5 nutrient-dense lunchtime recipes you can whip up quickly

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Whether you’re packing your morning lunch for later or eating it at home, it’s important to get the right nutrients into the biggest meal of your day. A lunch high in carbohydrates, sugar, and saturated fats not only uses up energy quickly and makes you lethargic in the second half of the day, it also impacts your overall health, causing weight gain and obesity. On the other hand, a balanced lunch packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and other essential nutrients can make a visible difference in your energy levels and immunity. It will also push you to lose weight over a period of time. When you have a nutrient-dense lunch, you also don’t feel the need to have a heavy snack in the early evening, which in turn prevents you from consuming a lot of calories. (Also read: Arthritis: Best Breakfast Recipes for People With Arthritis)

Of course, being healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Make your healthy meals more interesting with these 5 nutrient dense lunch recipes shared by Haripriya N Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chennai, OMR branch.

1. PROTEIN PARATHA WITH RAW MANGO RAITA AND CARROT STICKS

ingredients

Serving Size: 1-2

protein paratha

For dough:

Wheat Flour/Atta – 200g

Chickpea Flour – 100g

Salt – 1 tsp

water as needed

Oil- 1 tsp

For the filling:

Paneer/Cottage Cheese – 1 cup crumbled

Green Chili – 1 finely chopped

Cumin / Jeera -1 tsp

Chili powder – 1 tsp

coriander powder – 1 tsp

Garam Masala Powder – 1 tsp

Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp

Salt to taste

Oil – 1 tsp

cilantro for garnish

Method:

– Heat oil in a kadai and add cumin, crumbled paneer and mix well. Then add green chili, turmeric, red chilli, coriander and garam masala powder. Fry well. Season with salt and add lots of coriander leaves and mix well.

– Pour into a bowl and let cool completely.

– Now make the dough. Place flour, salt in a mixing bowl. Add water slowly and make a soft dough. Apply some oil and knead well into a smooth dough. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.

– Now divide the dough into equal portions and start making parathas. Take a dough and spread it lightly. Add some filling and seal on all sides. Now gently roll into a paratha.

– Heat a tawa and cook this paratha on both sides by applying some oil. Transfer to an insulated container and serve with raw mango raita and carrot sticks.

Raw mango raita

Raw mango (grated) – 50g

Cottage cheese/yoghurt – 100ml

Flaxseed powder – 1 tsp

Mix the ingredients and stir until smooth.

carrot sticks

Wash, cut and wrap the raw carrots.

Advantages:

This healthy lunch is enriched with amino acids and healthy fats, probiotics with enough fiber. It keeps you full for a long time and helps you avoid dips after lunch.

2. CHIPOTLE VEG WRAP WITH YOGURT

Ingredients:

Serving Size – 1

Whole Wheat Chapati / Roti – 2#

Black Chana (cooked) – ½ cup

1 avocado (thinly sliced)

Grated carrots – ½ cup

Bell peppers (thinly sliced) – green or yellow – ½ cup

Coriander – a handful

Chipotle yogurt dressing

Low-Fat Greek Yogurt – 1 cup

Crushed pepper – 1 tsp

Garlic clove (chopped) – 1 tsp

Method:

– In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients and prepare the chipotle yogurt dressing. Keep it aside.

– Take whole wheat roti and spread 1 tablespoon of dressing on top.

– Scatter shredded carrots, peppers, cilantro, avocado slices and cooked channa on top.

– Roll the wraps and make slices.

Advantages:

Easy and quick lunch recipe for busy working women. This will balance your lunch to raise your blood sugar levels steadily and slowly as it contains a good amount of soluble fiber and protein with enough complex carbohydrates in the meal.

3. SOY LEMON RICE AND CUCUMBER SALAD

ingredients

Serving Size: 1-2

Nutrela Soy Chunks – 1 cup

Boiled or Steamed Basmati Rice/Chawal – 2.5-3 cups

Lemon juice – 1.5 to 2 tbsp

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Skinned black gram – 1 tsp

Green chili chopped – 1

Dry red chillies – 2

Curry leaves – as needed

Mustard Oil- 1-2 tsp

Method:

– Take a frying pan and toast the peanuts until brown and set aside.

– Heat sesame oil in the same pan. Add mustard seeds and urad dal. Crackle the mustard and brown the urad dal.

– Add red chilies, green chilies and curry leaves. Add Nutrela pieces (soaked in hot water, squeeze out). Roast until fully cooked.

– Turn off the fire and add the lemon juice along with salt. Stir and immediately pour this mixture onto the rice and mix well. Leave the lemon rice covered for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Pack it in your favorite pickle salad lunch box.

cucumber salad

Finely chop the cucumber and add crushed pepper, some chia seeds and mix.

Advantages:

This balanced South Indian meal will satisfy your hunger pangs with a blend of tasty and healthy ingredients. It has nutrients like good fats, protein, vitamins A, C, potassium and fiber.

4. CHICKEN PULAO WITH MIX VEGETABLE SALAD

Ingredients:

Serving Size – 1-2

Chicken – ½ cup

Cloves, garlic, cardamom, turmeric, green chilies to taste

50 g basmati rice (raw)

1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder

Water- as needed for cooking

1/2 inch ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon red chili powder

star anise, bay leaf

1/2 tbsp yoghurt (quark)

1/4 onion

Salt as needed

Method:

– Wash and peel the vegetables, take a mortar and add the garlic and ginger. Roughly mash them into a paste. Now take chicken and cut it into pieces.

– Take a bowl and add garam masala, red chilli powder, salt, turmeric powder and half of the prepared ginger garlic paste. Mix well and the marinade is ready. Marinate the chicken pieces in a prepared marinade paste and allow to set for 20 minutes.

– Now heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and add bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, green chillies and star anise.

– Mix well and add chopped onions. Fry these over a medium flame until the onions become shiny and transparent.

– Add the marinated chicken and cook well. Then add yogurt and cook for 3-4 minutes.

– Add rice, 5 cups of water, turmeric powder and the remaining ginger garlic paste. Season with salt and mix well. Let the rice cook completely. Stir occasionally. Garnish with lemon juice and coriander. Pack it with mix vegetable salad.

Mix vegetable salad

Chopped Carrots, Peppers, Tomatoes, Cucumbers – 1 cup

Crushed pepper and salt – ½ tsp

Mix all ingredients well and serve.

Advantages:

Remember to include a serving of vegetables when packing a non-veg meal to avoid constipation or hard bowel movements. Eat lunch as soon as possible and do not postpone the times. Packed with lots of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber, it will keep your energy levels high for the next half of the day.

5. MULTIGRAIN PANEER SANDWICH

Ingredients:

Serving Size – 2

For paneer bhurji

Crumbled Paneer (cottage cheese) – 100 g

Finely chopped onion, tomato, bell pepper and carrot – ½ cup

½ teaspoon Jeera, Green Chili, Garlic, Ginger (mashed) – 1 tsp each

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Turmeric, Red Chili, Jeera, Garam Masala Powder – ¼ tsp each

2 teaspoons oil

Salt to taste

other ingredients

multigrain bread

1 slice of cheese (optional)

3 tsp butter

How to Make Paneer Bhurji:

– Add oil in a kadai, once the oil is heated add cumin seeds.

– Let it bubble, then add onions, ginger, garlic, green chilies, turmeric and sauté well until onions are lightly browned.

– Then add jeera powder, garam masala, red chilli powder and sauté for few seconds.

– Then add tomatoes and cook until soft.

– Add crumbled paneer, salt and cook for 1-2 minutes, garnish with coriander leaves and turn off the flame.

For paneer bhurji sandwich:

Take the bread slices, spread the filling on the bread slice. Heat tawa on medium flame, put some butter in tawa and put bread on top (toasting is optional). Cut into pieces and pack in the box.

Advantages:

It’s an easy lunchtime recipe packed with antioxidants, calcium and healthy fats that will leave you feeling full. Vegetables cover the fiber requirement.

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