Find time to cook healthy with three simple tips!

By: Carolyn Reynaud MS, RD, LD. Carolyn is a registered dietitian specialized in preventative wellness and health promotion. Her main passion is nutrition for sustainable and realistic weight management.

"There are not enough hours in the day.” “There is just not enough time to make healthful meals that actually taste good.” As a registered dietitian, I have lost count of how often I have heard these phrases uttered in complete frustration. Even I am not immune to this little problem of time management. . It seems life is a constant evolution of things to do. When I was younger it was the gym, social events, work, dating. Now that I am married and starting a family, my dilemma is how can I survive taking care of a newborn much less working, creating healthy meals and other keeping up household chores?  In the future, I'll have to figure out how to fit car pool duty, school plays and little league into an already full schedule. As a professional dedicated to nutrition, I highly promote home cooked meals as a cornerstone of healthy lifestyle...and I want to practice what I preach.  I have made a concerted effort to learn how to merge hectic and healthy lifestyles. A little secret that has gone a long way for me in crafting a healthy diet is using dressing and sauces. These are great flavor enhancers that can go a long way in cutting prep time while upping taste. Here are some examples of ways I have used dressings and sauce to create fast and healthy meals for my family….

  1. Marinate your meat in dressing and bake. So simple, but so delicious. Marinating meat helps to provide flavor and maintains moisture. I usually try to get my meat in the marinade the night before or in the morning for the most flavor and juiciness. There is such a variety of dressings available you can create almost any flavor palate you want. A staple in our house is chicken breast marinated in Italian dressing. After a night of marinating, I simply toss the chicken breasts on a baking sheet with some broccoli (or veggie of your choice) lightly coated in olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes. I use a meat thermometer to make sure it is cooked to perfection. Once the chicken and broccoli are done, I toss it on to a bed of whole grain wild rice. Viola! Super easy, healthy and quick and delicious.  My husband would eat this every night if I let him.
  2. Turn your side dish into a main course. I love side dishes because there are so many healthy and tasty options that take little time. I have been slightly obsessed with this fresh little dish as of late: Caribbean corn and black bean salad. Its light, refreshing, chock full of fiber, and quick and easy! . So, I did a little brainstorming on ways I could eat this salad all the time by turning it into a main dish. I decided topping it off with a salmon filet would be the way to go. For a little bit of sweetness and spice I simply drizzle the salmon with sweet chili sauce and bake for 30 minutes or until flaky. The sweet spice salmon and the zesty salad complemented each other perfectly and it took only about 10 minutes to put together. /recipes/recipe-caribbean-corn-and-black-bean-salad.
  3. Turn off the stove. On those nights when time is really limited, a fun salad is the way we go for quick meal. This pear and raspberry salad can be put together in a blink of eye and is still fancy enough to serve to friends. If this salad is going to be our main meal, I might add some protein like tuna canned in water or maybe chickpeas to give the dish more staying power. Sometimes I will cheat and bring a rotisserie chicken home as the topper. I think getting adventurous with salads has not only helped us in having quick meals at home, but also pushes us to try different fruit and veggies combination that contribute to getting in our fruit and veggies for the day. /recipes/pear-raspberry-vinaigrette-salad

I hope these tips have inspired some great ideas on how you can spend less time in the kitchen, but more time eating at home!