Wanna know what our biggest nutrition mistake was when we moved to the Big Apple?
First day on the job as corporate wellness nutritionists at The New York Health and Racquet Club, we raced to work without packing a lunch. After all, we were rushing in the morning and figured we were in New York City–healthy food had to be everywhere. We ended up having just a few minutes to grab lunch and our options were pizza… or pizza (it was our first day on the job as nutritionists and we weren’t about to go for that! We had to set a good example, after all! 😉 ) and we’re not talkin’ one of our healthy pizza recipes…
So we had to settle for the measly salad at the pizza joint. The wimpy lettuce and tomatoes filled us for a moment, but by the time we got home we were ravenous and hardly had the patience to make our usual healthy dinner! After filling up on one (or four 😉 ) frozen fudge bars before even thinking about our pre-dinner veggie snack, we knew we had fallen victim to our busy schedules and we had to bite it in the bud immediately. We packed our lunch from that day forward–and never came home to a fudgsicle before dinner again. Phew!
Today we’re tackling lunch, so buckle up (and tuck away!) your lunchboxes and get ready for a new, improved, healthier you!
The biggest issue most of us face when wanting to pack a healthy lunch like a salad, is time. Who has time to spend hours preparing it? And who’s motivated by the thought of bringing a boring, soggy, salad for lunch that will leave you hungry and that just doesn’t satisfy you at all. (Even we, veggie-loving twins, aren’t the least bit turned on when we think of that). Well, there’s great news…the salad we make and have our clients (and you!) make ain’t your rabbit’s salad! 🙂 (And if you can’t make this recipe, read on or watch the video to see why mason jars make your lunchtime issue, a non-issue!) And while you’re at it, check out these easy weekday delish recipes for inspiration.
• Easy Quinoa Black Bean Protein Bowl
• Easy Peasy Veggie Pizza
• Easy, Skinny Turkey Burger Sliders
Mason jars are about to become your new bestie! But if you don’t have one, don’t worry, you can use any large jar!
Why do mason jars make soggy salads a thing of the past? And how do they make time a non-issue? And why do they make yo’ rabbits’ salad yesterday’s news? And why does all this help you to lose weight?…
Soggy salads no more! Simply add your dressing first, to the bottom of the jar. Layer it next with the least absorbent ingredients–like chicken and whole grape tomatoes. Then layer it with your heavier items like sliced tomatoes and end with lighter items like crumbled cheeses and lettuces. Simply shake the salad before you eat it –no soggy salads! 🙂
Too time-crunched to make your lunch? Simply toss and layer all of your favorite healthy leftovers in the jar. There are no rules here! Simply check out the tips for a satisfying, weight loss salad below and create some interesting and delicious combos using ingredients you have! Include sweet fruits and fresh veggies. Leftover rice? Beans? Last night’s veggies? Add salsa to the bottom of the jar, your favorite veggies and voila—you have a healthy, tasty meal you can simply grab and go!
(Time-saving tip: Best way to have veggies ready to toss in? Purchase ‘em already washed, chopped and ready to roll!)
The secret to salad satisfaction; follow these steps
- Choose any healthy high-fiber quality carbohydrate (for energy and satiety). In this recipe it’s quinoa (to make it a weight loss salad, limit the quality carb to 1/2-cup)–but think anything from corn, oatmeal, barley, brown rice, sweet potatoes, even whole wheat pasta, beans (beans can also serve as protein) for your quality high-fiber carb.
2. Add a protein (satiety). In this recipe it’s the option of eggs or chicken (choose 2 eggs or 1 whole egg & 3 whites or 4- 5 ounces of poultry, fish, etc.) But nonfat yogurt, cottage cheese or tofu can work too with your combos!
3. Combine your favorite fruit (sweet and satisfying)—if you’ve got a half cup of the quality carbohydrate, even a few tablespoons of chopped fruit are all it takes to add a fabulous sweetness. This sweet bite is very satiating and is just the natural sweetness you need to help fight off sugar cravings. If you only have just a few tablespoons of the high-fiber carbohydrate (like quinoa) add 1 entire piece or ¾ cup berries. (Two tablespoons dried fruit like cranberries add a great sweet punch, but the calories add up quickly, so just a teaspoon or two is ideal if you’ve got the grain already.)
4. Load in the veggies (crunchy and nutrient packed) and layer them! Choose fresh veggies & pump up the nutrients! The more, the merrier with veggies (exception: peas, potatoes and corn–these are all healthy but their calories add up more quickly so they fall in #1 Quality, high-fiber carb). The sky’s the limit–since they fill you with nutrients and fiber yet with hardly any calories!
5. Choose a flavorful dressing – ideally, if it’s higher in calories be sure a little bit goes a long way (hopefully it’s packed with flavor to make those calories worth it 🙂 ) and stick to a portion of ideally 50 calories or less. Or do what we love below:
- Dressings you can whip together and keep on hand are best—free of preservatives, additives and loads of calories. Stick to 1 teaspoon of olive oil with your favorite flavored vinegar, lemon juice and spices. Mix them and add them to the bottom of the jar first and follow the steps to keep the salad soggy-free!. Psst… Salsa works great for a zesty dressing too!)
Note: We suggest avoiding cheese for now as it adds a lot of fat and calories and makes weight loss more difficult. If you must add cheese, simply add 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan (not fresh). The flavor goes a long way and won’t hurt your efforts. Also, if you want to add a crunchy or creamy treat like nuts or avocado, while they are both very healthy, limit to 1 -2 teaspoons crushed or slivered nuts or 1 ounce avocado and have slightly less grain or fruit to keep the calories low enough to cause weight loss, while still being satiating.
Why does this salad help you to lose weight?
This satiating meal keeps you on the healthy track, keeps your energy levels high and prevents you from overeating hundreds of calories when having to eat a lunch out. Typically when you eat out, you can’t control what’s in your meal and the calories quickly add up. Instead, this healthy lunch prevents you from eating at the vending machine and tides you over for hours, has fiber and protein to prevent energy highs and crashes (and the cravings that result from the crashes) and has under 400 calories! All and all, this lunch satisfies you for few calories versus high-calorie lunches that set you up for energy dips that cause you to seek out snacks later in the day–all that accumulate quickly on your waistline! Yay for this mason jar lunch!
Sweet & Savory Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado and Crunchy Almonds
The recipe below explodes with flavor! We’re talking sweet blueberries and apple, crunchy nuts, creamy avocado, satisfying chicken (or egg)—and a tangy lemon vinaigrette. (Notice the serving sizes of each, it doesn’t take much to pack in the flavor!) Add that to the detoxifying capabilities of kale (it helps your liver in its’ ability to neutralize damaging particles), immune boosting mandarin oranges and satiating quinoa and you’ve got quite the money -maker. Oh yeah–shake it (the mason jar, that is!)! 😉
The portion sizes are all in check to keep calories down, yet this salad is ultra-satisfying as the protein and fiber will keep you feeling satiated. You’ll notice there is a little less quinoa and lean protein (chicken) then the amounts above, but slightly more fruit, as well as a little avocado and nuts, to balance the calories out and keep them between 350-375.
More bonuses per bite:
This meal is packed with superfoods that have anti-inflammatory properties, including kale, quinoa, blueberries and avocado. Avocados also are packed with heart-healthy fat and are a good source of beta-carotene which helps to protect against cancer as well as protect your bikini-baring skin from the sun’s harmful rays. This salad is ideal when you’re on-the-go. Keep pre-chopped kale and leftover quinoa and tofu in the fridge so you can quickly throw the salad together. Our favorite part of this salad is that every bite is packed with so many different flavors—we’re especially wild for the sweet fruity twists.
Sweet & Savory Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado and Crunchy Almonds
Makes 1 salad shaker (choose either the eggs or the chicken for your protein option)
1-1/2 cups kale or spinach, chopped
2 Eggland’s Best hard-cooked eggs (we work with Eggland’s Best because they are the only egg with 4X more vitamin D than other eggs and double the omegas) OR —-3 oz grilled chicken breast)
1/3 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 small apple, diced
2 tablespoons fresh blueberries (If using frozen allow them to defrost near bottom of the jar, the juices will drip into the dressing and add a delish flavor)
2 tablespoons mandarin oranges, peaches or grapefruit
2 tablespoons carrots, chopped or shredded
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1 teaspoons slivered almonds, chopped
1.5 tablespoons avocado, cubed (can be subbed for 1/4 cup green peas or chick peas)
1 serving Lemon Vinaigrette (See below)
(makes 1 serving)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoons fruit-flavored vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste
Simply start by adding the dressing to the bottom of the jar. From there layer the ingredients starting with the least absorbent and heaviest items (like chicken) and then carrots, etc. and add the lightest, most absorbent ingredients like kale at the top. From there, simply shake the jar when you are ready to eat! So easy and so delish! Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts per serving (with chicken breast): 375 Calories, 35 g carbohydrate, 13 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 31 g protein, 148 mg sodium, 7 g fiber
Nutrition Facts per serving (with eggs): 354 Calories, 35 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 18 g protein, 215 mg sodium, 7 g fiber
- Makes 1 salad shaker
- 1-1/2 cups kale or spinach, chopped
- 4 oz grilled grilled chicken breast
- ⅓ cup quinoa, cooked
- ½ small apple, diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons mandarin oranges, peaches or grapefruit
- 2 tablespoons carrots, chopped or shredded
- ½ cup thinly sliced cucumber
- 2 teaspoons slivered almonds, chopped
- 3 tablespoons avocado, cubed (can be subbed for ¼ cup green peas or chick peas)
- 1 serving Lemon Vinaigrette (See below)
- Lemon Vinaigrette
- (makes 1 serving)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ tablespoons fruit-flavored vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ garlic clove, minced
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a medium bowl.
- If eating soon, combine kale, chicken and quinoa with the vinaigrette. Add kale mixture and half of the remaining ingredients in a tall jar or plastic salad shaker. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Note: It’s ideal to mix the dressing just before serving to keep the salad fresh and crunchy or if you won’t be eating for a while, simply add the dressing to the bottom of the jar, then layer starting with chicken and other ingredients