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Think you don't have time to prepare a nutritious, diet-friendly dish? Think again! This month Diet.com shows how good, healthy food can make for a fast and easy meal.
It's easy to fit healthy eating into your busy lifestyle. These 10 strategies will help you create nutritious, energy-boosting meals in minutes.
1. Stock up on healthy staples every week. Whole-grain breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, canned beans, low-sodium deli meats, yogurt and low-sodium soup will make meal preparation a snap.
2. While dinner is cooking, prepare lunch for the next day. Toss in a few extra handfuls of veggies or an extra chicken breast to use for sandwiches and salads.
3. At work keep a stash of healthy snack items such as instant oatmeal, baby carrots, yogurt, low-fat frozen burritos, meal-replacement bars, string cheese, low-fat popcorn and fruit canned in its own juice.
4. Always add color to your meal by including a fruit or vegetable.
5. Throw a meal-replacement bar and a piece of fruit into your purse or briefcase for snacking on the go.
Fast Meal Ideas
• Instant oatmeal with reduced-fat milk and fruit
• Whole-wheat English muffin with peanut butter and banana
• Low-fat cottage cheese, fruit and a handful of walnuts
• Yogurt mixed with high-fiber cereal and berries
• Turkey Cranberry Wrap*
• Hummus, feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and shredded carrots stuffed into a whole-wheat pita
• Fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, carrots, green onions and canned tuna tossed with low-fat salad dressing and served with whole-wheat crackers
• Vegetarian chili or soup with a side salad
• Apple and low-fat string cheese
• Air-popped popcorn with baby carrots
• Low-fat bean dip with red bell peppers, carrots and celery
• A handful each of almonds, whole-grain cereal and dried fruit
Recipes — Wrap It Up!
*Turkey Cranberry Wrap (292 calories): Spread 1 tablespoon light cream cheese on a 10-inch whole-wheat or spinach tortilla. Sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded carrots and 2 tablespoons dried cranberries on top. Add 2 ounces sliced lean turkey breast, 1 slice light Swiss cheese and a handful of spinach. Roll and dine!
Avocado-Chicken Wrap (300 calories): Mash 1/3 of an avocado with a fork and spread on a 10-inch whole-wheat tortilla. Add 1/2 cup shredded chicken, 1 thinly sliced tomato, 2 tablespoons salsa and chopped lettuce. Fold and enjoy!
6. Headed out for lunch? Browse menus and nutrition information online ahead of time in order to stick to your healthy eating plan. Good menu items include lean-meat sandwiches (no mayo), bean burritos (no cheese or sour cream), green salads lightly dressed with oil and vinegar, grilled fish and broth-based soups. Ask for a salad or a side order of fresh steamed veggies in place of fries. Sodas and other sugary beverages are calorie traps, so opt for water or unsweetened iced tea.
7. Instead of hitting the drive-through, utilize your local grocery store's salad bar and load up on fresh ingredients. You can't go wrong with green!
8. Sit down and eat — away from your desk. Multitasking can lead you to ignore your hunger and fullness signals, making it easier to overeat.
9. Set a goal for how many lunches you will pack during the week — three, for instance. Tell your friends or co-workers about your goal, and ask for their support to help keep you from straying.
10. Start the day with a balanced breakfast. Research shows that people who eat a morning meal actually consume fewer calories throughout the day. Extreme hunger at lunchtime can ruin even the best of intentions.