of The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss.
The zucchini and sweet corn both provide fiber, and the blend of basil, sage, chili flakes, garlic powder, and oregano will have your taste buds smiling. Enjoy a fritter as an open-faced burger or serve it over greens if you are watching carbs. Top with sliced avocado and you’ve also got a great source of healthy fats.