I find lunch to be a tricky enough meal time. All I ask for is a relatively healthy, gluten-free, nut-free, low-carb (with the carb count stated so I know how much insulin to take) meal that I can grab and go- preferably with chicken and veg. As you can probably guess, I end up making my own lunches 99% of the time. However, I don't mind as I always consider home-made meals to be one of the best hacks of controlling blood sugar levels & ensuring you don't get glutened. Even if you order a salad when out and about, you never know what sugary dressing or cross contamination is going to be hiding in your measly bowl of leaves. I also usually find myself ravenous by lunch time, so a bowl of leaves just won't do. Home-made lunches are my overall life hack and save me a lot of money. Also, when I say a healthy, home-made lunch, I do not mean one of those grim Tupperwares you see on fitness pages filled with chicken, brown rice and broccoli!! These lunches are actually delicious and keep me satisfied well up until dinner time. What's more, they are as always, quick and easy, with each one taking no more than 15-20 minutes.
I've gone for the name health bowl as that's basically what it is BUT despite all of the healthiness it actually tastes 10/10. To me, it resembles a burrito bowl but without the sluggish feeling afterwards. This is my personal favourite lunch and can go anywhere in a lunch box. It's low-carb, but there's still some low GI carbs in there to keep the energy levels up. I normally use chicken as my protein source but if you're in a rush and don't have any chicken cooked, you can also use a tin of tuna! The list of health benefits from vegetables is endless and well recognised, but what's less known are the pros of feta cheese. This cheese is what's used as the topping and only a small sprinkle makes a massive difference to the taste. I know most people tend to stay away from cheese, but this one is lower in calories and fat and higher in protein. It's made from goats milk rather than cows, so it's known to be easier to digest and because of it's strong taste only a minuscule amount is needed.
What you need:
3/4 of a tin of chickpeas
10g feta cheese
Veggies (onion, red pepper, broccoli, courgette, sugar snaps & mushrooms)
One Garlic Clove
A source of protein (chicken breast or tin of tuna)
Overall, only about 20g from the chickpeas & veg. The fibre has been deducted.
What you do:
While the chicken is cooking in the oven, boil the broccoli and sugar snaps. Heat a pan with a bit of light oil and throw in the veggies and the chickpeas. Sprinkle in a bit of black pepper. After about 5-10 minutes the broccoli should be done and soon after, the chicken. Pop it all into a bowl or a lunchbox, add the chopped cherry tomatoes and there is your big bowl of health.
Chicken & Guac
Guacamole is an ideal way of camouflaging vegetables into your diet if you're not a fan of their taste. I've also added Tumeric into it, which is known for its many health benefits- one being to decrease blood sugar levels. In these pictures it's shown on BFree's brown bread and BFree's sweet potato wraps. I am genuinely so obsessed with these wraps that they take up 90% of the room in any package I receive from my mum back home in Ireland. I can't find them ANYWHERE in America. You can click here to get them online. I am very particular about these specific wraps too, as they're only 90 cal and 13g of carbs (fibre deducted) -perfect for a balanced sugar level. I'm also pretty sure that it is the only gluten-free, vegan wrap that exists that is the perfect texture and doesn't break into a million pieces when trying to wrap it. This meal is high in protein and includes mono-saturated (good) fat from the avocado so all in all its a healthy, balanced meal.
What you need:
Chicken Breast (Or any other meats really, I often use turkey breast.)
What to do:
Firstly pop the chicken in the oven. Most people already know how to make guacamole as it's fairly straight forward but this is just the simplest and quickest method that I use- Fry the onion, red pepper and cherry tomatoes (chopped into 1/4s) in a pan with light oil. Mash the avocado in a bowl and add a squeeze of lemon, black pepper and a teaspoon of tumeric. Next add the fried veg and mix it up. Spread it onto the bread/wrap, fill it with chicken and it's ready to go.
Prawns on Brown
I know prawns are a bit of a Marmite situation whereby some people love them and some hate them due to their texture. I personally am a big fan so I am always very content with this lunch decision. Prawns are a great protein source and again, combined with half an avocado, BFree's brown bread or wraps that I keep raving on about, and a side salad- you are provided with a low-carb, high-fibre, high-protein, nutritious meal with a source of good fat. When eating meals with low-carbs I'll always add in a source of good fats to make up for missed calories.
What you need
A packet of prawns
BFree brown bread
Side salad (Lettuce leaves, Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes)
What to do:
An explanation is fairly unnecessary for this one but what I will advice is to squeeze a bit of lemon over the prawns to give them a bit of zest. Also, for Coeliacs wanting to toast bread, a great idea is to use toaster bags like these, to prevent crumb contamination.
This one is a little less portable so I normally stick to having it at the weekends. Made mainly from chickpeas and eggs, this pancake turns out surprisingly fluffy and thick and has a perfect nutritional combo. I top it off with veg to make it a savoury meal but can definitely also be transformed into a sweet treat by adding berries and greek yoghurt as a topping.
What you need & What to do
If the idea of a pancake made from chickpeas doesn't scare you away, you can click here to read a step-by-step guide of how to make it.
Those are my four go-to lunches that leave me with stable blood sugars and keep me energised until dinner. They prove that home-made lunches, especially packed ones, don't always have to be bland. Although it's best to steer clear of sugary dressings and stacks of carbs for the most part when trying to control diabetes, there's always alternatives that allow you to eat clean whilst actually looking forward to your lunch!