Taste and time—the two most important factors in consistently eating well. If it tastes good, we’ll eat it, and if it doesn’t, we may not. If it’s quick and easy to make, we’re much more likely to prepare it, but if it takes too long, we may not have the time. Here are some ideas for quick and healthy meals and snacks.
- Sandwiches: By adding the right ingredients, your sandwiches will burst with nutrition and yet be very easy to make. Start with a foundation of 100% whole grain bread. Sprouted grain bread is even better, especially those with a variety of different grains, seeds, and legumes. If you want to avoid wheat or gluten, there are a number of good wheat- and gluten-free breads available. Try to avoid breads with added sugars, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, dough conditioners, and other additives. Good bread is perishable, so if you won’t use a whole loaf within a few days, keep it in the refrigerator. Keep extra loaves in the freezer so you always have what you need. Fill your sandwiches with any variety of protein-rich fillings, such as hummus, tofu, cheese, and nut butters. Add phytonutrient-packed veggies, such as lettuce, sprouts, shredded carrots or beets, tomato, cucumber, sauerkraut, and so on. Season with your favorite condiments, such as mustard, hot peppers, vegan mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. For a little crunch on the side, try baby carrots, slices of bell pepper, or Wai Lana’s gluten-free cassava chips. This makes a wholesome lunch or hearty snack.
- Wraps: For a slightly different spin on sandwiches, try wraps using whole wheat tortillas, organic corn tortillas, or gluten-free rice tortillas. Aside from sandwich fillings, you can also use beans, salsa, and veggies for an instant burrito. Garnish with avocado, cheese, or sour cream to add sustaining fat to your meal. A spring mix salad on the side adds extra nutrition and makes for a lighter meal in warmer weather.
- Pasta: Pasta is the perfect comfort food and everybody’s favorite, but because most pasta is made from refined wheat, it can be very unhealthy. Refined grains lack the fiber and most of the nutrients found in whole grains, so we tend to eat more to feel full and take in more calories than we need. Whole grain pasta made from a variety of grains, including gluten-free grains, is a great alternative. To add a zesty, nutritious topping to your pasta, sauté some onion and garlic in a skillet, add crumbled tofu or Veggie Ground Round, and cook until brown. Canned pinto or kidney beans are another good option if you want to avoid soy. Mix in bottled pasta sauce and pour over the whole grain pasta for a fast, filling meal. For a tomato-free alternative, toss pesto with your pasta, raw or steamed veggies, and some canned garbanzo beans. An instant salad with baby greens and ready-made salad dressing makes an excellent side dish.
- Hearty Salad: With the trend toward triple-washed, ready-to-eat baby greens in every grocery store, salad has truly become a “fast food.” Turn a salad into a hearty meal with protein-rich toppings, such as beans, sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, walnuts, tofu, or feta cheese. Add a few handfuls of fresh veggies and your favorite dressing. For a little extra nourishment, consider a slice of whole grain toast or a few whole grain crackers.
- Quesadillas: While quesadillas can be a little rich on dairy, they are super-quick, tasty, and can be part of a balanced meal with raw or steamed veggies on the side. Simply lay out a whole grain tortilla, sprinkle with shredded or sliced cheese, top with another tortilla, and heat in a pan (or bake in the oven), then flip. For added nutrition and flavor, you can top the cheese with beans, salsa, or sliced vegetables before cooking. Quesadillas go well with salad, sliced cucumbers, fresh tomato, avocado, and sour cream.
Use your imagination and be creative! When your kitchen is well stocked with nutritious ingredients, eating healthy meals can be fast and easy.
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