If you’ve quit getting takeout burgers and mayonnaise-smothered deli sandwiches for lunch, then pat yourself on the back. But if you switched to green salads and find your stomach groaning by 2:00 p.m., then your midday meal needs some help, especially if you’re raiding the pantry or vending machine for high-calorie, tide-you- over snacks. Adding good fats to your lunch—either on the side or right on top of that salad—will give your midday meal a first-class upgrade. Give yourself an A for avocados. Replace the cheese in your sand- wich or salad with avocado slices. Or mash some avocado and use it as a spread in place of mayonnaise. Avocado slices are also great additions to black bean soup.
Fall in love with peanut butter again. Talk about an easy lunch: Start with a slice of whole-grain bread (and, here again, choosing a brand with lots of visible nuts and seeds boosts your intake of good fats even further), slather on a few tablespoons of peanut butter, and you’ve got a belly-filling companion for that lonely green salad.
Other ideas for peanut butter and nuts at lunch:
• Slather peanut butter on a banana or some apple slices.
• Top whole-wheat noodles with spicy Asian peanut sauce (which you can whip up fast with peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, and a few other ingredients).
• For a change of pace, try almond butter. (But skip Nutella; it contains more sugar than nuts.)
Give tahini a try. Like nuts, seeds are full of good fats. Try seed spreads, such as tahini, an essential food in Middle-Eastern cuisine that’s made from sesame paste. Tahini is delicious on its own—you can spread it on bread like peanut butter—but it’s also the key ingre- dient in easy-to-make healthy dishes such as hummus (prepared with mashed chickpeas, lemon juice, and garlic) and baba ghanoush (made with pureed eggplant, lemon juice, garlic, and oil).
Soup up your salad. There are two ways to go wrong with a lunch salad. If your ingredients list starts with lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes—and pretty much ends there—then it’s no wonder your stomach starts sounding the hunger alarm long before dinner. While these salad favorites all have nutritional merits, satisfying appetite isn’t one of them. On the other hand, piling grated cheese or fatty deli meats on a salad may make it a rib-sticking meal, but also heaps on many grams of saturated fat. Adding good fats instead will make a salad more satisfying and heart healthy. Choosing an oil-based (preferably olive, canola, or flaxseed) salad dressing is a good start. But don’t stop there. Try these nutritious, heart-friendly additions.
• 1/4 avocado
• A palmful of chopped walnuts or pecans
• 8 chopped olives