5 Healthy 15-Minute Meals

Grilled Chicken Breasts

If you're like most people, you look for a certain degree of convenience in your day. With busy schedules, many of us come to depend on efficiency.

While adopting a Healthy Way of Eating often obliges us to switch out our shopping lists and learn new recipes, it doesn't require we spend all day in the kitchen!

Check out these 15-minute meal options that prove you can have health - and convenience, too.

What Makes a Meal?

First, it’s important we set some parameters around what a healthy meal includes. The distribution of real/raw vegetables, lean meats and good fats is as follows.

  • An adequate amount of protein

  • Two servings of vegetables

  • One healthy fat source

Whether you're following a particular recipe or experimenting with your own idea, keep these criteria at the forefront of your mind to create nutrient-dense meals. Other foods such as rice or bread are considered extras, and their portions should be kept small.

Making the Most of Your Cooking Time

A lack of time is the top reason my clients give for not eating healthily. Drive-thrus and frozen entrees are often the go-to choice for lunch or evening meals. I encourage including other family members in meal preparation, including kids. Make cooking dinner an important and social evening ritual in your home. Put on some music, talk about your day and make the time meaningful if not entertaining. With everyone pitching in, many hands will make for light work.

A simple timesaver is buying precut or frozen vegetables for cooking. Most grocery stores even have precut and pre-cubed protein options. Variety for these is more limited, and you might sacrifice certain quality factors (e.g. organic, grass-fed, etc.) but it’s a good place to start until you’ve worked extra kitchen time into your schedule.

Another efficiency tip includes spending an hour or two on the weekends to prep meals for the following week. Cut raw vegetables, cook all your protein or batch cook a recipe for multiple meals.

New Favorite Dishes

The beauty of the following recipe ideas is their adaptability. Each main ingredient can be substituted with other foods in that food group (e.g. grass-fed beef can stand in for ground turkey).

I’ve also included different cooking methods to add some variety. Remember the meal criteria to allow enough nutrients in each person's portion. Rotate the meals into your family’s dinner lineup, and expand your cooking repetoire as you get more comfortable and confident in the kitchen.

Beef Soup

Ingredients: beef tenderloin cubes, carrots, celery, onion, green beans, cubed potatoes, beef/vegetable stock, garlic, salt and pepper to taste

A crock-pot or (if you'll be at home) large oven cassarole pot is needed. Most of your 15 minutes will be used in the preparation of this recipe.

Cut beef tenderloin into cubes (or buy pre-cut at the grocery store), and slice vegetables into edible pieces. Add beef and vegetables to the crock-pot and pour stock over the ingredients until fully covered. Season to taste with garlic, salt and pepper. Set the crock-pot or oven (if using a cassarole dish) on low to simmer all day, and dinner will be ready right on time.

Tilapia Taco Salad

Ingredients: tilapia fillets (a fillet per serving), lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, shredded cheese, green pepper, corn hard shell tacos (if desired), sour cream, macadamia nut cooking oil

Sauté fish over a thin layer of macadamia oil until fully cooked. (Fish should shred easily with a fork.) Crumble one taco shell per serving onto plate, and layer with fish, vegetables and a dollop of cheese and sour cream. Try squeezing lemon or lime juice over fish for more flavor.

Cashew Chicken and Broccoli

Ingredients: cubed, boneless, skinless chicken breast; broccoli florets, raw cashews, macadamia nut oil

Try making your own version of this restaurant favorite with whole, natural foods and pass on the high sodium content you’ll find in typical takeout.

Preheat oil in a skillet on high heat. Add cubed chicken and cashews to skillet, and cook evenly through. Once fully cooked, drizzle with additional oil and serve over steamed broccoli.

Shrimp Kabobs

Ingredients: medium-sized shrimp, green peppers, red peppers, red onions, mushrooms

Kabobs are a great way to fit more vegetables into your meals. Play around with this basic recipe by substituting other vegetable and protein options.

Cut vegetables into 1 ½ inch squares. Load each skewer, alternating shrimp and vegetables. Each skewer should hold at least four shrimp. Grill skewers for five minutes on each side.

Turkey Burger

Ingredients: ground turkey, butter lettuce leaves, avocado, tomato, sweet potato

The famous turkey burger! Instead of purchasing more processed versions you find at many restaurants, try making your own patties at home. Enhance this recipe by finely dicing additional vegetables and adding them to the ground patty before cooking.

Cut sweet potato into long strips and form ground turkey into desired size patties. Preheat 2 skillets and sauté sweet potato strips in heat-stable cooking oil until brown. Pan fry turkey patties until cooked evenly. Top each patty with tomato and avocado, and wrap in lettuce leaf. Serve along with sweet potato fries.

Closing Tips

Try one of these recipes this week! Healthy eating doesn’t have to be elaborate. You can always find more 15-minute healthy recipe options with a quick Internet search.

Start by shopping for quality ingredients, including fresh vegetables and lean meats to replace a frozen, processed standby. Stick to the meal criteria, and create one new nutrient rich meal each week. Increase the rotation of quick, healthy meals into your busy life, and with time you'll have a delicious new menu of choices right from your own kitchen.

What's the number one reason you choose unhealthy foods?

If you're like most people, you look for a certain degree of convenience in your day. With busy schedules, many of us come to depend on efficiency.

While adopting a Healthy Way of Eating often obliges us to switch out our shopping lists and learn new recipes, it doesn't require we spend all day in the kitchen!

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