A common misconception is that us Dietitians spend incredible amount of hours in the kitchen cooking and preparing fresh foods daily. This is sooo not true for this Dietitian. I, like others, am exhausted after an 8 to 10 hour work day and I want the quickest meal possible because I am most likely super hangry when I arrive home. So in this post I just wanted to post some of my favorite meals to make when I am in a hurry and want to put dinner on the table quick.
- Roasted Veggies, Grilled Chicken, and Quinoa. *When the hubby is home I ask him to grill chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins (no skin), I pop some quinoa in the rice cooker (thank heavens for rice cookers), and then I cut up some veggies, top them with an assorted variety of dried herbs +olive oil and roast in the oven at 450* for 15-20 minutes (depending on the vegetable). This website gives exact cooking times for roasting a variety of different vegetables, super cool resource! Roasted Vegetable Cooking Times
And there you have it! A balanced meal that takes me about 30 minutes to make and prepare. Go easy on the seasoning for the chicken though, lots of marinades and sauces contain large amounts of sodium in them and we don’t want to over-do that, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Sodium intake is 1,500-2,3000mg, the ideal recommendation is 1,500mg and the not to exceed amount being 2,300mg.
- Black Beans and Rice with a Side Salad. Putting my rice-cooker to good use, I add the rice and water to the rice cooker, then I either cook the dried black beans in the pressure cooker or use “no added salt” canned beans (drain the liquid and rinse the beans if the canned beans do contain salt). Pair with a side salad – normally I use spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and raspberry vinaigrette as my go-to salad ingredients. My husband likes to add a small amount of low sodium soy sauce to the rice and beans to add a little more flavor, just don’t over-do the sodium as mentioned before! One again, a super simple and filling meal that contains plenty of fiber and nutrients, this meal normally takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.
- Veggies and Turkey Sausage with Lentils. I LOVE meals that don’t contribute to a lot of dishes to be cleaned. For this meal I just cut up turkey sausage (lower sodium preferred – I am a broken record at this point) into small pieces and cook in the frying pain for about 8-12 minutes, then I add whatever veggies I have laying around in the kitchen (normally carrots, spinach, and zucchini are a staple in my home) +olive oil to the frying pan and cover with a lid, I cook this for around 15 minutes until the veggies are moist and soft, once again I normally use some herbs from the cabinet to literally “spice things up.” I like to put this on top of lentils (which… you guessed it! can be cooked in the rice cooker as well) because I am a huge advocate for including a veggie, carbohydrate, and protein at each meal. Like the above meals, this takes around 30-40 minutes to prepare and cook.
- I always cook with olive oil due to the health benefits associated with its content of mono-unsaturated fats that are shown to increase HDL (the good lipoproteins in your diet) and lower cholesterol. Olive oil is a staple in the commonly known “Mediterranean Diet” which focuses on consumption of foods containing the “good fats” to increase heart health.
- I rarely ever use a salt shaker unless I am using the salt in baking, I much prefer to use herbs like rosemary, thyme, garlic, and Italian herb blends to season my foods versus high salt seasoning blends. Most foods we consume already contain sodium in them so there is no need to add more!
- Maybe you are asking where the fruit is in my meals? I love to snack on fruit throughout the day! I normally eat a banana or berries with my breakfast and then I keep apples and oranges at my desk so that when I get a hunger craving I have something nutritious nearby to eat quickly! I also love to add fruits to desserts so that being said, I generally reach my daily recommended amounts of fruit with breakfast, lunch, and between meal snacks. And if anyone is curious on what the recommended amount of fruit daily is: 2-4 cups of fruit/day depending on factors including height, age, gender, and activity level. You can always consult with a dietitian to determine the appropriate amount of fruit based on individual factors!
What are your favorite quick-and-easy meals? I would love to know and try!
–Cinthia Scott, RD, LD, CNSC