Lunches don’t need to be complicated, but they don’t need to be boring and unhealthy either. It’s February, so I’m focusing on heart healthy ways to help you cut back on calories, sodium and possibly even improve your blood cholesterol levels without sacrificing any flavor.
Lunch time can often sneak up on you and if you haven’t given much thought as to what you’re going to eat, you could fall into the same rut every day, ordering subs the size of your arm or eating hefty portions of take out food that can be highly processed and high in fat and calories that can ultimately lead to weight gain.
There is no doubt that eating well involves spending some extra time at home preparing meals for the days ahead. For me that time is on a Sunday, when I plan out the week’s meals and the shopping lists to go with it -and that includes lunches too. Usually, lunch will be a variation of what we ate for dinner the night before. It’s all in the planning and that saves me from unwanted trips to the grocery store, wandering around in the aisles trying to figure out what the heck to eat! This is why it’s important to have an arsenal of favorite cookbooks, magazines and even blogs (eh-hem!) so you can search for recipes and ideas.
Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I keep my fridge stocked with items like cooked rice, grains, beans and even potatoes, that I can quickly reheat and add anything I want to it (usually vegetables). My love (and possibly even addiction) to avocados and Mexican cuisine is what inspired this Quinoa & Black Bean Salad. A recent study published in the Nutrition Journal found that those who ate half an avocado for lunch were more satisfied and less likely to snack in between meals. I personally find that to be true. In addition, avocados supply a healthy dose of mono and polyunsaturated fats and nutrients that are key for maintaining proper ratios of LDL/HDL in the blood. I hope you enjoy!
Mexican Inspired Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
2 cups cooked quinoa or brown rice
1 avocado (pitted and sliced)
1/2 cup mango salsa (look for a brand that is low in sodium- i.e. no more than 100 mg/2 tbsp- or better yet, make from scratch)
1 cup shredded Romaine lettuce
1/4 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese blend (optional)
3/4 cup black beans (no salt added) drained and rinsed
Add quinoa and black beans to a medium size serving bowl. Heat in microwave to warm. Top with lettuce, avocado, salsa, and cheese. Toss to combine.