MAKE HEALTHY FAST FOOD
I’ve learned how to make very quick healthy meals that aren’t fancy but take 10 minutes to make. While you might be tempted to go through the drive-through at MacDonald’s or plunk down a frozen pizza, believe it or not, these meals are quicker to prepare than the time it takes to drive somewhere or defrost that frozen pizza. And best, you’re in control of the ingredients and can make something scrumptious easily. Note that most of my recipes are complete with protein, whole grains and vegetables. When kids don’t like to eat vegetables alone, cook them within your main meal. When you get the hang of this, you’ll find that you don’t need to take time measuring or assembling complicated meals.
Here are some ideas:
• One Meal Spaghetti – Brown some lean ground turkey or beef in a non-stick frying pan. When browned, throw in frozen chopped spinach, can chopped tomatoes and even some grated carrots. Pour a jar of spaghetti sauce over the top. Cook up a whole grain spaghetti and serve. Sprinkle a little bit of parmesan over for extra flavor. Tip – Buy good, fresh parmesan cheese rather than the processed canned stuff. It has a stronger flavor and a little goes a long way. This whole meal can be prepared in 10 minutes!
• Chicken Burritos – Buy a roasted chicken. Pull off the skin and hand pull some pieces in to bite sized chunks. Warm up some whole wheat tortillas. Create a burrito bar where your family can assemble their own burritos. Ingredients should include pinto beans or black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, grated cheddar cheese and the chicken. Put it all together and you have a filling, healthful meal made in minutes!
• Salmon Burgers – Remove skin from a salmon filet and finely chop in a food processor. Add in whole wheat bread crumbs, egg, a ½ cup finely chopped onion and a dash of ginger and a squeeze of lemon juice. Mix well and mold in to patties. Spray non stick pan with a drop of olive oil and cook salmon patties. Serve on top of brown rice and with steamed veggies. Canned salmon can be substituted.
• Veggie Pizza – Trader Joe’s has a great ready made pizza dough called Almost Whole Wheat. If you can’t get that, you can use a Boboli or make your own. Spread dough in to a large pizza circle. Top with jarred spaghetti sauce and any or all of the following toppings: Mushrooms, Red or Green Peppers, Fresh Tomatoes, Broccoli, Red Onions, Artichoke Hearts, Olives, baby spinach, or basil. For your protein, you can top it with chunks of chicken or seafood. Sprinkle with a little mozzarella cheese and bake at about 400 until browned and bubbly. A pizza stone greatly improves the crust of the pizza.
• Colorful Quesadilla – A quesadilla seems to be the new kid’s grilled cheese. Normally, it’s just melted cheese between two tortillas. In this version, it’s a nutrition packed meal. Put one tortilla down as the base (preferably whole grain). Layer some shredded chicken, chopped veggies and jack cheese. Top with the other tortilla. Spray a non stick pan with a little olive oil. Brown on each side and make sure the inside is hot and melty. Serve with guacamole and salsa.
• Apple Turkey Meatballs – Mix together 1 grated apple, 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 package ground turkey, ½ cup apricot jam, ½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs, 1 egg and ½ cup defrosted, drained chopped spinach. Form in to balls and “fry” in non-stick pan that has been sprayed with a little bit of oil. Cook until browned and cooked through. Serve with quinoa (a wonderful and unique grain) and a side salad. You can make little bite sized meatballs for the kids. They will love them!
• One Pot Chili – Chili can be one of the healthiest meals, made year round. Brown one package of lean ground beef or turkey meat in a pot. Throw in 2 cans of beans (I like to use a variety). Add ½ cup of chopped onion, 1 cup of chopped spinach and a can of chopped tomatoes. Throw in your own chili spices or use a packaged variety. So long as you watch sodium intake regularly, using this once in awhile shouldn’t hurt you. Serve with a side salad.
• Lollipop Chicken – Rather than the traditional hot dog on a stick, this grilled chicken option is a lot healthier (and tastier in my opinion). Buy a package of large lollipop sticks (can be found at most art supply stores). Skewers will work as an option. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Remove the sinew or tendon. In one bowl, mix up some flour seasoned with salt and pepper. In the other bowl mix up 2 eggs and 2 Tbsp water. And in the third bowl, mix up some Panko breadcrumbs and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Dredge chicken in the flour, then the water mixture and then the breadcrumbs, shaking off excess in between. “Fry” chicken in a non stick skillet with just a bit of oil until it is browned on each side and cooked through. Skewer on to the lollipop racks and serve with a cooked vegetable.
• Sweet Potato Salad – Cut sweet potatoes in French fry type slices. Spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until tender. Mix sweet potatoes with 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar and 1 Tbsp Olive oil. Sprinkle some chopped scallions throughout. Serve warm or cold.
• Kashi Fruit Ambrosia – Cook one packet of Kashi as directed on box. Mix cooked Kashi with your choice of fruit. Stir in ½ cup of plain yogurt and ¼ cup of honey or brown sugar.
• Healthy Tortilla Chips – Cut corn tortilla in triangles. Put on baking sheet. Spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (and/or other seasonings). Bake at 400 until crisp and lightly browned.
• Veggie Lasagna – Layer the following: Whole wheat lasagna noodles, chopped spinach, shredded carrots, chopped tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, ricotta and mozzarella and jarred spaghetti sauce. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.