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Tips for Making Easy Meals Healthy

By Jennifer G. Galea MS RD


Probably all of us would love to eat healthy home-cooked foods for every meal every day. But who has the time to eat such meals, let alone prepare them each day? Many of us rely on prepared foods, take-out, or dining out. Here are a few suggestions for improving the healthfulness of “easy” meals, based on recommendations from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Perking up Prepared Foods

• Add a single serving can of tuna and chopped veggies to pasta salad purchased from the grocery store deli counter. (Make sure the pasta salad has a “light” dressing on it.)


• Top frozen pizza (plain, no extra cheese) with lots of

tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli and onions.


• Try a breakfast of whole grain frozen waffles topped with fresh or frozen fruit, hot applesauce or low fat yogurt.


• Add raisins or other dried, chopped fruit to instant oatmeal or other hot cereal.


• Open a can of fat-free refried beans, heat in the microwave, add veggies and salsa then roll mixture in a tortilla.


Meals on the Go

• Read the entire menu. There may be delicious “lite” or “healthy choice” selections that you may not see if you don’t take the time to review all your options.


• Try something new. Ethiopian, Indian, Thai, Lebanese, Japanese, and many other cuisines offer a wide variety of healthy menu items.


• Ask for extra veggies.


• Split two entrees with a friend. You will get more variety and nutritional value in your meal, without ordering additional food.


• Order a healthy appetizer or bowl of soup (not cream based) as a main course and round out your meal with a garden salad with low fat dressing with grilled chicken on it.

You can eat healthfully while eating “easy,” it just takes a little bit more thought than choosing what sounds the tastiest to you at the time. Focus on cutting down on the fat and increasing the veggies while trying to maintain variety, and everything will fall into place.


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