Here are some easy and healthy meal options to whip up in a flash!
JJ Virgin: One of the biggest complaints busy moms have for me is that there is never enough time to cook healthy meals. You're rushing from home to school to activities and it seems easy to just drive to the local fast food place or pick up a pizza. Who has time to cook elaborate meals? Answer: Not me! As a busy mom, I feel the time crunch and want to give you some great time savers on your quest to eat better. These foods are so easy and quick that you will never be tempted to go down Unhealthy Street again.
• Breakfast on the Go: Skip those sugary packets of instant oatmeal and opt for steel-cut oats because they're so much more delicious and healthy for you. Moms tell me that they don't have the 30 minutes to cook this oatmeal in the morning. Here's a fast fix: The night before, toss the oats in your slow cooker with the berries of your choice and even some almonds. Set at a low speed. You will wake up to a delicious smell and your family's oatmeal is ready to eat. Specifically, take one cup each of steel-cut oats and mixed berries, four cups of water, and add a tsp of cinnamon. Cook on a low setting for eight hours.
• 911 Foods on the Go: It might seem easy to let your kids reach for that bag of 100 calories' worth of cookies or pretzels, but just say no. Instead, keep almonds handy, and if you must, have a snack, then have a small handful. A recent study in the International Journal of Obesity indicated that people eat less after having almonds as a snack. Nuts trigger the release of the neuropeptide CCK from the small intestine, which tells the brain you are full.
• Salad Dinner on the Go: Sure, you could stop at one of those family restaurants and order salads that have tons of cheese, goopy dressing, and white flour croutons. Or, you can have a fun salad night at home by just keeping a few of these fixings in Tupperware bowls in your fridge. Bring out the bowls and have your kids mix and match their favorite ingredients. Have bowls with diced baked chicken, black beans, carrots, celery, cucumbers, chopped onion, black and green olives, feta cheese, green and red peppers, and other veggies you enjoy. Serve with your own homemade dressing made with olive oil and your favorite vinegar. You can add other spices or even Dijon mustard to your salad dressing. The kids will love building their own salads and will eat what they create.
• Picky Eaters Satisfied on the Go: You have three kids and it was like they were born with taste buds from three different families. Here's a quick way to do baked chicken that will please everyone. Just wash some boneless chicken breasts and put them in a dish with a little EVOO on the bottom to avoid sticking. Now take out your spices and give a shake for each taste bud. Your son likes French herbs and your daughter prefers curry? It's easy to custom-make the chicken. Maybe your husband prefers a little garlic and you want rosemary. Five minutes later, you're done and the chicken is in the oven. Remember to make a few extra breasts for salads.
• At a loss for what to pack for lunch? Make a menu of healthy items that your kids can check off. Every Sunday, have them fill out a menu for you. It's simple: They get to make ten checks of their favorites: turkey wrap, soup, little bags of carrots, bowl of berries, etc. Now, bring this list to the grocery store and stock up. Not only will making lunches become much easier (in fact, get the kids in on the act too), but even more important -- they will actually love to eat them, as they took ownership for the contents. Since you're only offering the healthy foods, they can't request that bag of chips or the cupcake.
|JJ Virgin, PhD, CNS is a celebrity health and nutrition expert, author, public speaker and media personality. She is internationally recognized as the creator of the Weight Loss Resistance Revolution™ and trains other health care professionals in her program. JJ is the President of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals, nanp.org|