Make Smart, Low-Sugar Lunch Choices - dummies

Make Smart, Low-Sugar Lunch Choices

By Dan DeFigio

If you eat a high-protein lunch with lots of organic vegetables, you’ll likely stay satisfied, energized, and craving-free for the rest of the day. Lunches that contain mostly high-glycemic carbs — lots of bread, pasta, or sugar — lead to a sleepy, brain-fogged afternoon.

A high-insulin afternoon makes you feel lousy, increases your fat storage, and makes you crave carbs later in the day. Cut back on lunchtime carbs by choosing meals like a mixed green salad with grilled chicken instead of a chicken pasta dish. Using lettuce or kale as the top piece of sandwich bread halves the amount of bread and gives you extra leafy greens to boot.

Use lunch as an opportunity to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet. Load up your sandwich with extra lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, spinach, olives, mushrooms, or whatever other veggies you like. And, try a couple of the following recipes.

Mango Turkey Pitas

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4–6 servings

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 fresh mango, peeled and chopped

1 roma tomato, chopped

2 or 3 whole-wheat pita pockets

4 tablespoons sour cream

2 cups mixed greens

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

  2. Add the ground turkey, curry powder, and garlic to the skillet. Break up the meat and mix the ingredients as it cooks.

  3. After approximately 4 minutes (the turkey will be white but still juicy), add the mango and tomato to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium.

    Cook 4 to 5 minutes more, until the turkey is evenly browned and the mango juice has evaporated. Stir often; remove from heat when done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Halve the pita pockets and coat the insides with sour cream. Add a layer of greens.

  5. Scoop the turkey mixture into each pocket and serve warm.

Per serving: Calories 289 (From Fat 11); Fat 6g (Saturated 2g); Cholesterol 42mg; Sodium 138mg; Carbohydrate 14g (Dietary Fiber 2g); Protein 14g.

Red Beans and Brown Rice

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Tiramisu Art Studio]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Tiramisu Art Studio

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: Up to 60 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

4 cups vegetable stock

2 cups brown rice

1-1/2 cups canned red beans

1 large tomato

2 large carrots

2 stalks celery

Olive oil

1 cup diced red onion

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

Garnish: Chopped fresh parsley and/or chopped fresh cilantro

  1. In a medium pot, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. Add the rice, cover, and simmer on low heat.

  2. Drain and rinse the beans to remove excess salt.

  3. Chop the tomato, carrots, and celery so that they’re all the same size.

  4. Coat a medium saucepan in olive oil and combine the onion, carrots, celery, cumin, coriander, and chili powder. Cook 3 to 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the ingredients are browned. Add this into the simmering rice pot.

  5. After approximately 15 minutes, add the beans, tomato, and corn to the rice pot. Continue simmering while covered and continue to stir frequently. Cook the mixture until the stock is absorbed and the rice is fluffy (total cook time varies depending on rice variety).

  6. Remove from heat. Fluff the rice mixture with a fork, top with a sprinkling of parsley and/or cilantro, and serve warm.

Per serving: Calories 158 (From Fat 25); Fat 3g (Saturated 0.5g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 666mg; Carbohydrate 29g (Dietary Fiber 6g); Protein 5g.

You also can add grilled leftover grilled chicken to this dish (as pictured).

Low-Carb Surf and Turf Sandwich

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

4 ounces raw shrimp, shelled and cleaned

1 teaspoon butter

1/2 teaspoon green onion or shallot, chopped

1 thumb-sized piece of avocado

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Two 4-ounce cuts of leftover grilled steak or pork loin

  1. Cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces.

  2. Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until the butter bubbles. Add the shrimp and onions, and cook approximately 2 minutes, until the shrimp is no longer opaque. Stir frequently. If you use shallot instead of green onion, sauté the shallot for 1 minute before adding the shrimp.

  3. Chop the avocado into quarter-inch cubes and mix it with the cooked shrimp and onions. Salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Carefully slice the leftover steak or pork in half horizontally. Heat the meat slices in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds, or until the meat is warm.

  5. Sandwich the shrimp mix in between two slices of meat, grab a napkin, and enjoy!

Per serving: Calories 334 (From Fat 15); Fat 8g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 120mg; Sodium 334mg; Carbohydrate 1g (Dietary Fiber 0.5g); Protein 25g.

Cook shrimp and onions in the sauce of your choice — Worcestershire, teriyaki, Cajun spices, and so on.