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Many of us plan to eat healthier but sometimes “life” gets in the way. Do you pack the same old thing for your lunch? Do you run through a drive-thru just for the convenience? If this sounds like you, keep reading for tips to help you eat a healthier lunch. March is National Nutrition Month, which provides a great opportunity for us to make a few food changes. Do you want some smart shopping tips for veggies and fruits? Visit Choose MyPlate for tips to help you save money while shopping for veggies and fruit.

What are some benefits of planning your lunch?

  • Save time
  • Healthier options, likely
  • Save money

Are you ready to pack a healthier lunch? You can use this Food Prep Chart to plan lunch for five days. As you look over the food categories, check the food in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Circle your favorite foods in each of the categories that you want in your lunch.

Step 1: Start with a base of lunch greens. Select a variety of greens including spring mix, spinach, cabbage, or lettuce. Remember the darker the green vegetable, the more nutrients it contains.

Step 2: Pick your protein. Think about what you have on hand and what you want on your salad. You might add chicken, eggs, beans, tuna, or tofu.

Step 3: Prep your veggies. Wash and chop a variety of colorful veggies to add to your salad. Look for fresh, frozen, canned, or ready-to-eat varieties.

Step 4: Pick your grain. Consider adding a whole grain to your salad. Try quinoa, whole grain tortillas, whole grain crackers or croutons, or brown rice.

Step 5: Add a fruit. Select fruits that are in season. Add berries for a luscious treat. If you don’t like fruit on your salad, have your fruit on the side or as a snack later in the day.

Want more ideas? Check out these themed salads:

Salad with corn, avocado, black beans - Southwest Style Salad

Southwest Salad

Southwest Salad: Base, Beans, Corn, Tortillas, Salsa & Spices. You may not even need dressing with the salsa. Add chicken and avocado if desired. Check out this South of the Border recipe.

Salad with chicken, strawberries, nuts, oranges. Seasonal foods.

Seasonal Salad

Seasonal Salad: Base, add apples in fall, green onions in spring, and roasted root veggies in winter.

Salad with chickpeas, beets, vegetables

Vegetarian Salad

 

 

Vegetarian: Base, chickpeas, tofu, nuts or seeds.

Learn how to roast chickpeas here. 

Remember that your mix-ins can add flavor, color, nutrients, and calories. Find the ones that work for you and add them to your lunch salad.

What’s one way that you pack a healthier lunch? Share your ideas in the comments.

 

Blog adapted from Food Prep 4 Lunch Webinar. Jones, T. and Treber, M. December 2018.

Writer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

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The Dietary Guidelines encourage you to enjoy your food, but eat less and avoid oversized portions. We all know how tempting it is to finish your large sandwich, beverage, or large bagel. These oversized portions can contribute to weight gain.

If you want to maintain or lose weight, try some of these strategies:

• Eat smaller portions – can you split a breakfast or dinner entrée?
• Fill half your plate with vegetables – summertime is here; fill up on local vegetables and fruits.

Caprese Sandwich• Offer smaller portions for your sandwiches. These Caprese sandwiches were offered at a bridal shower. Fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese with balsamic vinegar made these small sandwiches a hit. They were wrapped in parchment paper and tied with jute so that they were easy to pick up.

• Fill up on salads! Eat darker lettuce varieties or use a Spring Mix Salad. Add fresh strawberries or berries and nuts for a nice crunch. Encourage guests to “drizzle” a little dressing on the salad for added flavor. When you have a variety of flavors in a salad, you may use less dressing. Spring Mix Salad

• Enjoying dessert? Split your dessert or eat a smaller portion. Take your time to savor the taste of your treat.

Want to learn more? Take the Portion Distortion Quiz from US Department of Health and Human Services, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. You will see pictures of food and how portion sizes have expanded over the past 20 years.

Make a decision to eat more veggies and fruits and watch your portion sizes!

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Sources:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/portion-distortion.htm

http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/weight-management/better-choices/decrease-portions.html

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saladWas your New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier in the New Year?  If so, you are not alone.  Many people set improved nutrition and increased physical activity as goals.  One way to improve nutrition is to eat more fruits and vegetables.  Adding more salads to your meals or making a meal out of a salad is a way to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.  But, are all salads healthy?  It really depends on how you build it – it could be 100 calories or it could be 1000 calories.  Choose wisely!

How to Build a Salad

USE

LIMIT

STAY AWAY

Fresh or frozen vegetables

Meats – limit to 2 oz.

Full fat salad dressing

Fresh or frozen fruits

Hard cooked egg – limit to 1/2

Olives

Herbs and spices in place of salt

Reduced or low-fat cheese – limit to 1 oz.

Pickled products

Dry beans and peas (cook from dry or rinse to remove excess sodium)

Imitation bacon bits

Macaroni, potato and other creamy salads

Low-fat whole grain breads

Low-fat salad dressing

Pudding

Whole grain rice, bulgur or couscous

Crackers and croutons

Gelatin made with sugar

Source:  Build a Better Salad Bar, Child Nutrition and Wellness, Kansas State Department of Education, July 2012.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, West Region, spires.53@osu.edu

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