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Healthy Eating Tips for Busy Families


Easy salsa verde chicken (recipe below)

In a world of constant going, going, and going. When do we ever have time to prepare healthy meals for ourselves? One of the biggest issues with clients that I run into as a dietitian is "not having enough time." So, what is the secret to finding time to prepare healthy meals and also getting all the things done in your life you need to. Two words that come to mind is priority and preparation. Let’s dive into the first word priority.

Priority- We have choices every day. We have a choice with basically every single thing we do. The things that are important to each of us show in our daily lives. Before I can help you, or anyone can help you with making a decision to fuel your body better, you have to make up your mind that this is a priority to you. It is so easy for your nutrition to be the last thing on your “worry about list.” However, it should be one of the most important. Look at it this way. You have to take care of yourself before you can continue to take care of your family with the best of your ability. I get it… it is hard. Full time jobs, two kids, one crying at your feet, another on your hip, but let me give you some realistic advice. Your meals won’t always be perfect, we can adjust to your schedule, we can think ahead a little bit batch cook, and we can make this work. Your outlook on nutrition for your family has to be positive instead of stressful and you have to be willing to try before it becomes a priority to you. The next step is preparation.

Preparation- This has a lot to do with your success when you have a busy life. When I say preparation, this can go a lot of different ways. There is no wrong or right way. For example, I am not a person of spending hours on a Sunday lining up plastic food containers full of the same meals for the week. I am a person who batch cooks protein and double preps some food items if I know I will be needing it at other meals. Over many years, I have found this is the best strategy for my family for many reasons. One big reason is I never know what I am hungry for and if I make all my lunches ahead of time, I end up wasting food. I use the instant pot to batch cook chicken and put it in the refrigerator to add to meals such as taco soup, quesadillas, chicken and rice, BBQ chicken sweet potato. When I have my protein done, I can easily throw a meal together in 20 minutes or less. This takes a little bit of planning and thinking about what other meals you will be having during the week. If you are having chicken stir fry one night, and chicken and rice another time that week, go ahead and make double rice and store for easy eat up. When you are prepared and don’t let yourself get to the STARVING point, I can promise you, eating healthier is not as hard as you think. I post a lot of quick meals on my Instagram stories so follow along there for some ideas on how to batch cook food items. Another great tip is you can buy already chopped and prepared vegetables for even quicker preparation. Below you will find some quick dinner recipes. For these I would use my prepared protein and add the vegetables and carbs to finish off the meal.

Recipes

  • 15 minute roasted chicken and vegetables with brown rice or quinoa (2 large chicken breast cut into 1 inch pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper, 1-2 bags of frozen vegetables of choice, 2 tbsp olive oil, Italian seasoning. Pre heat oven to 500F. Toss chicken and vegetables in a bowl with oil and seasonings till well combined. Spread in even layer on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or chicken is cooked through. While chicken and veggies cook, prepare rice or quinoa. You may use any mixture of vegetables you like. The more vegetables you use the more filling it will be. Try 1 bag frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with 1 onion cut into chunks, bell pepper strips, and 1 zucchini sliced. Serves 2-4)

  • Rotisserie BBQ chicken and cheese quesadillas- 1 rotisserie chicken, mozzarella cheese, corn tortilla, and BBQ sauce. Remove skin from chicken and shred. Spray skillet with nonstick spray and place 1 corn tortilla. Place about 2/3 cup shredded chicken, ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, and 1 tablespoons BBQ sauce. Place corn tortilla on top and cook until cheese is melted. Light ranch is good for dipping (light not fat free) Serving 2 quesadillas if using corn, if using flour 1 quesadilla.

  • One pan garlic ranch chicken and veggies (Pre heat oven 400 degrees. 4 boneless chicken breast, 2 tablespoons dried parsley (optional), 1 packet ranch seasoning mix, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, 4 tsp brown sugar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 bag baby carrots, 5-6 red potatoes quartered. Spray cooking sheet with nonstick spray. Rub 1 tsp brown sugar on each breast (front and back). Place chicken, potatoes, and carrots on baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, garlic, seasonings, and salt and pepper over the top of all. Place in oven for about 30 min or until chicken is cooked thoroughly.)

  • Sheet pan chicken fajitas- 1 onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, 2-3 chicken breasts, corn tortillas, 1 packet taco seasoning, 2 limes, and cilantro (optional). Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Thinly slice onion and peppers. Slice chicken breast into about 3-4 slice pieces each breast. (this will depend on the thickness of the breast, if they are thick, it may be easier to cut into small chunks) Place the veggies and chicken into a bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and dump taco seasoning packet in. Toss around. Place on cooking sheet. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over before baking. Bake in oven for about 25 min. Broil for 1-2 minutes at the end to give veggies a roast. Heat corn tortillas. Serving size 2 corn tortillas with about ½ cup mixture. Can top with cilantro, salsa, light sour cream and juice of other lime.

  • Salsa Verde Chicken- 3-4 frozen chicken breast. Place in crockpot with 1 jar salsa verde, juice of 2 limes, 2 tbsp minced garlic, 1 tsp onion powder, pepper, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional) Cook on low for about 6 hours. Shred chicken and serve in tacos, on top of rice, or store for easy dinner meals throughout the week.


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