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What Nutritionists Eat For Lunch

We asked six pros what's on their plates. Surprise: It's not kale salad!

By Lynn Andriani

  • The Leftovers Queen
    A ransacked-from-the-fridge meal <a href="http://saddesklunch.com/" target="_blank">need not be sad</a>. In fact, the lunches
    Thinkstock
    A ransacked-from-the-fridge meal need not be sad. In fact, the lunches that blogger Sarah Britton, author of My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season, assembles out of leftovers are surprisingly enviable. It's all in how you build your plate. She starts with leftover grains, such as quinoa (which delivers plenty of fiber and protein), adds cooked beans or lentils for even more oomph, then adds fresh vegetables to give the meal crunch and extra vitamins. On days when she has more time, she makes a dressing and sprinkles toasted nuts and seeds on top; or crumbles goat or sheep's-milk cheese over everything for extra crunch and flavor. Recipes to try: The Fastest Supergrain Dishes
  • The Brain-Food-Obsessed Chef
    Rebecca Katz, a trained chef with a masters in nutrition, whose new book is called The Healthy Mind Cookbook, often eats meal
    Thinkstock
    Rebecca Katz, a trained chef with a masters in nutrition, whose new book is called The Healthy Mind Cookbook, often eats meals that deliver much more than a guarantee that she won't be hitting the vending machine later. For instance, she loves lentil soup that gets an added boost from mix-ins such as delicata squash, kale and turmeric. She considers lentils a "smart food," since they are a great source of folate, a B vitamin shown to help boost brain power. Pro tip: Freeze the soup in portioned containers; it will defrost more quickly that way, compared to being in one large frozen block. Get the recipe: Cozy Lentil Soup with Delicata Squash
  • The Big Bowl Lover
    Even if you're eating at your desk, presentation matters -- and not just because an attractive container makes your food look
    Thinkstock
    Even if you're eating at your desk, presentation matters -- and not just because an attractive container makes your food look better. Stephanie Pedersen, author of Coconut: The Complete Guide to the World's Most Versatile Superfood, likes bowls because their high sides make it easy to scoop up many different components all in one bite. Her current go-to lunch bowl includes a triple dose of coconut (oil, milk and dried), which contains fatty acids that have been shown to help keep the heart, brain and immune system healthy; as well as quinoa and either shrimp, chicken or beans. Raw vegetable sticks are Pedersen's usual accompaniment. Get the recipe: Coconut-Quinoa Bowl
  • The Liquid Luncher
    Stephanie Tourles got into the habit of drinking her midday meal while writing her latest book, <a href="http://www.amazon.co
    Thinkstock
    Stephanie Tourles got into the habit of drinking her midday meal while writing her latest book, Raw Energy in a Glass, but smoothies are a good option for anyone who doesn't have time to sit for lunch. Her current favorite contains bananas, kale, flaxseed oil and a pinch of sea salt. She whirs the mixture in her blender until it's pale green and creamy, then sucks down a (delicious) serving of greens, rich with fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Get the recipe: Banana-Kale Sweet-n-Smoothie
  • The Kale Crusader
    <a href="http://www.accordingtoelle.com/" target="_blank">Elle Penner</a>, dietician for the <a href="http://blog.myfitnesspa
    Thinkstock
    Elle Penner, dietician for the MyFitnessPal app, is crazy for the superfood kale. If you're suffering from kale salad fatigue, though, try Penner's suggestion for putting the vitamin-packed green in pesto. She combines it with toasted pine nuts, salty Parmesan and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The deep, earthy flavor adds a new dimension to whole wheat pasta. Get the recipe: Kale Pesto
  • The Bagel Fiend
    <a href="http://kerigansnutrition.com/" target="_blank">Keri Gans</a>, author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Small-Change-
    Thinkstock
    Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet, likes to scoop out a 100 percent whole wheat bagel and then spread tofu cream cheese inside. She tops it with thinly sliced avocado, tomato, red onion and smoked salmon for an ideal combination of fiber, protein and healthy fat. And Gans doesn't skimp on dessert: She ends her meal with a cup of black decaf coffee and a piece of chocolate. She says having a set "end" to her lunch lets her body know it's done eating.

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BEFORE YOU GO

  • A Wintry Stew That's Lighter Than Most
    This welcome break from traditional heavy, meaty stews is still warm and filling. It gets deep flavor from chicken sausage an
    violleta/Thinkstock
    This welcome break from traditional heavy, meaty stews is still warm and filling. It gets deep flavor from chicken sausage and garlic, an extra boost of protein from chickpeas and iron and calcium thanks to a dose of fresh spinach leaves.

    Get the recipe: Chickpea, Spinach and Sausage Stew
  • A Way to Cut Back on Carbs and Still Enjoy Rice
    This resolution-friendly alternative to rice uses fiber-rich parsnips as a stand-in; blitzed in a food processor, the root ve
    Zoonar/Thinkstock
    This resolution-friendly alternative to rice uses fiber-rich parsnips as a stand-in; blitzed in a food processor, the root vegetables turn into tiny flecks that resemble grains. They're great in a salad; here, they serve as a tasty complement to inflammation-reducing ginger, plus coconut and broccoli.

    Get the recipe: Parsnip "Rice" and Broccoli
  • A Leafy Salad That Tastes Better with Age
    You're probably not surprised to see kale on a detox menu, since its <a href="http://www.oprah.com/food/Superfoods-Ingredient
    Alison Gootee
    You're probably not surprised to see kale on a detox menu, since its high levels of iron, vitamin A, lutein and omega-3s are well known. But there's another reason to love the dark, leafy green: It's hearty enough to stand up to dressings that would wilt romaine or other lettuces, so you can prepare it ahead of time and it'll still taste delicious (or even better) when served. This salad also includes colorful beets and sweet potatoes.

    Get the recipe: Winter Kale Slaw
  • A Quick-Cook Meal with Surprising Depth
    This chia-spiked lentil soup will keep you feeling sated all afternoon (a cup of the legumes has <a href="http://nutritiondat
    Jonny Valiant
    This chia-spiked lentil soup will keep you feeling sated all afternoon (a cup of the legumes has 18 grams of protein), while chia seeds can give you the energy to power through (containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants and calcium). The savory stew comes together in under an hour but tastes rich, thanks to cumin, coriander and turmeric.
    Get the recipe: Lentils with Chia Seeds
  • The Dessert-y Main Course
    If you're craving something sweet but are trying to avoid sugar, this high-fiber sweet-potato soup is the answer. You roast t
    Alison Gootee
    If you're craving something sweet but are trying to avoid sugar, this high-fiber sweet-potato soup is the answer. You roast the tubers, along with garlic and onion, which brings out their candy-like flavor even more. Then you puree them in a blender with spices, lime juice and olive oil. The finished dish is smooth and creamy, yet dairy-free. Get the recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato and Garlic Soup
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