At the end of a busy workday, there is a premium on simple, quick food preparation. The comfort a healthy, home-cooked meal provides can go a long way to nourish our deepest selves, allowing the body to downshift from the pressures of the day and to reboot for a productive day at the office tomorrow.
The time trap of following long-winded recipes that require considerable clean-up is avoidable when local healthy take-out or staples from your fridge or freezer are available.
While healthy takeout is tempting, it can pinch the wallet if it becomes a daily habit.
During a busy week meal prep at home doesn’t have to be fancy or time-consuming. With a bit of simple planning, stocking up in advance and fast assembly, a satisfying healthy meal can take as much time to get on the table as ordering in pizza.
Give Healthy Frozen Meals a Make-under
While zapping frozen meals is no replacement for healthy cooking, it can be a smart option when you give them a zhush (ĵ as in the French je + “oosh”) or a joosh to give them more color – a nutritional boost and the all-important eye appeal. We do eat with our eyes, after-all.
Here, for example, is a RICED CAULIFLOWER BOWL from a coveted American chain of grocery stores. This plant-based entree is made with tahini sauce, marinated chickpeas, sweet potatoes, baked tofu and roasted onions. While following the three minute microwave cooking instructions, you can grab a few flash frozen food staples from the freezer including: microwave organic brown rice, frozen mixed vegetables and/or spiralized carrots. These simple sides all cook in under three minutes.
Optional add-ins might be additional garbanzo beans, a sautéed onion, roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds for crunch, and a bonus drizzle of tahini for flavor.
This trick for eating healthy-in-a-hurry expands the sheer volume of a frozen convenience meal. Simple whole food ingredients, some cooked and some raw, can deliver a delicious leftover lunch to your desk tomorrow. The idea of adding single ingredients to convenience meal purchases is a secret weapon for the healthy eater.
The Stir-fry Salad
A welcome alternative to a standard cold salad for supper, and a great way to re-purpose food in the fridge is the STIR-FRY SALAD. The base is raw salad topped with a warming stir-fry. In this instance, a kale and romaine salad with beans, quinoa, lentils and cucumber form the base of the plate.
In just minutes, you can sautée the same or similar side dish ingredients mentioned for the above rice bowl. A simple dressing combining 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons of dijon or wasabi-style mustard plus 1 tablespoon of 100% maple syrup compliments the salad. A sprinkling of pan-toasted walnuts adds a crispy finish to this dish.
As for the mouthwatering anytime-of-day QUINOA BURRITO pictured above, it is a re-make of the Breakfast Burrito Celebrity Chef Andre Carthen made for Janet Jackson while on her ‘True You’ tour. Find more healthy fast food options on my Instagram @WholefoodieRonna
When time is short and you simply want a health-optimizing meal on the table in minutes, expand meals that nourish you. It’s barely cooking. It’s a short order that will free up time and line your pockets.