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Friday, May 27, 2016

Dinner in 15

Compared to other nations in the world, America spends the least amount of money, and the least amount of time preparing and eating food.  

Unfortunately this cheap & easy style of nutrition is backfiring when it comes to our health.  Almost ½ of the meals eaten in our homes (not counting eating in the car or at a restaurant) are not prepared at home.  Home-cooked meals are disappearing, and with it a myriad of health, social, and emotional benefits. 

However, while it may be ideal to spend more time in your kitchen preparing meals with your family, that may not be possible every night of the week.  

The good news is that with very little time, you can enjoy a meal with your family that doesn’t come in a Styrofoam container or a grease-soaked bag.  So, for those busy, hectic-schedule days, here are some tips to help you get a home-cooked meal on the table in 15 minutes.
Often it is the grain that takes a good portion of your meal preparation time.  So having great go-to grain options such as wheat foods on hand will really speed up your prep time. The recipes I brought today aren’t mine, but come from the Wheat Foods Council.  Since we need 6 servings of grains per day with half of those servings coming from whole grains, wheat foods provide a lot of versatility and become a building block for a healthy meal.  The nice thing about wheat foods whether you’re choosing whole wheat or enriched, is that they provide lots of essential nutrients such as folate, and other b vitamins, iron and other minerals.  So here we have chicken, kale and black bean quesadillas that come together in 15 minutes.  Add some mini peppers and melon so that half your plate is produce, and you’re set. 

Chicken, Kale and Black Bean Quesadillas

Going meatless is another way to speed up the meal prep process.  With this meatless, main dish pasta salad, during the time it takes you to cook the pasta, the other prep is completed.  Add some fresh or canned fruit to round out the meal and you’re set.

Caprese Pasta Salad

Even a quick BLT on sourdough with some bagged salad makes for a great meal in mere minutes.

Other tips for speeding up the meal preparation include prepping your protein in advance.
Browning a large quantity of hamburger, then dividing it up and freezing in small quantities makes taco night a 15 minute meal.  Cooking chicken or roast in a crockpot then shredding and freezing makes for a great short cut to bbq sandwiches, paninis, or enchiladas.

Good nutrition rarely happens by accident, so with a little planning, you can have your meal and the time to enjoy it too!

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