One of the barriers for healthy eating is the time it takes to actually prepare a healthy meal. However, it is possible to make healthy meals without actually working too hard for them and we’ll show you how to do it.
The Smoothie for Vegetable and Fruit Intake
The smoothie is something like a garbage-disposal of healthy food. If you can’t or don’t like cooking, it’s the easiest, simplest way to ensure you still get the fruits, vegetables, and vitamins you need in the day without having to come up with complex recipes that require you to cook several foods at once. All you have to do is toss a few fruits and vegetables into a blender with some water or ice, stand around for a few seconds while it blends, and then you end up with a food that’s really a drink and requires a stupidly small amount of effort.
How much do you need to throw in there? Let’s look at the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables and see how we can get that into one or two no-cook meals.
Fruits: For most Americans over the age of 18, 2 cups worth of fruit is recommended a day. That’s about a single large fruit—as in, one apple or one banana.
Vegetables: Vegetables require a bit more than fruit as far as recommended amount. You need at least 3 cups of raw or cooked vegetables.
So that boils down to about two cups of fruits and vegetables a day, which isn’t hard to get out of a blender. Thousands of smoothie recipes are out there and it always boils down to preference, but here’s a few to use to get your recommended daily allowance.
The nutritionally complete meal: Monster Chef shows off this simple recipe with some frozen mixed fruits, cranberries, milk, walnuts, and chocolate that smashes together an entire meal in six easy steps and about five minutes of your time.
The kid friendly approach: If you hate the idea of cooking, you might like the simplified kid-friendly smoothie recipes parenting blog Inhabitots suggests making for kids.
The incredibly easy approach: Even though cutting and tossing a few ingredients into a blender isn’t hard, an easier way exists. Namely, removing the the cutting part. Recipes out there vary from just adding almond milk to some frozen fruit to tossing a frozen banana in with some peanut butter and soy milk.
While that will certainly take care of your fruits and vegetables, a smoothie can’t cover your entire nutritional intake. That’s why we’re going to show you the crock pot, a nearly automated cooking device.
The Crock Pot as Automated Cooking Device
The crock pot aka slow cooker is about as close as you can get to set-it-and-forget-it automatic cooking. Throw some food inside in the morning or afternoon and it automatically cooks so it’s edible later.
The benefit of the crock pot isn’t just in its ability to cook food without you paying any attention to it, it’s also the fact you don’t need a lot of ingredients. The Simple Dollar’s collection of five ingredient crock pot recipes will do most cooking-haters good and provide the protein and vegetables needed in your diet. The benefit? The directions are: dump food in crock pot, turn crock pot on low, walk away for 8 hours and return to a cooked meal.
A Few More Ideas For Minimal Effort Healthy Meals
The above options, of course, are not the only ones. In the chilly winter, the crock pot provides a nice way to get a hot meal without any effort, but come summer it’s not nearly as nice. Here are a few ideas from around the web to keep your diet healthy without the hassle of hours in the kitchen.
The sandwich and salad approach: These two great meal options come without the aid of cooking utensils and both provide your daily nutrients in a number of ways. If you don’t know what to actually make, recipe site Eating Well has a bunch of suggestions for no-cook meals that are dead simple to make and require nothing more than a few minutes and a knife.
Embrace the microwave: Hardcore foodies will likely scoff at this suggestion, but the microwave isn’t as bad a place to cook food as we’ve all been lead to believe. The key is knowing how to read the frozen food labels properly and watching for a few key facts on the nutrition label. WebMD suggests you: keep the calories in the 250-300 range, pick meals with less than 4 grams of saturated fat, less than 800 milligrams of sodium, and with at least 3-5 grams of fiber.
Cook and freeze in bulk: If you happen to fall into the, “I don’t despise cooking but still don’t want to do,” category, then the idea of bulk cooking meals for a month or five days might be appealing. This, of course, requires you to cook, but it boils down to dedicating just one or two days a month to it instead of of every day. You cook all your meals, freeze them up, then simply reheat later on.
Strategize your restaurant and take-out foods: Of course, the ultimate no-cook method of healthy eating is to do absolutely nothing and have the food delivered to you. If you’re not sure where to start, Cooking Light has a big list of healthy foods at a variety of restaurants as well as tips for ordering healthy foods.
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