Quick Healthy Dinner Recipes: What nutritionists cook when they're feeling lazy
Cooking may not be a high-energy sport, but if plopping down on the couch seems a lot more tempting than standing over a stove, prepping food can feel like a seriously daunting chore.
Ordering a pizza might be easy and delicious, but if you're trying to eat healthfully — or save some cash — a thin-crust pepperoni may not be the best choice. We asked nutritionists what they make at home when they're not at all in a cooking mood. Feel free to replicate these healthy, stress-free and laziness-inspired recipes.
Egg and vegetable frittata
If she's tired after counseling or shuttling her kids around, registered dietician Elyssa Toomey will sauté whatever veggies she has in her fridge, combine them with scrambled eggs, a little milk and some grated cheddar to make a frittata.
"Eggs are a nutrition powerhouse," Toomey said via email. "They are a gold standard of protein [and] contain disease-fighting nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, and the high choline content of eggs may enhance brain development and memory."
Pasta with canned Italian tuna and beans
Making a box of mac and cheese may be tempting when you just want food prep to be over with, but take the extra step of opening a can of tuna and a can of garbanzo beans (or other beans) to make a better-tasting pasta dish. Toomey makes this with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and some parmesan for a comforting and flavorful heart-healthy meal.
"Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, tuna is good for your heart and your waistline," Toomey said. "Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in tuna, have been shown to help maintain healthy blood pressure, lower triglycerides and improve insulin resistance. Tuna is also a good source of selenium, an antioxidant that helps improve the body's immune system, which is vital to preventing disease and infections."
If you want to add some additional fiber and flavor, Toomey recommended tossing in a can of artichoke hearts — simple, tasty and easy to stock in your pantry!
Registered dietitian Kaleigh McMordie also keeps canned beans and tuna on hand "for days when I'm really lazy so I can just throw them on a salad for lunch," she told Mic via email. Stock up on that shelf-stable protein!
Quinoa fried rice
Cancel the takeout fried rice — this non-recipe is super easy. Cook a batch of quinoa and stir-fry with a package of frozen mixed vegetables, soy sauce and ground ginger. "This pseudo-grain is a complete protein source, making [quinoa] a great vegetarian dinner," Toomey said. "Additionally, the diverse range of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients in quinoa may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer."
Plus, if you use different vegetables each night, you can easily change up the flavor of this quick quinoa meal.
DIY veggie pizza
"I always keep some whole-wheat pizza crusts on hand or even pita bread rounds," Sandy Wolner, registered dietitian and head of food, trend and innovation at PamperedChef said via email. "You can quickly cut up veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes and even fresh mozzarella, then just add tomato sauce and veggies to the crust or pita for a quick and easy dinner!"
When cooking from scratch is out of the question, a can of soup will cut it — just beware of high sodium and, potentially, sugar in some brands and soup varieties. "The quickest way to bulk up your go-to soup is adding in frozen veggies," Wolner suggested. "I stock up on low-sodium soup and add in whatever is in my freezer for a healthy warm [meal]." Stirring in fresh greens, like spinach, is another easy way to add nutrients to a canned meal.
If you've already cooked this week or otherwise have leftovers, fold them into a healthy quesadilla. "High-fiber tortillas are a must-have in my kitchen," Wolner said. "It's so easy to use leftover chicken or other proteins to make a quesadilla."
Chop up leftover chicken, cheese, canned beans and tomatoes; fold the ingredients into a tortilla and cook your quesadilla in a skillet or the microwave.
"If I'm ever having a lazy day and just don't want to cook, I'll grab an avocado," Robert Silverman, nutritionist and author of Inside Out Health: A Revolutionary Approach to Your Body said via email. "It's the best-tasting superfood there is: chock-full of monounsaturated fats, vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and has even been shown to have cancer-fighting properties."
In a rush, Silverman will dig into a whole avocado with a spoon, but she also likes pairing avocados with eggs and feta cheese. Adding avocado to lazy-day cooking is pretty much always a good call for taste and health benefits.
"It's great at absorbing nutrients from other foods you are eating, so you can also add it to quick salads, rice dishes, etc. for an instant boost in nutrition," Silverman said. Avocado is satiating and can provide a burst of energy you don't feel after eating other fruits.
"Natural fast food"
"When I'm feeling lazy, I don't cook anything," Annie B. Kay, lead nutritionist at the Kripalu Center said via email. "I have a great collection of nuts on hand, and I always have seasonal fruit. I call this combo natural fast food."
A handful of nuts and a piece of fruit are the perfect combination of plant protein and slow-absorbing carbohydrates. If your laziness has extended to not grocery shopping, Kay recommended dried fruits like raisins or cranberries and nut butter — just look out for added sugars in processed foods.