Midday pause Midday pause

The challenge is getting the majority of nutritional groups into our lunch.

Source Angela Franco Castro
Nutritionist – Unit for Promotion and Prevention at the University of Antioquia

If breakfast recharges an individual’s energy to start the day, lunch enhances the energy to continue the sojourn. “It is even,” explains nutritionist Angela Franco Castro, “the most complete menu, as it includes vegetables, fruit, flour, fat and protein that are scarcely taken together in the morning, afternoon or evening due to eating habits and customs. “Generally, breakfast has other ingredients such as cheese corn cake, juice, coffee with crackers or a serving of fresh fruit and dinner is lighter still, this makes meeting our nutritional requirements a daily challenge,” indicates the professional.

In addition to the biological process, our routine for lunch bears an important tradition as it brings along the need for a pause to enjoy a complete menu with the family, by yourself or with co-workers and making available to the body nutrients to absorb in the ensuing hours.

So, crafting varied and balanced dishes is a matter of creativity. Only one formula has to be clear: one serving of protein, one to three carbohydrates, one vegetable, one fat and one fruit. In this way you comply with around 35 to 40 % of the required nutritional contribution that allows for an individual’s efficient day.

“Not taking an adequate lunch, leads to the individual having low blood sugar level, making him feel irritable, in a bad mood and with a decrease in work efficiency up to 30%. An egg is also a good option for protein, in order to achieve the expected supply, you must combine it with other proteins of vegetable origin such as legumes, cereals or nuts,” she adds.

Enriching this meal at midday is possible in so far as each human being understands and realizes his nutritional demands, in order not to exceed the amounts of each nutritional group. Following are three recipes to prepare lunch at home, and if such is the case, to take to work.

 1serving of meat is equivalent to about 100 g resulting from portioning one pound into five parts.

Option 1 Shells with vegetables

Number of servings: 1

Calories: 368 / Protein: 16.5 g / Carbohydrates: 33.5 g 
/ Total fat: 18.7 g


 90 g          Shells

1 clove      Garlic finely minced

1/2            Onion finely minced

1 tbs.         Oil

1/2            Red pepper minced in small squares

1/2            Carrot sliced in juliennes

1/2            Tomato minced

2 slices     Ham in juliennes

1/4            Zucchini sliced in juliennes

20 g          Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Basil to taste


– Cook the shells from 10 to 12 minutes in a pan filled with water. Add the salt. Do not add oil, as this increases concentration of fat and impedes blending of the sauce.

– Aside, in a saucepan with oil stir-fry the garlic, onion, red pepper, carrot and tomato, add the salt, pepper and basil. 
Leave at medium heat and add the ham and zucchini. Stir.

Add the previously cooked shells to the mixture above

– Serve and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Suggested drink: water or any low sugar drink.

 It’s a light low-fat option.

The small shells are rich in carbohydrates and a source of energy.

Zucchini and carrots provide fiber, vitamin A and anti oxidants that help prevent heart disease.

Option 2 Chicken casserole

Number of servings: 2

Calories: 426 / Protein: 22.4 g 
/ Carbohydrates: 42 g / Total fat: 18.8 g


1/2        Onion in shells

1            Tomato cut in shells

1            Chicken breast fillet

1 tbs.    Tomato sauce

1 tbs.    Cream of milk light

1 tbs.    Mayonnaise

1 tbs.    Mustard

1/2       Sweet plantain squares, fried

40 g     Grated potatoes

40 g     Parmesan cheese

Bay and marjoram to taste

Salt and pepper to taste


 – Add the onion, tomato, bay leaves, marjoram, salt and chicken breast fillets to a saucepan with water. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. – Remove the onions, cooked tomatoes and a cup of the chicken broth, blend and then add the tomato sauce, cream of milk and mayonnaise. Blend again.

– Aside, mince the cooked chicken breast into squares and stir-fry. Fry the sweet plantain squares.  Save.

– When serving, use the chicken as a base and add the sauce, the plantain, the grated potatoes and the Parmesan Cheese. Bake for 10 minutes, optional.

Suggested drink: natural juice in water without sugar.

It is a low fat option.

The plantain provides carbohydrates that promote concentration.

Onion contains antibacterial and anticancer compounds.

Chicken is a source of protein and helps, along with exercise, keep our muscle mass.

Option 3 Bean salad

Number of servings: 2

Calories: 427 / Protein: 16 g / Carbohydrates: 63 g / Total fat: 16 g


1              Red onion finely minced

1              Tomato finely minced

1/2          Avocado cut in squares

1/2          Red pepper cut in squares

240 g     Tender corn (1 can)

240 g     Precooked black beans

3 tbs.     Lemon juice

2 tbs.     Vegetable oil

Pepper to taste

Garlic salt to taste


– Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve.

Suggested drink: choose a drink that is a source of vitamin C, such as guava juice that facilitates the absorption of iron.

It is an option recommended for vegetarians.

Beans are legumes that are a source of vegetable protein. When combined with any cereal, such as rice, they turn into a protein similar to that of animal origin.

Avocado is a type of monounsaturated fat, considered healthy and protective of the heart.

Related: Salads for a balanced nutrition