How To Eat Healthy When You Have No Time!

How To Eat Healthy When You Have No Time

I’ve had a lot of people ask me: How do I have time to eat healthy?

The most truthful answer is that I always have time to eat healthy, because it is not something I consider optional. Healthy eating doesn’t really take any more time than unhealthy eating, it just requires a little more foresight.  When time is especially strained I do make a few adjustments to save on prep time and clean up.

Here are a few tricks I’ve been using to have healthy meals in under 15 minutes.

8 Quick Healthy Eating Tips

  1. Focus on single vegetable meals. If I were asked to make the quickest meal I could think of, I would grab a bunch of greens, a clove of garlic, some sea salt and maybe some pistachio nuts, put them in a pan and cook them for about 7 minutes. You can do this with chard, spinach, fennel, broccolini or any other green vegetable. For protein and carbohydrate I throw in some beans or lentils at the end or leftover meat. These aren’t the most creative meals in the world, but they are healthy, filling, quick and delicious enough to make friends jealous. I could live on these dinners for weeks at a time, and they only leave one pan to clean.
  2. Count on legumes. As mentioned above, it is important to have something other than vegetables in your meals or you will get really hungry. Nuts are a great addition to anything, but the most bang for your buck is beans. If I’m really in a hurry I will just dress some legumes with vinaigrette, maybe throw in some herbs or a handful of spinach and call it lunch.
  3. Eat salads. I also add beans to salads to make them more substantial. It takes less than 5 minutes to slice up some Napa cabbage, toss in some beans, cut up a pear and sprinkle on walnuts with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a quick lunch. Salads don’t require cooking and I just eat it out of the bowl I make it in.
  4. Scramble eggs. By far the fastest cooking protein you can get is eggs. Scrambling 2-3 eggs takes about 2 minutes. Saute some spinach with a little garlic (you can use the same pan if you cook the greens first) and you have a healthy homemade meal in under 10 minutes. This works for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  5. Eat breakfast for dinner. Eggs aren’t the only food that can break the typical American meal pattern. If cooking at night really isn’t an option, sometimes I will just double up on my normal breakfast of granola, fruit and whole milk plain yogurt and have it for dinner.
  6. Cook in large batches.  You can make any whole grains in big batches and freeze them in single servings. These can be thawed in the microwave in 1-2 minutes and added to any meal (stirfry, salads, soups, etc.) to make them more satisfying. During the autumn and winter I also rely on roasted winter squash like butternut for additional vegetables/carbohydrates. My favorite is to cut a butternut squash in half, remove seeds, rub the inside with olive and sea salt and roast, face down for 30-45 minutes at 400F. Three or 4 slices of winter squash make a plate of greens a lot more interesting. Store your cooked squash in tupperware and add it to various meals throughout the week. I also like kabocha, red kuri and delicata squashes because, unlike butternut, you can eat the skin (no peeling).
  7. Have a reliable takeout option. The only trouble I sometimes run into is not having enough ingredients in the house to make a solid meal before heading out. For times like this I rely on a Whole Foods, that have healthy prepared foods.
  8. Carry fruit and nuts. The worst case scenario is that you get stuck outside the house with nothing but vending machines within walking distance. If you always have trail mix or nuts in your bag you can usually put off a meal until you can find something healthy. Don’t leave home without it.

Adapted from Summer Tomato

Here is a quick and easy recipe to try…
 White Bean and Roasted Chicken Salad   2      cups          coarsely chopped skinless, boneless rotisserie or leftover chicken
   1      cup           chopped tomato
  1/2  cup           thinly sliced red onion
     2                    (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
                            Dressing:
  1/4  cup           red wine vinegar
   2      Tbs           extravirgin olive oil
   1      Tbs           fresh lemon juice
   2      tsp           Dijon mustard
   1/2  tsp           sea salt
   1/4  tsp           freshly ground black pepper
      2                    garlic cloves, minced

1. To prepare salad, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; stir gently to combine.

2. To prepare dressing, combine vinegar and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over salad, tossing gently to coat.

Comments: Cannellini beans, or white kidney beans, are smaller than Great Northern beans and add just the right texture.
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What tricks do you use to eat healthy when you have no time?

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