10 Minute Meals - How to eat healthy on the go

Let's be honest.  Cooking at home can often be a time consuming, tedious process.  Most of us default to dining out when we're tired and hungry but doing this on a regular basis greatly limits your ability to control calories at each meal.  In order to make foods tastier, restaurants are notorious for adding a larger amount of carbohydrates, fat, and sodium than you would use for preparing the same meal at home.  Does this mean you need to eat bland, flavorless foods in order to stay on track with your nutrition?  Not in the slightest.  Believe it or not, there's a way to make robust, flavorful meals using a only handful of mix and match healthy ingredients you can find at the grocery store that can be prepped in under 10 minutes.  Not only that but you'll save some serious bank.  When you don't have time to prepare lunch or dinner (or you're just not in the mood), here's a few fast healthy foods to make life a little easier... 

 

Veggies

 

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Baby Kale/Baby Spinach/Arugula - These three can be found in the refridgerated produce section in a small plastic bag or box.  In terms of nutritional content, leafy green veggies are packed with more vitamins and nutrients than traditional lettuce and can be used as a base for a salad mix.

 

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Bell Peppers - These come in many varieties (red, orange, yellow, green) and are a great way to add some flavor to your meals.  From a nutritional standpoint, the highest amount of vitamin C is concentrated in the red variety but all provide anti-inflammatory properties as well as beneficial vitamins and minerals. These can be found in both the produce and frozen foods section.

 

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Microwave Veggies - Found in the frozen foods section, these are great fix if you don't have time to chop, rinse, season, and bake raw veggies.  Among the most nutritious are cut broccoli florets, brussels sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, and zucchini.  Just be aware of any that use a type of flavoring sauce (ie. tuscan style) as these can add some additional calories from fat and carbs.

 

Proteins

 

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Rotisserie Chickens - These are a dinner staple if I'm ever in a pinch for time.  Since they're pre-seasoned/cooked you can easily add some to your salad or as a standalone side without have to do any additional prep work.  Most have nutrition facts on the label...just be aware that some varieties may contain more calories from fat than others.  They can be found in the deli/hot food section.

 

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Grilled Chicken - One of the healthiest sources of lean protein, fresh varieties can sometimes be found in the deli/hot foods section.  If not, I've experimented with a few frozen varieties and it's been hit and miss...microwaving anything frozen usually gives it a dry, overseasoned taste.  If you're looking for something to quickly add to a salad Tyson sells a pre-cut strip variety that blends well.

 

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Fish - While some supermarkets have options in the fresh foods section, I've found that they're usually fried with loads of breading.  If you're not in a pinch for time, salmon, tilapia, mahi, and tuna fillets don't take a whole lot of time to season and throw in the oven (about 10-20 minutes).  If you're in a rush for dinner bagged/canned is the easiest route to go.  Bagged varieties of tuna and salmon are usually tastier than their canned counterparts.  Fish are loaded with protein, vitamin D, and omega-3's.

 

 

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Cottage Cheese - Non-fat/low-fat varieties work best for weight loss goals.  Similar to greek yogurt, this can be added to a salad to enhance the flavor or as a side dish/dessert.  If you're looking for a sweet tasting, high protein snack this pairs well with sweeter tasting fruits such as peach, cantaloupe, or mango.  

 

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Greek Yogurt - This is a great low calorie substitute for sour cream and can also be paired with fruits for a snack.  Plain, non-fat greek yogurt packs 10 times the protein of sour cream, none of the fat, and has a similar taste and texture.  Greek yogurt also boasts probiotics which are beneficial for digestive health.  

 

Carbs

 

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Canned Beans - All varieties provide a healthy source of protein, fiber, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Their high fiber content give them a low GI value while the protein and carb content provide a well rounded source of nutrition.  Black beans and pinto (refried) are two of my favorite types to add to a salad mix.  

 

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Rice - Boil in Bag, Microwavable - While I would caution against having excessive amounts of starchy carbs in your diet, white and brown rice both provide a great source of fuel for active individuals.  Bagged, microwavable will be your quickest option (<2 minutes) but I find the boiled varieties have a slightly better taste and texture.

 

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Potatoes (Sweet or White) - Each variety has its merits, so I like to switch it up.  Sweet potatoes are high in Vitamin A and have fewer calories than white potatoes, however, white potatoes contain greater amounts of iron, magnesium, and potassium.  To quickly cook these from raw, use a fork to poke several holes in the potato, then wrap in a wet paper towel and microwave for 6-10 minutes.

 

Condiments

 

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Salsa - Hands down my favorite thing to add as a condiment to any meal is salsa, which is low in calories and highly nutritious.  Salsa Fresca (aka Pico de Gallo) is nothing more than tomatoes, onions, cilantro, serranos, and lime juice.  Commercially known brands of the canned variety might be good for dips but aren't the best adder to meals.  Skip the aisles and head to the produce section for fresh salsa mixes.  

 

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Avocados - A great substitute if you're looking to add some creamy texture to a meal or salad, avocados contain heart healthy monounsaturated fat, potassium, and vitamins K, B6, and C.  Just be mindful that a little goes a long way in terms of caloric density, so try to use these sparingly.  One whole avocado typically clocks in around 28g fat.  

 

 

Dave Kunes