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It’s an age-old dilemma: preparing a healthy meal or making your next appointment on time?
The convenience of fast food and unhealthy snacks often wins out in the battle. According to registered dietitian Elaine Magee, MPH, healthy meals can be a reality with just a little planning and forethought. In an article she wrote for WebMD, she emphasizes that when meals and snacks are prepared at home, parents can provide nutrient-rich, whole foods and de-emphasize packaged and processed foods high in saturated fat and sodium and low in fiber. Here are a few of Magee’s suggestions for healthy and quick meals and snacks for your time-deprived family:
5 Quick Snacks on the Go
- For older children, raw veggies. Such as baby carrots, cauliflower or broccoli florets, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, jicama sticks. They also travel well in a plastic bowl or bag.
- A colorful fruit salad is only a few chops away. Fruits just sitting in the fruit bowl or hiding in the crisper can be quickly cut up into bite size pieces and tossed together in a plastic bowl or bag, but and don’t forget the fork!
- A crunchy green salad can be tossed together in a couple of minutes using bags of pre-washed romaine lettuce or spinach leaves. Toss in cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, cheese cubes, sliced cucumber, dried fruit or sunflower seeds for color and variety, then add everything to a plastic bowl with a lid, drizzle your desired dressing over the top, pop on the lid and shake.
- Peanut butter makes snacking fun. Pair it with apples, bananas or celery, or spread on a whole-wheat bagel or toasted whole-wheat English muffin.
- Turn yogurt into frozen yogurt by popping a cups or tubes of yogurt into the freezer for easy grabbing.
5 Quick Meals on the Go
- Five minutes is all you need for your child to make a bagel pizza. Using whole-wheat bagels cut in half, bottled pizza sauce, barbecue sauce or pesto, shredded reduced-fat cheese and assorted toppings. Set the bagel half on a piece of foil, let your children assemble their personal pizza, and pop it into the toaster oven for a few minutes.
- Make a bean burrito by spreading canned fat-free or vegetarian refried beans over a whole-grain flour tortilla. Top with shredded cheese and salsa. Fold it up, place it on a paper towel or microwave-safe plate, and microwave for a minute.
- Make a sandwich wrap by spreading mustard, pesto or light ranch sauce on a whole-grain flour tortilla. Layer with lean, thinly sliced meat—such as turkey breast, roast beef or ham—slices of cheese and thinly sliced vegetables. Roll the tortilla up, wrap it in a piece of foil or a paper towel, and it’s perfectly portable.
- A green salad can become a meal. By adding roasted or grilled chicken or steak, beans or tofu, or cooked fish or shellfish.
- Microwave nachos assembled on a microwave-safe dish or bowl. By topping a bed of low-fat, whole-grain tortilla chips with canned fat-free or vegetarian refried beans,shredded leftover chicken or lean grilled beef, shredded reduced-fat cheese, chopped tomatoes, and/or green onions. Microwave for one minute, then add salsa and fat-free or light sour cream, as if desired.