3 Healthy Substitutes for Your Next Lunchtime

3 Healthy Substitutes for Your Next Lunchtime

(Image: iStock.com/michaelpuche)

Lunchtime can be a coveted moment in the work day.

By noon or so, restaurants, delis, and fast food joints are filled with professionals looking to get at least 30 minutes of relief from a busy workday. Oftentimes, if you’re a busy entrepreneur or CEO, you’re part of that mad rush, or you choose to order in via GrubHub. Either way, you want to ensure that your daily picks are both healthy and fulfilling.

A study by Lurpak, a Denmark-based dairy brand, found that one in three professionals eat the same lunch every day or week. Also, according to research by DoSomething.org, at least one in four Americans eat some sort of fast food daily.

If you love food and savor lunchtime, here are some healthier versions of a few American lunch counter favorites:

1. Philly Cheesesteak

This yummy staple hailing from the city of Brotherly Love is absolutely divine, but the average hoagie has almost 1,200 calories , which is almost the fully recommended daily intake of calories, in just one meal. It’s also high in sodium.

A Healthier Option:

Healthier recipes include replacing the usual white hoagie roll with a smaller wheat sandwich roll or even Bagel Thins, or cutting the meat portion in half and adding more veggies. You could even go for vegan cheese or plant-based meat substitutes  instead of provolone or steak. These lunchtime options cut the calories and fat for some recipes in half.

2. Pizza

Another lunchtime staple originally transported from Italy but given an American twist, pizza is a quick and easy bite on the go. However, the average pepperoni slice is almost 300 calories. Though that may seem low, it’s packed with high amounts of saturated fats and sodium.

A Healthier Option:

The Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit multi-specialty academic medical center, recommends adding veggies instead of pepperoni or requesting turkey-based meat options if available. It also suggests asking for less cheese on your slice or getting no cheese at all.

Sounds like a food-buzz kill? Try making a compromise on at least one ingredient. Crazy about cheese? Leave the meats, or vice versa.

3. Cobb Salad

Salads have become all the rage for lunchtime, with fast food restaurants even making them staples on their top-promoted menus. However many aren’t as healthy as you might think. The cobb salad, for example, can have up to 1,300 calories depending on the recipe.

A Healthier Option:

Traditional fixings include bacon, blue cheese, boiled eggs, iceburg lettuce, tomatoes, ranch dressing, and batter-fried or grilled chicken. Healthier recipes use turkey bacon, substitutes chicken with tuna or grilled salmon, nixes the cheese or uses low-fat options, and adds healthier greens such as romaine. Ranch can be substituted with Greek yogurt dressing or low-fat options.

These lunchtime tips can apply for any of your favorite salads–especially when you visit the toss salad bar, where it’s tempting to add everything but the kitchen sink to your bowl.