30 Minute Meals….Are they for real??

8 11 2013

One of the biggest barriers my clients profess to during our discussions is time and effort to put a healthy meal on the table. Well, I am here to tell you that 30 minute

Cathy Shaw

Cathy Shaw

meals are for real. I am sure Rachel Ray made millions by making the “30 Minute Meal” an iconic phrase in every American household. Fortunately, due to that brilliant catch phrase, some people have finally started to realize that you don’t have to slave all day in the kitchen to put a healthy, balanced meal on your family’s table. And no, I do not mean by picking up take out or going through the drive-thru. The rest of you need to catch on!

A 30 minute meal is possible, even without using highly processed foods that contain a lot of saturated and trans fats, sugar and salt. It has never been more convenient to find fresh, frozen, and canned foods for recipes that are minimally processed (meaning they have undergone only slight changes from their original state by being pre-prepped, such as bagged spinach, pre-chopped butternut squash and pre-sliced watermelon, or by being frozen or canned without added salt and sugar at the peak of freshness). Even lean protein can be made easy by having it cut to your specs and portioned out to go right in your freezer.

When it comes to a quick and balanced meal, shoot for a selection from each food group- lean protein, whole grains, fruit, vegetables and dairy. Here are some great examples:

  • Baked chicken breast (marinated with your favorite vinaigrette) with steamed broccoli (yes, you can even buy that in a “steamer” bag that cooks all by itself in 5 minutes!), whole wheat penne pasta sprinkled with garlic and parmesan, fresh grapes, and skim milk.
  • Grilled salmon (with your favorite seasoning like lemon and dill) with brown rice, steamed baby carrots, and vanilla low fat yogurt with sliced berries.
  • Grilled turkey burgers with lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat bun, spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and sautéed apples (sliced apples sautéed in a pan with cinnamon and nutmeg).

Here is a link to some info on great apps available to help you get dinner on the table this week:


One of my favorite 30 minute meals is what I like to call “refrigerator stir fry”. I literally put together all of the left over fresh vegetables in my refrigerator, stir fry them with lean protein, season them as I like, and serve with brown rice, fresh fruit, and skim milk to drink. Here is last night’s stir fry made with broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, carrots, edamame and extra lean stew beef. This stir fry was less than 500 calories per serving and loaded with good nutrition!

20131107_183025.jpgDinner stir fry


Refrigerator Stir Fry

Makes about 6 servings

Time: 30 minutes tops!

6 cups chopped fresh veggies such as broccoli, peppers, carrots, squash, eggplant, cauliflower (you can even substitute frozen veggies too)

1c edamame (shelled soy beans found in the freezer section)

1 lb extra lean beef cut into bite sized chunks (can also use chicken or fish…whatever you have on hand)

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1/2c reduced sodium Teriyaki Sauce

¼ tsp pepper

Brown rice (I used minute rice to reduce time)

Directions: Sautee vegetables in olive oil to desired tenderness. Remove from pan. Add beef and stir fry until cooked through and no longer pink. Add veggies back to the pan, and add teriyaki sauce and pepper (or whatever seasoning you like that is light and flavorful). Cook rice according to package directions. Serve stir fry over 2/3c of cooked rice.

Nutrition Facts:

Stir fry (~1 1/3c servng): 270 calories,30g protein, 10.5g fat, ~2g saturated fat, 14g carbohydrate, 230mg sodium.

Rice (2/3c cooked): 150 calories, 3g protein, 1.5g fat, 34g carbohydrate, 10mg sodium




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