Ask Diet Doctor: No-Effort Dinners
Q: When I'm having one of those nights and really don't want to put time into making dinner, what are best options?
A: I hear you. There are some nights when you get home and just don't feel like cooking. Instead of phoning in take-out or pizza, or having a bowl of cereal or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, here are five simple meals that are nutritionally sound and require minimal effort.
1. Rotisserie Chicken and Simple Spinach Salad
Pick up a rotisserie chicken and a bag of triple-washed organic baby spinach on your way home from work. Carve off and slice one chicken breast, and serve it over a bed of baby spinach. Drizzle with dressing of your choice.
Why this meal: When my wife and I renovated our kitchen, this was our go-to dinner. It is great because it is fast and requires no cooking, but you still get all the nutrients (lean protein, a variety of fats, fiber, calcium, iron, and more) of a quality meal. If you want to go the vegetarian route, pick up Beyond Meat chicken alternative.
2. Protein-Packed Cereal
Whisk together unsweetened almond milk, vanilla protein powder, and a dash of pumpkin spice. Use this as "milk" and pour over sprouted grain cereal and berries.
Why this meal: The flavor combination of vanilla and pumpkin spice is very comforting, and this "milk" gives you more protein while saving some carbohydrates. Sprouted grain cereal is a highly nutritious, fiber-packed choice in a food class where most options are loaded with added sugar.
3. Dressed Up Canned Chili
Mix Amy's Organic Medium Chili with a dash of cumin and cinnamon. Top it off with chopped scallions and reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese.
Why this meal: Amy's Organic chili was voted No. 2 best-tasting canned chili by Bon Appetit magazine. But it's better than their No. 1 choice because Amy's uses a BPA-free lining in their canned products. Adding a little cumin, a dash of cinnamon, and chopped scallions infuses a fresh flavor to a traditionally flat-tasting category of foods. And cheese boosts the overall protein content of the meal while giving you the chili-cheese combination we all crave.
4. Greek Yogurt Fruit Bowl
Combine plain nonfat Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, a small handful of chopped walnuts, and a dash of chia seeds.
Why this meal: It is really fast: three minutes to put together, tops. You'll be getting slow-digesting protein, high-powered antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fats all in a creamy and naturally sweet dish.
5. Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake
Blend unsweetened vanilla almond milk, chocolate protein powder, a banana (a frozen banana will make this so thick you might need a spoon), Bell Plantation PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter, cacao nib powder, and ice cubes until smooth.
Why this meal: Sometimes even chewing feels like too much effort. This drink provides you with all the nutrition and calories you would expect from dinner but in the flavors of a decadent dessert. PB2 is a defatted peanut butter powder that allows you to get peanut butter flavor without a lot of calories, and cacao nib powder enhances the rich dark chocolate flavor of the smoothie while also providing minerals and concentrated antioxidants that are diluted or removed from many chocolate products.