School and work are back in full swing, meaning those homemade sack lunches are once again becoming diet staples. While it may be easy to scrape together a last-minute meal full of pre-packaged snacks and munchies, we challenge you to do better. We’ve compiled a list of traditional lunchtime foods and offered a more nutritious, diabetes-friendly alternative instead. Bonus: All of these recipe swaps are extra tasty and easy to prepare.
Eat this: Turkey sandwich
Not that: Roast beef sandwich
Deli meats are a fast and easy way to add protein to your lunch, giving your midday meal some staying power. According to Livestrong.com, swapping lean poultry, like turkey, for roast beef can save you up to 170 calories per serving. Turkey is also much lower in fat, with only 1-4 grams per serving, compared to 16 grams in roast beef. To make your afternoon sammie even better, opt for low-sodium deli meats. You won’t miss the flavor when you choose an oven roasted or wood smoked cut.
Eat this: Hummus
Not that: Ranch dressing
Rich and creamy with just the right amount of tang, ranch dressing is the perfect solution for making those veggie sticks a little more appetizing. Unfortunately, just two tablespoons bring in 140 calories and 14g of fat. For a satisfying veggie dip with just as much flavor, try hummus instead. Made with protein-packed chickpeas and heart-healthy olive oil, this creamy, spreadable dip is protein-packed and hearty-healthy, meaning you can dip to your heart’s content.
Eat this: Baked cinnamon apple chips
Not that: Fun-sized candy bar
Fun-sized candy bars are so cute and perfect for sack lunches, it’s almost a crime not to throw one–or two–into your meal. However, all those little two-bite candies can quickly add up, bringing in more than 1,000 calories to your diet each month. Try ending your meal on a sweet note with a piece of fruit instead. These Cinnamon Apple Chips offer just the right amount of sweetness with the same addictive crunch of a potato chip. Bonus points if you cut the sugar from the recipe.
Eat this: Nuts
Not that: Granola bar
When it comes to nutrition, granola bars are pretty sneaky. Usually labeled as a “healthy” food, some brands of granola bars have more sugar and preservatives than a full-on piece of candy. For a better afternoon pick-me-up, snack on nuts instead. With less 1 gram of sugar per serving, nuts offer all the same protein-packed benefits of a granola bar, without the unnecessary sweetness. Because nuts are naturally high in calories, make sure you’re monitoring your portion sizes. We’re partial to pistachios, walnuts, almonds, and peanuts for a filling and heart-healthy snack.
Photo courtesy of Zach Copley on Flickr