We all are familiar with the “witching hour”: That 2 to 5 p.m. window when your energy crashes. When you feel like taking a nap and can’t keep your eyes open. To live a high-performance life, we must bust through that fatigue by keeping our energy up. To do this, I recommend eating a healthy, high-protein lunch to power your afternoons.
Total-body success is knowing how to eat right, having discipline and making healthy choices enjoyable. If you put in a little extra effort to prepare a healthy and homemade lunch rather than grabbing a more convenient option around the corner, then you will reap the benefits. Your afternoon will be fully inspired and energized so you can be more productive and focused on work and getting your to-do list accomplished.
“What you eat is just as critical as how much you eat,” LiveStrong.com states. “When it comes to losing body fat, not all calories are created equal. Calories that are empty and provide no nutritional value can cause the body to store extra energy from food as fat. Calories that are high in nutrients provide the body with the energy it needs to function properly, allowing it to burn excess energy from fat stores. Choosing the right foods can help keep your metabolism and your fat-burning process high, helping you burn off unwanted pounds.”
Protein-rich foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds, could help increase your metabolism for a few hours. They do so by requiring your body to use more energy to digest them. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). The TEF refers to the number of calories needed by your body to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meals. Research shows that protein-rich foods increase TEF the most. Protein-rich diets also reduce the drop in metabolism often seen during weight loss by helping your body hold on to its muscle mass. Protein and healthy fats help keep you fuller for longer, which can prevent overeating.
Protein-packed foods help stabilize your metabolism, burn fat, give you greater hunger control, and help you build and maintain lean muscle mass.
Here are my top five gluten-free, protein-packed salad recipes to fuel your day and keep you lean.
Ground Turkey BLT Salad
If you love ground turkey, then you will love this easy and yummy salad.
- 4 slices bacon, diced
- 1 pound ground turkey
- salt and pepper
- 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- balsamic vinaigrette
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add ground turkey to skillet, season with salt and pepper, then cook through until brown. In a large bowl, combine romaine lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, feta cheese, and cooked ground turkey and bacon. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Serve and enjoy!
Grilled Salmon Arugula Salad
This beautiful, healthy salad is light, satisfying and refreshing.
- 1 wild salmon fillet
- 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- bag of organic arugula
- ¼ cup crumbled goat cheese
- 2 cara cara oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
- squeeze of lemon
- avocado, ripe and cubed
- salt and pepper, to taste
Turn on the grill to low-medium heat and let warm up for 5 minutes. Rub both sides of salmon fillet in oil. Place salmon on grill and cook until flaky, 3 to 5 minutes on each side.
Combine arugula, goat cheese, orange slices, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon oil, avocado, salt and pepper (to taste) in a large bowl. Mix all ingredients. Place salad mixture on a plate.
Remove salmon from grill and serve over salad mixture and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Enjoy.
Healthy Shredded Chicken Taco Salad
If you love Mexican food, then this salad is for you.
- 2 cups simple shredded chicken, warmed (recipe below)
- 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 head of lettuce, shredded thin
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- ½ cup feta cheese
- 2 avocados, diced
- 3 green onions, sliced
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup salsa
For the chicken (recipe below), generously sprinkle with taco seasoning. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Warm up chicken until fully seasoned, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
On a platter, layer shredded lettuce, shredded chicken, tomatoes, cheese, avocado, green onions and cilantro. Top with salsa. Serve salad in individual bowls.
Simple Shredded Chicken
You won’t believe how fast and easy this shredded chicken is. It’s great for preparing a quick lunch or dinner.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- salt and pepper
- ¾ cup water or chicken broth
In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides.
Place chicken top-side down in hot skillet and let chicken cook 5 minutes until golden brown on top. Flip chicken, add water or chicken broth, cover skillet and let chicken simmer gently over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Don’t overcook or it might be dry.
While chicken is simmering, add additional water ¼ cup at a time if liquid evaporates too quickly. Remove chicken from skillet. Let it cool slightly before shredding. The cooked chicken will keep well-covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or can be frozen for up to 2 months.
Chicken Avocado Salad
This is a healthy and delicious way to do chicken salad.
- 2 cups simple shredded chicken, warmed (recipe above)
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 pound savoy cabbage, shredded
- ½ lime, juiced
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- small handful mixed herbs, torn (tarragon, parsley and cilantro)
- sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and serve.
**The chicken avocado salad is great served over quinoa.
This salad will refuel and re-energize your day to keep you going strong!
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup broccoli, chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 avocado, diced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin oil olive
- 1 lemon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Combine all fresh ingredients in a bowl. For dressing, drizzle olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon juice over salad, add sea salt and pepper. Top with your choice of grilled steak, salmon or chicken, if desired.
If you want even more healthy recipes, check out my cookbook “The Naked Confidence Cookbook” on Amazon.
Photo credit: Todd Cribari, inspirostudio.com