What I Ate: Fast Meal Options

baked sweet potato on a plate

I’d be lying if I said this #EatYourDaily10 challenge has been going easily for me. The first week, it was easy– as most things are when you’re just starting out. Last week, I didn’t prepare enough ahead of time, so I found myself snacking on crackers instead of sliced veggies, which just goes to show that I will always reach for whatever is the easiest option.

The key to staying on track, for me at least, is to make eating healthy food as easy as possible. If it takes too much time or effort, I won’t keep it up.

Despite my lack of perfection while following this challenge, I’m still doing my best to keep at it because that’s exactly the point– you don’t need to be perfect. If you feel like you’ve slipped up or fallen off the wagon, it’s no big deal. Pick up right where you left off by having a salad as your next meal, or a green smoothie, or maybe a baked sweet potato stuffed with some tasty sautéed veggies. The biggest lesson I’ve learned through the years is that you build new habits by practicing them, so jump right back in there and start practicing. Practice, practice, practice!

cauliflower pizza casserole on a plate

The worst thing you can do is procrastinate or wait for the perfect time to start making healthier choices. (Spoiler alert: There is no perfect time.) Something will ALWAYS come up, so you need to learn how to take care of yourself regardless of the situation.

Again, you don’t have to be perfect.

That’s why I thought it might be fun today to show you a peek at the fast options I’ve been reaching for lately. Some of them are convenience items from Trader Joe’s, but you could easily make a lot of these options yourself if you don’t have the option of buying them. I think I might start doing that myself to save money, because you always pay a price for convenience! (And I honestly think it would take less than 30 minutes to prepare a big batch for the week.)

I hope these ideas will help you the next time you’re feeling too busy to eat well.

carrot spirals being cooked in a pan

Frozen Carrot Spirals. This is a new item in the freezer section at Trader Joe’s, and I think I like these veggie-based noodles better than spaghetti. Seriously! I’ve currently stashed several boxes of these frozen prepared “noodles” in my freezer for a fast meal, but I think I’ll try using the Inspiralizer to make my own carrot noodles next time to make them even more affordable. Organic carrots are pretty cheap!

2 ingredient detox spaghetti on a plate

Shredded cabbage. It may sound strange, but sautéed cabbage is ultra comforting to me. I use it to make my quick 2-ingredient Detox Spaghetti and the Skillet Breakfast Hash from my cookbook, No Excuses Detox. It’s a delicious low-carb and nutrient-rich alternative to traditional hash browns, and it’s readily available in 12-ounce bags at Trader Joe’s. (Though, again, you could easily shred a head of cabbage in your food processor or salad shooter to make it more cost-effective.)

carrot slaw in a dish

Carrot Slaw. I love making slaw-type salads because they’re sturdy enough to make ahead and will last in the fridge for several days, even after they’ve been tossed in a salad dressing. The Carrot Raisin Slaw in No Excuses Detox has been a go-to meal for me this week, and if you don’t have that book, this dairy-free coleslaw recipe might make a good option, too. When you have a salad dressed and ready to go, you have NO EXCUSE not to eat your veggies! I use my salad shooter to shred carrots quickly.

cauliflower fried rice and a smoothie with cauliflower

Cauliflower Rice. I love buying riced cauliflower at the store, because I hate the hassle of dragging out my food processor and chopping the head of cauliflower. It’s a messy process. Trader Joe’s sells an organic bag of cauliflower rice in their freezer section, and I’ve been using it for everything lately– from making Cauliflower Fried Rice and Cauliflower Jambalaya, to even adding it in my smoothies. You can’t taste it at ALL in a smoothie, so it’s a great way to sneak an extra veggie into my family’s day.

quinoa pizza and freezer waffles

Freezer Meals. If you don’t already have a copy of my latest cookbook, No Excuses Detox, you’re missing out on a LOT of my favorite freezer and make-ahead meals. Here’s what I’ve been eating this week from the book:

  • Quinoa Pizza. I always make a double-batch of my Overnight Quinoa Pizza Crust so that I can have at least one spare crust in my freezer for a quick meal. I slice the extra crust into quarters so that I can top individual slices exactly how I want to, because my family doesn’t agree on toppings. I add my toppings directly to the frozen crust then heat it up at 350ºF until everything is hot and bubbly, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Cauliflower Baked Ziti. This dish is my ultimate comfort food, and the leftovers are AMAZING even when they’re cold. I love eating it straight out of the fridge, and it solves any comfort food cravings that come up. You can make it as a “freezer dump meal” using the instructions in the book!
  • Vegan Sloppy Joe Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. (Pictured at the top of this post) I made this recipe for dinner one night, and I love how the leftover filling can be used for other meals. I used it as a “bolognese” sauce over my carrot noodles one day for lunch, and then the next day I used it as a filling in a hand-held wrap when I needed an easy meal on the go.
  • Freezer Waffles. These waffles are my family’s favorite, and they pack a sneaky serving of sweet potato in each bite. When I don’t have sweet potato on hand, I make them with banana and they’re equally as delicious! My waffle maker makes waffles that are too large to fit in my toaster, so I either have to split the waffle in half to squeeze it into a toaster slot, or I’ll place the frozen waffle on a baking sheet under the broiler for a minute or two to reheat.

chipotle burrito bowl

Carry Out. When all else fails, dining out is always an option, too. We’ve been making an effort to save money and eat at home, but last weekend we caved and got Chipotle for lunch. My go-to order is usually the vegetarian salad with chopped romaine, black beans, fajita veggies, salsa, and guacamole. (Sometimes I add the cheese, too.) When I’m feeling extra hungry, I’ll get the burrito bowl with all of those same ingredients, but with rice, too. I’m finding that most restaurants have decent salads and vegetable side dishes, so you can almost always find a healthier option if you’re willing to look for it.

Knowing that a healthy meal is just minutes away can really help you meet your daily goals, so I hope this post is a helpful reminder of how easy it can be.

Reader Feedback: I’d love to hear your fast go-to meals, too! Let me know in the comments below. 

 

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Comments

Izzy Bruning

These all look so good! I love having fast meal options 🙂
Izzy | Pinch of delight

Kathleen

Such wonderful advice! The perfect time to make healthier choices is TODAY. Unfortunately, the easiest time is right after a surgeon recommends operating.

Rachel

Oven these ideas. I always try to have roast veggies on hand in the fridge. I’ll eat them with black bean noodles, or my homemade cauliflower, turmeric and macadamia rice. Sometimes I’ll make a big batch of that too. I also just loved steamed greens with olive oil, seaweed salt, ACV, pepper and turmeric. Green smoothies are my staple brekkie and in a pinch I can’t go past narnies with nut butter or a quick veggie soup of boiled veggies blended with herbs and coconut oil.

Kara Wenkel

I sneak frozen cauliflower rice or frozen spinach into my family’s smoothies every morning. They have no idea. It really does blend right in. My favorite as of right now is 1/3 avocado, 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower rice, dark chocolate cocoa powder or cacao powder, 2 cups water or almond milk, a frozen banana, and any additional foods like hemp seeds- blend and tada! A really tasty smoothie that my 3 yr old and 37 yr old husband drink up!

    Megan Gilmore

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve been meaning to try the Cauliflower Rice in a chocolate smoothie! Sounds wonderful.

Michelle

Did you notice that the Carrot Spirals & the Cauliflower Rice are loaded with salt?

    Megan Gilmore

    No, I actually didn’t notice that. I’m not one to worry about sodium content, but it does make me want to try freezing my own carrot noodles and rice to see how they hold up. I wonder if they found that salt was needed as a preservative, or if they just did it for flavor.

Maria

I made a double batch of the quinoa pizza crust today. It didn’t come out as well as the first time I made it but, again, perfect is not the goal. Now, next time the hubby needs pizza I can join in again without going totally off my diet. The zucchini pesto is always fabulous and so easy so I made a double batch of that also and froze half.
May is turning out to be very helpful to my diet, now I choose vegetables and fruit way more often keeping in mind what it keeps out. Thanks Megan

Roxy

My favorite quick things from your cookbook are the orange mango smoothie and the creamy kale salad. They both come together super easy and they are both delicious. They make getting my 10 a day alot easier. Thank you for the super yummy recipes!

Jodie

My family enjoys “make your own sushi” rolls. Just steam some rice, add rice wine vinegar and cool (have never tried with cauliflower rice… hmm?), then slice up cukes, avocado and crab if you like, maybe some tuna. Open a package of Nori (seaweed wrappers) . Put everything out on the table and it’s a self serve dinner. Edamame makes a nice side dish and is packed with protein. And don’t forget the wasabi, pickled ginger and low-sodium soya sauce.

Sandy

Hi Megan,

Just wondering about the “Inspiralized” spiralizer you mentioned. I believe before you were using the Paderno spiralizer. Do you like the “Inspiralized” better and if so, what were the differences between the two? I am thinking about getting one and would love your thoughts.
Sandy – P.S. I have both your cookbooks (which I adore)! Also LOVE your Blog and the Newsletter.

    Megan Gilmore

    Hi Sandy! Yes, Ali sent me her Inspiralizer after I met her last year, so I had both the Paderno and Inspiralizer for a while. I much prefer the Inspiralizer, so I actually gave my old Paderno to a friend. The best thing about the Inspiralizer is the counter clamps, as they keep it put while you spiralize tough veggies. I also love that you don’t have to store extra blades, because you switch the blades on the Inspiralizer with a little dial on the side, instead of using individual plates. Hope that helps, and I’m glad you’re enjoying the cookbooks. Thanks for your support!!

Anna

Thanks so much for sharing with all of us readers! I appreciate your no fuss approach to healthy eating and that you don’t rely on specialty items to make your recipes! Specialty health foods are fun to try but rough on the budget and time, both at a premium when you’re a mama! So thanks for keeping things simple and yummy.

ashlee canode

hi megan! i made the mexican cauliflower rice cassrrole and it tasted amazing! the flavors were so perfect. im definitely keeping this recipe as an all-time favorite. im excited to try more of your recipes! especially the vegan chocolate chip cookies. my friend shared your blog with me and im so glad that she did!
thank you!

Pattie

I made a lot of pesto last summer and froze it so, now when I’m in a hurry to get out the door to go to work I spiralize a big zucchini, throw in a couple big spoonsful of pesto and that simple lunch keeps me going for hours!

Bethany

is there a recipe link for the vegan sloppy joes over the sweet potato?

Bethany

Is there a recipe for the vegan sloppy joe sweet potato?

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