Busy, busy, busy. Who isn’t these days? I know that I am, and most of my patients and clients are, too. But busy is no reason not to eat healthfully. Instead of fast food or greasy takeout, simplify your life and your dinner with a creative sandwich or salad. If you have just a few staples on hand, you can throw together a balanced meal lickety-split. Try these steps to bring a simple, delicious, nutritious dinner to the table in minutes.
The Creative Sandwich
1. Start with whole-grain bread, wraps or pita bread. Keep some in the freezer, so you can defrost just a few slices at a time.
2. Put your favorite flavors together or experiment with new flavors. Some suggestions:
- Havarti cheese and sliced strawberries
- Sliced hard-boiled egg, mushrooms, shredded lettuce and mustard in a whole grain pita pocket
- Sliced apple and peanut butter on whole-grain cinnamon-raisin bread
- Sliced turkey, green apple or peach slices, baby spinach, red onion and light mayonnaise
- Black beans, corn and jarred salsa in a whole-grain wrap
- Rotisserie chicken, avocado, onions and bell peppers
- Sliced turkey breast, arugula, reduced-fat Swiss cheese and oil and vinegar
3. Like your sandwich hot? Grill it in a panini press or a George Foreman grill. There’s no need to butter the bread first. If you prefer to heat your sandwich on the stove, use a nonstick pan and place something heavy like a pot on top of your sandwich.
4. Round out your meal with a piece of fruit or canned fruit in natural juices. Reduced-sodium canned soup is another good option.
The Creative Salad
Make a salad a meal by thinking beyond just lettuce and a few vegetables.
1. Pick a protein rich food: Canned salmon or tuna, rotisserie chicken, steamed shrimp, sliced turkey, black beans, chickpeas or other beans, hard-boiled eggs, leftover salmon, steak or other meat
2. Pull out favorite salad vegetables from your refrigerator and pantry: carrots, radishes, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, etc.
3. Find at least one jarred or canned topping: Canned corn, marinated mushrooms or artichoke hearts, olives, etc.
4. Want a sweet topping? Dried cranberries or cherries, canned mandarin oranges, diced apples or halved grapes work well.
5. Want a crunchy topping? Try sliced almonds, chopped walnuts or cashews.
6. Dress with a small amount of your favorite dressing or mix your own vinaigrette with olive oil, vinegar and herbs and spices.
7. Serve with whole-grain crackers and/or reduced-sodium canned soup.
It’s very tempting to forgo healthy eating when time is your enemy. Don’t give in. Instead do the best you can with the foods you have on hand. It takes just a little bit of planning. Stock up on the healthful foods that offer you something quick, delicious and nutritious.
Happy, healthy eating!