Here are the top 5 questions we ask ourselves as two Integrative Registered Dietitian's with over a decade of experience when packing lunch for our 8 year old daughter and for ourselves. (We are a gluten-free household so everything mentioned in this blog is gluten-free and plant-based.)
Is there anything green?
What seasonal fruit did we add?
What grain and legume did we include for protein and satisfying carbs?
Is BPA touching anything acidic or hot?
What frozen food options do we have on extremely busy days?
Good Gut Greens
Here are some of our favorite ways to add greens:
Raw in a side salad
Cooked or raw, chopped up into bowls
Frozen and thrown into a smoothie or dish
Cooked, chopped up into soups
Along with anything, really!
We have yet to find a dish that we make for ourselves or our daughter that we cannot add more greens to: veggie wraps, spaghetti, soup, smoothies, sandwiches- the list goes on-and-on! A great way to increase the good gut nutrition of all would be to add a green!
Here are some good gut greens:
We just keep these greens on hand in our fridge and freezer at all times so we can grab, chop, and add.
The easiest way we like to add fruit to our lunches is by doing it the laziest way possible- just eat the whole thing! Some of our favorite fruits to eat whole, skin, and even seeds (sometimes) are:
The easiest way to know what is in season in your area is to visit your local farmers market and purchase what they have there or search, ‘seasonal produce (your state, coast, or county)’.
Grains and Legumes
Our rule in our household when it comes to grains and legumes is to batch cook at least 1 grain and 1 legume for the week. This allows for endless lunch combinations. Right now in our fridge we have a large batch of lentils and a large batch of brown rice that we will turn into:
Lentil Veggie Wraps
Lentil Vegetable Bowls
Lentil Veggie Soup
We will then rotate other grains and legumes like:
Tofu (made from soybeans)
Pumfu (made from pumpkin seed tofu)
We run a private practice with a total of 7 Integrative Registered Dietitians, which can leave some days feeling like we have very little time to eat a healthy lunch. To help us daily, in addition to the foods we have already described, we also keep a secret weapon up our sleeves so a healthy lunch is always at your fingertips; FROZEN FOODS!
We embrace frozen, minimally processed foods and we highly recommend them to our patients as well! Whether you are freezing the foods like veggies, fruits, whole grains, or plant proteins yourself, buying frozen whole food ingredients, or purchasing pre-made frozen meals made with whole foods. All can help, not only with time, nutrition, but even digestion (like we talk about here).
Some of our favorite gluten free frozen options are Amy’s Kitchen:
BPA & Other Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
We couldn't write about a gut healthy lunch without commenting on the use of endocrine disrupting chemicals like Bisphenol Alanine (BPA) that can be in, on and around food and beverages. First off, we are not perfect in this by any means. We do buy pre-made products that use plastic packaging and it is our hope that with writing to companies and supporting companies who are using better packaging methods we can all use less plastic.
In the meantime, we do our best with what we control and we recommend others do the same, whenever possible. Our favorite tips to reduce our waste are:
Use glass or stainless steel water bottles. We ditched plastic water bottles decades ago. With our RO system at home, we just fill reusable water bottles.
All of our lunch containers for hot and/or acidic foods are stainless steel or glass.
We use reusable silicone or parchment paper sandwich bags.
We use reusable bamboo utensils.
We support companies who use BPA free cans and other packaging for their foods.
One can do all of these things on our checklist or just pick one to start with.You’ve already started step one by reading this blog! Next, go at your own pace and do your best!
We hope you continue to ‘Heal with Each Meal’TM
Interested in reading more blogs similar to this? Click here
Sign Up for Our Newsletter Click Here
Become a Patient Click Here
Meet the Team: See which Dietitian is right for you! Click Here
Try our formulated Gut Nurture! Click Here