This time of year, you need to keep the engines running at peak but your time is even more limited. Here are a few quick and easy meals you can make ahead or prep in very little time that will give you sustained energy, crucial nutrients, and are still (necessarily) delicious.
Don’t be afraid to try new things! Mix and match ingredients, add things you love, and nix the stuff you know you’re not crazy about.
Breakfast Shake with Everything
If you haven’t tried nutrition smoothies, I urge you to give them a try. They’re simple to make and fast. You can take it with you and reap the benefits as you hustle through your day. Throw all the ingredients together in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth. It makes enough for one 16-ounce shake.
- 1 large banana
- ½ cup frozen fruit (replaces the need for ice)
- 2 tablespoons cup steel-cut oats
- ½ cup live-culture yogurt OR almond milk OR coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon raw and organic honey
- 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
- ½ tablespoon powdered cocoa (it’s 100% cacao)
This will keep you going well into the afternoon if you aren’t sure you’ll have time to break for a real meal. Don’t be afraid to toss in a bit of broccoli or spinach. The flavor blends in (you won’t taste it) and it packs a serious nutrient punch.
Mocha Latte (Iced or Blended)
The last bit of coffee in the pot doesn’t go to waste in my house. I chill it and use it to make lattes. Forget those high-priced coffees. These are delicious and packed with antioxidants. That’s right: they’re healthy. No one has to know!
- 2 cups cold coffee (you can also make coffee ice cubes)
- ¼ cup vanilla yogurt or other low-fat dairy
- 1 tablespoon powdered cocoa (100% cacao)
- 2 squares quality dark chocolate
Blend and adjust the flavor as you like.
Tomato & Cucumber Salad
This is a quick and easy meal side that always gets consumed quickly during my family dinners. Filled with flavor, it has a tart bite with a freshness you can get any time of the year.
As an appetizer, you can fine chop it and serve with crackers or toasted bread alongside a relish tray. I often use it in place of a standard dinner salad. Simply prep all vegetables and combine in a glass dish. Allow to chill for 2 hours and serve.
- 4 large Roma tomatoes – diced
- 1 cucumber – diced
- ½ red onion – diced
- 1 garlic clove – chopped fine
- ½ bunch fresh basil – chopped fine
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Quick & Easy Seafood Salad
For use as an appetizer, sandwich filler, salad topping, or meal, try this simple recipe. I serve this with sliced cucumbers (instead of crackers). Combine all ingredients and fold together gently. Consider seasoning with a dash of cayenne and garlic for extra flavor.
You can substitute tuna or diced chicken for the seafood as well. It’s a quick and easy meal that’s perfect if you have to take your lunch to work. Make it the night before and chill.
- 1 pound small shrimp – peeled and deveined
- ½ pound crabmeat – rough chopped
- 1 small onion – diced fine
- ½ cup sliced olives
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- ¾ to 1 cup of fresh mayo – added gradually
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
Quick and easy meal tip: If there are ingredients you use regularly – PREP THEM AHEAD. I use snack size bags to store 1 cup measures of items I use all the time like garlic, onion, basil, and boiled egg. Most also freeze easily and retain their flavor. It saves time and I always know what I have.
Summer Chicken Pot Year-Round
Enjoy all the colors and flavors of summer with this easy-to-make recipe. Even the pickiest eater will enjoy perfectly cooked vegetables and chicken. This stores well for a couple of days, is great as a leftover, or it serves a group of six people.
- 8 chicken drumsticks or thighs
- 2 large sweet potatoes – diced small
- 2 large regular potatoes – diced small
- ½ cup baby carrots – diced small
- 2 cups mushrooms – rough chopped
- 1 cup green peas – frozen are fine
- 1 cup green beans – frozen are fine
- 1 large red pepper – diced large
- 1 garlic head – diced fine
- 1 red onion – rough chopped
- 2 zucchinis – sliced
- 3 Roma tomatoes – diced large
- ¼ bunch fresh oregano, basil, rosemary – chopped
- Sweet paprika
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In a large oven-safe pan, spread olive oil to coat.
- Mix remaining olive oil with chopped garlic, onion, red pepper, fresh herbs, salt and black pepper.
- Cover chicken pieces completely with olive oil mixture – allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Remove chicken from oil and put all the vegetables in the pan.
- Mix well with flavored oil, coating completely.
- Put chicken on top of the vegetables.
- Cover pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and roast for 15 minutes. Broil another 3 minutes and serve!
Red Casserole – Quick and Easy Meal in Your Crock Pot
When it comes to food, red is a great color. It means the ingredients contain many precious antioxidants. The name of this recipe comes from the fact that all the ingredients are…red.
- 1 pound lean beef – browned on stove and sliced thin
- 2 large red onions – chopped large
- 2 large red peppers – chopped large
- 1 medium red beet – chopped large
- 2 large tomatoes – sliced thick
- ½ bottle quality red wine
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put olive oil in Crock Pot and allow to heat.
- Add meat and chopped vegetables.
- Top with tomato slices, red wine, salt and pepper.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours.
- Serve with pasta or rice.
Quick Cajun Shrimp
Enjoy the unique flavors of Cajun cuisine in less than 10 minutes from your microwave! This is an incredible last-minute quick and easy meal that’s going to impress the pickiest pallet.
- 1 can stewed tomatoes
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 1 cup chopped green pepper
- 1 hot pepper – sliced thin
- 1 garlic clove – minced
- ¾ teaspoon thyme
- ½ pound shrimp – peeled and halved lengthwise
- Combine oil, onion, celery, green pepper, hot pepper, garlic, and thyme in 1½ quart microwavable dish.
- Cover and cook on high 3 minutes or until tender-crisp.
- Add shrimp, undrained tomatoes, and tomato paste. Mix well to coat.
- Cook on high 6 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until shrimp is pink.
- Serve over rice.
3 Tips to Improve Your Nutrition
1. Control your portions. If you have that too-full feeling after a meal, you’ve eaten more than your body needs at one time. In the US, our portions at every meal are statistically much larger than the rest of the world. We’re paying for it with increased obesity and other escalating health risks.
If you have that too-full feeling after a meal, you’ve eaten more than your body actually needs!Click To Tweet
2. Decrease foods you love – don’t eliminate them completely. If you’re a carb addict like me, you’ve likely tried to cut them out cold-turkey over the years to lose weight. You set yourself up to fail. The moment you tell yourself you can never have “X” again…“X” is all you crave.
Decrease foods you love – don’t eliminate them completely.Click To Tweet
3. Make changes gradually to let your body adjust. If you’re overweight, it didn’t happen overnight so the changes won’t happen that way either. Track what you eat so you know where your biggest weaknesses are and start working to curb poor nutrition habits with one change at a time. It’s all about finding the right balance for you.
Track what you eat and start working to curb poor nutrition habits with one change at a time.Click To Tweet
Meal preparation doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune.