As much as I’d love to say that I’m a nutritionist who makes everything from scratch, it’s just not always possible. Some days it just needs to be super quick and easy-yet still healthy.
When cutting corners, things I look for in pre-made or prepackaged foods are
- simple ingredients (whole food and less ingredients is best)
- eco-friendly packaging (avoiding cans)
- organic whenever possible
- healthy preparation methods (i.e. steamed and blanched good, fried not good)
One of my go-to packaged items is Trader Joes Steamed Lentils. While they are not organic, the ingredients are simple: lentils, salt, natural flavor*. I love that you can throw these in a salad cold or cook them up into something special. Add a few ingredients to the lentils and you have a pretty solid meal. The lentils alone provide the perfect blend of carbohydrate (20 g), protein (9 g) and fiber (8 g) per ½ c serving. Sometimes I’ll cook these with brown rice, if it’s already made, and add veggies or sometimes I’ll cook them with only veggies.
*Add to To-Do List: ask Trader Joes to please clarify natural flavor
This meal takes only 10 minutes, is tasty and satisfying, and provides consistent energy throughout the day. Plus it’s super high in phytonutrients from the lentils, veggies, herbs and spices.
¼ c coconut oil
½ c diced tomato
½ c sliced mushrooms
½ c chopped carrots
¼ c chopped chives
1 c broccoli
1 c spinach
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ½ tsp chopped ginger (if you're like me and think the more ginger the better, bump it to 2-3 tsp)
2 limes, juiced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp mustard seed
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
¼ tsp sea salt
Here is how it’s done:
Heat up half of the coconut oil in a wok or pan. Pop the mustard seeds for 1-2 minutes. Lightly sauté the garlic and ginger. Add tomato and carrots, cook 2-3 minutes. Add broccoli, chives, cumin, turmeric, red pepper, sea salt and remaining coconut oil. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add lentils and lime juice, mixing with the veggies. Lastly, fold in the spinach, cilantro and sesame seeds. Grind a little black pepper on top and there is your 10 minute meal full of power-packed, nutrient-dense ingredients!
Depending on what's in the frig I'll change up the veggies. These are also great with a little crunch when you add slivered almonds, cashews or pine nuts. Sliced avocado also tastes delicious on top. :) Many options with lentils as your base!