For a midday meal that’s packed with taste and nutrition but naturally low in calories, try these lighter versions of traditional lunchtime favorites.
RECIPE: Cut a whole-grain bagel in half and scoop out the inside. Inside each half, spread 1 Tbsp. of low-fat cream cheese, add 1 oz. of smoked salmon, and top with chopped tomato and onions.
Benefits: Fiber for good digestion from the bagel, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids from the salmon, and cancer-fighting phytonutrients from the tomato and onion.
Calories saved: About 150, compared with a whole bagel and regular cream cheese.
ON-THE-GO TRAIL MIX
RECIPE: Mix ¼ cup each of walnuts, small multigrain pretzels, broken whole-grain crackers and dried banana chips.
Benefits: Energizing protein plus omega-3s from the nuts, magnesium to regulate heartbeat from grains, and potassium for blood pressure control from the banana.
Calories saved: At least 100, compared with trail mix with raisins and chocolate chips.
PERFECT PASTA PRIMAVERA
RECIPE: Cook and drain 3 oz. of whole-wheat linguini. Steam ¼ cup each of chopped broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and red bell pepper until tender. Toss pasta and vegetables with ½ cup jarred marinara sauce, heated. Top with 2 tsp. grated fresh Parmesan cheese.
Benefits: Protein plus complex carbohydrates to stabilize blood sugar from the pasta, antioxidants from the vegetables and sauce, and bone-strengthening calcium from the cheese.
Calories saved: At least 150, compared with pasta in a creamy Alfredo sauce.
SUPER VEGETABLE SOUP
RECIPE: Combine 12 oz. of low-sodium vegetable stock with ¼ cup each of chopped carrots, leeks, zucchini, shredded cabbage and canned cannellini beans, and simmer 10 minutes. Serve chunky or puréed.
Benefits: Immune-boosting beta-carotene from the carrots, folate for brain function from the beans, and anticancer phytonutrients from all the vegetables.
Calories saved: About 150, compared with a cream-based soup.
SAVVY CHEF’S SALAD
RECIPE: Toss together 2 cups of mixed leafy greens and ¼ cup each of chickpeas and chopped artichoke hearts. Top with a sliced hard-boiled egg, 2 oz. of sliced cooked chicken breast, 1 Tbsp. of crumbled feta cheese and 2 Tbsp. of olive oil–based dressing.
Benefits: Vision-protecting lutein from the greens, immune-boosting zinc from the chickpeas and chicken, manganese for thyroid function from the artichokes, and bone-building vitamin D from the egg.
Calories saved: At least 350, compared with a restaurant-style chef’s salad.
TUNA MELT MAKEOVER
RECIPE: Combine 3 oz. of drained canned water-packed tuna with 1 Tbsp. of fat-free mayonnaise. Stir in 2 Tbsp. each of diced onions and celery. Spoon tuna onto 2 whole-grain English muffin halves and top each with a slice of low-fat cheese. Broil just until cheese melts.
Benefits: Protein and heart-healthy omega-3s from the tuna, vitamin K for wound healing from the celery, and calcium for blood pressure control from the cheese.
Calories saved: At least 150, compared with a tuna melt made with regular mayonnaise and full-fat cheese.