So, you want fast healthy food but you hate to cook? I hear you. I love to cook, but right now in life so many other things push that way down on my priority list. Yet, my health and energy is at the top of that list or none of the rest of it gets done.
What do I do? I’m asked that frequently. So, this post is a response to that question. Especially now! So many goals… hormone balance, energy for focus and for moving more, optimal sleep, and something fast with ingredients that I almost always have anyway.
But one of the biggest challenges for women who live alone is doing the same thing over and over again. It’s not good for your gut, therefore your hormones, therefore, well… everything. So when you’re stuck.. these ideas may help.
Think I’m Not Like You and It’s Easy for Me?
So, you should know, most of the time right now it’s just for me. Yet, I’ve lived a lot of lives! I cooked for my family – a pre-teen and teenage athlete, my active and busy businessman spouse, then we added a baby to the mix, plus me. I’ve prepared the big holiday meals and done all the entertaining and holiday party-hosting. I am familiar with juggling multiple needs and wants. I definitely prep in batches now just as much as I did then. For different reasons. But my health and yours are so important that living alone, or “it’s no fun cooking for one” is just not going to fly. Not on my watch. You’ve got things to do and you need energy to do them.
In this post-2020 hot mess, if you’ve relied on take-out, resorted to processed foods more than you’d like to admit, and you’re feeling and seeing it, this is for you.
It’s Fast, Healthy Food: It’s Not a Unicorn
Listen, there is nothing, and I mean nothing magical about anything I’m including here. But if you need a reminder of how you can make it easy to prepare fast, healthy food, that helps you avoid food sensitivities, and follow Flipping 50-friendly hormone balancing fitness tips, you’ll love it.
If you’ve got an easy go-to that avoids food sensitivities, and minimizes processed foods, share it in the comments. Because, a girl can’t have too many fast healthy food options.
Here are a few of my pantry staples.
Behind my Cupboards, Freezer, and Refrigerator Doors
Brown rice tortillas
- Use them baked for thin pizza crust (a total mess…but so good and light). I’ll do leftover “garbage pizza” with almost anything and add a plant-based cheese, goat cheese, or leave the cheese off if I’m using a creamy sauce (Flipping 50 member? Black bean sauce is a favorite and you’ll find it in your searchable recipes)
- Wraps for anything you want to stuff them with (leftover grilled asparagus and chicken slices)
Thaw in colander under running water amount desired – for a salad (dairy-free, soy-free mayo), grilled in or outdoors, saute and add to veggie noodles. Spread on your pizza crust.
Cheating Is Encouraged
- Red cabbage can be added to ground meat to boost your veggie intake.
- Onion, carrot, celery blends make simple soup starters or a ground meat base.
- Butternut squash or sweet potatoes- roast for side dishes (and add to a blender with chicken broth and seasonings for a fast, health, food that is comfort in a bowl)
- Riced cauliflower can be cooked for “rice” of course, but you can also cook it quickly and make “mashed potatoes” or a creamy cauliflower soup in minutes.
- Brussels sprouts to steam in a bag in a pinch are easy and come together fast to add a veggie.
- Asparagus, zucchini, and pepper slices to throw on the grill with your protein tonight. I’m all for cooking one-pan, one-pot, or all on the grill. No one needs to recreate that Thanksgiving 12-pot circus for dinner!
Vegan dairy-free pesto
- Add to spiraled noodles for a quick sauce.
- Spread on baked brown rice tortilla for pizza.
- Toss a “bowl” of simply roasted and seasoned veggies, quinoa, and the protein of your choice with pesto for a bowl. This is a great buffet option if you’ve got leftovers too. Let everyone put their own bowl together.
Trouble finding items you want locally? Try Thrive Market. During the pandemic and living in the mountains before that it has been awesome. I’ve been a member for years!
Spiraled noodles (sweet potato for resistant starch, zucchini noodles for low carb)
Get your pasta fix by adding your favorite sauce (canned is fine as long as it’s gluten-free and sodium content is reasonable) or add the pesto. (above)
Still Probably the Most Versatile of All…
Cook and season for spaghetti, tacos, or bowls. Be sure to doctor it up with torn kale, or red or green cabbage you won’t taste but increase your veggie count. In spaghetti sauce grated zucchini and carrot add texture and nutrients but don’t disrupt the flavor.
My go-to ground meat: bison, elk, venison, lamb, and less often ground beef. Buy the highest quality you can afford. (and you don’t see chicken or ground turkey – I rarely use them and favor “wild” meat).
Make soup with them when you’re doing something at your kitchen table anyway. The most obvious time is during dinner. It’s so much less of a nuisance. Cook the veggies in broth, and they’ll be soft a lot faster than raw. Use your big blender or an immersion blender if you have one to create a creamy texture. Leave veggies chunky and add a protein (leftovers) along with quinoa or sweet potato chunks and you’ve got a fast-made meal and fast, healthy food when it comes to mealtime. Season with salt and pepper. Add goat cheese for “cream” soups without the cream. No one ever overdosed on veggies and the more in your diet, the better chance you’re in an alkaline state. That supports your body’s natural weight and hormone balance.
Want to support your alkalinity easily? Learn about the Food Flip.
Canned tuna – high in mercury (heavy metals often go undetected until you have several compounding issues like menopause symptoms or mold exposure)
Roasted chicken from the grocery store – You risk that the store expiration date arrived and chicken was then roasted and set out to sit and wait for you. That’s calling it too close for me. Also, if it tastes too good – check for ingredients with gluten (seasonings) and msg were used.
Frozen cauliflower crust – Every brand I’ve found has egg or cheese and other ingredients those with food sensitivities are best to avoid. Those little ingredients used often can sabotage you. Test yourself first. When I want it, I make my own without cheese or egg. It’s a little more effort but worth it!
Gluten-free products – Many of the breads, buns, pizza crusts that you find in that “gluten-free” section have a lot of “filler” ingredients. That’s just swapping one problem for another.
Tools: (*the ones I use most)
- Cookie sheets and big pots for big batches to eat now and freeze for later*
- Crock pot
- Instant Pot
- Air Fryer
- A blender*
- Immersion blender
- Parchment and tin foil to line pans for fast clean up*
There you have it, my fast, healthy food staples. I hope you’ve got an extra trick or two to make meals fun, and still full of fast, health food. If you want support tracking your meals to not count calories, but to make sure you’ve got that protein, the right amount of the right carbs at meals, you might like this – while supplies last.
I started doing elimination when I was 31 and I can understand the challenge of doing it all at once rather than the way I did it, discovering what wasn’t working. Even now, I have to alter my own habits because it’s too easy to fall into the trap of eating say, spinach and failing to get diversity. It is easier than you think to have anything you want, as long as you don’t start with an I-can’t-eat-that mentality. You can make anything… creamy dressings, sauces, and soups, pasta, sandwiches, Mexican and Asian inspired meals. You’ll just learn to swap your old habits for ones that make you feel better. And you can see from above they’re not too labor-intensive. Fast healthy food is easy. And it can have all the rich flavor you want.
The Fastest Fast Healthy Food to Reduce Decision Fatigue
Oh, and one more thing, of course I do a smoothie every morning. That’s no secret. I aim for 30-40 grams of protein in my morning meal. A high protein morning meal for women is a big blood sugar stabilizer and satiety boost (aka, kill cravings). And I want to pack in a couple cups of veggies – whether by adding greens, cucumber and parsley, or cauliflower. It starts with a plan.
If you’re fasting? Shift your schedule so you eat dinner earlier. A fast from 6pm to 10am for instance, is better than a 8pm to noon fast for many midlife women, especially morning exercisers who need to avoid cortisol imbalance and blood sugar lows during and after exercise. Fasted exercise for women in midlife has not been proven to be more effective and for many women it is less effective, less comfortable and when you expend less energy, your results suffer.