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Healthy Lunch Recipes

A healthy lunch can make the difference between a focused, productive afternoon and a mad dash for a mid-afternoon snack to quell your hunger pangs. It’s time to leave the sad, last-minute sandwiches at home. Preparing a nutritious lunch is an easy way to give your body the midday boost it deserves.

So what are the components of a healthy lunch? For a person following a 1,600-calorie per day diet, lunch should account for approximately 400 calories (National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute, n.d.). To get the most out of your lunch, focus on foods with a low energy density. Low energy density foods are those that have relatively few calories in an otherwise ample amount of food (Mayo Clinic, 2014).

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the essential macronutrients our bodies convert to energy. A healthy lunch has a blend of all three of these nutrients. Focus on getting complex carbohydrates from whole grain sources, as these take longer for the body to break down. Also include a serving of lean protein, preferably from a non-animal source (e.g., nuts, seeds, beans, or lentils). Lean protein increases feelings of satiety, preventing hunger pangs from setting in during the afternoon. Finally, focus on getting a small amount of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats by eating avocados, fatty fish, or olive oil. These healthy fats actually improve your cardiovascular health and decrease risk of heart disease (Choose My Plate, 2016).

With these guidelines in mind, consider the following healthy lunch recipes that will satisfy your hunger without compromising health. For more ideas on how to keep healthy at lunchtime, check out our article outlining curcial considerations for a healthy lunch here.

Kale Quinoa Salad

Kale Quinoa Salad Recipe

Kale and quinoa are two of the world’s best superfoods, both of which team up in this nutritious salad to supply protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. The recipe also adds carrot and red cabbage for crunch as well as boiled eggs for extra protein.
Ingredients: Quinoa, fresh baby kale, purple cabbage, carrots, fresh dill, boiled eggs, rice wine, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper.
Total Time: 25 minutes | Yield: 8 servings

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad {gluten-free}

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Recipe {gluten-free}

Tabbouleh is a classic Mediterranean dish that offers a blend of complex carbohydrates and heart-healthy fats. Not only is this salad gluten-free, but it also provides you with all of the essential amino acids your body cannot make on its own.
Ingredients: Quinoa, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh parsley, fresh mint, black pepper, salt.
Total Time: 40 minutes | Yield: 4 servings

Farro Risotto with Mushrooms

Farro Risotto with Mushrooms Recipe

Farro is a heart-healthy whole grain that is a good source of fiber, causing it to fill you up. It also is packed with B vitamins and magnesium, essential nutrients for a healthy metabolism. Make this indulgent risotto the night before and bring the leftovers the next day for a satisfying lunch.
Ingredients: Organic pearled farro, sliced mushrooms, garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, frozen peas, salt, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, hot water.
Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes | Yield: 6 servings

Quinoa Veggie Wrap {vegan}

Quinoa Veggie Wrap Recipe {vegan}

This delicious wrap is stuffed full of superfood quinoa, fresh vegetables, and protein-boosting hummus. Plus, it couldn’t be simpler to make. Simply smear a whole grain tortilla wrap with hummus, sprinkle with cooked quinoa, and add fresh vegetables for a nutritious meal!
Ingredients: Tortilla wraps, quinoa, hummus, fresh spinach, sun-tomatoes, shredded carrots.
Total Time: 30 minutes | Yield: 4 wraps

Veggie Quinoa Casserole {gluten-free, vegan}

Veggie Quinoa Casserole Recipe {gluten-free, vegan}

Not only does this casserole provide plenty of protein, but it is also full of vitamins and minerals from vegetables across the color spectrum. The tofu adds a satisfying protein element, but you can replace it with a vegetarian protein of your choice to make this dish your own.
Ingredients: Quinoa, extra firm tofu, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, paprika, cumin, oregano, thyme, salt.
Total Time: 35 minutes | Yield: 4 - 5 servings

Quinoa Fritters

Quinoa Fritters Recipe

Quinoa fritters make a filling dinner as well as great leftovers for lunch. Rather than deep frying the fritters, this recipes calls for baking to develop great texture without adding saturated fat. Eat the quinoa fritters in a whole wheat bun or English muffin for a quick, tasty lunch.
Ingredients: Quinoa, black beans, gluten-free rolled oats, egg, cumin powder, salt, cilantro.
Total Time: 25 minutes | Yield: 12 medium-sized fritters

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers {gluten-free}

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Recipe {gluten-free}

Too often, stuffed peppers are so full of cheese and cream that their nutritional value is lost. Though these peppers taste indulgent, they contain a fraction of the calories and fat compared to similar recipes. Stuffing with lentils and quinoa adds heft, while feta cheese provides a Mediterranean flair.
Ingredients: Quinoa, green bell peppers, canned lentils, fresh spinach, feta cheese, frozen corn (thawed), salt, black pepper.
Total Time: 40 minutes | Yield: 6 servings (8 half-peppers)

Broccoli Quinoa Salad {gluten-free}

Broccoli Quinoa Salad Recipe {gluten-free}

This recipe calls for broccoli to be processed to a rice-like consistency, allowing it to easily blend with the texture of the quinoa. Mixed with fresh vegetables, pumpkin seeds, and a delicious vinaigrette, this salad is a nutritional powerhouse that provides protein, vitamins K and C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants.
Ingredients: Fresh broccoli, quinoa, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, raw pumpkin seeds, sea salt, black pepper, Dijon mustard (optional), vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 8 servings

Farro Vegetable Salad

Farro Vegetable Salad Recipe

This Mediterranean salad combines the tartness of sundried tomatoes, the tangy taste of balsamic vinegar, and the rich relish of feta cheese to offer a full flavored dish that is sure to blow you away. Farro provides protein and fiber to fill you up, while an assortment of veggies adds vitamins and minerals to the mix for a wholesome lunch you'll love.
Ingredients: Organic farro, sun dried tomatoes, frozen corn (thawed), scallions, black olives, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, salt, fresh dill, fresh mint, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 6 servings

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

A simple pudding that is both light and filling, this dish combines seeds, nuts, dairy and pumpkin to create a well-balanced lunch that is easy to make. A blend of crunchy seeds and nuts adds texture to the meal while the potent spices pack a palatable punch of flavor. Prepare the snack the night before or whip it up in minutes when you're feeling hungry.
Ingredients: Milk, pumpkin puree, chia seeds, maple syrup, pumpkin spice, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, fresh blueberries.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 servings


Choose My Plate (2016). Saturated, unsaturated, and trans fats. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic (2014). Weight loss: feel full on fewer calories. Retrieved from

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (n.d.). Traditional American cuisine: 1,600 calories. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from