Healthy Lunch Ideas: A Nutritionist's Top Food Swaps
|Instead of Coke|
Try: Code Blue
You are an American girl and love your can of Coca-Cola. Maybe you even save on the sugar calories by doing Diet Coke, but diet soda has its own downsides, and what nutrients are you getting? Zero! Swap your soda for Code Blue. This lightly carbonated blue beverage is sweetened naturally with agave (a cactus plant), has milk thistle (which helps detoxify the liver), prickly pear extract, electrolytes (which help keep sodium and potassium in balance in your body) and antioxidants, and is low in calories (40 per serving).
|Instead of Mexican take-out|
Try: a CedarLane low-fat burrito
Cancel your Taco Bell run and try a Cedar Lane low-fat burrito. You'll be amazed how delicious they are; each burrito has 260 calories (with only 1g fat) and is packed with 7g of fiber and 13g of protein so you feel and stay full. Spoon on some salsa to add an extra kick and barely any calories—even better, bring your salsa from home and you'll save money, too.
|Instead of white rice|
Try: lentil salad
White rice piles on the processed-carb calories and is boring to boot. Spice up your side with a lentil salad instead. It will keep you going a lot longer because it's filled with about 10g more of fiber and 18g more of protein per serving. You can even make a meal of it with this delicious Warm Lentil Vegetable Salad with Feta, Dried Currants & Dill.
|Instead of potato chips|
Try: Pop Chips
We all like a little salty crunch now and then, but if you swap your standard potato chips for Pop Chips, you'll save on fat and calories without sacrificing taste. Pop Chips come in seven tasty flavors, and they're prepared by some kind of mysterious pressure-cooking magic that gives them half the fat of fried chips (and saves you from greasy fingers). Best of all, they're 120 calories per serving—and unlike many deceptive bagged snacks, have only one serving in a bag!
|Instead of celery|
Celery's a healthy snack or lunchtime side, but it's also—let's face it—a pretty bland one, and takes some washing and chopping time. How about nibbling on some frozen edamame? Take a handful, toss them in a baggie on your way to work, and by lunchtime they're ready to eat.
|Instead of peanut butter crackers|
Try: Justin's nut butters
Have you convinced yourself that the peanuts in those bright-orange peanut butter crackers must make them a little bit good for you? What about Nutter Butters? Ha! For a healthy and delicious nut treat, check out Justin's nut butters. Spread the almond, peanut, or one of five other flavors (ranging from 170 to 190 calories per single-serving squeeze pack) on fruit, celery, carrots, whole grain bread, or Arnold's 100-calorie sandwich thins. Nutritionally and tastewise, nut butters rock! They're filled with protein and great nutrients like vitamin E, which nourishes your hair and skin. Nut butter also makes a great post-workout snack thanks to its easy portability and good balance of protein and healthy fats.
|Instead of sweetened yogurt|
Try: dressed-up non-fat Greek yogurt
Even the non-fat version of Greek yogurt has a rich, satisfying texture, and if you flavor it with real cocoa powder, you add an antioxidant kick. For sugar-free, heart-healthy sweetness, sprinkle on some cinnamon, which has been shown to help regulate blood sugar.
|Instead of feta |
Try: cottage cheese on your salad
Most cheeses—even feta, which has a good nutritional rep thanks to its high protein and nutrient content—are loaded with fat. Scoop low fat cottage cheese onto your salad instead: It's a great source of calcium and protein.
|Instead of Fig Newtons|
Try: Stretch Island Fruit Strips
Maybe you thought you were getting a "healthy" cookie with a Fig Newton—hey, it's got fruit! Nice try, it's all cookie. Stretch Island Fruit Strips are made only from fruit and have just 60 calories—an all-natural choice your body will thank you for.
•100-Calorie Appetizers that Make You Slim
•VIDEO: Easy Meal Makeovers
•12 Best Power Foods for Women