10 Ideas for Quick Healthy Meals

vegetables, spices and kitchenware on table

If you’re like most Americans your day is busy with not a lot of wiggle room.  Do you often find that what you PLANNED on preparing for dinner sits in the fridge because it requires too much work or you just don’t feel like making it?

What about breakfast?  Do you rely on prepackaged boxed items instead of fresh local ingredients?  Do you throw food OUT at the end of the week because it’s gone bad?

Healthy eating does require some pre-planning, but it doesn’t have to weigh you down.  From experience, I’ve found what weighs me down is when I plan TOO MUCH.  Every single meal is a production.  I have every meal mapped out and some even require preplanning THE DAY BEFORE like marinading, etc.

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Sometimes, eating healthy means scaling it down a bit and that means, believe it or not, NOT planning (which goes against every fiber in me).  Sometimes, a quick healthy meal is better than a pre-planned fancy one that ends never making it to the table.

This can mean, breakfast for dinner sometimes.  This can mean one skillet meals done in under 30 minutes.  This can also mean soup and salad instead of a 2 hour meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans.

And that’s ok… what’s important is to eat HEALTHY at each meal regardless of how fancy it is or how long it took you to make it.

Here are some easy meals to add to your repertoire:

BREAKFAST

1.  Banana Nut Oatmealoatmeal with banana, honey and walnuts for breakfast

Steel cut oats are one of the healthiest ways to start your day!

I’ve recently discovered almond milk and boy does it change things up.  I love it!  Another great idea to add flavor to oats is try adding a Tablespoon of pure organic maple syrup and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon during the last 5 minutes of cooking for some added sweetness.

Spoon some in a bowl, add some diced banana and chopped walnuts for some healthy fats and then add a splash of almond milk just before serving!

2.  Strawberry Yogurt Parfait

strawberry & chocolate yogurt parfait

Organic yogurt made from whole milk is packed with protein.  Don’t even bother eating the flavored yogurts as often times they contain the very controversial ingredient aspartame, along with NOT SO natural flavors and TONS of added refined sugar.

So why not take advantage of this great protein by combining it with fruit (which adds vitamins and fiber)?  You can even take this a step further and flax seed or chia seeds which research is showing more and more each day how beneficial they both are in our diets.

You can click here for the recipe or you can just eyeball it and layer yogurt, homemade granola (which is packed with nuts for even more healthy fats) strawberries (or blueberries, raspberries) a few chocolate organic chips and keep layering to the top.

3.  Smoothies

blueberry yogurt blast smoothi

I will admit, even though steel cuts oats are easy to make they do require some time (about 20 minutes) and they are SO worth it.  However, sometimes you don’t have 10 extra minutes in the morning to spare, let alone 20!

This is where smoothies come to the rescue.  Nothing is easier than putting a bunch of ingredients into a Nutri bullet or blender, pouring it into your travel mug and drinking it on the way to work or dropping off the kids at school.

Smoothies are one of the BEST ways to get a powerhouse of nutrients in a very short time.  It’s the most bang for your buck so to speak.  And this Blueberry Blast Smoothie couldn’t be easier or more delicious to make!

A great thing to remember about smoothies is you are in control of the final result.  If it’s too thick scale back on the bananas and yogurt, they are thickeners.  Add some more almond milk or water.  If it comes out too thin add some ice or 1/2 a banana to thicken it.

This way you can customize your smoothie to YOUR taste ~ and that’s better than any store can do.

LUNCH

4.  Chicken Salad

greek-yogurt-chicken-salad

Let’s face it, salads can get, well a little boring, that is until you put something in to shake it up a bit like this chicken salad.   It adds tons of texture between the crunchy apples, celery and grapes plus the protein a salad needs to make it more satisfying.

A salad without any protein can leave you hungry in a few hours.  This chicken salad has 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt to add even MORE protein to it.

The overall combination of Greek yogurt, chicken, apples, pecans and dried cranberries makes for a filling addition to an otherwise boring salad.

5.  Spinach, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

vegan-spinach-mushroom-caramelized-onion-quesadilla-resize

Quesadillas have a bad wrap.  If you look at the traditional ones you get at a franchise as an appetizer, then, yes, they deserve that bad wrap.   Chicken quesadillas at Applebee’s, for example, have 970 calories with an artery clogging 58 grams of fat and stroke inducing 2680 mg of sodium!

We’re going to change that up! 

These quesadillas have spinach, which is an excellent source of Vit K, A & C and is rich in Iron.  Added to it are onions that have been slowly sautéed until they are caramelized until they turn golden brown.  To help keep the quesadilla together without the use of cheese are refried beans.

Again, refried beans can be healthy or unhealthy depending on how they are prepared.  These are made without the use of animal fat like bacon or butter.

TALK ABOUT A HEALTHY QUESADILLA!

If you feel you just HAVE to add a little cheese, go ahead, but just be sure to use a light hand.  A little goes a long way!

6.  Saladstrawberry-avocado-chicken-salad-with-poppy-seed-dressing

Ok, so speaking of salads.  This one tops the list!  It has some lean chicken to add protein like we talked about earlier.

Let’s take a look at some of the other ingredients:

  • spinach – which contains anti inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants
  • strawberries – excellent source of antioxidant-promoting vitamin C and mangnesium
  • almonds -a 1/4 cup of almonds contains 62 mg of magnesium plus 162 mg of potassium
  • avocado – did you know avocados contain 2-3 TIMES as much potassium as 1 banana?
  • feta cheese – one ounce contains 140 milligrams of calcium

All topped in a vinaigrette with orange juice and orange zest, Dijon mustard, olive oil and poppy seeds.

The beautiful thing about salads is they are a blank canvas.  It starts with the lettuce and you add toppings to your liking.  You can add everything from strawberries and mandarin oranges to broccoli and snap peas.

Customization is what makes the salad so user friendly and great for lunch, dinner or a snack.

DINNER

7.  Salmon

salmon

Salmon, and other fish, are our main sources for Omega 3 fats, so it’s important to have them in your weekly menu rotation.   This recipe does have a little brown sugar and butter it in, but it’s warmed on the stove and you control how much you end up spooning over your salmon.  Just a Tablespoon is all you need.   This recipe makes enough for 4 fillets.

Salmon takes just 10-12 minutes to make under the broiler with almost NO prep.  Just put it in a pan and broil until it forks easily.  That’s easier AND faster than a Drive-Thru!

 8.  Hamburger Helper

hamburger helper

Bet that caught your attention!  Hamburger Helper, you’re saying, how is THAT on this list?  Well it’s on this list because you make it at home, from scratch, in ONE pan (noodles included) and it’s done in 20 minutes!

How easy is THAT?

There is more and more research available regarding the health consequences of eating a diet that is heavy in red meat.  And while this is important and we do agree with these studies, eating red meat occasionally should be ok.

The key is what TYPE of beef you are using and WHERE you are buying it.

Preparing your dish using ground beef from your local butcher, from stock that was grass fed and is organic, is the best quality beef you can buy.  It is rich in protein and iron and doesn’t contain any artificial hormones or antibiotics.

SNACKS/DESSERTS

9.  Bars

chocolate peanut lara bars

Let’s face it, everyone has a sweet tooth of one sort or another.  Whether chocolate is your thing, or you crave something salty or creamy and cold, it’s always better to be prepared when a craving hits, rather than be unprepared.

Both of the dessert options here are easy to prepare and better yet, are freezer friendly.

These Chocolate Peanut Bars are a lot like the popular Lara bars found in stores.   All it takes are some dates, peanuts, cocoa powder and about 1 ounce organic dark chocolate.  It gets pulsed a few times in a food processor, put in a square pan and refrigerated.

They totally satisfy the chocolate craving head on but they do it with the sweetness and health benefits of dates not processed refined milk chocolate that contains HFCS.

10.  Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are not known as a healthy dessert or snack, so why are they ending our Top 10?

Because the flour, sugar and butter have been replaced with chick peas!  Yes, chick peas.  They are combined with some peanut butter for added protein, fat and flavor, vanilla, honey for sweetness and only 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.  You can also substitute carob chips to make these vegan friendly.

What are your biggest struggles you face when eating healthy?  Is it lack of time or not having things ready immediately to snack on or being on the road a lot?  Send us your comments.

 

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Comments

  1. Hi, I am trying to get the recipe to the hamburger helper. I am new to the site and all I get is just the picture no recipe. Can you help me? Thanks a million!!

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