In a society that is geared towards instant gratification, the problem with non-processed food is that it isn’t “quick”. One of the major reasons that people give for eating processed foods over whole foods is that “I needed something quick.” Don’t let your need for speed sidetrack your healthy eating habits.
One strategy that you can employ for some instant food gratification is to make a habit of a weekly food-prep session. Spend some time each weekend washing, cutting, and cooking food for the week ahead. This will give you cut-up veggies, prepared protein sources and washed fruit that you can eat right from the refrigerator. This session can also include some home-baked goodies for lunch boxes and some complete meals that just need to be reheated at serving time.
Next, be sure to have some foods on hand that can be prepared quickly. Some of the suggestions below are just snacks but when combined with another selection can take the place of a meal:
- Trail mix: Mix dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and a handful of real dark chocolate chips
- Fresh fruit: Whatever deliciousness is in season – our selection this week is apples, oranges, and strawberries
- Dried Fruit: Raisins, dried berries, dried apple slices
- Salad: If your veggies are pre-washed you can put this together very quickly. As well, salad can be preassembled. Simply add protein and dressing at serving time.
- Veggies: carrots, radishes, sugar snap peas, celery, peppers, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes
- Steamed veggies: Top them with cheese or chopped hard-boiled eggs
- Eggs: Nature’s fastest protein – boil, scramble, poach or fry – eggs make a great topper for other “fast foods”
- Yogurt Parfait: Top your homemade yogurt with fruit and granola
- Cheese: Opt for a healthy version without additives and artificial colors
- Smoothies: Throw fruits, veggies, yogurt and your milk of choice into the blender. Add a little pure vanilla and some honey. We like to freeze fruit for this purpose to make a rich thick shake.
- Homemade granola cookies: Recipe HERE (you can make them into granola bar shapes if you want to)
- No-bake haystack cookies: Recipe HERE
- Hummus: Serve the dip with veggie sticks, homemade crackers, or tortillas
- Applesauce: Try topping it with homemade granola and vanilla yogurt for a quick no-cook “apple crisp”
- Chocolate Milk: Directions HERE
- Apples with natural peanut butter
- Frozen Yogurt Berries: Toss well-washed berries in homemade vanilla yogurt. Place them on a baking sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours for a cold, healthy treat
- Pancakes or Waffles: Top with fruit for a nutrition boost
- Couscous: This speedy grain only requires the addition of boiling water or broth. Let it sit for 5 minutes, covered, and you have an instant hearty side dish. Add some steamed veggies and lean protein to turn it into a one dish meal
- Cottage cheese: Top homemade cottage cheese with fresh fruit
- Home-canned food: Meals like chili, soup, and spaghetti sauce can be pressure canned at home for a delicious healthy “fast food meal”
- Fruit Salad: Top it with nuts and a honey-sweetened yogurt for a protein boost
- Dill Pickles: Home-canned, of course
- Ants-on-a-log: Celery sticks stuffed with natural peanut butter then topped with raisins
- Quick Greek Salad: Chopped cucumber, peppers and cherry tomatoes with feta cheese and vinaigrette
- Homemade Fruitsicles: Puree fruit that is overripe, then freeze it in popsicle forms – strawberry-banana is a favorite combo here
- Savory snack mix: Popcorn and nuts sprinkled with parmesan cheese and spices
- Tzatziki: This yummy Greek garlic and yogurt dip is a satisfying snack with homemade crackers or veggies
- Medjool dates and almonds
- Frozen grapes
- Homemade gazpacho: Puree tomatoes, peppers, onions, jalapenos, and other seasonal veggies. Keep in the fridge and serve cold.
- Quick Banana Nut Cookies: Mash 2 overripe bananas well. Stir in 1 cup of steel-cut oats and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
- Latte: Make a delicious latte with a homemade creamer
- Mexican Black Bean Salad: (you can use a can of rinsed organic black beans or beans that you cooked yourself previously) 1 cup of black beans, 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup of chopped bell peppers, some fresh cilantro, and lemon juice
- Green Apple Salad: Chopped green apple, red grapes, and walnuts sprinkled with a dressing made from honey, lemon juice and cinnamon
Note: Once upon a time, tuna was on my healthy snacks list. Post-Fukushima, we don’t eat it anymore in our household. Pacific tuna caught off the coast of California is tainted with radiation from the disaster. So-called experts say that the small amount of radiation is safe,but this is a theory that I’m not willing to test on my own family
Your healthy snacks are only as good as their ingredients. Food that you produce yourself is always the best option, because then you can be absolutely assured of both the seeds and the farming process. Supplement with items from local farms (find a location near you)or the organic section of your grocery store. When you eat in-season, it is far easier to choose the most nutritious foods and save money. Carefully wash your produce to get rid of any airborne residue that might remain on the food.
Build your pantry stockpile with long-term storage foods. Select healthy basics such as nuts, honey, whole grains, and dried fruits.
When you always have quick options available it is far easier to make choices that fuel your body. What quick and healthy snacks do you feed your family?