Episode 5: Tasty, healthy lunch options to keep you powering through the day

While we all know that skipping breakfast isn’t a healthy move, skipping lunch is far from ideal either.

That’s because rushing through the middle of the day without food starves your body of glucose, and thus the energy it needs to power on until afternoon tea or even dinner time.

Failing to eat at lunchtime also causes your metabolism to slow – making it harder to stay at a healthy weight – as well as robbing you of vital nutrients, and even causing you to overeat later.

Getting a filling and healthy lunch doesn’t have to be hard work.

Sean Anderson, the general manager of food at Cater Care, has some great ideas for tasty lunches and snacks that can be made in advance, then quickly put together when you need them.

Healthy trail mix

If you’re prone to grazing, stay away from the chips and biscuits by keeping this trail mix on hand instead.

It’s also great for taking out with you in a resealable bag for when hunger pangs strike and you feel yourself drawn to the nearest bakery or fast-food joint.

“Trail mix has been eaten for thousands of years and was most likely developed by nomadic tribes who dried fruit to preserve it and ate it mixed with nuts or seeds as a nutritious food source during winter and while travelling,” Anderson explains.

His own recipe is packed with energy, fibre, plant-based protein, healthy unsaturated fat, and essential vitamins and minerals.

Soup to reheat and eat

Roasted pumpkin, sage, and pistachio soup takes a little longer to make than normal soup because the recipe calls for you to roast the garlic, onion and pumpkin first, but that’s what gives it such a flavour punch.

The soup is also perfect for freezing.

“The roasted butternut pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A, which is known to play an important role in eye health, reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration,” Anderson says.

“Finishing the soup with natural yoghurt and pistachio nuts also adds a valuable source of protein, which is essential in maintaining muscle mass.”

Add zing to a salad

A salad with some tuna or cold, lean meat, such as chopped chicken breast, and a boiled egg is a healthy, filling lunch that can be pulled straight from the fridge.

If you quickly get bored with your usual condiments, however, you can add a new taste with a simple, homemade salad dressing such as the honey and lemon dressing Anderson created.

He recommends keeping it on standby in the fridge at all times.

“Extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats,” Anderson says. “That’s a healthier fat that can help reduce cholesterol levels, improve blood glucose levels, and is also rich in disease-protecting antioxidants.”

He explains that the types of fats present in olive oil can reduce inflammation, and that effect, alongside the antioxidants the oil contains, can help to protect against chronic diseases.

Make your dinner go further

A leftover beef bolognaise made with lean mince is a hearty baked-potato topper and sandwich filler, either in a toastie or as a quesadilla, as Anderson recommends, with some cheese, avocado, and refried beans.

“The beef’s an excellent source of protein and iron, which are essential nutrients for maintaining muscle mass and transporting oxygen around the body,” he says.

“The cheddar cheese is an excellent source of calcium, which is an important nutrient for older adults in maintaining healthy bones, and preventing osteoporosis.

“And good source of fibre, an essential nutrient for healthy digestion.”

What’s your go-to quick, healthy lunch? Do you take food out with you to stop you choosing unhealthy snacks?

Uniting is passionate about helping older people to lead happy, healthy lives. Whether you are looking to downsize for a more relaxing retirement, need support to remain independent at home, or require full time assistance with your health and care, we can tailor a solution that’s just right for you and your family. Uniting provides lifestyle, health and care services to 14,000 older people across New South Wales and the ACT.