A typical lunch salad, “taco style” with beans, avocado,
tomatoes, salsa, tortillas chips, low fat cheese
On February 5th I wrote about my top 5 breakfasts, so I thought I should also write about my top 5 lunches.  I take my lunch to work nearly every day.  I work in a federal prison so going out to lunch is not very convenient.  Part of my job requires me to stand in the inmate dining hall at lunch time to be available to the inmates for their questions and requests so “standing mainline” as it is called, takes up around 45 minutes from 11:15-12:00, roughly.  I have lunch at a table in my office or sometimes in my conference/lunch room.  Now and then I go out for lunch with friends and that can be a little challenging when trying to eat healthy.  I like to go to Terra Mediterranean Grill or Sushi Axiom.  Sweet Tomatoes and Panda Express are fine for a quick meal.
I choose the absolute healthiest things on the menu and always have lots of salad and/or vegetables, lean protein and small portion of grains/rice.  But, it’s a lot harder to eat healthy at restaurants, for me anyway, so I prefer to take my own lunches.

Top 5:

1. Salads–please see previous posts describing spinach salad (what’s for lunch?) and red leaf lettuce salad (a salad a day).  I take salads nearly every day and add grape tomatoes, avocado, a protein (fish, chicken, beans, hard boiled egg), crunchy things like pita chips or tortilla chips,almonds, dried cranberries, and leftovers.  I always make my own vinaigrette in a minute by putting a tsp of balsamic vinegar, a little Dijon mustard, a drop of honey, some water, garlic powder, salt and pepper, 1 T of olive oil in my little to go container and shake it well.  Sometimes I vary it with red wine vinegar and lemon in addition to the balsamic vinegar.
I don’t like bottled dressing at all, and the more you make your own dressing, the easier it gets.

2.  Oven Roasted Fish–any fish can be easily prepared this way:  1 pound (or 1/2 pound) salmon, halibut, snapper rinsed and dried.  Place a piece of foil on a baking sheet. Spray it with olive oil or non-stick spray.  Place whole piece of fish, skin side down, on foil.  Season with Mrs. Dash, 21 Seasoning Salute, or your favorite no salt seasoning.  Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
I have a convection oven so I convect roast it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, less for thin fish, so if you’re making flounder it make only take 10 minutes.  If you have a regular oven, just bake at 400 degrees.  Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
Don’t overcook it!  I can use the fish for 4 lunches, and salmon tastes great warm or cold.
I will put the fish on my salad or sometimes eat it with 1/2 cup brown rice and leftover cooked vegetables such as green beans or carrots.  A Japanese style obento is always good too.  This would be a section of fish, some Japanese rice, hard boiled egg, seaweed, and cucumbers or maybe cooked squash, and pickled ginger.  (I will do a post on obento soon.)

3.  Soup–I posted previously about the “treasures in my freezer” which included several types of soups, all homemade.  By lunch time the frozen soup is thawed a bit and heats up quickly in the microwave.  A hot bowl of chicken and wild rice soup or vegetable chili with a few whole wheat crackers and low fat cheese is a great lunch.

4.  Sandwich–I only use 1 piece of bread, a tortilla or a very small bun for sandwiches.  I like to get the roasted turkey breast at Central Market which is made in house and does not have preservatives and does not seem oversalted.  I also make my own grilled chicken, either on the grill outside or in the oven.  Like the fish, I place boneless skinless chicken breasts on foil and convect roast for 20 minutes, turning halfway in between.  The chicken is tender, juicy, and flavorful.  I can use a few slices of this chicken for a sandwich, on a salad, or with rice and vegetables.  If I make a wrap sandwich I’ll use a little mustard, lettuce, tomato and low fat cheese.

5.  Amy’s Organic dinners–The only frozen, prepared meals I ever eat are Amy’s.  I always keep a few on hand in case I’m rushing around in the morning and don’t have time to fix my lunch.  The Amy’s burgers are great on sandwiches as well.  I like the black bean enchilada dinners or the Indian dinners.

There you go–my typical week of lunches.