6 Quick and Simple Healthy Meal Ideas

Most people want to develop healthy eating habits.

Be assured that it is well worth the time and effort you put into it.

There are numerous short- and long-term benefits to making healthy food choices.(1)

Many people seem to believe that they must choose between taking pleasure in their meal selections and eating “right.”

We feel deprivation even before we begin. We focus on what we have to “give up” without fully understanding all that we have to gain (no pun intended).

Good dietary choices can result in feeling more energized, thinking more clearly, and/or enjoying heightened feelings of well-being.(2)

And the news gets better. You do not have to be “perfect” in order to reap these benefits. Any healthful changes will make a difference.

And, as the saying goes, “nothing succeeds like success.”

Once you start to feel better, that in itself provides motivation for more healthy changes.

The “experts” have much to say on the subject, which would not be a bad thing if their views were in harmony.

Today’s “poison” is tomorrow’s health food. It is pretty much uncontested, however, that foods eaten as “whole” (i.e. unprocessed) as possible are great choices.

Fruits and vegetables eaten in their “natural” state are greatly beneficial to our bodies, as well as our mental health.

Our Western diets are filled with processed foods, sugary snacks and soft drinks, and fast food.

As a consequence, we have significantly higher rates of obesity, depression, anxiety, and stress-related illnesses than most other industrialized countries.(3)

Eating disorders are also on the rise. Some researchers believe that diet contributes to many types of mental illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease, bi-polar depression, and schizophrenia to name a few.

There are many things you can do to achieve better health through diet:

Cut down on sugar. You will improve your mood and your waistline.

 Read food labels. Many processed foods rely on a large amount of sugar and/or salt in order to improve the taste of their products.

 Eat more raw fruits and vegetables. You really cannot go wrong with this one.

 Eat the whole grains. If you cannot tolerate wheat, there are an abundance of gluten-free alternatives. Brown rice flour, for example, can be used in place of whole wheat flour. Peanut butter which contains nothing but peanuts (no added sugar) is widely available.

 All things in moderation. Don’t try to change everything all at once. Make one change. Stick to it until it becomes a habit before going on to the next change.

 Eat breakfast! A good healthy breakfast revs up your metabolism, improves mental clarity, and helps you eat less throughout the day.

 Drink lots of water! Many experts recommend a full glass of water before a meal and another afterward. If you drink ice water, your body burns more calories bringing it to body temperature. Also, water flushes toxins from the body. Common side effects of dehydration are fatigue and headaches.

 

Healthy, Easy, and Tasty Recipes

Below are a few healthy, easy, and tasty recipes for breakfast to help begin your day:

 

1. CREAMY CRUNCHY FREEZE-DRIED FRENZY

CREAMY CRUNCHY FREEZE-DRIED FRENZY

Picture from http://www.hungry-girl.com/recipes/creamy-crunchy-freeze-dried-frenzy

Ingredients
6 oz. fat-free vanilla yogurt
¼ cup freeze-dried fruit (your choice)
¼ cup Fiber One cereal

Directions
Layer ½ of each ingredient in bowl or parfait glass. Repeat. (Tip: Try Gerber’s Mini Fruits in the baby food aisle.)

Stats
Serves 1; 165 cal., .5g fat, 180g sodium, 40g carbs, 7g fiber, 12g sugar, 11g protein

 

2. CHOCO-MONKEY OATMEAL

CHOCO-MONKEY OATMEAL

Picture from http://www.hungry-girl.com/books/2/1/all

Ingredients
½ cup regular (not instant) oats
1 25-calorie packet diet hot cocoa mix
½ medium banana, mashed
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 no-calorie sweetener packet
Dash salt

Directions
Pour cocoa mix into a glass with cinnamon, sweetener, and salt. Add ¼ cup hot water. Stir thoroughly.

Once the cocoa mix is dissolved, add ¼ cup cold water. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine cocoa mix, banana, and oats until well mixed.

Microwave 2 minutes. Stir. Allow to thicken. Enjoy!

Stats
Serves 1; 186 cal., 2g fat, 137mg sodium, 37g carbs, 5g fiber, 11g sugar, 6.5g protein

 

Now on to lunch fare:

 

1. SCOOPABLE CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD

 SCOOPABLE CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD

Picture from http://www.hungry-girl.com/books/2/3/all

Ingredients
One 16-ounce package broccoli slaw
12 ounces cooked lean chicken breast, chopped
1 cup canned water chestnuts, drained and sliced
1 cup canned mandarin orange segments, drained and chopped (If packed in juice, rinse first.)
1 cup chopped scallions
¾ cup low fat Sesame Ginger dressing

Directions
In a large bowl, toss all ingredients until well mixed. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Stir well before serving. Enjoy!

Stats
Serves 5; Per serving (1 ½ cups): 195 cal., 2.75g fat, 595mg sodium, 21g carbs, 4.5g fiber, 12.5g sugar, 22.5g protein

 

2. VEGGIE-LOADED TANGY TUNA SALAD

VEGGIE-LOADED TANGY TUNA SALAD

Picture from http://www.hungry-girl.com/books/2/3/all

Ingredients
One 6-oz can tuna, packed in water, drained and flaked
½ cup chopped peppers (any color)
¼ cup finely chopped carrots
¼ cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup fat-free mayo
2 teaspoons honey mustard
1 teaspoon sweet relish
Dash salt (to taste)
Dash black pepper (to taste)

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine mayo, honey mustard, relish, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Stir in tuna. Fold in veggies.

Stats
Serves 2; Per serving (about ¾ cup): 153 cal., 2.5g fat, 730mg sodium, 14g carbs, 2g fiber, 7g sugar, 18g protein

 

Dinner (finally!)

 

1. SUPER VEGGIE-STUFFED PEPPERS

SUPER VEGGIE-STUFFED PEPPERS

Picture from http://www.hungry-girl.com/books/2/6/all

Ingredients
1 large red pepper
1 plum tomato (Roma recommended), seeded and chopped
½ cup frozen ground-beef-soy crumbles, thawed
½ cup chopped mushrooms
¼ cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped green pepper
¼ cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons shredded fat-free cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon dry taco seasoning
¼ teaspoon minced garlic

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a medium pan to medium-high heat on the stove.

Add mushrooms, onion, and green pepper. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until veggies are softened.

Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute. Transfer mixture to medium bowl.

Add tomato, soy crumbles, tomato sauce, cheese, and taco seasoning. Mix thoroughly.

Slice off top of red pepper. Slice in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Spray a medium baking dish with nonstick spray.

Place pepper halves in a dish, cut side up. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove peppers from oven.

Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Let pepper halves cool. With a paper towel, remove excess moisture.

Evenly spoon veggie mixture into pepper halves. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Stats
Serves 2; Each half 188 cal., 2g fat, 801mg sodium, 28.5g carbs, 8.5g fiber, 13.5 sugar, 19g protein

 

2. LEAN BEAN’N CHEESE ENCHILADAS

http://www.hungry-girl.com/books/8/11/all

Picture from http://www.hungry-girl.com/books/8/11/all

Ingredients
2 medium-large corn tortillas
2/3 cup enchilada sauce
1/3 cup fat-free refried beans
1 slice fat-free cheddar cheese, halved
¼ cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon taco sauce
½ teaspoon dry taco seasoning
Optional: fat-free sour cream, chopped scallions

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray pan with nonstick spray. Cook onions over medium heat on a stove until browned, about 2 minutes.

Combine onions, refried beans, taco sauce, and taco seasoning until well mixed.

Spray baking dish with nonstick spray. Heat tortillas in microwave until warm. Lay tortillas flat.

Spread about 2 tablespoons enchilada sauce on each. Place half of cheese sauce in center of each tortilla.

Evenly distribute bean mixture on each. Wrap tightly. Place in baking dish, seam side down.

Spoon remaining enchilada sauce over enchiladas. Bake for about 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Sprinkle shredded cheese over enchiladas. Return to oven. Bake until cheese is melted (about 5 minutes).

Stats
2 servings; each enchilada 187 cal., 2g fat, 976mg sodium, 29g carbs, 4g fiber, 5g sugar, 12g protein

*Recipes are from “Hungry Girl 200 under 200” by Lisa Lillien


Researches and references

(1) http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2014/01/0008.xml
(2) http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/diet-and-weight/
(3) http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/sodium-health-risks-and-disease/