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How Healthy is Your Lunch?

Posted by: | Posted on: July 19, 2016

Think your favourite lunch is nutritious and waist-friendly? You might be surprised! But a few little tweaks can cut the kilojoules and amp up the goodness.

Pesto and chicken pasta salad: 5/10

The lowdown: Pasta is low fat and has a lower GI than most breads and rice. But the pesto, made with oil, can make this lunch quite high in fat and kilojoules.

Make it better: Opt for a tomato-based pasta sauce to lower the fat. Skinless chicken is fine, but try a pasta salad with vegetables to boost the fibre, vitamin and antioxidant content.

Vietnamese rice paper rolls with prawns: 9/10

The lowdown: With prawns, fresh salad, herbs and vermicelli noodles, it’s hard to fault this choice. It’s the accompanying salty dipping sauce that has the potential to bring this superb lunch option down.

Make it better: They’re so delicious, it’s easy to do away with the dipping sauce. Add some extra nutrients to your lunch by opting for different filling types try the rolls with chicken, tuna, tofu, egg, vegetables and avocado.

Pad thai noodles: 3/10

The lowdown: This dish is super salty, with just one meal providing more than half your daily sodium quota. Pad thai can be fatty, too. Overall this is a ‘heavy’ choice for Thai food, which is usually a ‘light’ cuisine.

Make it better: A better option is Thai beef salad. Made with lean beef and fresh salad ingredients, it delivers a tasty meal that’s low in fat and higher in fibre. Sodium can still be an issue, due to the use of fish sauce and soy sauce, so make it a smaller serve and accompany it with plain rice noodles.

Ham cheese and tomato toasted sandwich: 6/10

The lowdown: This may be a crowd-pleaser, but it won’t please the salt police. Ham, cheese and bread are sources of sodium and create a lunch with more than half your daily sodium allowance. Also, the fibre count will be poor if white bread is used.

Make it better: Enjoy this one only as an occasional treat. For a healthier everyday sandwich, replace ham with skinless chicken breast; swap cheddar for ricotta or mozzarella; and keep the tomato but ask for wholemeal bread instead of white.

Minestrone soup and roll: 10/10

The lowdown: Made with vegetables, beans, noodles and a tomato-based broth, this soup is a winner. The only possible downside is the sodium content, which is at the discretion of the cook.

Make it better: If it tastes salty and leaves you feeling thirsty, let the food outlet know. If you’re a regular customer, they might consider reducing the salt content in future. Ask for a wholegrain roll the extra fibre will help you to stay full for longer.

Japanese sushi and nori rolls: 7/10

The lowdown: Sushi and nori rolls made with cooked/raw fish, shellfish, lean meat/poultry, vegetables and avocado are a nutritious choice but that’s if you eat them without soy sauce. The sodium content jumps once you douse your food with this salty condiment.

Make it better: Learn to enjoy Japanese cuisine without soy sauce. Steer away from tempura dishes, or crumbed and fried meats. These are higher kilojoule choices. Go for fresh, steamed or grilled ingredients and look for brown rice or red rice options. Wholegrain rice is superior in fibre and minerals.

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