By Cynthia Sass, R.D.

Healthy Lunch Recipe #1: Cheese- and Quinoa-Stuffed Red Pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Place ¼ cup quinoa and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until all water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Set aside and keep covered.

While quinoa cooks, use a sharp knife to cut the top off 1 large red bell pepper and remove the seeds and membranes; keep the pepper whole. Set aside.

Heat a medium skillet on medium-high; add 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Add ¼ cup minced red onion and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon minced garlic, ¼ cup shredded carrots, ¼ cup baby spinach, ¼ cup sliced white button mushrooms, and ½ teaspoon salt-free Italian herb seasoning and sauté until vegetables are slightly tender, about 4 minutes.

Transfer sautéd vegetables to a bowl. Mix in cooked quinoa, and gently fold in ¼ cup finely shredded cheddar.

Fill pepper with the mixture. Place in a baking dish and bake uncovered for 15 minutes or until pepper is slightly charred. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Healthy Lunch Recipe #2: Smoked Gouda and Grilled Onion Salad

Saute 1/2 cup sliced onion in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil until onion is translucent; set aside. Toss 1 1/2 cups romaine lettuce with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Top lettuce with onions and 1 ounce smoked Gouda, diced. Serve with 1 serving all-natural wholegrain crackers (check package for serving size).

Healthy Lunch Recipe #3: Tuna-Pecan Pasta

Saute 1 cup chopped green beans, 1∕3 cup chopped onion, 1∕3 cup sliced mushrooms, 1∕3 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon no-salt Italian herb seasoning mix in 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth.

Once vegetables are tender, toss with 1/2 cup cooked whole-grain penne and 3 ounces of water-packed tuna. Transfer mixture to a small baking pan; sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans and bake at 400 for 10 to 12 minutes.

Healthy Lunch Recipe #4: Chicken-Pesto Pita

Dice 3 ounces cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast and toss with 1 tablespoon jarred basil pesto. In another bowl, toss 4 large romaine lettuce leaves, shredded, with 1 diced medium plum tomato, 1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber, and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.

Rub the inside of 1/2 wholegrain pita with 1 clove roasted garlic. Stuff chicken followed by vegetables into pita, serving any overflow of the vegetables on the side.

Healthy Lunch #5: Panera Bread Lunch

Order 1/2 classic café salad with a small black bean soup and a slice of wholegrain baguette


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