What Nutritionists Eat for Lunch
We asked six pros what's on their plates. Surprise: It's not kale salad!
The Leftovers Queen
A ransacked-from-the-fridge meal need not be sad
. In fact, the lunches that blogger Sarah Britton
, author of My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season
, assembles out of leftovers are surprisingly enviable. It's all in how you build your plate. She starts with leftover grains, such as quinoa (which delivers plenty of fiber and protein), adds cooked beans or lentils for even more oomph, then adds fresh vegetables to give the meal crunch and extra vitamins. On days when she has more time, she makes a dressing and sprinkles toasted nuts and seeds on top; or crumbles goat or sheep's-milk cheese over everything for extra crunch and flavor.
Recipes to try: The Fastest Supergrain Dishes
The Brain-Food-Obsessed Chef
Rebecca Katz, a trained chef with a masters in nutrition, whose new book is called The Healthy Mind Cookbook
, often eats meals that deliver much more than a guarantee that she won't be hitting the vending machine later. For instance, she loves lentil soup that gets an added boost from mix-ins such as delicata squash, kale and turmeric. She considers lentils a "smart food," since they are a great source of folate, a B vitamin shown to help boost brain power
. Pro tip: Freeze the soup in portioned containers; it will defrost more quickly that way, compared to being in one large frozen block.
Get the recipe: Cozy Lentil Soup with Delicata Squash
The Big Bowl Lover
Even if you're eating at your desk, presentation matters—and not just because an attractive container makes your food look better. Stephanie Pedersen
, author of Coconut: The Complete Guide to the World's Most Versatile Superfood
, likes bowls because their high sides make it easy to scoop up many different components all in one bite. Her current go-to lunch bowl includes a triple dose of coconut (oil, milk and dried), which contains fatty acids that have been shown to help keep the heart, brain and immune system healthy
; as well as quinoa and either shrimp, chicken or beans. Raw vegetable sticks are Pedersen's usual accompaniment.
Get the recipe: Coconut-Quinoa Bowl
The Liquid Luncher
Stephanie Tourles got into the habit of drinking her midday meal while writing her latest book, Raw Energy in a Glass
, but smoothies are a good option for anyone who doesn't have time to sit for lunch. Her current favorite contains bananas, kale, flaxseed oil and a pinch of sea salt. She whirs the mixture in her blender until it's pale green and creamy, then sucks down a (delicious) serving of greens, rich with fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Get the recipe: Banana-Kale Sweet-n-Smoothie
The Kale Crusader
, dietician for the MyFitnessPal app
, is crazy for the superfood kale
. If you're suffering from kale salad fatigue, though, try Penner's suggestion for putting the vitamin-packed green in pesto. She combines it with toasted pine nuts, salty Parmesan and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The deep, earthy flavor adds a new dimension to whole wheat pasta.
Get the recipe: Kale Pesto
The Bagel Fiend
, author of The Small Change Diet
, likes to scoop out a 100 percent whole wheat bagel and then spread tofu cream cheese inside. She tops it with thinly sliced avocado, tomato, red onion and smoked salmon for an ideal combination of fiber, protein and healthy fat. And Gans doesn't skimp on dessert: She ends her meal with a cup of black decaf coffee and a piece of chocolate. She says having a set "end" to her lunch lets her body know it's done eating.