Healthy Eating

Healthy lunch ideas from nutritionist Julie Montagu

Ok, put your hands up – who’s guilty of packing their day full of so many meetings that they end up missing lunch in favour of checking their emails and writing up notes? Or who’s been so busy looking after their children and getting their chores done that their healthy lunchtime salad has been ditched for a packet of crisps on the go? Guaranteed, one day or another we’ve all done it – but ploughing on through your day without stopping for a break can actually be more harmful than it is beneficial. As nutritionist Julie Montagu explains: “Eating a healthy lunch keeps our sugar levels balanced, maintains a sharp mind throughout the rest of the day and prevents major binge eating when you get home from a stressful day.”

So, taking the time to boost your body’s supply of energy at lunchtime is key – especially if you’re also working out in the morning or evening. And, regardless of what you may think, you don’t need to spend a fortune or hours in the kitchen in order to create something packed full of flavour and goodness. Here, Julie provides her top lunchtime recipes for a healthy week. Get your lunchboxes at the ready!

  • For a healthy start to the week, try making a bean and beetroot salad. This combines ingredients that are full of nutrients and antioxidants and is super quick to make too! Simply quarter eight cooked beetroots (which you can easily find at your local supermarket), and mix with one tin of white beans and a handful of pine nuts. Then blend the following in a food processor to make your dressing: one tomato, one garlic clove, a handful each of fresh mint, parley and basil, two tablespoons of capers, one tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of one lemon and salt and pepper. If Monday is your gym day, give your lunch a boost of protein by adding a chicken breast on top.

  • As the weather gets colder, warming lunches are the order of the day and this farro and chickpea stew is perfect for autumn. Farro is fast gaining attention as the new super grain on the block and it’s a great source of protein, fibre and iron. To make two servings of the stew, roast 300g of halved cherry tomatoes, three minced garlic cloves and one small, diced onion in the oven for 15 minutes. Meanwhile cook the farro in a saucepan. Once done, drain the water and add a tin of drained and rinsed chickpeas to the pan. Stir in a large handful of spinach and another of rocket, and then serve the farro mixture with the baked vegetables on top, a garnish of basil and a sprinkling of salt.

  • For a quick and healthy veggie lunch that can be prepped in advance try these walnut and black bean wraps. They’re a big hit with my kids (minus the cayenne pepper) and you can add cheese or sour cream to make it a bit heartier. Blitz one tin of drained and rinsed black beans with 100g of walnuts, 100g of sun-dried tomatoes, half a teaspoon each of ground cumin and paprika and a quarter of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a food processor. Line two wholemeal tortillas with this mixture and then add shredded lettuce and avocado, a squeeze of lime juice and some salt and pepper.

  • Curry isn’t just for supper – I can have a curry any time of the day (well, maybe not for breakfast but definitely for lunch!). If you’re a worker, this can be made the night before to heat up at lunch. Simply fry half a diced onion and one sliced carrot for a minute or two before adding two tablespoons of green curry paste and half a teaspoon each of ground turmeric and paprika. After two minutes, pour in one tin of coconut milk and 200ml of veg stock. Add in 185g of wholewheat giant couscous and one tin of drained and rinsed chickpeas and leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Once cooked, squeeze over some lime juice and garnish with some coriander. You can also try adding prawns or chicken.

  • By the end of the week, your cooking motivation may be running dry – so I have chosen a really easy and quick way to finish. I first thought about making a ‘lunch in a jar’after seeing something similar at my local supermarket, but wow, were they expensive! This is one of my own healthier and cheaper versions. Divide the following between two kilner jars – one packet of instant rice noodles, one vegetable stock cube, 80g of cooked edamame beans, two sliced red chillies, one chopped red pepper, 120g kale and one teaspoon of ground ginger. When you’re ready to eat, just add a cup of hot water to the jar, seal the lid and shake well to allow the stock cube to dissolve. It’s that easy!


Health & Wellbeing