If you lead a super-busy life, it’s challenging enough to get a workout done, much less plan and prepare a chef-inspired healthy meal. For that, you’d need a 28-hour day rather than the 24 you actually have. The last thing you need is to jeopardize all the good things you’re doing for yourself through exercise by eating unhealthy. Before calling out for pizza or stopping in for take-out, try some of these nutrition shortcuts for eating healthy when time is a premium.
Nutrition Shortcuts: Put the Microwave and Slow Cooker to Use
Microwaves cook food fast. Fire it up in the morning to prepare eggs in a jiffy. Starting the day with protein will help curb your appetite later in the morning. Get a little fancier and make a quick microwave frittata with veggies using your microwave. Here’s a recipe:
1 teaspoon of butter
Chopped veggies of your choice
Your choice of spices
Melt the butter in a glass dish in the microwave.
Add chopped veggies to the bowl.
Cover the dish and microwave for 60 seconds.
Add the eggs and spices.
Cover the dish and cook on high until firm. (90 seconds or so)
Remove your finished creation and let it cool down for a few minutes before serving.
Use your slow cooker to prepare whole grains like quinoa, steel cut oats or millet overnight. When you wake up, add milk or a milk alternative and fruit and nuts for extra antioxidants and healthy fats from the nuts. A slow cooker is a “hands-off” way to prepare healthy items, while a microwave gets the job done super-fast. Put them to work for you. For lunch and dinner, use a slow cooker to prepare beans or lentils you can serve as a side dish or add them to a soup. Legumes are high in plant-based protein, fiber, and minerals. Plus, they’re inexpensive and filling. Surprisingly, red and black beans are just as rich in antioxidants as some fruits and vegetables.
Nutrition Shortcuts: Frozen Veggies: Fast Nutrition in a Bag
Most packaged foods aren’t that healthy – frozen veggies are the exception. Vegetables that end up in a bag are frozen at their peak of freshness. Therefore, their nutrients are preserved – unlike fresh vegetables that travel long distances on a truck. Head to the organic section and stock up on organic frozen vegetables you can get on the table in no time. Stay away from ones that have added seasonings. The seasonings are usually high in sodium or fat. Look for ones with no added salt. You can add your own healthy spices and herbs to give them more flavor.
Experiment with healthy ways to add flavor to frozen vegetables – Dijon mustard, hot sauce, salsa, garlic or even a healthy marinade. Frozen vegetables save time because you don’t have to wash and prep them. If you’re really pressed for time, you can prepare frozen vegetables in the microwave. What a fast way to get vegetables on the table!
Nutrition Shortcuts: Take Advantage of the Salad Bar
A salad bar can be your best friend when you don’t have time to prepare a full dinner. Many grocery stores and natural food markets have a salad, some of which are organic. Grab raw vegetables in an array of colors and turn them into a healthy, entrée salad by adding a source of protein.
Another option is to buy a bag or organic salad mix and it as the foundation for a quick lunch or dinner. Keep a can of wild, Alaskan salmon on hand. Open it up and add salmon to your salad. Then enjoy a balanced meal that’s loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats and omega-3s.
Nutrition Shortcuts: Cook One Day and Eat for Seven
Spend a few hours on Sunday cooking healthy for the whole week. Prepare a giant bowl of veggie-rich stew and freeze what you don’t eat on Sunday on weekdays. Soup, stews, chili, and healthy casseroles freeze well and taste just as good when you unfreeze them. Roast a variety of vegetables and enjoy veggies with minimal preparation all week. Put in the labor when you have the time and enjoy healthy meals courtesy of your freezer.
Nutrition Shortcuts: Sneak in Some Fiber
Most people fall short in meeting their fiber requirements. Women need about 25 grams a day while men need about 38 grams. Most people get only half that amount. “Sneak” more fiber into the meals you prepare. It’s hard to be healthy when your diet lacks fiber! Sprinkle ground flaxseed that you’ve ground in a coffee grinder on your morning hot cereal. Add ground flaxseed or chia seeds to cereal, yogurt, soups, and stews or sprinkle flaxseed on vegetables. Carry fiber-rich snacks to work like nuts, kale chips, roasted chickpeas or an apple. It sure beats a candy bar or cookie! Busy people are less likely to meet their fiber requirements. Remedy that by being a bit sneaky.
Nutrition Shortcuts: Take Advantage of Healthy Packaged Foods
Many packaged foods fall short from a nutritional standpoint. At the very least, they contain ingredients you don’t want like too much sodium or sugar. BUT, if you choose carefully, there are some packaged products that can make your life easier. Cottage cheese, although a bit high in sodium, is a quick source of protein you can enjoy with fruit when you’re in a rush. Greek yogurt is another high-protein food that’s relatively clean. Keep a jar of marinara sauce with no added sugar in the fridge too. Use it to turn a whole grain like quinoa into a side dish and to season soups, meats, and vegetables. Always read the label on packaged foods so you’ll know what you’re getting.
The Bottom Line
Don’t let a hectic lifestyle or a lack of time keep you from eating healthy. Use these six nutrition shortcuts to help you stay on target.
WebMD. “Fiber: How Much Do You Need?”
WebMD. “Antioxidant Riches Found in Unexpected Foods”
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