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5 Delicious Recipes for Cooking Healthy in a Time Crunch

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5 Delicious Recipes for Cooking Healthy in a Time Crunch

More people are choosing to dine out multiple times a week to the detriment of both their bank accounts and waistlines. Studies have shown that when people eat out, they consume 200-300 more calories than if they had eaten at home—and that adds up!

In an effort to save time, calories and money, try cooking at home more often. Simple techniques for preparing quick meals are using frozen chicken and fish fillets, pre-washed fruits and vegetables and quick-cook grains (such as pasta or rice). Here’s a list of our favorite fast, healthy meals to get you started.

1. Berry Flax Smoothie
In a blender, combine 3/4 cup frozen blueberries, 1 small banana, 3 Tbsp. whey protein powder and 1/2 cup fat-free or 1% milk; pulse blender a few times (optional: add 2 tsp. of honey for extra sweetness). Add 3 ice cubes and blend until very smooth. Pour into a glass and sprinkle with a little ground flaxseed (serves one).

What’s the benefit? This smoothie is not only a great way to grab breakfast on-the-go, but it also provides a high amount of protein for long-lasting energy to keep you full until lunch. If you opt to add ground flaxseed, you’ll get a boost of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Check out Cooper Clinic's smoothie recipes.

2. Chicken and Strawberry Wrap
Buy frozen, grilled chicken and prepare according to package directions. Cut the chicken into cubes and set aside. In a large bowl, mix a large package of salad greens with 1/4 cup of light Balsamic vinaigrette. Add 10-12 chopped strawberries, 4 minced green onions, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, 4 ounces light feta cheese and the cubed chicken. Roll up mixture in 6-8 large whole wheat tortillas and slice in half (serves 6-8).

What’s the benefit? One of the main ingredients, strawberries, is nutrient-packed, containing vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, folate and phytonutrients (substances found in plants). Vitamin C enhances the body’s immunity and carries iron, allowing the body to absorb higher amounts. Some of these nutrients potentially protect you from cancer and heart disease; plus, 10 strawberries contain only 36 calories! Want variety? Try our Garden Chicken Wrap recipe.

3. Almond Pesto Salmon with Brown Rice
Defrost salmon fillet according to package directions. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil cooking spray.  Place salmon fillet on the baking sheet and lightly spread pesto on top. Sprinkle salmon fillet with panko bread crumbs and sliced almonds; broil for about 7 minutes. Meanwhile, chop a small Granny Smith apple, toss with a handful of pre-washed mixed leafy greens and lightly drizzle with an apple cider vinaigrette. Microwave an individual serving package of 90-second brown rice and serve with broiled salmon and salad (serves one).

What’s the benefit? Salmon is high in omega-3 fats, a type of fat that supports heart health and lowers cholesterol. 

4. Chicken Florentine Pasta
Cook 1/2 lb. of whole grain penne pasta and 2 frozen grilled chicken breasts according to package directions. Cut cooked chicken into small cubes. On a cutting board, chop 1 cup of grape tomatoes into halves.  Heat 1/2 tsp. olive oil in a skillet and sauté 1 tsp. jarred minced garlic (about 30 seconds). Add 3/4 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth and bring to a boil for 3-4 minutes. Then, turn off the stove and add chicken, pasta, grape tomatoes and a large bag (about 9 oz.) of pre-washed baby spinach. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese (serves five).

What’s the benefit? One of the ingredients, tomatoes, contains lycopene, beta-carotene, folate, potassium, vitamins C & E and flavonoids. Tomatoes are also a good source of fiber; one cup of chopped tomatoes offers two grams of fiber with only 38 calories. Another ingredient, spinach, is rich in folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, iron, fiber, magnesium and calcium.

5. Salsa Bean Burrito with Avocado Garnish
Buy 2 cans of fat-free refried beans and spread down the center of 4 small whole wheat tortillas. Sprinkle shredded 2% cheese on top and heat tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Top with a layer of your favorite salsa and avocado slices, roll up the tortilla and your meal is ready (serves four).

What’s the benefit? Beans are high in soluble fiber which has been shown to improve blood glucose control and blood cholesterol levels. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, a “good” fat that has been shown to improve blood cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.

Article provided by Cooper Clinic Nutrition.

For information on nutrition consultations at Cooper Clinic visit or call 972.560.2655.