What’s For Lunch?

Beatles lunchbox

I had one of these in back in the day (third grade). Via Pinterest

A few months ago I declared my intention to reduce my consumption of animal products and/or seek out sources that had been humanely and sustainably raised. I’ve made some progress.

One of the challenges for me is finding non-meat protein alternatives. I rely on lean protein to help keep my blood sugar stable and my weight down. In the past when I’ve attempted to eat more toward the vegetarian side of the table, I’ve found that many of the options can be starchy which tends to make me put on weight. Nuts too are calorie-laden and have to be consumed sparingly. Tracking Weight Watchers points has really helped, as the points are stacked in such a way to encourage eating less processed, less starchy foods.

Lately I’ve discovered that some legumes eaten in small quantities seem to be filling enough and can adapt to my usual food routines. Hummus has become my new lunchtime BFF. Not just for pita dipping anymore, hummus is available in a variety of flavors and ingredients. (One of my favorites is a white bean hummus.) A few times a week, instead of poultry or fish I make the following wrap sandwich for lunch (packs well too, doesn’t need to be refrigerated).

low-carb soft taco

I think these have the best taste of brands I’ve tried.

I start with one of these low carb soft tortillas. (2 WW points)

hummus, sunflower seeds, avocado

Roasted pepper hummus.

Add 1-2 TBSP of hummus (1 WW point), 1 TBSP unsalted sunflower seeds (1 WW point), 1/4 avocado (2 WW points and a great source of “good” fats), a splash of mustard (0 WW points).

baby kale for sandwiches

Then top off with a handful or two of baby kale (yum!), roll…

6 Point lunch

and it’s a yummy, nutritious wrap with only 6 WW points. (I love these cherry tomatoes…like candy!)

Sometimes for lunch at home, or for dinner I’ll add some plain cooked lentils to my salad. At only 2 points for 1/2 cup, they’re another “bargain” that gives my protein intake a bump.

Do you pack lunches? What are your favorite healthy options?

Stay in touch.

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34 Comments

  1. plutrell
    March 31, 2014 / 3:34 am

    it does look yummy! I will try this! I try to eat my largest meal midday and in the evening I have started to eat one slice of Eziekiel Bread toast, spread with Vegannaise, avocado slices, and a little sea salt…it is really good…I know I would like this wrap and will try it!

  2. March 31, 2014 / 3:36 am

    I am right there with you on the animal products but it is hard to feel full. The best thing I have discovered besides hummus is almond butter. I grind it in the health food store and then I eat it on fuji apples. It is not only delicious it is filling and that full filling keeps me from eating too many carbs.The food issue at my age is huge!!!
    Suzanne
    http://www.chapter-two.net

  3. Susan
    March 31, 2014 / 3:47 am

    No packed lunches for me as I do not work outside of our home. BUT, I am doing Weight Watchers also and have chosen to try the Smart Start which concentrates on power foods. One of my favorite lunches (which could also be packed) is a tuna salad made with the one serving pouch (70 cal), red onion, cucumber, celery, chopped apple, with 0% fat plain yogurt as the binder and a squeeze of lemon juice . I think it is really good. In fact, I look forward to it.

  4. March 31, 2014 / 3:56 am

    I eat vegan at home (unless I get take out). “Home” includes work because I have to take my breakfast and lunch to work (teachers rarely have time to eat so I don’t have time to go pick something up – fortunately for my waistline). For lunch I eat flavored tofu, quinoa, brown rice, and steamed green beans. I buy pre-made items at Trader Joe’s so it’s easy to prepare. For dinner I eat a simple salad, baked sweet potato/yam, steamed bok choy, and more rice or quinoa. I keep added fats low (I don’t like salad dressing) and flavor things with lots of pepper and probably too much salt. I eat breakfast at work too which I also make the night before. I make oatmeal with flax and chia and rice milk and I add a package of raspberries. The oatmeal and chia soak up the rice milk at night. You can do the same with almond milk for fewer calories (almond milk has almost no calories). I make everything the night before so I can pack it quickly in the morning. It means I have time in the morning to go to the gym and it means that my eating is under control.

    Leah

  5. March 31, 2014 / 4:00 am

    I don’t know about all that health food stuff, but is that really what you take your lunch in? Guess you eat alone these days huh…

  6. March 31, 2014 / 4:41 am

    Good for you. We should all reduce our intake of animal products. Coincidentally I did a post on hummos last month; it’s a favorite of mine. For protein, have you tried tofu? Quinoa? Seeds?

  7. March 31, 2014 / 4:43 am

    We eat a lot of hummus too, and enjoy all the new flavors. I am a vegetarian, but not a vegan, so I do eggs and cheeses quite a bit for protein.

  8. March 31, 2014 / 4:47 am

    I’m also trying to eat less animal protein, but it is difficult for the reasons you state. I really crave some protein, and think there are sound reasons for that. I have a hard time digesting many legumes, including the so-tasty black beans. I couldn’t digest those sunflower seeds either. One legume I’ve been able to digest properly is edamame (shelled), young soya beans. They can be very tasty, and as pretty as peas.

    I rarely eat red meat, but I doubt I’ll ever completely give up fish or chicken. I love fish.

    One thing I’ll never give up is leather shoes; I have a bit of arthritis, so I need shoes that adapt to our own “leather”, muscles and bones. However, I’ve been using nylon shoulder bags for years now; la Duchesse has shown some very pretty ones at the Passage.

  9. March 31, 2014 / 5:31 am

    That looks delicious, I do pack my lunch, soda bread, nuts and a yoghurt.
    I love hummus but have to be wary of it, I could never have just one tablespoon or two.

  10. March 31, 2014 / 5:43 am

    What a good idea! I have humuus, avocado, and cherry tomatoes in my tiny Paris kitchen. I will combine them with mâche for my dinner. I’ll have to pop out to Monoprix to get some tortillas.

  11. Susan
    March 31, 2014 / 5:57 am

    I want to make another comment with the caveat that we are not big meat eaters at our house. We probably prepare beef at our house only 10 or 12 times a year and often have vegetarian meals. It is a norm at our house, but not a strict regimen. I am assuming that your desire to cut out animal protein is driven by two things: animal ethics and health concerns. Most of our extended family eats the same way we do—no strict regimen, but not a meat and potatoes diet either. The only strict vegetarian was my sister in law. She stopped eating meat about 20 years ago and stuck to it. She did this for health reasons. She is also the only one in the family who has been diagnosed with cancer (just last year). Fortunately, the tumors were removed through surgery and she is doing very very well. At the same time, her doctors urged her to introduce more protein into her diet as she had lost too much weight following her surgery. As we all know, there are no guarantees in life and those who strive for the strictly healthy diet may not be spare illness, while others who continue eating animal protein remain healthy.

  12. Jill
    March 31, 2014 / 7:14 am

    I love hummus so much. I don’t even eat sandwiches anymore, I just go straight to carrots, grape tomatoes and hummus for lunch. I also love avocado so this wrap looks like something I would love. Great post! XO, Jill

  13. Maggie
    March 31, 2014 / 6:19 am

    Have you been spying on me? We are totally vegetarian for Lent and this sandwich looks just like one of my iterations of what my children call “Vegetarian Delight”. The filling changes according to what was for dinner.

    Thank you for your enjoyable and informative post.

  14. Bungalow Hostess
    March 31, 2014 / 7:38 am

    I like to use a WW friendly wrap for lunch and often use roasted veggies with feta or scrambled egg and salsa. I find that they are quite filling. Great that you have found a low point version as so many or in the 5 point range!

  15. PamelaG
    March 31, 2014 / 7:08 am

    I’m going to try this – looks delicious and I love hummus (make my own) and avocados.

    How you are able to keep your cut avocado in your wraps fresh until lunchtime? Does the lemon juice in the hummus keep them from turning brown?

    Maybe your avocados where you live are better quality – but here in the South, avocados will turn almost as quickly as bananas.

  16. March 31, 2014 / 7:09 am

    This is so timely. I am making that switch as well and also trying out Weight Watchers Smart Start. I struggle with the same issues regarding sources of protein.
    I make a black bean quinoa burger that helps. I should post the recipe sometime, Anyway, thanks for the great idea for an easy lunch or dinner.

  17. March 31, 2014 / 7:38 am

    Hummus is such a nice iron and protein-source! I can eat it every week. 🙂
    Your lunch looks very inviting.

  18. Linda
    March 31, 2014 / 7:45 am

    I pack my lunch practically every day. Like you, I try not to eat meat. (I do eat fish and shellfish, but only about once a week.) One of my favorite lunches is lentil or split pea soup. I also find that fat free cottage cheese with fresh fruit is very satisfying. Your wrap looks amazing. I’ll definitely have to try that. I’m a lifetime Weight Watchers member so I like to keep my lunchtime points around 6 or 7.

  19. Maggie
    March 31, 2014 / 8:10 am

    It seems like everyone has some great suggestions. I don’t eat red meat anymore, once in a blue moon at least, but still eat chicken on occasion. I do miss the meat flavors sometimes. I eat fish on occasion. The magazine Vegetarian Times has some great hints and recipes. I do eat hummus at least two times a week. I think homemade hummus tastes 10 times better than the store bought versions but sometimes I just feel lazy. I have started eating 1/2 can of Progresso soup with some added canned beans of different types for lunch. Their split pea soup is pretty good.

    I have to track my food intake for a personal trainer that I am working with at this time. She suggested Myfitnesspal.com so I have been using that website. I have added a protein powder shake once a day and do that in different flavors. There are these blender/shake cups that have a metal ball inside that blends the ingredients as you shake it – no electricity required! My personal trainer suggested Greek yogurt. It has 19-23 grams of protein per cup.

    I am still searching for things that will make me feel full though. Mushrooms help. Some people like Portabella mushroom burgers.

    One of my sisters who is an awesome cook told me to try almond butter on a sandwich with roast vegetables as an alternative. Have not tried that yet.

  20. Shrly
    March 31, 2014 / 8:10 am

    I grew up eating beans and like hummus, but the digestive track issues when you cannot metabolize them makes for an uncomfortable day. In the South beans have always been a mainstay of our diet.

  21. Lara
    March 31, 2014 / 8:38 am

    For those with trouble digesting beans: soak for 24 – 36 hrs, changing water and rinsing at least twice, 3 or 4 times even better will help a lot. Adding a 3 inch or so piece of kombu to your cooking water is also very helpful. Canned beans give me fits, home-cooked very little to no trouble. If you cook your beans in a slow cooker there is very little “active” time involved. Very easily done weekends, or even overnight. Every cooker is different, so check your manual. It won’t take long to figure out how long to cook your favorite beans exactly to your liking. I would suggest adding any flavorings only when the beans are almost ready or when fully cooked, as the long cooking time seems to wear out many spices, except, bay leaf! Start out with less bay than you think you might want.

  22. March 31, 2014 / 8:45 am

    Wraps like this one are ideal and so very versatile – you can make endless combinations!! A little note about protein and carbohydrates – legumes and grains are sources of protein, but they are not complete proteins – they each lack some of the essential amino acids. Lucky for us, legumes and grains are “complimentary” proteins – meaning that when you combine them (either at the same meal as in this wrap or within about 8 hours) you get a complete protein – hence the reason dishes such as pita and hummus, rice and beans, tortillas and beans are the mainstay of many culture’s cuisines. As to carbohydrates, one of the reasons that people tend to fail at “diets” is that they restrict their carbohydrate intake too much – carbohydrates are what fuel our bodies – so the “trick” is consuming carbohydrates that give us the most nutrition for the fewest calories – primarily vegetables, fruits and whole grains. I tend to love salads so I generally eat a large salad for lunch and include some form of protein – whether it’s hummus and pita on the side, or a little sliced chicken or tuna. The bulk of the vegetables, combined with the protein and fat in the chicken and tuna keeps me feeling full and provides a steady release of glucose into my system during the afternoon!

  23. Andrea
    March 31, 2014 / 9:31 am

    My husband makes a near identical sandwich when it is “his turn to cook”‘; I guess that counts as cooking! he and my daughter (who has Down Syndrome and a tendency toward chubby, that girl loves food!) enjoy these a couple evenings a week when I am out. My lunches I keep very simple, and i hardly ever eat out. I keep in our small staff refrigerator Fage 0 yogurt and, yes ! Hummus! I love Sabra extremely spicy. I keep at my desk a jar of ground flax seed, ezekial golden flax cereal, and honey. I’ll bring in fresh fruits and vegetables. so typically I’ll have Fage with the cereal (1/4 cup), the flax seed (couple TBS), bit of honey and some berries. fills me up for the entire afternoon. Alternatively I’ll have fresh veggies with the hummus. I will say I do tend to eat more than a “serving” of the hummus, more like half the tub! hahaha. at least it is healthy. I’ll bring a couple hard boiled eggs many days, too, but only eat one yolk to 3 whites. for me eating healthy at work is much easier than staying the course once I get home and have to cook dinner for a family of 5, and all three of my daughters are high school athletes, so they need more food than I do. Even my DS daughter swims for special olympics, plays point guard on the SO B’ball team, and starts bocce ball next week.

  24. March 31, 2014 / 10:02 am

    This looks delicious! I love hummus and avocados, but I never thought of putting them together. Now I really need to read all the other comments so I can get more ideas – I usually just have leftovers for lunch, and that gets boring!

  25. March 31, 2014 / 10:16 am

    Healthy eating is most important for me and in January I started eating vegetarian and I don’t miss meat or sausages (very popular in Germany) at all.
    Instead l have lots of vegetables, bulgur, couscous, quinoa and spelt. I am not vegan and eat fish and eggs, love (low fat) cheese. I also stopped eating butter (or butter substitutes) but use bread spreads like tomato-basil, curry-pineapple or vegetable pastes. Currently I am looking for recipes to make my own. We have fantastic whole-grain bread in Germany. That’s what I take to work, together with fresh fruit, tomatoes, carots or cucumbers.
    I also love homemade oatmeal with fruit.
    Overall I feel better, sleep better and lost weight probably also because I reduced alcohol to special occasions only.

    Annette | Lady of Style

  26. NET-A-DRESSER
    March 31, 2014 / 12:05 pm

    Love, love hummus, and make my own all the time….fresher and cheaper and better for you! xx

  27. March 31, 2014 / 1:43 pm

    Since my 20s, I’ve worked to restrict animal protein to several days a week — or, to small amounts per meal, such as in a stir-fry. I doubt I’d ever go vegetarian. We’re lucky that I have a colleague who raises “happy pigs” and we tend to buy a side every year or so. Ditto the occasional turkey or chickens.

    As for lunches, I generally throw dinner leftovers in a container and mike them at lunchtime. I also will often make up a salad that combines grains (quinoa & buckwheat groats, for example) with kale or other greens. I can generally get 2 or 3 lunches from that, and I find the servings pretty satisfying. . . .
    Your wrap looks yummy — I also like a wrap with black-bean-salsa spread, a couple of slices of roasted red pepper, and some guacamole. . . .

  28. March 31, 2014 / 5:41 pm

    I have so much to say on this subject. I’ve been almost Vegan and lost weight but I wasn’t as healthy. Blood sugars went up and I developed inflammation issues. I follow an eating plan by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. They have podcasts under their radio program “Dishing Up Nutrition”. All about keeping blood sugar low to avoid inflammation. I eat more meat than I ever have in my life now plus a lot of vegetables. We keep a large bowl of vegetables cut into a mix add beef of fish and we have a easy meal for lunch. I also take sliced vegetable toss with olive oil and spices then roast them. I need to write about this on my blog but eating is such a touchy subject these days.

    blue hue wonderland

    • une femme
      March 31, 2014 / 6:47 pm

      blue hue, I’d love to read about your experiences and what works for you if you ever do decide to post!

  29. March 31, 2014 / 9:52 pm

    Thank you for your tip on the hummus. I always see it in my local market and will now have to try it in a low-carb tortilla. It looks delicious.

  30. April 1, 2014 / 1:06 am

    Looks and sounds yummy! I have gone Paleo the last 2 weeks and thought of doing it full time, well, 80/20 at least (I mean what’s with no being allowed to eat quinoa?) and kale and avocado has been my staple. The bum side is that kale is so expensive here and quite hard to get too. But humus, we have plenty here 🙂

    Mrs Jack Of All Trades
    http://www.mjoat.com

  31. sybes1
    April 1, 2014 / 8:17 am

    I love this! Wonderful idea for a wrap–so creative! Hummus is a wonderful source of protein and so are lentils. Black beans would be another choice in the legume family. My husband and I are also trying ‘ancient grains’. We got a mix at Whole Paycheck (er, Whole Foods)–actually when mixed with Basmati brown rice it’s quite delish!
    I’m going to try your wrap as it looks fabulous. I like eating vegetarian but it’s true that it’s difficult to control the hunger factor unless you have some fat or long acting carbohydrates.
    The WW’s tips on points was VERY helpful for me.
    Keep them coming!!! Sally

  32. April 1, 2014 / 2:17 pm

    Really wish I could eat hummus. I used to love it, but developed an anaphylaxic reaction to sesame (tahini, which is ground sesame, is the main ingredient in hummus). Have to carry an Epi-Pen for it. Almond butter is wonderful on apples, as someone else suggested, but have to be careful with nuts and nut butters, as they are so high in calories and fat. I’m not going to lie; I love a good steak, but we rarely eat it anymore b/c of the hormones and antibiotics. Grass-fed, hormone-free beef is expensive. I’ve tried vegetarian, but I have to say I feel better eating some animal protein.

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