Working from home has meant juggling a lot of things all at once. Meetings, deadlines, getting kids settled (and then re-settled) on Zoom, a seemingly endless stream of dishes and laundry – the list goes on. Amidst all of these conflicting priorities, putting a lot of thought into lunch, especially one that’s heart-healthy, can feel like simply not an option.
But, before you settle for a bite of your kids’ food or a spoonful of peanut butter eaten in 30 seconds between video calls, consider another option.
This American Heart Month, we spoke to registered dietitian Marissa Meshulam who shared five of the heart-healthy foods she recommends to clients with easy – yes, easy – ways to incorporate them into nutritious and delicious workday lunches.
“Salmon is popular for its role in heart health due to the high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids,” explains Meshulam. “Omega 3s keep our hearts healthy by reducing inflammation, managing blood pressure and they can keep your arteries healthy by helping to lower your triglyceride levels. Our bodies cannot make omega 3s, which make them ‘essential’ – meaning that a diet rich in them is key. Salmon also is rich in potassium (a 3.5 oz serving has more than a banana), meaning it can help with sodium balance and blood pressure as well.”
A simple samlon salad
Meshulam recommends using canned wild salmon and making it the way you would tuna salad. “I do a bit of plain Greek yogurt, dijon mustard, fresh dill and salt/pepper,” says Meshulam, adding “You can serve it over a bed of greens or as a sandwich or a wrap.”
“Similar to salmon, walnuts are rich in omega 3s,” says Meshulam. She also points out that they’re a great option for vegetarians. “Walnuts are also rich in vitamin E which has high antioxidant activity, meaning it can keep our hearts healthy by preventing oxidative damage.”
A meatless bolognese
“On a cold winter day, this mushroom walnut bolognese is a go-to of mine,” says Meshulam. “I make a batch on Sunday and have it for lunch a few days the following week.”
3. Leafy greens (kale, spinach, etc.)
Why leafy greens?
“Green, leafy veggies are rich sources of vitamin K, which is involved in healthy blood clotting,” says Meshulam. “Additionally, these guys are a source of dietary nitrates which can aid in blood pressure reduction.”
The perfect soup addition
“In winter months, I love adding kale to soups,” shares Meshulam. “This immune boosting soup is a staple in my kitchen.”
“Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is famous for being rich in,” explains Meshulam. “They are also great sources of soluble fiber, which has favorable effects on our cholesterol by lowering our LDL (‘bad’ cholesterol) and raising our HDL (‘good’ cholesterol).”
Quick chickpea salad
“I love using avocado to make a chickpea salad for lunch,” shares Meshulam.
“Soy protein has been linked to lower risk of heart disease. Edamame is rich in fiber as well, which is known to have beneficial effects on our cholesterol levels, “Meshulam explains, adding “Like our leafy green friends, edamame is another great source of vitamin K important for blood clotting.”
A stir-fry’s perfect ingredient
“I love using frozen shelled edamame in a cauliflower rice stir fry. I season with coconut aminos, ground ginger, and garlic powder. Sometimes I even scramble an egg in there. Delicious!”
Marissa is a NYC registered dietitian who specializes in mindful eating. Marissa takes an individualized approach to nutrition and serves her clients by understanding their whole history to then guide them to their desired future. She encourages a mindful approach to food and cares more about why and how you are eating vs. just what. She helps people unlearn food rules engrained from years of dieting; instead, she teaches them how to listen to their bodies. Marissa believes the true key to wellness lies somewhere between the Whole Foods produce aisle and the line for Ample Hill’s ice cream.
Making your heart health a priority
This month, and every month, it’s important to take care of yourself in addition to all of the other areas of your life you take care of. Maybe it means taking time on a Sunday to meal prep easy options, or blocking off time in your calendar to prepare something fresh – no matter how WFH lunch looks for you, try making it a time during your busy day to fuel your body, nourish your mind, and show your heart some love.
For more tips and ideas, check out our partner apps! From workouts to therapy, meditation, and everything in between, a Gympass membership can help you start small in the biggest of ways. Sign up today and start flexing your mind, body, and mood.
Cover photo image courtesy of Lindsay Donnelly Photography.