Monday, September 24, 2012

The "Secret Weapon" for Fast Healthy Food

Did you know that if you're eating out at "fast food" places, you could actually be wasting your time and money? This may sound a little strange, but I never (OK, rarely) eat fast food because of one little trick I use to make my own "fast food" that is actually healthier and cheaper than the drive through nonsense.

As a fitness coach and adviser, one of the biggest excuses I hear is "I don't have enough time or money to eat healthy," but that's usually because people don't know this stupid simple strategy you're about to learn.

Several years ago I faced the ultimate challenge... how to be a broke and busy college student and health nut at the same time.

Keep in mind, I didn't always used to be a health nut. I would eat fast food every single night all up through high school until I wised up about the damaging effects it was having on my body. Not wanting to sacrifice convenience though, I soon discovered a trick for having delicious meals that I could prepare myself in a matter of minutes, even though I didn't know the first thing about cooking.

What's my secret to fast healthy (and affordable) food? It may sound a little strange, but if you want something fast, go with the slow... cooker.

You see, a slow-cooker (aka crock-pot) is the ultimate device in kitchen convenience. Here's a couple slow-cooker fast facts:

    Slow cookers prepare dishes in about 3-4 hours on high and 6-8 on low.
    They cook at lower temperatures retaining moisture, flavor, and nutrients.
    They come in large sizes allowing you to cook a large bulk of food all at once.
    They are affordable ranging from $20-$40.

Many have automated convenience functions like timers and automatic shut offs.

You may be wondering, how does something that cooks food for 3-8 hours save time?

The secret is in the quick preparation. By utilizing recipes that only call for about 5 minutes of preparation time, I could toss the ingredients into the slow-cooker right before I went to sleep at night (usually after a long day at school and work), and then wake up the next day to a large batch of food ready to throw into a locking "to-go" food storage container. There would usually be enough food there to get me through a couple days without having to cook any more.

So, that's a mere 5 minutes of time invested every couple days eat healthy. 5 minutes is less time than it takes to sit through the drive through or order take out on the phone!

Not only are home cooked meals healthier and cheaper, but with the right strategies they can be tastier as well.

The step-by-step slow cooker tips to fast, tasty, and healthy food:

1. Use prepackaged mixed vegetables and combine with a protein such as chicken, beef, fish, beans, and/or organic tofu for a low-calorie fat burning meal.

2. Optionally add in rice, quinoa, potatoes, or other starches for added nutrition.

3. To take the food from dull to delicious, utilize home-made sauces like curry (coconut milk combined with curry powder) and top the food with it. This usually only takes a minute or two to prep in a blender. Alternatively, you may use healthy sauces and spices after the food is cooked like salsa, balsamic vinegar, and Italian seasoning.

4. Meat tips to save time: Don't worry about browning meats ahead of time, they cook just fine tossed right in from the package. Frozen meats may be thawed under hot water. Most meats fall apart after cooking so I don't bother to chop them up before cooking. Utilize sauces during or after cooking to enhance flavor as opposed to marinating.

Now you know one of my many secrets to fast healthy meals, but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my many time and money saving kitchen and cooking tips for getting fit.

1 comment:

  1. I love my slow cooker. Life is stressful enough without me having to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen making meals.