Healthy Lunch Recipes

Prepare these healthy lunch recipes for a tasty midday break that won't sabotage your diet — or your wallet.
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Photo By: Evan Sung for The New York Times

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Tara Donne

Photo By: Tara Donne ©Tara Donne

Photo By: Tara Donne

Photo By: Evan Sung for The New York Times

Photo By: Alice Gao ©2014, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Curried Chicken Salad

Liven up the old lunch standby of chicken salad with a pinch of curry powder and chopped cilantro. Replacing most of the mayo with yogurt gives the salad its classic creaminess with fewer calories and less fat than the original.

Get the Recipe: Curried Chicken Salad

Sassy Wonton Tacos

Baking (not frying) the wonton wrappers in these tacos cuts calories and gives them a nice, crisp texture. Pack ‘em to the brim with a veggie coleslaw mix, shredded chicken, cilantro and low-cal sesame-ginger dressing.

Get the Recipe: Sassy Wonton Tacos

Roasted Beet Salad

Roasted beets pair beautifully with slightly bitter baby kale, tangy goat cheese and a citrus-mustard vinaigrette. Toasted chopped hazelnuts and roasted hazelnut oil tie the dish together.

Get the Recipe: Roasted Beet Salad

Creamy Mushroom Cavatappi

Low-fat and creamy rarely go hand-in-hand, but with one-percent milk, cornstarch and a touch of Parmesan, this cavatappi is both.

Get the Recipe: Low-Fat Creamy Mushroom Cavatappi

Pasta With Winter Squash and Tomatoes

Sweet, hearty butternut squash adds substance and nutrients to this pasta dish. Once the squash has been cooked, it becomes so soft it acts as the pasta’s sauce and eliminates the need for fatty cheese.

Get the Recipe: Pasta with Winter Squash and Tomatoes

Chicken and White Bean Chili

Feel free to top this chili — loaded with hearty veggies, beans and lean ground chicken — with low-fat cheddar, reduced-fat sour cream and a few tortilla chips.

Get the Recipe: Chicken and White Bean Chili

Lettuce Cups With Tofu and Beef

Though lettuce wraps may seem like a healthy menu option, the fillings are often made with high-calorie, high-sodium sauces. Ellie uses a moderate amount of sweet hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce and powerful chili-garlic paste that flavors her lettuce cups, and saves calories by mixing lean ground beef with tofu.

Get the Recipe: Lettuce Cups with Tofu and Beef

Ellie's Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Ellie lightens up — and simplifies — this traditional Southern staple by using lean, prepared rotisserie chicken meat, low-sodium tomato sauce and whole-wheat hamburger rolls.

Get the Recipe: Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

BLT Steak Salad

Bobby Deen deconstructs everyone’s favorite sandwich by serving it as a salad topped with lean, trimmed flank steak and subbing in just two slices of turkey bacon for flavor. To replicate the creaminess of mayo, Bobby dresses the salad in a vinegar, oil and Dijon mixture and sprinkles just enough blue cheese.

Get the Recipe: BLT Steak Salad

Pasta Salad With Tuna

David Rocco’s mayo-free twist on tuna salad layers seared, sushi-grade tuna, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes atop pasta.

Get the Recipe: Insalata di Pasta con Tonno: Pasta Salad with Tuna

Spiced Chicken and Grape Skewers

A quick marinade of lemon juice, cumin and coriander lends moisture and bright flavor to Ellie’s chicken skewers. Use a grill pan with a quick spritz of cooking spray to get smoky, char-grilled flavor and beautiful grill marks.

Get the Recipe: Spiced Chicken and Grape Skewers

Mango & Black Bean Caribbean Wrap

Spicy and sweet, this tropical wrap is packed with lean, tasty and nutritious fillings like black beans, chicken breast, mango and macadamia nuts.

Get the Recipe: Caribbean Wrap

Penne With Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and White Beans

Ellie enhances tomatoes’ natural sweetness by roasting them in the oven with just a touch of olive oil. All her pasta dish then needs is some aromatic roasted garlic cloves.

Get the Recipe: Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and White Beans

Edamame Salad

Always a crowd-friendly appetizer, edamame becomes a zesty, salty, vegetarian-friendly main when mixed with pecorino cheese and a lemon-olive oil dressing.

Get the Recipe: Edamame Salad

Bobby's Southwestern-Style Pizza

Bobby Deen loads his pizza with fresh veggies, spices and a moderate amount of reduced-fat cheddar, making this Southwestern twist much healthier than your ordinary pie.

Get the Recipe: Bobby's Southwestern-Style Pizza

Ring-My-Bella Mushroom Sandwich

Meaty portobello mushrooms are perfect for a hearty and low-cal sandwich. With lightened up condiments and a 100-calorie whole-wheat bun, this sandwich can ring our bell any ol' time.

Get the Recipe: Ring-My-Bella Mushroom Sandwich

Fettuccine With Broccoli Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Though oh-so-delicious, pesto is not very healthy thanks to high-fat pine nuts, cheese and oil. Bobby makes his with just a few tablespoons of leaner walnuts and Pecorino Romano cheese, and then bulks the sauce up with broccoli florets — perfect for topping nutritious whole-wheat fettuccine.

Get the Recipe: Fettuccine with Broccoli Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Papaya and Soybean Salad

This colorful lunch salad, perfect cold or at room temperature, is packed with superfoods like soy beans and papaya. Warm spices and lime juice add an exotic kick to the dressing.

Get the Recipe: Papaya and Soybean Salad

Grilled Fuji-n-Chick 'Wich

In this griddled sandwich, Hungry Girl pairs a classic combo — apples and cheese — and adds lean chicken for additional protein.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Fuji-n-Chick 'Wich

Grilled Vegetables With Tofu

High-protein, lean tofu, asparagus and portobello mushrooms take on the flavors of garlic, cumin and coriander when grilled with these aromatics.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Vegetables with Tofu

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

Ellie's simple lean ground turkey patties gain extra flavor from a mozzarella cheese stuffing and tangy roasted red peppers.

Get the Recipe: Stuffed Turkey Burgers

BLT-rific Mac 'n Cheese

Hungry Girl pairs comfort food favorites mac and cheese and BLTs in this mini casserole, which is bulked up with fresh veggies and slimmed down with fat-free cheese and turkey bacon.

Get the Recipe: BLT-rific Mac 'n Cheese

Coconut Bean Salad

Take a trip to the Southeast on your lunch break with a black bean and coconut salad with Indian flair. Can’t find this recipe’s fenugreek leaves? Try subbing in parsley instead.

Get the Recipe: Coconut Bean Salad

Too-EZ Mac 'n Cheese

This simple mac and cheese recipe calls for whole-wheat pasta and frozen broccoli, which makes it a healthier, faster version of everyone’s favorite comfort food dish.

Get the Recipe: Too-EZ Mac 'n Cheese

Grilled Vegetable Panini With Herbed Feta Spread

Kelsey’s panini is piled high with grilled veggies and cream cheese — a rich, fiber- and vitamin-packed lunch.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Vegetable Panini with Herbed Feta Spread

Cucumber-Bell Pepper Quinoa

Nutty, protein-packed quinoa makes a great base for fresh veggies and tangy vinaigrette. This salad is delicious on its own or stuffed into a whole-wheat pita with a light yogurt dressing.

Get the Recipe: Cucumber-Bell Pepper Quinoa

Goat Cheese, Herb and White Bean Salad

This vibrant salad is packed with protein, fiber and nutrients thanks to creamy goat cheese, cannellini beans and juicy tomatoes.

Get the Recipe: Five-Minute Salad: Goat Cheese, Herb and White Bean