Tired of food comas or the crash that wrecks you a couple of hours after eating lunch? If you’re looking to beat the 3pm slump, look to your food for the remedy. Food is chemistry and what we eat will determine our energy levels, let alone our nutrition levels. And guess what, energy and nutrition are highly related.
Here are 5 delicious high energy vegetarian lunches that will satisfy your hunger, taste buds and need to stay awake and alert all afternoon. You’ll also be loading up on nutrition at the same time!
Beat the Afternoon Crash
When we eat a lunch high in refined carbohydrates like pasta or bread and chug our sugary drinks, we spike our blood sugar and insulin. This might give us an initial energy boost but in two hours our blood sugar and insulin will crash, leading to hunger and cravings for more refined carbs. This sets us up for a cycle of energy highs and lows but also contributes to overeating and reaching for that sugary, carb-loaded 3pm snack. Our waistlines tend to grow from this over time and the health impacts can be pretty severe.
Toss the sugar, refined carbs, chips and fries for the following lunches that will deliver nutrition, energy and flavor.
1. Bean Salads
Beans are cheap, underutilized powerhouses of energy and nutrition. Full of vitamins and minerals, they’re also high in protein and dietary fiber. This gives your body what it needs to build, maintain, repair and energize itself. The fiber also feeds your beneficial gut bacteria which help regulate your digestion, immune system, metabolism, neurological functions, and even help modulate your moods. Meanwhile, the protein in beans fills you up, sating your hunger longer.
Bean salads are easy. Pick a bean, add a grain or a few veggies, toss with seasoning or just sprinkle with olive oil and vinegar. Easy, delicious favorites include:
Lentil, tomato and feta salad
Chickpea, tomato and cucumber salad
Need ideas and inspiration? See my article Lunch Made Simple: Bean Salad Basics.
Curries are a wonderful thing. Endless options exist to please every palate. You can go spice-based like with Indian curries or opt for the creaminess of Thai varieties. The possibilities are truly mind-boggling. Don’t be intimidated though, curries are actually pretty easy to make.
Loaded with vegetables and easily seasoned with wholesome ingredients like garlic or turmeric, your body will thank you for the nutrition and you won’t feel sluggish two hours later (unless you overdid it on the rice and naan).
3. Stir Fries
Like curries, stir fries are a wonderful dish for vegans and vegetarians. They are incredibly versatile, covering all sorts of Asian cuisine. They can be simple or complex but really they just require a dab of oil, your veggies, and a simple sauce of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and ginger in a pan. I love to add garlic and onion.
Opt for the simpler sauces like the one mentioned above over sugary sauces like sweet and sour to stave off the sugar crash later. Serve over rice, rice noodles, bulgur wheat or quinoa.
4. Grain Bowls
These easy meals are similar to bean bowls. Pick a grain or mix of your choosing and top with veggies or medley of veggies and beans. Dress with vinegar and olive oil for a Western flavor or soy sauce and sesame for an Asian one. They store great, making perfect office lunches or lunches on the go.
5. Tacos/Burrito Bowls
Who doesn’t love a good taco or burrito bowl? Make yours a mix of rice and beans, load up on the guacamole and salsa and try variations of veggies with them. Your tummy will be happy and with the protein in the beans, you’ll feel fuller longer.
Beat the Slump
When you eat for health, you automatically begin to eat for energy because proper nutrition leads to vitality and health. These five vegetarian meal ideas come loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, fiber and antioxidants that will do your body and mind a world of good. They’re also a perfect mix of protein, carb and fat that will see you energized and humming throughout the afternoon.
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