Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Healthy Meal Ideas That Are Faster Than Take Out

Montgomery Ward
On the surface, take-out foods often seem like the faster, easier choice. But, are they really? When you think of the time involved in ordering, waiting for the order and then driving to pick it up, chances are you very likely could have made a much healthier, and tastier, dinner at home.

Think that's not possible? Well, it is. If you've resolved to eat smarter and healthier in the coming year, there are some great ways to enjoy fast meals at home that can take less time than what is involved in picking up a boxed dinner from a local restaurant.

Some of the best menus to consider for fast food that doesn't taste “fast” include:

* Chicken tacos and beans. Cook up some shredded chicken in a light broth and then prepare as you would normal tacos. Heat up some beans and even rice to go along with it. Substitute low-calorie cheese and sour cream for the fattening stuff and you're good to go in under 30 minutes.

* Beef tips and rice. Use thin-cut Spanish style sirloin and sauté in a light olive oil or even water. Add a dash of pepper. Serve over long grain rice with a low-fat gravy, if desired. Add in some fresh vegetables, and this dinner can be on the table in about 25 minutes.

* Salad in a pinch. A big, healthy salad is an excellent alternative to a heavy dinner. Consider buying ready made, bagged greens and adding some grilled chicken to provide more substance and maybe even some garbanzo beans. Use a light dressing and this dinner will satisfy and not destroy a healthy eating goal.

* Black beans, chicken and rice. This traditional Cuban meal does not have to take all day to prepare. There is a faster way to whip it up. Use canned black beans and season with a touch of cumin and even hot peppers. Bake thin sliced chicken in a small amount of orange juice and Adobo seasoning. Fast-cook yellow or Spanish rice can top it all off and add an excellent flavor. If all ingredients go on at roughly the same time, this meal is ready to go in under 30 minutes, as well.

* Grilled cheese. This is not the most healthy of choices, but you can make it so. Use whole wheat bread, low-fat margarine and low-fat cheese. Serve with fresh fruit or baked pita chips. This meal takes less than 10 minutes and can satisfy on nights when getting involved in the kitchen seems like too much of a chore.

Eating at home does not have to require as much time as you might think. Short-cut meals can taste great, offer a healthy alternative and even take less time than a trip to a local take-out place.

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