Learning to make nutritious meals that don’t require lots of preparation time will help you keep yourself and your family in good health. Using low-fat and low-calorie substitutes to keep dishes familiar will let you create healthy familiar favorites.
Instead of serving each person a piece of beef or chicken with several side dishes, combine proteins with vegetables and starches to make one, quick dish. Use a wok to make a stir fry with vegetables and serve over instant rice, which has fewer calories than regular rice (although it’s not as healthy as brown rice). Make dishes like jambalaya which combine all the ingredients, including the meats, vegetables and rice in one pot; use low-fat sausage or substitute shrimp for the sausage to reduce saturated fat. You can make ethnic dishes such as chicken curry, carnitas or a simple coq au vin using the same method. Stews and chiles are perfect options for serving a quick, hearty and healthy dinner with a piece of whole-grain bread and a salad.
If you haven’t tried a carton of egg substitutes or egg whites, you don’t know what you’re missing. Even with whole eggs, we now know dietary cholesterol is not a problem. Soften some veggies in a pan (like onions, mushrooms, asparagus, peppers or tomatoes), then just pour in the egg substitute or whites. If the pan in hot enough, you can turn it off as soon as you pour and your eggs will finish using the residual heat. You can make omelets or scrambled eggs. For a Tex-Mex treat, shake some chili powder into the eggs and serve with fat-free or vegetarian refried beans, guacamole and salsa.
Frozen Dinners (They’re Hiding!)
You can find many great-tasting organic, low-fat and whole-food frozen dinners in a variety of cuisines, including Indian, Cajun, Tex-Mex, Italian and Chinese. The problem is, they are often located in the organic or health food sections of your local supermarkets where you might not see them.
Tasty, No-Bake Desserts
Many diners want a meal that ends with something sweet. There are so many fat-free, low-sugar dessert options, you can have a different healthy choice every night. Fruit, frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet, gelato, ginger snaps, angel food cake and other low-fat desserts can satisfy a sweet tooth without adding excess calories and additives. Read the nutrition label on any package to avoid trans fats.
Choose Lean Meats and Fatty Fish
You can reduce the saturated fat and cholesterol in your meals by using lean meats such as turkey breast, white meat pork, flank steak and sirloin, and high-fat fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod and halibut. The fat in fish is actually “good” fat that contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which help combat conditions like high cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic.
For easy preparation, buy ground turkey from breast meat to make quick, lean burgers. Broil sirloin on a rack to let fat drip off, and turn only once while you prepare the rest of your meal. Add a can of tuna to spaghetti sauce—it’s quick, provides Omega-3 and doesn’t have the saturated fat and cholesterol of hamburger.