Working On It, Week 6: Better Lunching

feature image via shutterstock

This past week in health and wellness, I’ve been tackling the ab challenge LIKE A CHAMP. It’s Day 18 and I’m still dying but in a weird feel-good kind of way. I’m not entirely over how quickly the challenge is escalating. 80 sit-ups is a lot. But we’re doing it! Are you still doing it? Did you stop? It’s okay if you’ve stopped. I tried the 30 Day Squat Challenge last week but never mentioned it because I quit on the first day. It hurt.

This column is really kicking my ass into gear; I really have to stretch my brain and my body to attempt enough new things to talk about each week. Today I’m just focussing on one healthy habit in particular, but it’s one that quite a few of you have talked about struggling with, so.

Working: Not eating all the bread

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been eating too much bread on a day-to-day basis. I’m not a believer in no/low carb diets. This is more a matter of my bread to vegetable to protein ratio is being consistently waaaayy off and I need to slow my roll a little. Just a tiny bit, though, ’cause nothing feels as good as freshly baked sourdough tastes. Pretty sure Kate Moss said that.

The easy part is that I know exactly what needs to be cut back — the delicious thick-cut toast with Vegemite and butter that I’ve been turning to on cold winter mornings, and the deli meat sandwich that my great aunt packs me for lunch most days. The hard part was asking her to stop, ’cause I know it’s how she shows love. I lied, saying my employer provides lunch now. I’m not proud.

My evening meals consist of enough bread, rice, pasta and other carbohydrates that I’ll be in no way deficient if I switch to low carb, high protein breakfasts and lunches. So, developing that habit is my focus for this month.


The breakfast substitute is easy. As I mentioned, Greek yogurt. It’s delicious and filling, and the office fridge is already stocked with it. I bargained with myself that if I eat yogurt Monday to Thursday, then I can get wild and buy toast on Fridays. It’s been successful so far. Last Friday the toast tasted EVEN BETTER because I’d been hanging for it all week.

I guess there’s also fruit? I’m not a fan of fruit except mangoes, stone fruits and berries, although they’re usually too expensive or not in season. I feel like a child whenever I admit this out loud.


Not as easy! However I did come up with some super basic but nutritious meals that can be chopped and thrown together quickly at home or work using ingredients sourced from a standard grocery store. I believe the lingo is “no cook.” I buy my ingredients on the way to work and prepare lunches there, ‘though you may prefer to do it home, many people do.

These aren’t gourmet lunches, they mostly involve cutting raw stuff and putting it on a plate. Many use the same ingredients on repeat (cucumber, tomato, etc) because it’s often more affordable to buy fresh produce in pounds/bags/buckets and use any left-overs in night-time meals throughout the week.

What I ate last week:

  • Whole grain crackers, canned tuna, avocado, lime, cracked pepper.
  • A salad of chickpeas, cucumbers, bell peppers/capsicum, tomato, leftover avocado.
  • Iceberg lettuce with cottage cheese, fresh mushrooms, sprouts, grated carrot.
  • Chopped salad with the leftover salad ingredients, plus turkey breast and cheese.
  • Carrot sticks and hummus.

What I’ll try to eat this week:

  • Whole grain crackers, tomato, cottage cheese, cracked pepper.
  • Carrot and celery with eggplant dip.
  • Iceberg lettuce wrap with skinless rotisserie chicken, sliced tomato and cucumber.
  • Chopped salad of iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrot and whatever meat is left over.

As an aside, lately on the internet I’ve been seeing collard greens being used as a bread substitute. I’ve never seen collard greens at my local supermarket, however it seems like a swell idea if they’re accessible to you. I tried to do a similar thing with iceberg lettuce leaves and it was okay but not great.

Also, if you’re interested in low carb meals that actually require cooking, last week reader Charlie recommended I Breathe… I’m Hungry and Peace, Love and Low Carb, and everything looks delicious.


I bought carrot sticks and hummus for snacking but then discovered that these non-bread based lunches took away all desire to snack during the day. Go figure. So, I ate them for lunch instead. A+.

Glamorous carrot and hummus lunch

I’m sorry that I didn’t make this look cute for you


If I wasn’t living out a lie at home, I’d be super tempted to buy one of those sweet bento lunch boxes and bring lunches from home. Butch Bento is pretty amazing tumblr to check out if you want to get serious about your bento game. There’s also this Autostraddle article about lunches (which includes Laneia’s bento suggestions) and this one about eating like a queen at work.

What is your breakfast and lunch situation? Do you have any tips for quick, healthy meals? Do you have any go-to recipe sites or cooking blogs? I’d love to hear about them.

If you’re new to this column and want a place to chat about health and wellness with queers, maybe you’ll like our Working On It social group.

Coming up next week: I’ll probably talk about yoga and saying yes.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. I’m there with you re: fruit. And since the fructose intolerance diagnosis, my list is even shorter, leaving only expensive summer fruits.

    I miss $2 punnetts of berries in NYC. I went to Coles yesterday and raspberries were $8 a punnett! And frozen is just not the same. It’s like the world does not want me to eat fruit.

  2. I have only recently discovered greek yogurt (as in a few months ago) because the target on my way to work didn’t have any other kind, but I love it! I like raspberry noosa the best because it has a good balance of sweet and tart. I also like to mix granola in with it because soft texture foods I find gross.

    Iceberg lettuce wrap with skinless rotisserie chicken, sliced tomato and cucumber sounds like the most amazing thing ever!!! I will try this. My breakfast is coffee, but I’ve changed up my lunch up to being smaller items like yogurt and I think it’s helped.

    I am not doing the ab challenge anymore because I got really sick a week in and was unable to continue :( I kinda suck at at-home workouts though, I do better in group classes.

    • I hope you’ve recovered from your illness! Keep me posted on the lettuce wrap situation, if you try it. Down thread are some alternative lettuce suggestions – iceberg is okay but softer lettuce varieties might be better.

  3. I had to solve the problem of a 5AM to 10AM shift,I had to have breakfast, and got hungry by break, but basically forgot about that part of the day by the time I got home, food included. I ended up with edamame, cause that’s the only vegetable costco sells in single serving steam packs. And peanuts for my break, cause the jug we sell fits in my locker and lasts all month. the rest of my diet is improv bullshit, but this part I’m solid on.

    You should try romaine or butter lettuce if they’re available there, the leaf size/texture makes a difference.

    • I haven’t tried iceberg lettuce, but romaine lettuce wraps are good! I made tacos with romaine leaves instead of tortillas and they were actually pretty good.

    • Romaine and butter are really great suggestions, thanks! Iceberg lettuce is always my go-to lettuce and I didn’t even think about trying those other varieties. It makes sense.

  4. Kale and quinoa salad is my go to food over the summer. The beautiful thing is that it keeps in the fridge for like three days, so I can make it on Sunday night, and have lunches until Wednesday.

    Also, I just want to mention the NHS Couch to 5k podcasts. If you want to start running, but are pretty sure you’ll be terrible, try these. A cheerful British lady tells you when to walk and when to jog, and she’s always so proud of you. After 7 weeks, I can jog for 25 consecutive minutes, which is actually pretty impressive.

    • She is so cheerful! And she never makes you feel bad for missing weeks on end and then starting again on week 3 every time work sends you to hotels in the middle of nowhere and there’s nothing else to do but exercise. She’s a heroine.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, I plan to give Couch to 5k a try. I recently tried Zombies, Run! and it didn’t work out for me, but I’m not ready to give up on running just yet.

      • I have another nomination for the encouraging voiceover/running coach category. Claire is the instructor from Get Running by Splendid Things.

        Initially I was quite sceptical of using an app for motivation. However, I found that the app makes it really easy to get into a routine. At the end of the nine weeks, I wanted to stay running!

        If you choose to you chase your dreams beyond Couch to 5k, there are heaps of running guides on the Internet. Currently I am following a “12km beginner guide” from medibank.

  5. Abby was literally just chastising me for my lunches today. JUST TODAY. This is perfectly timed.

  6. I love this column so much! I am doing the 30 Day Challenge with you (but I am a bit behind, tomorrow is day 11) and I’ve been trying to figure out how to eat on a budget but also like what I am eating but also eat healthy. Earlier tonight I was creeping on “what to pack your kids for a healthy lunch” blogs because there is nothing better than kid food, so I am also very appreciative of the timing of this article.

    • Ah yeah, budgeting isn’t easy. So far I’m finding that carrots, canned mixed beans and tuna are the best value healthy foods but then I guess that will probably change depending where you live. Cheese is the most expensive and so I’ll probably cut that out from meals in the future.
      Good luck with the ab challenge!

  7. MEALS!!!!! I LOVE FOOD! I def agree with not believing in the no/low carbs thing. Carbs are what we use for energy! A lot of the time I’ll have more carbs until around lunch or 1pm then cut back around dinner time. Meal prepping is hard. The struggle is too real. When I was by myself at my sister’s, I had to make sure I had 6 meals, 2 for every day that I worked if I worked 3 days straight. But then even when I was off, I made sure I put aside my lunch and dinner.

    I think that yogurt is the best! I’m not sure what kind of restrictions you’re on but you can always add things like honey or uncooked oats and fruit to yogurt. It’s very versatile. Good job on the carrot sticks too! My co workers are also bringing those in all the time and we enjoy them. I don’t think we’ve had chips for months now. =) And fruits! Right now watermelon and cantaloupe are really good and in season. Cantaloupe is also really good in the morning…I can’t really remember why? But it had something to do with your stomach.

    Things I like to make that I’ve turned somewhat semi-healthy: Kebabs and lasagna. Kebabs, I’ll choose some really lean meat. Lasagna I use bison and basically no salt. But I do let my sauce simmer for about an hour and a half. I also like having egg whites. Sometimes I’ll have 2 egg whites and a whole egg. I used to add turkey but I think I got so tired of because I think I had that for like a whole month.

    These past 4 days were hard. I know I def put on muscle, I was really struggling for breath at cardio. I’ve had to push extra hard to get through it today. My gym life is basically the same, though I’ve been doing better with form and the amount of weight I’m using. I can tell when I’ve pushed myself real good because my muscles are all sore. In fact my legs are still kinda sore-ish from Saturday. Picking up something off the ground still makes me grimace a bit. But sometimes you gotta embrace the pain. I’ve found that your mind will always go before your body. Remember, your muscles don’t know how much weight you’re lifting or how many reps you’re doing. All they know is they have to grow under the stress you put them under.

    • Adding uncooked oats is a great idea, thanks! For a while I was adding granola but it had a little more sugar that I wanted to eat.

      Bison lasagne sounds super interesting. We don’t have bison in Australia but I did try it once in America and enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to cooking with it when I move in a couple of months – I’ll have to hit you up for your recipe!

  8. Super keen for more low carb recipe blogs if anyone has them?

    I’m diabetic so I don’t get much of a choice, sweet jesus I miss vegemite on toast. My lunches generally consist leftovers from the night before or things I batch cook on the weekends then portion and freeze. Buying low carb lunch is super difficult and I just cant eat salad when its freezing, so I’m forced to be organised.

    (Ab challenge running total – 250 reps + 115 sec side plank. I’m now just cheating my way through it to see what insane number of reps it thinks an intermediate person can do by day 30)

    • I’m sorry that you can’t eat Vegemite any more, sad :(

      250 reps! That’s wild. I’m beginning to wonder if maybe I should start focussing on coming up with a realistic daily ab workout, rather than keep pushing myself to hit numbers that I don’t see myself maintaining once the challenge is over. But idk. I’m not sure how many exercises and reps a good daily ab workout routine should involve.

  9. I missed this column bad during my week of technical difficulties.

    My life is not uh exactly 9 to 5 most of the time so the thing that I call lunch is very often the biggest meal of my day which I know is not typical. Also my lunches are usually technically a left over from a cooked meal.
    The size of meals, number of them, what counts as one vs a snack and time of day they are eaten varies from culture to culture some of it has to do with the climate of the region.
    My beau’s family are Cuban and to them lunch is just something to get you though the day til dinner which is an early one too compared to my backround. For them dinner is the most important meal for which all the stops are pulled out if you can especially when there’s a guest.

    Soooo uh should know better than to have concerned mother hen feels about someone just having hummus and carrots for lunch.

    If it seems like I’m mother henning, sorry.

    Have you considered brown rice and beans rather than white rice that has are the good stuff stripped away? I think chickpeas are a legume which is yay and variety is the spice of life so I’m gunna beat my drum on my favorite lunch from leftovers that is also a part of what little cultural identity I got.

    Rice beans and (brown)rice: protein, fiber and more fiber, slow-released sugar also some other things I can’t remember that are probably vitamin type things.

    You don’t need to cook beans from scratch you can just get no sodium or low sodium bean in a can, heat them on the stove in a pot and spice them with garlic some cayenne or what ever works for you. Rice in general is easy to cook 2 cups water per cup of rice, can do in pot or in the microwave or if you eat as much rice as a Cuban a rice cooker.

    If you mix rice and beans together, really together together, and heat them up in a microwave or what the rice will dry out the beans. So you need either carefully layer the rice on the bottom of your container and gently spread the beans on top.
    Or get an awesome nested container like this:

    which is also great for storing yogurt and a cereal together without the yogurt making the cereal mushy.

    I’m from the school of packing food and bringing it with me like I’m gunna be trapped somewhere but with a microwave lunching. And cooking large portions of something that will go with rice that I can eat for a week. Or buying like a whole rotisserie chicken because where I live I can buy a whole chicken cooked cheaper than I can buy whole chicken uncooked and ruin it because holy crap roast chicken is hard and scary.
    And I’ve enamelled tiny ass 22g copper things, but lost of food is scarier than ruining art.

    Oy, back to packing thing. Cheaper (and easier for me) to make somethings in large portions that goes with rice I can eat for a week and pack it for lunch. Not every one can do this, skills, time, patience, ability to portion control and whole bunch of potential factors. One prohibitive factor I noticed with some people I’ve met is “how do I pack?” and it’s mostly containment.

    One my favorite containers as pictured above:

    It’s cousin:

    The grand kids:

    Carrots on one side, hummus on the other:

    They are all microwave safe and BPA free, and I have no idea if anybody can get them as easy and cheap as I can where I live, but nested containers and containers with snaps are things that exist. Screw tops are challenge for some people and those press on tops make me nervous as a hell.

    The second part of packing is keeping things the right temperature and I do not have linkage on lunch bags and ice blocks. That’s research that uh I have not done to fullest extent, yet.

    Any body feel supremely immature each time they read pack?
    I know I did.

    • Thanks for the tupperware suggestions! They look super durable and well sized.

      Dinner is also the main meal where I live, which is why I feel fine about eating light lunches – when I get home there’s usually a hearty meat-based meal, like a casserole with rice or a meatloaf and mashed potato, etc.

      I’ve started eating little cans of mixed beans at work, as a snack, because my diet tracking app kept yelling at me for not having enough fibre daily. I’m really enjoying them!

  10. …and now I’m thinking about my own lunch habits. Which I probably should, since I’m eating cafeteria-lunches every day, and they are roughly very expensive and probably unhealthy. I used to pack bento (full japanese style) for a whole year, and had much fun with it. But every since I moved I find myself in an almost kitchen-less situation (yelp!) and cooking is so hard now while baking is impossible. But I should really get a grip on that (and my money.) Aye! I solemnly swear I’ll prep a bulgur salad tonight to take out to lunch tomorrow.

    By the way of Bento boxes: While they are super cute and stylish I always warn everyone to get them unless you want to pack the proper japanese style (which is quite an art by itself..): they are super tiny because of the way they are arranged, which, if done properly, means you’ll have 100 kalories for 100 ml volume in your boxs – so a tiny 500 ml box get’s an adult quite filled up. But if you pack them western style it’s simply not enough for a full lunch. Just a heads up! And finally a great website: is a great place to start packing bentos japanese style. Her cookbook came out a few years ago, too, and I can absolutely recommend it!

    • The bentos on that website look amazing, thanks for linking! I’ve never made a bento box before and so I’m pretty excited to be able to try it one day.

      • Glad you found it helpful! Packing bentos was a great thing to get into for me, because I didn’t only learn to feed myself but also explored a whole different culture. And in the end the whole vocabulary I learnt came in super handy when I traveled Japan and nobody spoke any language I could speak. Also: bento food is incredibly tasty and, by the virtue of enforcing variety and tons of veggies, actually quite healthy. :)

    • I love bento boxes! I have to agree with cafeteria food. Its so super expensive and yeah probs unhealthy. I used to have lunch from the cafeteria every day I worked. Then I just realized to eat what would be my dinner at lunch and have a protein shake with a side of solid food in the afternoon. Works great esp if I have to hit the gym after work.

      • The protein is acutally something I’ve been looking into, too, because I often go to dance class after work. Since I’m an organic food-person I’m still looking into a granola-style-way to do that (beyond eating tofu and cottage cheese..)

        • There’s plenty of protein out there, you just have to know which ones to buy. I can’t speak for what organic protein tastes like etc or the cost but I know some people who buy it. I am going to go with my gut feeling that they like it?

          I personally used Hydra by Grenade for about 2 years. It’s really light on the stomach so I can even have it after working out. Plus the taste is A+. Now I’ve switched over to Kaged Muscle. Serving is a bit bigger and the protein has really helped me recover in the 3 weeks that I’ve been using it. It’s light on the stomach as well. The only flavor it comes in is strawberry which isn’t as good as Hydra in my opinion but a lot better than other strawberry flavors. Hydra BTW comes in chocolate, vanilla and cookies & cream. They are all really really good.

  11. HOLD. THE. PHONE. I had to stop and re-read my name four times before I fully accepted that you were talking about me and my comment last week with the links. I may or may not have made some kind of squealing sound at 1:26am

        • Ha, cute. I really do want / take note of people’s tips! I write them all down with the intention of eventually trying them out and maybe writing about them some week. So your low carb blog tips were perfectly timed, thank you.

  12. what if your job provides lunches and it’s all bread, cheeses and deli meat?

    I can make lunch from home but I’m lazy. If they offered nothing then at least I wouldn’t have a choice! Damn my laziness!

    • Oh I would definitely take advantage of the free bread/meat/cheese work lunch situation, because that sounds incredible, and instead try to cut back on the amount to bread I’m eating for other meals, if that was a problem.

  13. Heya,
    I’m on vacation now, and had this amazing black and yellow lentil salad with vinegar,olive oil and a little parsley and watermelon, that was rather delish the other day!
    I’m still doing a loose version of paleo (I’ve added legumes and rice back in) and even as a German I’m managing without bread si far.
    Good luck!

  14. I could eat bruschetta for every lunch and it’s super easy to make (even without the toasted ciabatta). Working on my sympathy :)

  15. Ermergerd it’s all about the eggs. Poached eggs for breakfast with some sautéed greens and a cup of coffee/tea is such a great way to start the day. Frittata is such a great ‘make ahead’ lunch food that is substantial and healthy and delicious. Omelettes, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs and even fried eggs are all so good in the morning or on top of/with some veg/salad at lunch.

    Re fruits and you not liking them (apart from expensive ones): have you tried buying frozen summer berries? Such good value. You can make a delicious compote with them as well: just simmer them down with a bunch of cinnamon and a few pinches of sugar, then have on top of greek yoghurt with a bit of honey to sweeten (natural, low-sugar compote can taste very sharp). The compote should keep for several days minimum.

    And, yeah, as mentioned in several above comments: complex carbs/multigrain carbs are a great way to get slow-release energy and general sustenance without stigmatising a certain food group. Lentils, quinoa, cous cous, freekeh, wild/red/brown rice, beans (I love cannellini, haricot, flagelot and butter beans), even wholegrain pastas are pretty good. Maybe it’s also easier to if you just shift proportions, such as having main veg on top of a handful of cold wholegrain pasta?

    Also beans and lentils are great in sauces and easily heated-up (or had cold). Quinoa, cous cous and other grains are SUCH a great basis for substantial mealtime salads (like here: I also recommend hearty soups with lots of (non-pureed) veg/a grain, such as (pearl) barley, in them. Also you can totally do delicious legume and veg-based patties/burgers/fritters, which are great on top of a salad/in a bun or with a side, and can defs be had cold. Ahhh man. I’m getting excited about different lunch foods already.

    • I had eggs and vegetables for breakfast for the first time last weekend and it was the best!

    • Oh wow the grain bowls on that website look DELICIOUS. Thanks for dropping the link, I’ve bookmarked it for when I have more kitchen access.

      I am only just beginning to cook with quinoa but I’m enjoying it so far. I’m terrible at cooking eggs. I’m a decent cook but for whatever reason I always fail miserably at egg dishes. I want to get better though.

      I’ve only used frozen berries once, in an apple pie, and thought they were great. You just made making compote seem fairly simple and so I think I’ll give it a try soon, thanks!

      • I totally sympathise re eggs. Here are some tricks if you wanna do various types.

        How to poach an egg with just a kettle and a microwave:
        1) Boil kettle
        2) Pour boiling water in microwaveable bowl, add a dash of vinegar
        3) Stick (preferably fresh) egg in bowl
        4) Microwave for 30-50s depending on microwave power + consistency desired
        5) Take out with spoon with holes
        6) Enjoy your 2min poached egg!

        How to make DELICIOUS scrambled eggs:
        1) Crack an egg into a mixing bowl and whisk it up with a few splashes of milk and some seasoning (I like to add chilli flakes sometimes but just salt and pepper is tasty enough)
        2) Melt a little butter in a pan on low heat
        3) Pour in the eggs and stir continually
        4) Take off heat before they look like they’re fully cooked (they’ll continue to cook whilst in the pan but off heat)

        How to make a simple omelette:
        1) Crack egg into bowl and mix up with some seasoning
        2) Put a pan with some veg oil (olive oil) on high heat
        3) Once the pan is heated up, tip in the egg, swish the pan around so that the whole surface is covered
        4) Drag the egg into the middle and move the pan around to cover any bits left uncovered for about a minute
        5) Leave for a minute then add any fillings you might want on one half of the egg in the pan (I really recommend crumbly goats cheese, blanched asparagus spears and wilted spinach if you’re going fancy, but some rapidly fried cherry tomatoes, garlic and cheddar is also delicious)
        6) Use a spatula to flip the other half of the egg on top of the half with filling on top, leave for a minute, and then slide the whole thing onto a plate

        Fried eggs: (so so good)

        Hope some of this helps and wasn’t too patronising!

        • Thank you! This is not patronising at all. I have cut-paste these instructions into my google doc of culinary dreams. Your method for poaching eggs looks super simple, so that’s exciting.

          Also the crispy egg. That looks AMAZING.

    • FRITTATA!!! My nieces call me that. Its because up until a year ago I didnt know I had been making frittatas my whole entire life. I thought i had been making omelettes! HA HA HA.

  16. Please please please always just take a picture of what you were eating the way you were eating it, not made pretty for the internet. I actually loved that picture of the carrot and hummus and laughed out loud at the realness.

    There are way to many stylish photos of food anyway.

    Could you not ask your great aunt to prepare a salad or something without bread? Or is that rude? I never met my great aunts, I don’t know the etiquette.

  17. All of your lunches sound FANTASTIC. I’ve been eating the same tofurkey and cheese sandwich for two years straight, it might be time to try something new (what can I say, I’m a creature of habit).

  18. FOOD!! I love to eat, it’s my favourite thing but I’ve recently had to cut out gluten and refined sugar and I’m trying to eat low-GI foods because otherwise I’m on a blood-sugar rollercoaster, which isn’t as fun as it sounds usually. I’ve been trying to find healthy, packable lunches because my previous go-to was a huuuge amount of bread and cheese. Your chickpea salad sounds super tasty. Here are some of the things I’ve been having:

    1.Cooking up a big batch of quinoa/brown rice and vegetables and taking them in with hummus and cherry tomatoes. I have a bento box I got from a stationery shop and it’s wonderful! People actually compliment me on my lunch box now!

    2. Soup! Soup is everyone’s friend! Everyone loves soup and it loves you back. It likes to comfort you when you’re ill and warm you when you’re cold and you can make it out of anything for super cheap or buy it at little supermarkets on the way to work. It also goes great with carrot sticks and hummus. Soup!

    3. Beans are really cheap, really tasty (especially with spices) and count as one of your 5 a day. Did you know they also taste great with hummus?

    For breakfast haters, have you considered smoothies? I make mine with frozen berries (much cheaper that fresh berries), greek yoghurt, almond milk and oats so they keep me full up till lunch and I love them.

  19. Regarding pasta: consider using spaghetti squash. Most recipes online say roast it in the oven, but I found a microwave recipe that takes a fraction of the time.

    Unfortunately, I loathe salad. Stir-fry/soup all of the veggies, eat twice as much due to the reduced water content. As long as you don’t overcook them, the nutrition loss isn’t bad, and you tend to make it up in quantity anyways, and then there are more spice/flavor options. There is no salad that can’t be improved and condensed by dumping it into a delicious hot broth, which can also be used to trick your brain into decreasing the carb ratio, since it’s replaced by liquid. You can even make single servings fresh at work (retaining nutrional value) by storing the veggies fresh and the broth separately. Heat the broth and longer-cooking vegetables like onions and carrots in the microwave for a couple of minutes, and then add the leafy greens. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, and then enjoy!

  20. I love this column yay!

    If you’re doing a lot of strength training (I’m looking at you, 30-day abs challenge ppl), certain whole grains (wheat, oats, millet) have a lot more protein than others (rice, corn).

  21. I need containers! Thanks for the recommendations! I just made saag tofu (like saag paneer but with tofu instead of cheese), and I realized I don’t have anything to put it in. I’m going to take a trip to K-Mart this week and purchase some containers!

  22. I’ve been eating Greek yogurt for breakfast exclusively lately. I get plain (because all other kinds have wayyyy too much sugar) and then mix in some protein powder for flavor and even more protein! Sometimes add a little cocoa powder or cinnamon. Smoothies could be a good breakfast alternative too. Fresh fruit, yogurt and protein powder. Maybe some almond milk, almond butter or cinnamon if you’re feeling fancy.

    I always do meal prep for the week on Sundays so I don’t have to think about what to bring for lunch every day. Having a slow cooker is a lifesaver for this. Or just throwing a ton of chicken and veggies in the oven.
    If you’re really missing carbs, I suggest trying out some cauliflower recipes as a replacement. If you’ve got a food processor, you can make a mean cauliflower friend rice or even cauliflower crust pizza. And if you’re missing chocolate/sweets, avocado chocolate pudding is divine!

    • I eat the plain Greek yogurt also, although I think I’d really dig the addition of cinnamon – thanks for the tip!

      I’ve seen a lot of articles lately suggesting cauliflower as a bread/rice/pasta substitute, it sounds smart. I can’t wait to try it once I get back into my own kitchen.

  23. Maybe other fish than tuna for variety? You can get decent canned salmon in the US and do similar salad-y things with it. I can’t quite manage them canned, but there are also sardines in tomato sauce and such. Lots of omega-3 PUFAs… If I made lots of money, I would eat smoked trout every week. Maybe every day.

    I also depend on legumes for much of the base of my lunches, often in soup in the winter and salad (viniagrette) in the summer, with whatever veg are handy. They are cheap, filling, and I don’t tend to have a dramatic mid-afternoon crash when I eat them with enough fat. Examples: giant white lima beans with steamed sugar snap peas, red lettuce, boiled new potatoes, and shaved carrots; French lentils in a mustard-y dressing with artichoke hearts, cucumbers, and kohlrabi; kidney beans with cheddar, buttercrunch lettuce, olives, peppers, and a cumin/chili dressing. These are fun summer ones; harried winter meals are more like cooked beans + frozen veg + shot of olive oil in a mason jar = meal.

  24. I am big fan of hummus, but I know that’s not the answer for me to get more fit. Most of that has to do with the fact I’d probably want to have it with lavash bread, which is staple of my culture(seriously there is a lot of this bread at my house on a weekly basis). But, also hummus itself isn’t exactly low carb either. Still doesn’t stop me from eating it. For lunch I have a banana, cause I know I’m probably going to have something heavy(like vegetables with rice or pasta). As for breakfast, some days it’s raw vegan hemp-based protein bars, other days bread w/ avocados(again goes back to how much bread we have at home).

    I personally need to cut bread out more out of my meals to a point I’m off it(my parents deny that we eat too much bread in our family, but I can feel the bread slowing me down).

  25. I make a lot of quinoa bowls with protein/lettuce/quinoa/sunflower seeds/goddess dressing/other (carrots/cucumbers/tomatoes) and I make a lot of what I call lettuce boats, that are functionally sandwiches with lettuce for bread. gf is happy like a small child when I make her ones with spicy mustard and goat cheese.

    man the thing about sandwiches is that they’re so portable. most veg-protein dense food is harder to schlepp around.

  26. I’m pretty staid in my breakfast/lunch habits, but it works well for me!

    Breakfast: Greek yogurt with muesli and blueberries (and passionfruit when it’s in season). Or if I’m lazy, I just eat some muesli.

    Lunch: In summer, salads. (Lettuce optional, because I hate lettuce.) In winter, I make veg soup over the weekend and have it for lunch all week. (Or sometimes Soylent because I’m That Guy.) Or I’ll do some other form of leftovers, if we have any.

    In other news, I have City2Surf on the weekend and I’ve been really slack with my workouts so I’m quietly freaking out, sigh.

  27. Why does bread have to be so delicious?? Gosh. Those lunch ideas sound fantastic and easy to create! I think I’ll have to try a few of them next week.

  28. I’m still on the 30 day ab challenge too, but a bit behind, today will be day 15. But it seems to be going well, and feeling it!

    Also love Greek yoghurt for breakfast, I have it with chopped fruit, which is getting a bit hard because its winter so fruit is pretty terrible at the moment! Also pretty pricey though generally, I had to cut a deal where I gave up drinking, and redirected the drinking funds to the breakfast-fruit fund.

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