Some days I feel like I’m strapped to my computer from the break of dawn until long after sunset, and while I always stop to eat healthy meals, on super busy days they have to be fast. To stay on track regardless of my schedule I rely on what I call ‘conveniently healthy’ foods. Here are four I keep on hand, and how I use them to whip up nutritious meals in minutes.
Earthbound Farm Spring Mix
These ready-to-eat greens form the base of my lunch many days every week. When I have time I add more veggies, but when I don’t I can use them to create an entrée salad in a jiffy. A scoop of organic hummus and some pre-cooked whole wheat couscous (I cook extra on the weekends when I have more time) provide a nice balance of good carbs, lean protein, and heart healthy fat.
Cascadian Farm Frozen Organic Corn
Corn is a member of the whole grain family so thawing a half-cup is one of the quickest ways to fit in a serving and organic corn is nutrient rich. It’s loaded with antioxidants and provides vitamin C, B vitamins, and fiber. To make a quick meal I thaw the corn, fold it into refried black beans, top with a layer of pico de gallo, and a single serving portion of Wholly Guacamole (love this when I don’t have time to make guac from scratch) then scoop it up with raw cut veggies or baby carrots.
Melissa’s Steamed Lentils
These vacuum-sealed pre-cooked lentils are genius! My quickie way to enjoy them is to toss some Mann’s Broccoli Slaw with balsamic vinegar and an herb-infused extra virgin olive oil, add the lentils, and enjoy with a serving of whole grain crackers. Right now I’m hooked on Mary’s Gone Crackers black pepper or herb.
Le Grand Pesto
This vegan pesto is bursting with flavor and it’s an instant way to add antioxidants, herbs, and healthy plant based fat to a combination of whole grain pasta, frozen veggies, and cubed or crumbled extra firm organic tofu.
I also combine each of my favorites above for a quick, delicious meal. I just add a few handfuls of greens to a salad bowl, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, thaw the corn in the microwave and add to the greens, toss the lentils with the pesto, spoon it onto the salad, and voilà! A healthy, balanced meal in less than five minutes.
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.