If your idea of international cuisine for lunch involves cheesy tacos and burritos, greasy rice and noodle dishes, and fried food that’s light on the vegetables and heavy on the meat, it’s time for a fresh approach. Taking inspiration from dishes around the globe, here are 10 healthy lunches from around the world.
1. Greek Tabbouleh
A vegetarian dish that’s packed with nutrient-rich vegetables, tabbouleh combines the whole grain goodness of bulgur with the healthy fats of olive oil and feta cheese for flavor that’s vibrant and fresh. Take a walk on the Greek side by trying this recipe. There are only 245 calories in a serving of tabbouleh, so there’s also room to add some fruit, yogurt, and/or other protein.
2. Chinese Farmer’s Market Fried Rice
American-Chinese food tends to be heavy on the sweet sauces, fried meat and white rice. But authentic Chinese food is much healthier and can easily be replicated using recipes like this one. Brown rice and tons of veggies will help you feel satisfied and energized. This recipe is easily adaptable, so feel free to experiment with whatever vegetables you either have on hand or find at the farmer’s market.
3. Brazilian Avocado Salad
Avocado salad, or salada de abacate, is a light Brazilian salad that combines the healthy fats of avocado, the fresh flavors of corn and tomato, and the zesty tang of a lime dressing. This is another low-calorie dish; consider pairing it with a small serving of chips or veggies and guacamole. Find the recipe here.
4. Indian Saag Tofu
Saag paneer, also called palak paneer, combines spinach and cow’s milk cheese. In this recipe, tofu and low-fat yogurt replace the cheese for a flavor that’s equal parts nutritious and authentic. At only 225 calories per serving, feel free to add a vegetable dish to the side.
5. Thai Salmon Salad
Here’s a recipe that’s fresh and healthy. Baked salmon is combined with crunchy veggies and a sweet and spicy dressing for a dish that’s as satisfying as it is delicious. This is a one-dish meal that should leave you full.
6. Italian White Pizza with Tomato and Basil
Pizza doesn’t need to be an unhealthy affair. Take away the overly thick crust, excessive cheese and oily meats, and you have yourself a thin tasty pie where you can add a healthy amount of cheese and nutrient-rich vegetables. This recipe uses a pesto sauce instead of marinara. Use fresh tomatoes and basil and dig in.
7. Egyptian Ful Medames
This dried fava-bean dish is traditionally served as a breakfast, but can just as easily be eaten during lunchtime. Once you soak the fava beans, the rest is easy: just add lemons, olive oil, herbs and spices. There are many optional garnishes, ranging from hard-boiled eggs to a garlicky tomato sauce, that can complement this recipe. For a truly Egyptian experience, serve with Arab bread.
8. French Mussels with Tarragon and Crème Fraiche
By using crème fraiche instead of double cream, you’ll cut down on both fat and calories in this classic French dish. In fact, the end result is so low-cal (232 calories), you can afford to add a hearty salad or even a small omelet on the side. Find the recipe here.
9. Mexican Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream
This Mexican-inspired recipe pairs flaky fish in a lime sauce with a cream made from nonfat yogurt, vegetables, and a small amount of mayonnaise. Try it and experience fresh Mexican cuisine in its delicious simplicity—no cheese or frying required.
10. Japanese Miso Noodle Soup
Forget traditional American chicken noodle soup with its bouillon and pasta. This delicious Japanese alternative is a mecca of superfoods: miso, chard, leeks, scallions, edamame and buckwheat noodles. It’s so packed with protein, even without a hint of meat. Try this recipe when you’re under the weather, and practically feel yourself being healed.
Eating food from other parts of the world can be a lot of fun – and it can be healthy, too. There’s a whole world out there that’s ready for you to explore!