Boneless, Skinless, Boring: Better Proteins for Healthy Lunch Catering

Posted by on Friday, July 11th, 2014 with 2 Comments

If you’ve been trying to eat healthy at the office, you probably have go-to dishes that you can order from a local restaurant or find at the lunch catering table: a green salad with grilled chicken. A turkey sandwich — hold the mayo — on whole-wheat bread. A boneless, skinless chicken breast with a side of steamed vegetables. Bored yet? Here’s one solution: just say no to boneless, skinless poultry.

Don’t misunderstand: lean protein is important to maintaining a healthy diet (lean meaning sources of protein that are low in saturated fat, unlike the juiciest cuts of steak). Protein is essential to staying healthy, and the daily recommendations for the average adult woman are 46 grams daily, with 56 for men — although some nutritionists argue those numbers are significantly lower than what many active people should be eating.

But when it comes to lean protein, we believe that variety is just as important as quantity; without it, you might experience healthy-eating burnout and be tempted to revert to old office habits of pizza, burgers, and burritos. So if your healthy office lunches are stuck in a boneless, skinless poultry rut, it’s time to get inspired! There are so many more fish in the sea. Literally, in some cases.

hard boiled eggs with lentils salad

Eggs and lentils are just a few examples of diverse lean proteins.
Image source: Flickr user zemlinki

Here are some poultry-free options, so you can suggest new fare for the lunch catering table — or just pick a different protein from your favorite takeout spot:

1) Salmon

There’s a reason this fish makes the list on many of our healthy eating posts: it’s low in saturated fat, high in proteins and B-vitamins, and utterly delicious. Request it cooked in olive oil instead of butter to ensure you’re getting quality unsaturated fats and plenty of omega-3’s.

Per 3-ounce serving of cooked Coho salmon: 21 grams protein, 151 calories, 1.7 grams saturated fat

2) Greek yogurt

While primarily thought of as a breakfast staple, Greek yogurt is an incredible protein source — and can double as a base for sauces or even as a dessert when topped with fresh berries. At any meal, nonfat Greek yogurt deserves a spot on the table!

Per 6-ounce container of nonfat Greek yogurt: 17 grams protein, 100 calories, .2 grams saturated fat

3) Lentils One of the best vegetarian protein sources, lentils are also one of the highest non-meat sources of iron. A warm lentil salad is a hearty substitution for the usual leafy greens, and if you like Indian food, then you’re practically guaranteed to find a delicious — and healthy — Indian lentil dish on the takeout menu.

Per cup of boiled lentils: 18 grams protein, 230 calories, .1 gram saturated fat

4) Scallops

Scallops get a bad rap, nutritionally speaking, because they’re often drowned in butter during cooking. When prepared in a healthier manner, though, scallops are actually one of the leanest proteins out there. If your favorite Thai restaurant offers scallops as a protein choice in curries, give them a try: they’re usually simmered in the curry sauce, so no additional fat is involved in the cooking process.

Per 3-ounce serving, steamed: 17 grams protein, 95 calories, .2 grams saturated fat

5) Eggs & almonds & cottage cheese

Remember, not all protein has to be a big hunk of fish or meat — by combining a few foods with moderate amounts of protein, you can end up with a very well-rounded lunch. For instance, instead of topping your next salad with a grilled chicken breast, order your leafy greens with a hard-boiled or poached egg and healthy serving of almonds for a delicious change of pace — and add a side of cottage cheese to boot!

Per poached egg: 6 grams protein, 71 calories, 1.6 grams saturated fat Per 1 ounce serving of almonds: 6 grams protein, 163 calories, 1.1 grams saturated fat Per 4 ounces of low-fat (1%) cottage cheese: 14 grams protein, 82 calories, .7 grams saturated fat

6) Quinoa

You can’t have a list of lean proteins without including quinoa! This hearty grain even has the rare distinction of being a vegetarian “complete protein,” meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids we need to take in through food (most other complete proteins are animal-based). Plus, it’s so easy to incorporate into salads — try a zesty black bean, corn, tomato, and quinoa salad for a refreshing yet hearty summer dish on the catering table (perhaps alongside a few scallops or piece of salmon?).

Per cup of cooked quinoa: 8 grams protein, 223 calories, .4 grams saturated fat

And the easiest way to add variety to your office’s lunch catering program? Enlist support from! We offer a wide range of menus to choose from, and our Virtual Cafeteria Service makes providing healthy meals for every taste in the office downright stress-free.

– All nutrition info above according to Google’s nutrition tool – 

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

2 responses to “Boneless, Skinless, Boring: Better Proteins for Healthy Lunch Catering”

  1. kKK says:

    I love to include tuna in a summer meal. You can use fresh or even Italian canned in olive oil. You can make a Salad Nicoise or grill it with a sesame crust. Good protein and not much fat, also a decent amount of Omegas.

    • Sara says:

      Good one – tuna is awesome! On a lot of restaurant menus, an ahi tuna appetizer – just like you suggested, lightly grilled with sesame seeds – is one of the healthiest options available.