Most clients that I meet with don’t always have the time to plan or prepare in-depth meals. But what’s the alternative…cereal for every meal? While that may be fine on occasion, here’s a list of some staples I always keep in the fridge, along with EASY, tasty, & relatively healthy meal ideas for those of you who want to be fed and out the door within 20 minutes.
TEMPEH, MISO PASTE, & SEAWEED
Here are the three things I love about tempeh:
You can keep it in your fridge for quite a while without it going bad. I find it important to keep some form of protein always on hand to help with energy and balance blood sugar. But when I haven’t had time to go to the grocery that week, tempeh is one of those steady ponies I can always count on.
It’s a fermented form of soy which means it’s more bioavailable & easily absorbable compared to things like tofu or soy milk.
If you’re wondering how the hell to prepare this nutty patty, one of my favorites is to cut it into small pieces & add it to a simple miso soup. All I do is boil whatever veggies I have in the fridge (zucchini, broccoli, carrots, greens, etc) along with the tempeh, add seaweed, and then once it’s all cooked, I turn off the heat & add a couple scoops of miso paste. The key is to make sure the miso is stirred in really well so you don’t end up with salty chunks. When I’m wanting it to be heartier or more filling, I add some quinoa or rice to the pot in the beginning & let that cook for a bit before adding the veggies & tempeh.
There are so many varieties of seaweed and I'd say use the one that you have in your cabinet, but my personal favorite when it comes to miso soup is wakame. It can be purchased online or in health food stores. This article goes more in-depth into it's health benefits.
This meal can literally be prepared in 10 minutes, and what’s nice, is that you get to drink so many of the nutrients in the broth. I’ll even have it for breakfast on those cold, foggy mornings! If I have time, I also cut up fresh ginger & add that too.
Hormone & nitrate-free SAUSAGE
with frozen ARTICHOKES & fresh VEGGIES
Niman Ranch makes good either chicken or pork sausage which are another source of protein that keep well in the fridge. I always get hormone & nitrate-free sausage when I buy them because your run-of-the-mill sausages are loaded with preservatives that can throw hormones out of balance or build up toxicity in the body. Here is the QUICKEST/EASIEST way I find to make a meal out of them when I’ve got only got 20 min before I have to be out the door:
Chop up a bunch of veggies---things like broccoli, onions, and kale
Put them in a steamer in the order of what takes the longest to cook first (leafy greens go at the end) Add a sausage & frozen artichoke hearts to the steaming veggies too. I like to keep frozen artichoke hearts on hand from TJ’s for when I’m low on veggies & they taste great w the sausage. It usually takes about 5 minutes and I poke things like broccoli with a fork to check that they are soft before they get mushy. Lightly steaming is one of the healthiest ways to prepare veggies to maintain nutrient content. Steamed veggies sound boooring? Just wait to see how I finish them off so they still have flavor…
Take the sausage out first, let it cool for a minute, then slice it in pieces, mix it in with all the veggies in a bowl. I’ll add things like olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper or chili flakes & rosemary for flavoring. Sun-dried tomatoes and be good too. Mix it all up & voila!
*When I have more time or am wanting a larger meal, I essentially do the same thing but also boil a pot of TJ’s brown rice spiral pasta, open a can of BPA-free canned tomato sauce, warm the sauce in a saucepan, add the veggies & sausage, then the cooked pasta, & stir it up. Personally, I find chili flakes always enhances even the most boring of tomato sauces.
I always keep a container of sauerkraut on hand because the probiotics & active enzymes in the sauerkraut aid with digestion. Once again, it keeps for a long time in the fridge. Learn more more about it's benefits here.
I just add a tablespoon or two to the side of most meals (esp. the heavier ones involving meat protein which could use a little help from our friend, sauerkraut). I find that it makes a meal like eggs over toast more balanced and easily digested. It’s also great to add to my “salad pocket” creation I outline below.
Another good staple. Lemon hummus from Whole Foods is my persona favorite and doesn’t have that chalky taste. Dip celery, carrots, or bell peppers in it as a great snack. Or spread it on toast or a rice cracker with a bit of avocado & even some smoked salmon for extra protein. Check out my “favorite salad” pocket invention, which is great for picnics too:
Buy a lettuce that has a large leaf, my personal favorites are butter lettuce, or radicchio (which has added nutritional value if you can handle the bitter flavor)
Wash and dry the lettuce, then fill it with your favorite fixings. Some of my favorites are: hummus, cherry tomatoes cut in half, avocado, & sauerkraut.
Wrap it up, eat it with your fingers like you would a taco, & enjoy the freshness of this easy lunch option.
EGGS with GLUTEN-FREE FROZEN WAFFLES
While these gluten-free frozen waffles are not the healthiest food in the cupboard (just because something is gluten-free doesn’t make it healthy!) But they aren’t all that bad, and for me, having some gluten-free quick alternatives when I don’t have time to cook a whole grain, can be a lifesaver. Since they are kept in the freezer, you never have to worry about them going bad.
Eggs keep pretty good too so are a good staple to have, even if it means hard boiling a couple and bringing them on the road with some carrots and celery.
Now you’re ready to place your lightly cooked eggs on the waffles. If I happen to have any parsley or spinach, I chop that up and make a bed of it on the waffle to lay the warm egg over. I add a scoop of sauerkraut to the side, and if it’s a meal other than breakfast, I may steam some veggies on the side or have a carrot or stick of celery to go with it. Adding plant fiber to the meal can help to make it more digestible.
DARK GREEN VEGGIES
With dark green veggies being some of the most nutrient dense, things like kale, broccoli, & spinach are great to keep on hand. Whether I’m adding them to a soup or steaming, or sautéing, preparation can be super easy.
If I decide to make a healthier version of the above eggs & toaster waffle on-the-go meal, I simply put my poached or soft boiled eggs over a bowl of lightly steamed onions, dark green veggies, and carrot or sweet potato. (btw, did you know that if you slice a sweet potato up & add it to the steamer at the same time as the onions, it doesn’t take that long to cook?)
Sound boring? Once again, the dressing is what saves it---olive oil, lemon, sea salt, pepper, and often I’ll add turmeric to this concoction. The raw egg yolk mixes in with all the other fixings and it becomes a super healthy and tasty meal.
Green apples keep for a decent amount of time in the fridge and can be such a great snack to grab when you’re on the go. They have a lower sugar content than other, sweeter varieties of apples, and most other fruits. My favorite snack on-the-go is a green apple with a small bag of pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Or, at home, I’ll slice it up and put almond butter on it. Read here for more benefits from green apples.
PROTEIN POWDER & GREEENS POWDER
When they are from a good source that doesn't add a bunch of fillers or preservatives, protein and green powder can be critical when you are depleted, too rushed to prepare a fully balanced meal, and needing that extra boost. I'm not saying they should replace a meal, but they can certainly be a helpful adjunct.
My favorites are made by the brand Life's Abundance because they use simple, vegan sources (which is helpful for people that are lactose intolerant too). Click here to see their products and be able to make a purchase.
My personal favorite is the greens powder which has some of the most nutrient-rich ingredients like spirulina and wheat grass, along with a mushroom blend which helps build immunity. I'll have it either in the am to help get me going, or in the afternoon when I'm hitting a slump & might otherwise crave chocolate or caffeine.
I’m curious, what are some of your easiest while still healthy meals on-the-go? Please send some of your ideas via email and I can add them to my database to share with other busy people.
I’m not saying these types of quick-and-easy options should take the place of your favorite meals that take time and love to prepare. But, let's be practical, and have some staples in your fridge when you haven't made it to the grocery store recently, and you want to maintain a relatively healthy diet. Perhaps they take the place of that bowl of cereal or peanut butter and jelly sandwich ;)