As a single girl living in the city with a busy career, I relied for many years on processed foods and the freezer section to feed me. I was so focused on calorie count, so I would get the reduced-fat mac and cheese from TJs or one of those absolutely terrible lean cuisines. I would be left hungry and grazing on whatever snack stuff I had around the house. Most dinners included some kind of pasta, whether it was the above-mentioned mac and cheese or some kind of pesto tortellini. Once I started following the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan, I had to start making changes and find ways to make it work for my busy and active lifestyle.
I never liked to cook before. I always made a complete mess, it never quite turned out right and took forever. I felt like a total failure so I just gave up. Plus, it was hard to find recipes for one person. With the help of health-conscious friends, Instagram and Pinterest, I started seeing all of these amazing things that looked pretty easy to make. So I started cooking. Slowly but surely, it started to come together. I now get excited every week to cook. I literally get disappointed when I can’t cook all of the amazing recipes I’m finding each week.
One of the things I realized as I moved further in my healthy eating journey is that I don’t eat nearly enough veggies. So now I’m on a mission to eat more veggies, especially later in the day in my lunch, afternoon snack and dinner.
Here are some of my latest obsessions that are quick, easy and delicious:
1. Spiralize it! I’m OBSESSED with my spiralizer. Yeah, they are a little bulky for a kitchen tool, but probably my favorite. I love zucchini and pasta, so making zucchini in to pasta is basically the best thing ever when trying to be health-conscious. My absolute weeknight favorite is Zucchini Noodles with Lemon-Garlic Spicy Shrimp from the fantastic Skinnytaste. I can whip it up in 10 minutes while on the phone with my mom, which is literally a miracle. And it tastes absolutely delicious using food I already have around the house. A new favorite Sunday night meal is Zucchini Spaghetti, Crispy Prosciutto and Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Parmesan Sauce from Inspiralized. You want to talk about a veggie-packed, filling dinner! Plus I have leftovers for a lunch or dinner that week.
2. Freeze it! Here’s the thing – freezing doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I keep all of my meat and seafood in the freezer in individual portions for easy thawing when I need just one. Trader Joe’s sells chicken in big bags that are individually packaged – genius! I also like to buy my veggies in the freezer section. So long as you are buying veggies that were frozen at the peak of freshness with no added ingredients, it’s a great quick way to have veggies on hand at all times. I love adding cooked spinach or kale to a homemade pizza or throwing some broccoli in my lunches (squeeze a little lemon on top for something extra special). This way you don’t have a bunch of fresh ingredients going bad in the fridge if you have a busy week and don’t get to eat it in time. And there are some great frozen meals that aren’t too bad. A staple in my freezer is Trader Joe’s Superfood Quinoa. It’s packed with organic veggies and quinoa with some seasoning – that’s it! I heat it up and throw an egg on top for a quick, healthy ‘fried rice.’
3. Paleo it! Full disclosure – I’m not paleo, but I love paleo recipes! I love the focus on healthy protein and veggie meals. I’ve written about her before, but I just absolutely adore Juli Bauer from PaleOMG. She’s got a great sense of fashion, super funny, has the cutest dog and makes amazing recipes. I hate when you’ve got someone who is like ‘This is easy!’ but is actually kind of hard for some of us who have cooking challenges. Some of my favorite recipes of hers that are perfect to make on Sundays for week-long eating: Chicken Enchilada Bake, Easy Breakfast Casserole, Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie, and Turkey and Spinach Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. And for that sweet tooth? I’m ridiculously obsessed with her Almond Butter Blondies, Sweet Potato Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies and Double Chocolate Cookies. And that’s coming from a non-baker!
So there ya go, cooking with the non-cooker. Excuse me, I’ve gotta go cook now.