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Ten Quick, Easy & Healthy Meals You Can Make from the Items in Your Fridge

Wonder what one of the top questions we get as identical twin sister, veggie and chocolate-loving, registered dietitians and personal trainers is? Well, other than how we ended up going into the same profession (we’ll share that answer another day!) – it’s “what can I make for dinner that’s healthy, satisfying, easy and quick?”

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered! Check out this kitchen staples list and the meals you can make using them, below.  We can’t tell a lie; most of these meals are so fast and simple that you can pull them off even after a long day with your eyes half shut! 😉

Keep these staples in your kitchen at all times– they’ll save you from mindlessly munching on chips and cookies as you decide what to order for dinner.  You can use these ingredients to whip up at least 10 healthy & easy meals!  (See our suggestions below–some of them we started making in our college days as nutrition students and we still make them today).

• frozen veggies (load up on all your faves, ideally non-starchy ones*! Our personal faves are Whole Foods’ organic cauliflower, Cascadian Farms’ organic broccoli cuts and Trader Joes’ organic broccoli florets [and Whole Foods’ organic tri-color peppers are great for stir-fries!])
• fresh fruit
• canned beans
• canned tuna (or our personal favorite, sardines! 🙂 )
• frozen skinless poultry and/or shrimp
• eggs
• nonfat Greek yogurt
• low-fat/ nonfat cheese (can store frozen to prevent spoiling)
• whole grain tortillas
• instant brown rice
• whole wheat pita bread
• tomato sauce
• salsa
• olive oil or another healthy oil in a spray container 
• oatmeal
• low-sodium soy sauce or low-sodium stir-fry sauce

*non-starchy veggies are most veggies except peas, potatoes and corn.  All veggies are healthy, just non-starchy ones contain fewer calories and carbohydrates.

10 healthy, quick and mindless meals you can make with the ingredients above:
(Use oil in a spritzer/ spray bottle to save calories.).  Recipes with links are variations of the options listed.

1) Chicken or shrimp and veggie stir-fry with brown rice
2)  Open Face Mediterranean Veggie & Tuna Sandwich or tuna sandwich on whole wheat pita with side of steamed veggies
3) Chicken, bean, & veggie burrito with low fat cheese and salsa  Try this Easy Burrito Bowl or this 5-Minute Burrito

4) Shrimp, bean and rice burrito with low fat cheese and salsa
5) Whole wheat veggie pita pizza or veggie and chicken pita pizza
6) Brown rice and beans with side of steamed veggies
7) Chicken parmesan—with marinara and low fat cheese, side of veggies
8) Scrambled egg tacos—veggies, chicken or beans, tortillas, low-fat cheese and salsa
9) Oatmeal Muesli
10) Scrambled eggs with low-fat cheese and veggies (omelet) in whole wheat pita or in whole grain tortilla and fruit.  Try these Easy Berry Stuffed Egg Crepes

And there you have it!  Give this list and these recipes a whirl and let us know which are your favorite go-to’s!

x & x,
L & T

Ten Quick, Easy Healthy Meals You Can Make from the Items in Your Fridge
 
Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
  • ⅔ cup quinoa, cooked
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 1 lime
  • dash of chili powder
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 4 TBS low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • hot sauce (optional)
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle chili powder on both sides of chicken breast.
  2. Bake chicken breast in oven at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked all the way through.
  3. When the chicken is done, slice it up into bite-sized chunks.
  4. To assemble each bowl, lay down ½ cup of quinoa, 1 cup of lettuce, and ¼ cup of tomatoes.
  5. Add chicken to the bowls, top with avocado slices, and squeeze the juice of half a lime over each bowl.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ recipe Calories: 319 Fat: 18g Carbohydrates: 18 g Sodium: 308 mg Fiber: 6 g Protein: 24 g

 

Eat More to Weigh Less, Really!

If you’re like most of our clients, you’re looking for something you can eat when you’re hungry that won’t cause you to gain weight.  The answer, surprisingly, is something that you can and should eat all of the time.  It’s true; there actually is something that if you eat more of it, it can assist in your weight loss efforts!

 

Veggies!  You may realize that you need more veggies but tend to leave them out of your meals; you’re not alone!  This is one of the most common struggles of health-minded people!  You simply need a little help or encouragement to actually get them!  Once we show our clients how easily vegetables can be deliciously incorporated into their lives, they start to bump up their intake!

 

Check out our 3 Top Reasons you’ll wanna get your veggies:

 

Veggie Bonus #1: Fill up on veggies and you’ll have less room in your stomach for the heavy stuff and you’ll lose weight!

 

Veggie Bonus #2 (a.k.a. our constipation & flat-belly cure): The high water and fiber content of the veggies flushes bloat and waste and brings on a flat belly—oh yeah!

 

Veggie Bonus #3 (a.k.a. our bloat-be-gone cure!): The high water and potassium combination in veggies helps to flush out salt and the extra water and bloat that it holds with it for a flatter belly!

 

The key is to keep the non-starchy veggies (nearly all veggies with the exception of peas, potatoes and corn) low in calories (by avoiding adding sauces or oil) and then you can simply mix steamed veggies into your meal and eat less of the waist-puffing stuff!  This means your plate will be just as full, but there will be less room for the higher-calorie fare and you’ll fill up on lower calorie, veggies! And when you’re hungry, fill up on veggies.  You’ll get more nutrients that keep you healthy and prevent disease and constipation while helping you to eat less of the heavy stuff and lose weight!

 

Check out our top ways to do it below:

Easy Peasy Brussel Sprouts

seasoned brussels sprouts with logo

  • Before any meal or cocktail party, have a Veggie Pre-Meal™ with a cup of tea. The Veggie Pre-Meal™ is one-and-a-half to two cups of steamed veggies. (See below for ideas and keep foods such as these Easy Peasy Brussel Sprouts on hand). You’ll be in better control around high calorie foods and won’t be overly hungry. It will be easier to resist eating too many of the foods that pack on the pounds because you’ll already be satisfied.
  • At lunch and dinner order (or microwave from frozen at home, if short on time) a side of steamed veggies without added butter or oil. Simply mix them right into whatever dish you’re eating and you’ll add great texture, flavor and color to your meal and the veggies will pick up the flavor from the sauce in the meal.
  • Use our Red, Green and Orange rule to include one red, green or orange vegetable or fruit in every meal. When you concentrate on getting one of these colors at each meal, you won’t forget. Vegetables are an excellent source of disease-fighting nutrients and are high in fiber and low in calories, and great for helping maintain a healthy weight and fighting aging.

 

Colorful_detox_saladColorful Veggie Detox Salad

  • Make/ order omelets, sandwiches, pizzas, wraps and burritos with veggies added
  • Chinese chicken and rice? Pasta and chicken? Mac ‘n cheese? You end up eating less of the heavy stuff and fill your stomach with the lower calorie, fiber-and nutrient packed veggies. Added bonus: If you’re a fan of large helpings you can bag a third of the meal for later and mix the veggies right in the portion you have; you’ll fill your stomach with nutrients and fiber but with fewer calories. This way you won’t feel cheated or deprived because your meal won’t appear smaller, only your waistline will!
  • Use nori or lettuce for traditional sandwiches or wraps rather than carb-rich bread.
  • Eat your rice and other grain-based meals/ snacks by putting them in cups made with veggies-like scooped out tomatoes and bell peppers, zucchini and cucumber boats—these are delicious shells for the dish and help to keep the carb portion in check.
  • Make dips, spreads and salsas with veggies—veggie based dips like these below can double as sauces for grains and meats and are perfect for dipping veggies in.

 

  • If you still feel hungry after eating –or like munching–eat non-starchy vegetables (all vegetables with the exception of peas, potatoes and corn).
    • Go for them raw or steamed with spices, lemon, or flavored vinegars. You can even try our ultra low-calorie recipes like our Easy Crunchy Braised Cabbage, Colorful Detox Salad, Caramelized Cauliflower with Olive Oil & Lemon Juice, Spicy “Fried” Broccoli, and more! As an alternative, try the Kale Recharge Smoothie.
    • Be sure to avoid options that are cooked in butter or any other calorie-loaded item (like many sauces are)—and even in oil (100 calories per little tablespoon!), as they may thwart your weight-loss efforts and defeat the purpose of low-calorie veggies.
    • For dressing options, consider trying this Raspberry Vinaigrette or this Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dressing (stick to the suggested serving sizes) or consider putting your salad dressing in a spray bottle to spritz your dressing on your veggies and disperse the flavor with minimal calories.
    • Try to eat some raw veggies, as current research has shown that a special protein, glutathione, is found in raw veggies and clings to toxins, helping drag them out of the body. For example, enjoy some fresh carrots and sliced bell pepper with hummus!
    • Try these Roasted Detoxifying Veggies!
    • Defrost frozen veggies in the fridge during the day. When you get home, make a quick cold salad by mixing the veggies with one of the dressing options mentioned above or toss them right into a hot meal, as they’ll already be “cooked” and you’ll simply warm them up!

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Spicy “Fried” Broccoli

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Crunchy Zesty Cucumber Cantaloupe Salad

0006_NutritionTwins-cucumber-melon-cantaloupe-lime-mint-serrano-pepper-salad-summer_logoAs you may know by now, although we grew up in a healthy household surrounded by fresh produce, the truth is we didn’t always have all kinds of produce throughout the year at our fingertips, as you’d likely expect.  In fact, there were only a few weeks during the year when we’d have some of our favorite fruits and veggies.  Yup, our mom was ahead of her time—buying local and “in season” before it was cool and trendy.  You could tell what season it was by opening our fridge. This meant that most of the year, we didn’t have some of our favorite fruits—like melons!  We’d wait all year for our favorite season—summer, which just happens to be when some of our favorite fruits are in season. As hard as it is to believe, some of our favorite recipes that we make today, we would have only had a few months of the year.  Recipes like our:

Watermelon Frosty,

Watermelon Snow Cone

Watermelon & Mint Detox Salad

Strawberry Milkshake

cucumber-cantaloupe-salad-summer7cropped

 

And we can’t help but smile with our latest creation.  It’s the summer dish that we would have waited all year for—and we’re feeling a bit spoiled thinking that we may just keep eating it this one, even when it’s a bit out of season. 😉  When it’s too hot to turn on the stove and you’re looking for a thirst quenching, refreshing side dish (with an optional kick!), this salad with hydrating fruits and veggies and cooling culinary herbs is about to be your new bestie!

Added bonus: Phytonutrients found in cucumbers (cucurbitacins, lignans and flavonoids) may provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. Cucumbers have a high water content and are a great source of fiber to help prevent constipation and the unsightly gut bulges that come with it.

Fun fact: Cucumbers are technically fruits!

Cantaloupes are a great skin beautifier thanks to being high in vitamin C (necessary for the formation of collagen, which keeps the skin pliable and elastic) and vitamin A helps to promote healthy cells and skin. Also since it’s gota high water content, 90 percent, it helps to hydrate the skin, making it appear moist and supple!

Fun tip: To find a great tasting cantaloupe, do a sniff test, if the melon smells delicious it’s sure to be tasty.

We visited the farmers market over the weekend and came across a variety of cucumbers (common salad/garden cucumber, white cucumber, lemon cucumber and Armenian cucumber) and decided why not try them all! You can certainly use just one type of cucumber and it can be any type.

0001_NutritionTwins-cucumber-melon-cantaloupe-lime-mint-serrano-pepper-salad-summer_logo

Just a word of warning, once you start you may not be able to eat just one serving!

You can also make a larger portion, by doubling the recipe, to eat the next day. The lime juice helps preserve the freshness overnight.

0004_NutritionTwins-cucumber-melon-cantaloupe-lime-mint-serrano-pepper-salad-summer_logoCrunchy Zesty Cucumber Cantaloupe Salad

Makes 4, 1 Cup Servings

Serve this easy to make, juicy summer salad with a Mediterranean dish, falafel, grilled fish, fish tacos, grilled chicken or another lean protein.

 

Ingredients

2 cups cantaloupe, diced* (about ¼ medium cantaloupe seeded)

2 cups cucumber, diced* (roughly 2 medium cucumbers), peeled (optional).

1 tsp serrano pepper, (about ¼ small sized pepper) seeded and minced (optional)

1 – 1 ½ Tbsp lime juice,

4-5 fresh mint leaves, chiffonade

Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Combine cantaloupe and cucumber in large bowl.
  1. Pour 1 Tbsp of lime juice over the melon/cucumber mix. Stir to coat the produce in the juice.
  1. Add a pinch of salt to taste to contrast to the sweetness.
  1. Add ½ tsp of the minced serrano pepper, andmix throughout. It can have quite a kick so add more to your liking. This can be omitted if you’re simply looking for a cool and thirst quenching salad without a kick.
  1. Top with slivers of fresh mint leaves.

* Diced pieces can be any size, we liked a small dice in order to get a variety of flavors in one bite!

**A note about the serrano pepper. The oils will linger on your hands, even after washing them. Be aware to not touch near your eyes especially after cutting. You may have to wash your hands a few times before it begins to fade. (I only noticed because I stuck my finger near my mouth while taking a bite of left over cantaloupe and my mouth started tingling! Long after I had finished cutting and washed my hands!)

 

 

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 47 Calories, 0 g Fat, 0 g Saturated Fat, 0 mg Cholesterol, 87 mg Sodium, 12 g Carbohydrate, 1 g Fiber, 9 g Sugar, 1 g Protein  

Cucumber_Cantaloupe_Salad_Collage

 

Crunchy Zesty Cucumber Cantaloupe Salad
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cantaloupe, diced* (about ¼ medium cantaloupe seeded)
  • 2 cups cucumber, diced* (roughly 2 medium cucumbers), peeled (optional).
  • 1 tsp serrano pepper, (about ¼ small sized pepper) seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1 – 1 ½ Tbsp lime juice,
  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves, chiffonade
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine cantaloupe and cucumber in large bowl.
  2. Pour 1 Tbsp of lime juice over the melon/cucumber mix. Stir to coat the produce in the juice.
  3. Add a pinch of salt to taste to contrast to the sweetness.
  4. Add ½ tsp of the minced serrano pepper, andmix throughout. It can have quite a kick so add more to your liking. This can be omitted if you’re simply looking for a cool and thirst quenching salad without a kick.
  5. Top with slivers of fresh mint leaves.
Notes
*Diced pieces can be any size, we liked a small dice in order to get a variety of flavors in one bite! **A note about the serrano pepper. The oils will linger on your hands, even after washing them. Be aware to not touch near your eyes especially after cutting. You may have to wash your hands a few times before it begins to fade. (I only noticed because I stuck my finger near my mouth while taking a bite of left over cantaloupe and my mouth started tingling! Long after I had finished cutting and washed my hands!)
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 47 Fat: 0 g Saturated fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 12 g Sugar: 9 g Sodium: 87 mg Fiber: 1 g Protein: 1 g Cholesterol: 0 mg

Craving Comfort Foods? Try these hunger-tamers

As seen on:

fitbie_logo copy

Written by The Nutrition Twins

 

healthy_marinara_pasta

With the cooler weather rolling in, our clients have been telling us that they find themselves craving heartier foods.  And they’re not the only ones. We’ve gotta admit that even as registered dietitians–who are very well aware of comfort foods’ belt-bursting, artery-clogging, and sugar-spiking capabilities—we still feel tempted to indulge sometimes. So what’s a comfort-food craving, girl (or guy) to do?

First, drink a large, low-calorie, warm beverage (think hot tea or vegetable soup) in order to cut back calories later in the day. Soups made with water, not milk, are particularly effective in reducing subsequent calorie intake. In addition, warm and hot foods require eating more slowly, and therefore, you allow your body’s “you are now full” alert system to activate before you have time to dive into calorie-laden foods. It seems to be especially helpful to have the tea or soup immediately before you leave work and head home, or while waiting for a meal.

If this trick doesn’t work, try these comfort food swaps (and check back with us in a few weeks for even more healthy swaps).

Comfort food: Pasta

What to eat instead: Spaghetti squash. It’s so easy to prepare. Simply poke holes in the squash with a fork and microwave it. Then, use a fork to shred it into “spaghetti.” Toss on some tomato sauce and a teaspoon of grated Parmesan, and, voila, you have guilt-free pasta!  It tastes and feels like the real deal, but has less than half the calories—40 calories per cup versus 200! If it’s mac-and cheese you crave, simply mix the warm spaghetti squash with a slice of fat free or low fat cheddar.

Comfort food: Mashed potatoes

What to eat instead:  Make lower cal mashed potatoes by combining them with pureed cauliflower and using low-fat milk and butter-flavored vegetable spread instead of full-fat milk and butter. Or you can completely replace the potatoes with cauliflower. A cup of plain potatoes carries about 104 calories, compared to a mere 25 in a cup of cauliflower. Plus, no one notices the difference! Or opt for a baked potato instead to get all of the nutrients potatoes provide (like potassium and vitamin C), without the extra fat from milk and butter. Top it with low fat yogurt, Greek yogurt, steamed veggies, or salsa to keep calories to a minimum.

Comfort food: Chocolate

What to eat instead:  If you can quench your craving with a small piece of the real deal, then go for it!  After all, some of you may be lucky enough to feel satisfied after a teensy Hershey’s kiss, which contains less than 40 calories. However, if you are more likely to eat the entire bag than a kiss or two, then you’re better off sipping a mug of hot chocolate. Use a sugar-free, fat-free chocolate mix. If you also use low-fat or skim milk, you can enrich the flavor with a half a teaspoon of instant coffee or a dash of cinnamon. We like sugar-free 25-calorie hot chocolate with a dollop of fat–free whipped cream. Like the hot tea or vegetable soup, the warm beverage will pacify you, slow you down (since you can’t guzzle hot food), and allow the craving to pass while you silence your sweet tooth. Try these chocolate fixes over the next couple of weeks. If they don’t work for you, stay tuned for more suggestions.

 

For more like this you may like…

If you like this recipe you may also like:

Creamy Warm Cinnamon Banana Milk

Vanilla Pumpkin Protein Smoothie

Banana Kiwi Smoothie

 

For More Delicious Healthy Comfort Foods and Get Healthy Guide, check out The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure!

 

Pumpkin Ravioli

pumpkin ravioli

 

It’s officially pumpkin season! Let the pumpkin games begin! We’re all about pumpkins—we’ve been to the pumpkin patch, carved our pumpkins, Tammy’s daughters have painted faces on their pumpkins (well Summer did, Riley made a gray “tornado-like swirl” face on hers [admittedly, probably not her best work), and now we’re gearing  up to roast the seeds (aka- pepitas) and cook with the pumpkins!  After all, pumpkins can help to keep your heart healthy with their fiber and antioxidants, protect your skin from the sun and inflammation and keep it clear with its’ beta carotene, and can boost your immune system with its’ powerful antioxidants!


We want to get the pumpkin cooking, well, cookin’… so let’s kick-off pumpkin season with this  pumpkin ravioli!

 

Psst… as registered dietitians and personal trainers we’ve been whipping up many waist-line friendly, fiber-packed pumpkin delights! Please feel free to search this site for more– and here are a few to try:

Sweet Potato Wedges with Pumpkin Dip

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Mash & Mix Microwave Pumpkin Spiced Apple Oatmeal Cookie

 

Pumpkin Ravioli
Serves: 6 servings of 4 ravioli each

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 24 wonton wrappers1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Combine pumpkin, Parmesan, salt, and pepper cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium sized bowl
  2. Place pumpkin mixture (about 2 teaspoons per wonton) in the center of each wonton wrapper. Use water to moisten the edges of the wonton dough.  Form a triangle with the dough by bringing 2 opposite sides of the wonton.  Pinch the edges to seal the ravioli completely, making sure no pumpkin mixture is oozing out.
  3. Use a large saucepan to boil water.  Cook for 7 minutes and drain using a colander.
  4. Place butter in pan with chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add ravioli, tossing lightly. After coated, sprinkle with parsley.
  5. Enjoy!!

Nutrition Facts: 148 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 360 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 6 g protein

 

Pumpkin Ravioli
 
Nutrition Facts: 148 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 360 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 6 g protein
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • 24 wonton wrappers1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Combine pumpkin, Parmesan, salt, and pepper cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium sized bowl
  2. Place pumpkin mixture (about 2 teaspoons per wonton) in the center of each wonton wrapper. Use water to moisten the edges of the wonton dough. Form a triangle with the dough by bringing 2 opposite sides of the wonton. Pinch the edges to seal the ravioli completely, making sure no pumpkin mixture is oozing out.
  3. Use a large saucepan to boil water. Cook for 7 minutes and drain using a colander.
  4. Place butter in pan with chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add ravioli, tossing lightly. After coated, sprinkle with parsley.
  5. Enjoy!!