Tag Archives: healthy

Quick and healthy meals for the time-crunched gal (or guy)

22 Feb
One last half before the big 2-5! ha!!

One last half before the big 2-5! ha!!

Happy Friday!  I’m headed off tomorrow to run the Rock’n’Roll New Orleans Half Marathon in honor of my 25th birthday next week! I’m so excited, I’ve never been to NOLA before, and it’s always so much fun to explore a new city!

So you know the feeling, you get home late from a long day at the office, you’re already fighting the couch & TV’s siren song and your inner battle between the part of you that wants to cave and the other half who’s telling you if you don’t go sweat, those office cookies you had for lunch are going to come back and bite you in the butt…literally.  You can’t even begin to process what to make for dinner; Chinese take out is sounding really good right about now: easy and cheap!  But that same voice in your head that’s telling you to hit the gym is the same one that’s telling you that high-in sodium and gods know what else, dripping in oil is the last thing your body (or brain) needs.  So what’s a mentally-exhausted, time-crunched gal (or guy) to do?  Below are some of my tried and true techniques to still eat healthy without a whole lot of fuss.

Step away from the frozen meals!!!

Step away from the frozen meals!!!

Buy ahead of time

I’ll try to figure out the weekend before what to have the following week. Then I’ll buy all the ingredients I need on Sunday and do as much of the prep work as possible, so come a weekday night I don’t have to think about a)what to make for dinner and b) stopping at a crowded grocery store to pick up the ingredients!

Make ahead of time

Drop that Chinese food!  Make healthy stir fry in bulk!

Drop that Chinese food! Make healthy stir fry in bulk!

Whatever you can make in advance and freeze, creates a simple solution to the “ I don’t have time to make food”.  I love to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts in bulk. I then put 1 breast into a quart-sized freezer bag, pour enough marinade (I prefer homemade, but even simpler is to use a store-bought marinade or dressing, but watch sodium and sugar levels!) into the bag to cover the breast, seal, label/date and toss into the freezer.  So when I come home from work, I choose a marinated chicken, throw it in the sink to thaw and then hit the gym or whatever.  After I’m done relaxing, I just toss it in a oven-safe dish, bake it and voila! My protein is done!  Now all it needs is a salad or some roasted or steam veggies and I have a healthy meal that was super simple!

Make in bulk

If you don’t mind eating the same thing for several lunches & dinners in a row, then this is perfect for you.  I will double my recipe and then have leftovers for the rest of the week.  My favorite is making a double batch of turkey taco meat, then I can have a taco salad for about 4 lunches and 4 dinners!  I never tire of taco salads! YUM!!

And finally: K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid!)

This looks like a simple and healthy meal to make!

This looks like a simple and healthy meal to make!

It’s so much easier to manage 1, 2 or even 3 ingredients than 15.  Unless you’re a professional chef or have a competent sous chef, a weekday night is NOT the appropriate time to try out a new recipe with some 20-odd ingredients.  Simple ingredients=quicker prep & clean time=MORE GLORIOUS FREE TIME!  I pick a protein and a veggie (or 2) to make a quick and healthy meal.  I keep the prep simple and try to use no more than 2 dishes, but it’s even easier if you cook all your ingredients in the same pan/pot/tray.  A crock pot is great for this, you can turn is on in the morning on your way out the door and then you get home and you’ve only got clean-up duty!

So that’s how I manage to cook simple meals that are nutritious and filling without spending 2+ hours in the kitchen every night!  Save the fancy meals for your Saturday nights!  What are you favorite tips and tricks to save time in the kitchen on a weeknight?


Favorite Cookbooks

2 May

So if you’re like me you enjoy cooking, but a lot of cookbooks cook for flavor, not calorie count.  The ingredient lists are often full of lard, fat, butter…well you get the idea.  So I’ve listed out some of my favorite cookbooks that not only create delicious dishes, but control the calorie count as well, proving that you can make low-cal food that also tastes great!  Just because you eat healthy does not mean you nibble on carrots all day!  Or “rabbit food” as my boyfriend calls it.  I’ll talk about my top favorites in no particular order:

Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats–A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners

Now this is not a healthy-eating cookbook, but Rachel’s dinners are really flavorful and full of fresh and whole ingredients (which are the main qualifications here people).  I steer clear of the pasta dishes listed in most cookbooks because they tend to be empty calorie filled as a general rule.  Most of her dinners can be modified to fit your needs.  I tend to use less oil, butter, etc and it still tastes great!  Now she does claim they are 30 minute meals, but unless you have a sous chef to prep everything, plan on around an hour.  I save these elaborate meals for the weekends when I have more time.

You really can’t go wrong with any of Rachel’s books.  I have her Make Your Own Takeout cards and they’re fantastic when you’re itching for some Chinese, but don’t’ want the fat and grease associated with it!

Hungry Girl: 200 Under 200: 200 Recipes Under 200 Calories

So this is a great cookbook when you’re craving that snack that in theory should be totally off-limits. (Think wings and cupcakes).  I’ve only tried a few recipes, but they are quite good and I have to modify them because of my gluten intolerance, but hey what are you going to do!?  Hungry Girl has a whole line of books and cookbooks that are actually quite useful.

Eat This, Not That Series

The ‘Eat This, Not That’ series  is fantastic.  From the aisles, to your kitchen, to the restaurants, there’s a book for all of it helping you make decisions on food choices.  They’re small enough to slip in your purse and take with to the grocery store. If you don’t feel like comparing labels (although you really should!) this series will help you make those decisions.

Cook Yourself Thin

So this cookbook is from a short lived Lifetime show which took women’s favorite dishes and showed how to make them in a less-fattening way. It’s surprisingly yummy and easy to make.  One of my favorite subs is for loaded potatoes skins. I know what you’re thinking…how in the world do you make potato skins healthy.  It’s great with roasted sweet potatoes and roasted veggies whipped in there and very minimal cheese melted on top.  It’ll be a big hit at your next super bowl party I promise!

A Note on Eating Gluten-Free

I just want to make special note about gluten free, which you should only do if you have or suspect you truly have an intolerance to gluten.  I have a gluten intolerance (recently discovered, so I’m still learning and adjusting).  I will do a separate post about gluten intolerance/Celiac’s later, but a quick note in regards to cooking.  I find that when something calls for coating in breadcrumbs or flour I use almond meal.  It provides more nutritional bang for your buck, yes it might be a little higher in caloric value, but at least it’s not the empty caloric content of breadcrumbs.  I would also suggest this trick to those who do not have to adhere to a gluten-free lifestyle.

As I said, I am recently discovered, so I’m still learning and haven’t tried any traditional “gluten-free” cookbooks, but when I find some I like I’ll make an update post.  Feel free to post some of your favorites below!

Healthy Eating!

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