Healthy Lunches That Aren't Salads

Does it seem that everywhere you turn, another suggestion for one more salad is offered up as an idea of a healthy lunch? The thing is…how many salads can one person enjoy before they have had it with leafy greens? We are here to give you some healthy lunch ideas with some substance. Eat well and feel sustained longer with protein packed lunch punches that would never be confused with a bowl of greens.

Have Eggs?

When all you have in the refrigerator are basics, go exotic. Tortilla De Patatas is a dish well-known in Spain and served for breakfast, lunch or dinner and either hot or at room temperature. Basically, all you need is potatoes, onion and eggs, although you can always play around with the recipe. For some heat, I recommend some red pepper flakes or a topping of salsa. The ingredients for this easy omelette-like dish can be prepped early and whipped up whenever a satisfying lunch is needed.

This Tortilla De Patatas recipe requires 3 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes, kosher salt, olive oil, 1 medium onion and 10 large eggs. After salting the potato slices to remove excess moisture, they are cooked for 10 to 15 minutes, chopped onions are added and the product is then transferred and strained. The eggs are mixed with the potatoes and then cooked through on the skillet for 25-30 minutes. The recipe given makes a substantial amount and other versions vary the ingredients, use less oil or bake the mixture instead. Feel free to adjust the recipe as you see fit. I have made this recipe rather quickly with a tablespoon of oil and swapped Yukon Golds for Creamy Red Potatoes, boiling and then slicing the potatoes and proceeding with the rest of the steps. As eggs range from 70 to 90 calories depending on size, you will be using a low-calorie protein source, rich in vitamin D, in a meal that actually fills you up. Each egg also provides 6 grams of protein. Potatoes are a complex carb and an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber, though they are known to have a high glycemic index. Diabetics may want to experiment with subbing in Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes, for a suitable potato alternative. As for the actual cooking of this dish, I would recommend baking or reducing the amount of oil suggested in the recipe for those watching their waistlines. Slide the Tortilla De Patatas on to a plate to flip it over. Eat it hot or at room temperature.

No Time in the AM?

Make a Tuna Wrap. For a quick grab-and-go lunch, grab a can of tuna, a tablespoon of fat-free mayonnaise, onions, a pickle, a wheat tortilla and a pepper to whip up a sustaining wrap. After chopping up the onions, mix the tuna with mayo, and add the pickle. Spread the mixture over the wrap and fill it with your preferred chopped vegetable of choice such as peppers, mushrooms, or tomatoes. Roll it and wrap it up to go. Add an apple with a smear of peanut butter for more healthy fats and fiber to help slow down digestion. A recent study showed that when a combination of canned tuna and oily fish was consumed more than twice a week, subjects reduced the possibility of experiencing a specific cardiovascular disease, atrial fibrillation. Tuna is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, clearly linked to anti-inflammatory health benefits. For individuals regularly working out or preparing for an event, or others experiencing arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, tuna and oily fish are protein sources that do a body good.

Enjoy almost 17 grams of protein with this easy tomato, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers on whole wheat sandwich. This rustic sandwich is great when the temperatures heat up and fresh summer tomatoes and basil are in season. Select a whole leaf loaf, thinly sliced mozzarella, add in roasted red peppers, slices of ripe tomato, extra virgin olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar to taste. After cutting the loaf horizontally in half, lay the ingredients on the bottom half, add the vinegar and olive oil with a pinch of salt or pepper. The recipe offers the Weight Watcher’s smart points of this sandwich, calories keep you well within your range and this is a great alternative for a weekly meatless day or those that live a vegetarian lifestyle. Mozzarella is a dairy product that delivers 7 grams of protein (when made with part skim milk). It delivers key vitamins and nutrients that are not stored in the body and must be continually replaced. These water-soluble vitamins are niacin, vitamin B6, biotin, thiamine and riboflavin. Why would body builders and the Average Joe want to meet these requirements? They are necessary for the formation of red blood cells, and the maintenance of good skin and vision. In addition, the fat soluble vitamins A, E, and D help with bone growth, calcium absorption, and cell membrane protection. Building strong bodies takes the right amount of nourishment. A healthy supply of blood cells and quality bone growth and density are a part of the overall equation for optimal function.

Prepare a vegetable or bean soup the night before or a month before. Spicy black bean soup is a tasty alternative to salad and provides a powerful flavor punch with cumin, red pepper flakes, garlic and green chili peppers. This soup takes less than an hour to cook and prepare and makes plenty to portion out for future lunches. It’s great for those days when you are looking for a comfort food or feeling under the weather. Vegetable soups can last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator and can be frozen safely for 2 to 3 months. Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, or black beans can add substantial protein and bulk to any soup. They are also a significant source of fiber and key nutrients.

Craving Italian?

Enjoy an Italian feast for lunch, with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese, fresh cut veggies and a low-cal protein source. Italian shrimp pasta is a dish that can be tossed together quickly in the morning. This recipe calls for ¾ of wheat angel hair pasta, 15 large precooked shrimp, red peppers, broccoli florets and Italian dressing. After cooking the pasta according to directions (feel free to substitute with another preferred type), prepare the shrimp, broccoli florets and chopped red peppers. Heat two tablespoons of the Italian salad dressing in the pan, add in the peppers, broccoli and shrimp and stir fry for two or three minutes. Afterwards, top the pasta with the mix and stir it through thoroughly. What is great about this dish? Pre-cooked shrimp just takes a little warming up and has a number of health benefits. Shrimp has selenium. In fact, it's loaded with it. Population studies show indications that populations with higher intakes of this trace mineral have lower death rates from cancer. It boosts the immune system, is a building block in an enzyme that protects people from free-radical damage, and may inhibit blood vessel development to tumors. Shrimp is super high in vitamin B12 and selenium and contain vitamins B6, A, E, C, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper. 1 ounce of shrimp only has 28 calories and ranks 0 on the glycemic index rating. Shrimp is also touted for its weight loss benefits. As it has zinc, and zinc contributes to circulating leptin levels, shrimp helps regulate the body’s energy expenditure and feelings of hunger. The iodine helps with proper thyroid function, balancing the basal metabolic rate, or how energy is consumed at rest. Italian shrimp pasta is a way to deliver key protein, vitamins and macronutrients that balance the body and help to maintain optimum levels of health and energy. By the way, it also tastes delicious for a complete win-win.

Why Is Protein Important

Every person, but in particular those looking to improve their athletic performance, needs to focus on consuming enough protein to maximize performance and muscle development. It is easy to up the protein. Add extra grilled chicken or tinned anchovies to a dish. An ounce of grilled chicken or ham provides approximately 5 grams of protein. Smoked lox, grilled tofu, eggs, chickpeas and legumes all up the protein factor. Find out your specific protein requirements. What do we know about protein?

  • The RDA for women over age 19 is 46 grams; Men require 56 grams.
  • Studies link protein to weight loss, as it has already been shown to maintain muscle mass.
  • Protein requirements can differ for women from 35-40. Increasingly sedentary women appear to lose a significant amount of muscle.

Protein is necessary for muscle mass maintenance and good calorie burn. These healthy lunch dishes take that into account. All vary up the protein source and include it in easy, tasty and healthy meals that don’t leave you hungry an hour later. Feel satiated and enjoy lunch once again.

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› Recipes that aren't salads for lunch
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