How many times have you spent your lunchtime scarfing down a sandwich while checking social media or squeezing in some work?

Lunch is typically an afterthought. It’s probably the least-enjoyed meal of the day. It’s mostly filled with fast-food, dull sandwiches or – worst of all – a few selections from the vending machine.

And the irony is - this overlooked and unglamorous meal may be the most important meal you eat all day.

Here’s the thing: Historically, lunch hasn’t always held this insignificant place in the day. Only a few generations ago lunch was not lunch, but dinner. The big meal of the day was eaten at noon. The noonday meal was a full spread with multiple dishes and everyone sitting together at the table. Supper, the evening meal we now call “dinner”, was the afterthought – a few light leftovers or some soup “supped” down to tide you over until morning.

Power Lunches Power You Up

Years ago, when more people farmed, meals were scheduled like this as a midday refueling stop for the physically demanding work of farming. And it still makes sense for you to eat on this schedule. Most of your heavy eating should be done when you’re more active. Eat more when you use more fuel. Hefty dinners come at the wrong time. At 6 in the evening, you’re decreasing physical activity. Your metabolism is slowing and your body needs to relax and get ready for sleep.

Research supports this:

• A recent Swedish study found that when people with diabetes waited until lunch to eat a big meal – sometimes with just a cup of coffee for breakfast – they lost weight and had better blood sugar levels. And this was true even when the midday meal was a calorie extravaganza.[1]

• A Czech study found similarly positive results when diabetics ate only two large meals early in the day – breakfast and lunch – instead of six small meals.[2]

Many Europeans –particularly southern European countries - have kept this tradition. And some of the researchers theorize this schedule may be part of the Mediterranean diet’s healthy power. Essentially, it may not be only about what you eat – but when you eat it!

While many European businesses accommodate a leisurely lunch with 2-hour midday breaks, most American workplaces don’t. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on giving lunch the attention it deserves. Plan and pack a meal you can sit down to and enjoy. Even if you only have a forty-minute break, make it count with some good eating. If you cook a good meal for dinner, dine lightly that evening and save the leftovers for some serious noshing at lunch the next day.

And don’t be overly cautious with the calories. Of course, don’t go nuts . . . but if you like a little dessert or want to indulge in a little extra carbohydrates, lunch is the best time of day to do this – not dinner. Similarly, if you’re trying to cut down on your food intake to lose weight, save that calorie-counting for dinner. Eat heartily during the day when you need the calories to keep going. And save the forbearance for your evening meal when you’re about to go to sleep. It’s also much easier to ignore your tummy rumblings at this time of day.

Need some help in making lunch more nourishing? Here are a few unique lunch ideas to put in your lunchbox. In addition to being supremely nutritious, they are simple to make and take. You can make a big batch over the weekend that will last for several days. And most of them are easily portable, needing only an ice pack for refrigeration.

If you really want to spruce these dishes up, sprinkle some chlorella granules and make these super lunch ideas even more stupendous!

Get Going With Power Greens!

Greens mean “go” when it comes to getting energizing. If you’re particularly tired at work, a fresh salad with some good protein and fats can be one of the best pick-me-ups. And when it comes to super greens, kale is pretty pumped! With vitamins A, C and K, kale also helps your body detox and keeps inflammation down thanks to its isothiocyanates and kaempferol.

To make a nice salad, simply chop up some kale and then build on it. To balance kale’s slight sharpness, add some creamy cashews, sunflower seeds or mozzarella cheese. Toss in some shredded carrots or chopped apples to sweeten things up. Boost the protein with some chopped eggs, leftover chicken or chickpeas. Finally, top it off with your favorite dressing. Slightly sweet dressings – like a balsamic vinaigrette or a Caesar dressing with honey – bring out the best in kale.

Try Sardines For A Change

The good ole tuna fish sandwich has lost its luster thanks to the concerns about mercury in tuna. But don’t despair if you’re a fan of this easy reliable lunch . . . Sardines make an outstanding replacement. Sardines are second only to chlorella in nucleic-acid concentration. Nucleic acids are a powerful anti-aging nutrient, essential for cellular reproduction and tissue repair. In addition, sardines also offer a nice dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

How to prep them? Simply open a can and then mix with chopped red onion, your favorite herbs, a little pepper and a dash of mayo. Combine the mixture together with a fork and spread on your favorite whole grain bread. If you want a slightly different taste, try smoked sardines. Add some tomato slices and mozzarella cheese and you’ve got a sandwich fit for a king.

Dal Is Never Dull

Move over hummus . . . there’s another staple bean dish that combines delicious spices with outstanding nourishment. In India, dal is eaten with just about every meal – and for good reason. The beans provide a fiber-rich source of protein and a good supply of vitamin B12. And they’re cheap! But it doesn’t end there – the well-spiced deliciousness takes this solid lunch to a whole new level.

Best of all, dal is simple to make. Bring 1 cup of split red lentils (also called masoor dal) to a boil with 3 cups water, a few slices of ginger and some turmeric. Then lower to a simmer as the beans thicken. When the beans are cooked to the consistency you like, stir in some onions and garlic sautéed in butter, a little garam masala and cumin. Some people like to add even a dollop of cream. Then salt it to taste.

Serve yourself a generous bowl with some brown rice, cucumber slices and perhaps a little spicy mango pickle and you’ll awaken your senses for the rest of the day.

How To Make The Most Of These Lunch Ideas

The benefits you get from your diet come from when you eat as well as what you eat! But they also come from how you eat it . . .

You may not be able to take a full two hours to lunch at leisure and enjoy a 4-course meal. But you can still get more out of your lunch by shifting how you eat your lunch.

Get away from your desk if you can. If you can’t, at least shut down your monitor and put your phone away. Don’t squeeze in a little work or social media time while you’re munching . . .

Enjoy your lunch and take your time to chew, enjoying the nourishment it provides. Devote this time – however much you have – to refueling and savoring the experience. By doing so, you’ll be able to return to the afternoon’s responsibilities with more power – just like our farming ancestors did.


[1] Hanna Fernemark, Christine Jaredsson, Bekim Bunjaku, Ulf Rosenqvist, Fredrik H. Nystrom, Hans Guldbrand. A Randomized Cross-Over Trial of the Postprandial Effects of Three Different Diets in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (11)
[2] Hana Kahleová et al. Eating two larger meals a day (breakfast and lunch) is more effective than six smaller meals in a reduced-energy regimen for patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised crossover study. Diabetologia, May 2014

Author's Bio: 

About Rose Straub

Rose Straub is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Sun Chlorella USA. In addition to working to further Sun Chlorella USA’s mission of supporting excellent health, she lives this mission in her personal life. Rose takes full advantage of enjoying California’s beautiful outdoors and learning from its rich community of holistic health practitioners to build a vibrant and healthy life for herself and her family. Rose lives with her husband, Pat, and is both a proud mom and grandmother.

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