For many people eating well seems to be a time : value equation. I often hear statements like, “I just don’t have time to prepare healthy meals” or “I wish I had time to eat better.”
There are many tips and tricks for eating well during busy times. Planning ahead is helpful, batch cooking when you have time works nicely, and freezer meals are your new best friend when life gets a little bonkers. But there are also many whole foods that are either ready to go or cook up lickety split, which make it easier to eat well when you’re crunched for time. Here are five of my favourites.
If you’ve got a head of broccoli on hand you can have a healthy meal on your plate in under 10 minutes. My favourite way to eat it is lightly steamed – just enough to take the raw edge off but not so much that it goes mushy. Chop it into florets, give ‘em a quick steam, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle a bit of nutritional yeast (you won’t regret it). Toss a little protein along side (steam a handful of soybeans with the broccoli, scramble an egg, chop up some tofu, or add a scoop of cottage cheese) and you’re done like dinner!
Broccoli is good for you! It is a great source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and high broccoli consumption is thought to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease and some cancers.
Oscar Wilde once said “an egg is always an adventure.” Wise words indeed. If you've got eggs in the fridge, you’ve always got nourishment in a matter of minutes. If you’re batch cooking, you can hardboil a bunch of eggs to keep in the fridge during the week for grab and go meals, quick and easy snacks, or to form the base of a quick dinner. Scrambled eggs take only a couple of minutes, or you can get fancy with an omelet or frittata for just a couple minutes more. If you’ve got just a handful of greens on hand you can pull together a quick salad and top with a poached or soft-cooked egg for a healthy meal.
Eggs are an amazing source of high quality protein, vitamin B12, choline (important for your brain), carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Eggs are also very satiating, which make them a good choice for a quick meal.
The beautiful thing about quinoa is how quickly it cooks up! Unlike many whole grains like brown rice or farro, it only takes about 15 minutes to cook up a batch of quinoa. The super-seed can be used in many of the same applications as rice and offers a mega dose of nutrition. Use it in a stirfry, topped with steamed veggies, or even make a quick and easy gluten-free porridge.
Quinoa not only has a very high protein content (about 18%), but this super seed also contains the full set of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It’s a great source of dietary fiber, phosphorous, and is high in magnesium and iron.
It’s good to remember that often whole foods come in a package. Bagged salad greens are an excellent time saver. Confession time? I always wash my pre-washed bagged greens. This is partially because I’m a crazy person and partially because I just know way too much about food-born illnesses. It’s up to you whether you want to wash them or not, but I do encourage you to give them a quick rinse and spin as there have been cases of salmonella from bagged spinach. When I used to buy bunches of spinach it would take 3-5 washes to get all of the dirt off, but all bagged greens need is a quick rinse. Even with that quick extra wash (which I do all at once, once a week) having clean greens on hand means you are 50% of the way towards a salad at the very least.
Spinach is an excellent source vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and calcium (good for your bones), folate, potassium, and vitamin B6 (good for your heart), iron, vitamin B2, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. And, spinach is a great source of dietary fiber.
Small tomatoes are a busy lady’s best friend. Ok, maybe not, but I do love how easy they are. They’re easy to wash (just rinse the entire pint at once!), they make awesome snacks, and you don’t have to spend any time chopping them up. I very often throw a handful of cherry tomatoes into my lunch box, toss ‘em in salads, or in with pasta.
Tomato toe-mah-toe. However you like to say it, tomatoes are known for their antioxidant content, notably lycopene – good for your prostates, fellas! Other antioxidants include vitamin C, and beta carotene. Tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin K, copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E, and phosphorus.