Quick Food Doesn’t have to be Fast Food

Despite the economic crisis (or perhaps because of it), fast food restaurants are still doing extremely well. In fact, in late January McDonalds posted an 80% increase in net profits from the year before!! In an economy that is reeling from the loss of jobs and revenue, and while long-standing companies are going under, this is an incredible bit of news. But it is definitely not good news because fast food has a price. And the price is your health.

OmnivoresDilemma_medMichael Pollen, the author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma speaks knowledgeably about the high price of cheap food. You may be able to feed a family of four for less money than it would cost to buy and prepare a balanced meal, but the price you pay in the short term is extra calories and excess weight. The long-term effects can include an increased potential for diabetes, heart disease and other health issues. The cost of that in turn to our national medical costs is staggering, and we all pay the price.

Unfortunately, many people out there have little to no choice about eating this way. Calorie for calorie, it is cheaper to eat at McDonalds than it is to buy chicken, vegetables and rice and then prepare a meal for your family. That is the unfortunate fact. Certainly, there are ways to stretch a dollar in order to eat the healthy stuff, but time management is also a concern and when you are juggling two jobs, raising kids and trying to keep a home, that becomes its own issue and can contribute to unfortunate nutrition choices.

But some of us are choosing fast food because it is fast and convenient. We have the resources to buy higher quality foods, but because we feel we are too busy, or stressed or preoccupied, we, by default, eat foods that are unhealthy, depleting and can make us sick in the end.
So today I am posting three really quick recipes that are nutritious, delicious and also inexpensive. They will nourish you and contribute to your long-term health, not deplete it. Try them and see what you think. I’d love to hear your feedback.

Sundried Tomato Spread

  • 1 cup sundried tomatoes, drained. (You can get these in a jar or from Whole Foods already marinated in olive oil, oregano and basil. For an even less expensive version, you can buy sun-dried tomatoes that are not marinated, but dry, and then make your own marinade of olive oil, oregano and salt. Allow to marinate refrigerated overnight before proceeding with the recipe.)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Finely mince garlic in a food processor. Then add remaining ingredients and pulse until it becomes a paste. You can add more olive oil to give it a thinner consistency. Adjust salt and other spices. Use as a dip with crackers, or on toasted pita bread. I’ve been having it on toasted Spelt bread with sliced avocado as a lunch option. Easy and delicious.

Chickpea and Sautéed Spinach Salad

I got this recipe from a client and it is still one of my favorites~

  • One can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • One bag pre-washed baby spinach (for a less expensive option, buy loose spinach and clean at home)
  • One clove garlic, minced
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 Tbsp chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Marinate chickpeas in two teaspoons olive oil and lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Set aside. Sauté garlic in one teaspoon of olive oil for about a minute then add chicken broth and a pinch of salt. Allow to simmer for about 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about another minute. Combine sautéed spinach with chickpeas and serve. It makes an excellent side dish. Serves four.

Quick Home-made Chicken Noodle and Spinach Soup

  • One quart chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 cup brown rice pasta shells (regular pasta is fine too)
  • One bag pre-washed baby spinach (for a less expensive option, buy loose spinach and clean at home)
  • One teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of salt
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Water for cooking pasta

Boil water and cook pasta until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside. In a separate pot, bring 1/2 cup of water and chicken broth to a simmer and then add salt, oregano and chicken. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add spinach and turn off heat. Keep pot covered. Divide pasta into four bowls. Ladle chicken broth with the chicken and the spinach over the pasta. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over soup if desired and serve. Serves four.

Obviously, these options will cost more than a Big Mac, fries and coke at McDonalds. But it will nourish you in a way that the fast food never will. It will add quality protein and complex carbohydrates to your diet to help energize your mind and your muscles. The tomatoes will add antioxidants to your diet, especially Lycopene, an important nutrient that has been shown to prevent prostate cancer in men. Spinach is loaded in calcium and folic acid and provides fiber. These meals will contribute to your over all health, not take away. And they take just minutes to prepare. I hope you enjoy them!

Sincerely, In health ~