Healthy lunch ideas

Ten healthy lunch ideas

by Tom Wildman 26 April 2016

Keep on top of your diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle with our ten favourite healthy lunch recipes. From silken tofu ceviche to a delicious prawn soba noodle salad, a healthy lunch can be just as satisfying as any calorie-heavy alternative.

A Cordon Bleu graduate from Tante Marie Culinary Academy, Tom shares his food passions both in the kitchen and by writing about his favourite dishes.

Although a history graduate, Tom soon realised his call for the culinary arts and trained for a Cordon Bleu qualification at Tante Marie Culinary Academy. He loves sharing his equal passions for food and travel, with Mexican and Vietnamese foods being top of his hit list. When not in the kitchen, he can be found out on a foraging trip or perhaps playing ultimate frisbee.

When it comes to lunch it can be all too easy to sacrifice health for convenience and head to the nearest takeaway. A well-balanced lunch can give you a midday boost without the post-lunch crash that comes with a carb-heavy meal. For many, dishes labeled as ‘healthy’ can stir up memories of bland, uninspiring salads or watery ‘low-fat’ soups. This is quickly changing, however, as we continue to integrate international ingredients and dishes into our diet. Ancient grains such as millet, bulgur wheat or quinoa are fantastic examples of this; for centuries they have formed an integral part of the diets of indigenous populations, but have only recently become available in the UK. Be inspired to eat healthily this lunchtime with ten of our favourite calorie-conscious recipes.

The dishes

Salads are always worth making at home – store-bought varieties are often smothered in sugary dressings, negating any health benefits, or made with tasteless, limp leaves. Celebrate the beginning of the British asparagus season with this delicious asparagus, egg and potato salad. Unlike the tiny plastic salad pots in available in shops, this salad is sure to fill you up, and best of all, it's only 250 calories per portion.

Quinoa is one of the few grains to be considered a ‘complete protein’ and has a wide array of health benefits – so much so the UN declared 2013 to be the ‘International Year of Quinoa’. It is just as easy to cook as rice and almost as versatile; our chefs use it in salads, burgers and even as a crispy garnish. Try Alfred Prasad’s grilled aubergine rolls stuffed with quinoa for another delicious way to use this super grain.

Brighten up your lunch with this steak teriyaki and miso aubergine bento, a complete meal in a single lunch box. In Japan, elaborate and artistic bentos are a common sight, but these can be time consuming to prepare at home. Louise Robinson’s simple bento takes just one hour to make and is packed with fresh, clean flavours.

A warming bowl of soup is always a comforting sight after a long morning. This versatile recipe can be served hot or cold and is loaded with tomatoes, peppers and other nutritious vegetables. For an added hit of flavour, try drizzling over a little wild garlic oil or a spoonful of pesto.

Robert Thompson takes sardines on toast to the next level with this irresistible recipe. Whole sardines are butterflied, drizzled with olive oil and grilled over a high heat. The chef then serves them on garlic-rubbed ciabatta topped with a vibrant tapenade and sweet confit tomatoes. Sardines are rich source of omega-3 fats and vitamin D and are inexpensive to buy. If you can’t get ahold of fresh sardines, try stirring the tinned variety through a pasta sauce.

Nancy Anne Harbord proves ceviche marinades can work just as well with tofu with this stunning vegan variation. Delicate cubes of silken tofu are marinated in grapefruit juice, garlic and honey then tossed in a colourful mango and cucumber salad. Try making a bowlful for a cooling summertime lunch.

Elly McCausland’s prawn soba noodle salad is an explosion of colour and zingy citrus flavour. Soba noodles are traditionally made with buckwheat flour, a gluten-free, low-calorie flour rich in vitamins, and the tangy yuzu dressing is offset by creamy avocado, fragrant herbs and little bursts of sweet pomegranate.

A well made salad can be just as tempting as unhealthy alternatives. In this recipe by John Torode, buttery roast pumpkin is paired with lightly charred caramelised onions and creamy goat’s curd. To finish, John opts for a simple olive oil dressing and a generous grinding of black pepper.

Resist the urge to reach for a packet of pasta by using courgetti instead. Spiralizing is fun, easy and a great way to use up leftover vegetables. Emma Potts serves her courgetti with grilled corn, Piccolo tomatoes and herb dressing. Take a look at our courgetti collection for more creative ways to use this tasty pasta substitute.

In just twenty minutes you can have this beautiful fish dish ready for the table. The skate wings are poached in a delicately balanced miso broth and then garnished with plenty of fresh lime juice, coriander and chilli. If skate is unavailable, you could use cod, haddock or any other firm white fish instead.