How to create delicious, healthy meals in minutes
How to create delicious, healthy meals in minutesNot again! You’re on the way home after a busy day and you realize that there is nothing in the fridge for dinner. You know that you could probably muster up something edible from the tins in the cupboard but you are really hungry and you just want something quick and easy. What do you do? You do the same thing you did the other day, and last week, and the week before that. You pull up to a takeout drive-through and order a burger with the lot. Or, you might vary it a little and get pizza or noodles instead. It’s just easier, right?
What is this really costing you?
Cost to your budgetIt’s no secret that takeout food is usually more expensive than meals you cook at home. Have you ever tallied up how much you spend on take-out in a month, though? $10 here or $20 there may not seem like much but when you add it all up and multiply your monthly total x 12, your yearly total can look almost sickening – and you’ve got nothing to show for it! Think of all the other things you could have spent that money on.
Cost to your physical healthMost takeout food is packed with 3 delicious and inexpensive things - sugar (processed carbs), salt, and fat. These things are ok in moderation… BUT… …when your order includes 1500 calories from just these 3 things, your body's in for a real shock. You get a spike of energy and may feel full for a little while, but you soon feel hungry again. (A more nutritious meal will satisfy your hunger for longer.) Even so-called ‘healthy’ takeout foods may not be all that good for you if you have too much of them. Burgers that are full of salad can also include buns that are high in salt and sugar or sauces high in fat. Many drinks are also packed with sugar or other ingredients that create an instant ‘pick-up’. You can easily get addicted to these spikes. Remember, though, what goes up must come down. After the initial ‘high’ your energy levels crash even lower than before, so you crave another donut, Coke or whatever and the cycle continues - which increases your calorie intake. And guess what? That leads to rapid weight gain! Eating too much of the same types of foods of any kind can cause nutritional deficiencies, especially if it happens over an extended period. This means that the body doesn’t get enough of the right sorts of fuel to maintain our energy levels, keep us functioning efficiently and help us ward of illnesses. Something eventually has to give. Deep-fried foods, in particular, are generally cooked in unhealthy, saturated fats which contribute to weight gain and many heart conditions.
Cost to your mental healthNutritional deficiencies also lead to cognitive issues like mental fatigue, loss of concentration and memory issues – not a good thing if you need to focus on working, studying or even driving. The rush of energy you get from many fast foods can make you feel awake and attentive for a while, but it can also put your nerves into overdrive and cause increased stress and anxiety. Continuing the pattern can put you in a downward spiral and lead to eating disorders, addictions and other mental health issues.
Food can be fast, healthy and tastyDo you remember what real, fresh food tastes like? Here are some tips to help you rediscover its delights.
- Try a piece of fruit and pay attention to the flavour. Bananas are great comfort foods that come pre-packed by nature.
- Celery is crispy and lovely to snack on in hot weather.
- Mushrooms sautéed with shallots and garlic in a butter sauce are heavenly on top of a potato cooked in the microwave.
- Fish fillets can be grilled or shallow-friend in minutes.
Prepare meals on the runMany healthy meals can be prepared in the same time (or less) than it takes to order fast food and get it to your table. Next time you visit the supermarket, spend time in the fresh food section and pick a selection of foods that need little or no cooking or preparation. For example, cheese is full of calcium and can be bought pre-sliced or grated. Stir-fries, salads and soups are easy to make and come in every variety under the sun. Other versatile staples include potatoes, chicken breasts and rice. Just pick the foods you like best.
Or mix it upSometimes you can come up with some amazing, simple meals just by throwing a few ingredients together and cooking them simply. Try these ideas out and adapt them to suit yourself.
- Roast - Use any meat and combination of veggies. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil then roast in the oven until everything is cooked. You'd be amazed at what happens to the most boring veggies and meat when you simply brown them with salt and pepper. Preparation time: 5-10 minutes. Cooking time: 20-25 minutes.
- Soup – Throw whatever grain (rice, quinoa, barley, millet etc.), chopped meat and veggies you want into a pot of water or broth and simmer gently until everything is cooked. Done! You can brown the veggies and meat first with a little salt and oil to enhance the flavour but this isn't required if you're feeling lazy. Preparation time: 5-10 minutes. Cooking time: 15-20 minutes.
- "Bowls" - Boil up a grain, pasta or noodles for your base, sauté any chopped veggies and meat you like and, while everything's cooking, mix your favourite sauce. Skippy peanut butter with a little mild vinegar and water is a great place to start. Add a little soy & garlic/ginger if you're feeling up to it. When everything is cooked, drain the grain and serve a bit of everything into bowls. How easy is that? Preparation time: 5-10 minutes. Cooking time: 15-20 minutes.