Healthy, fast, delicious
People are always asking me for meal and snack ideas that are healthy, fast, and delicious – a perfect trifecta that many people seem to struggle with. The answer isn’t always a simple one. “Healthy” means different things to different people depending on their needs and goals. “Healthy” can be defined by many factors specific to an individual, such as medical conditions, allergies, fitness goals, weight goals, and even personal ideologies, just to name a few. Headlines, fads, and product marketing can also contribute to a person’s belief about what is or isn’t healthy. With so many considerations, it’s no surprise the topic can sometimes lead to a pretty heated debate.
I’m not a nutritionist, so I don’t tell people what foods they should be eating. Instead, I create menus and prepare meals for my clients based on what they tell me are their food preferences. Those preferences are sometimes based on specific foods that a doctor, nutritionist, or personal trainer has told them to avoid or add to their diet. I work within that framework to create menus and meals that are considered healthy for that client.
I’m all about food
Food isn’t just at the center of how I make my living, it’s central to how I live. My job is physically demanding. I’m a distance runner and I lift weights. What I eat plays a key role in how well I perform in all of my activities, and more importantly, how I feel on a day-to-day basis. I believe that when a person feels well, they are better positioned and motivated to achieve their goals. This is the philosophy behind my business motto, “eat well, live bravely.”
So, here are some of my thoughts and opinions on healthy eating, based on what works for me:
- Meals should have a balance protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Each of these macronutrients has an important role in the way our bodies function. Deprive yourself of one, and you could be setting yourself up for a nutrient deficiency, binge eating, or to just be an all-around crankypants.
- Eat whole and minimally processed foods, a majority of the time.
- Everything in moderation, or the 80/20 rule. If you are eating well most of the time (the “80”), then you can indulge and not feel like you’re committing a crime the rest of the time (the “20”). Drink the wine, eat the pizza – just not every day.
- Know your calorie needs. Honestly, I wanted to put this first on the list, but I didn’t want to lose anyone by bringing up math right out of the gate. Anyone interested in eating certain foods so they can look or feel a certain way should figure out their caloric needs. You DON’T need to go crazy with this, but you should at least have a ballpark idea of how many calories you need for your goals and lifestyle. There are many online calculators that will do the math for you. Try a few of them and go with the most consistent result.
- Cook. Yes, if you want to eat healthy, you’re going to have to do some cooking. Just like anything else that’s important in life (ie: relationships, career), you’ve got to do some work. Nothing worth having is ever achieved without some effort. BUT, as I will be talking about in some upcoming posts, there are ways to prepare healthy meals, that are also fast and delicious, that won’t have you chained to the stove for hours.
I’m excited to start sharing more of my tips and recipes for fast, delicious meals in future posts, but I wanted start with one of my favorite chicken recipes, Cuban-Inspired Citrus Chicken. This is a great way to use rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken breast. Your pantry (which I will also discuss more in a future post) should always have onion and lemons and/or limes. Those are a few ingredients that pack lots of flavor with few calories.
Cuban Inspired Pulled Citrus Chicken
*You do not need to get hung up on exact measurements with any of these ingredients. That’s part of what makes this dish so simple to make.
- Take half a rotisserie chicken or 2 chicken breasts and shred the meat with a fork. Place the chicken into a glass or plastic bowl. (Don’t use a metal bowl, it may react with the citrus and leave an odd flavor.)
- Squeeze about 3-4 tablespoons of whatever citrus you have on hand – lemon, lime, or orange – into the bowl with the chicken and season it with salt and pepper, or Adobo. (Note: You can purchase lemon and lime juice, organic or regular, in squeeze bottles that are handy to keep in the fridge. If you don’t have an orange, you can use orange juice.) If you have all three, use a combination of the three kinds of citrus juice. If you have time, zest the fruit first and set aside to add later for extra citrus flavor. Let the shredded chicken marinate in the citrus juice for as long as you can. The longer the better, but at least 20 minutes to a half hour. You can also marinate the chicken in the morning before work in a plastic bag for maximum citrusy-ness.
- While the chicken marinates, thinly slice some yellow or white onion (about ¼ of a large onion per every 2 cups of shredded chicken). Use a large sauté pan to cook the onion, along with some dried oregano, in olive oil until translucent. Then add the marinated chicken to the pan of onions, turn the heat up enough so that the chicken will begin to get crispy edges. Let it fry up for about ten minutes, until brown and crispy. You may add some minced garlic in the last few minutes of cooking, or to save time, add some good quality garlic granules or garlic powder. If you zested your citrus, add that in the last few minutes as well. Serve with brown rice, black beans, and sliced avocado. You may want to give it a final squeeze of citrus right before you eat it.
This is one of my favorite ways to eat chicken, and it’s also a client favorite. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
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