Many people think that cooking healthy meals has to be a difficult and time-consuming task. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. (And even if it was true, isn’t the extra effort worth it?) Others of you, meanwhile, are new to this whole Primal Lifestyle and are looking for quick and easy recipes to help you adjust to this new, healthier way of life!
We have heeded your call for more recipes in last week’s “Dear Readers: What do You Want?” If you’re game, read on to learn ten Primal – and truly easy – quick meals.
But first a note: The quickest way to speed up the mid-week meal process is to do some work on the back end. It doesn’t have to mean devoting a whole day to cooking the meals for the week, but it does require some degree of planning ahead. For example, if you have all the ingredients on hand, you turn the process of creating a meal into nothing more than compiling a series of ingredients. So what ingredients should you stock?
• Veggies of any kind (and you’ll save a ton of time—and encourage your family to consume them as snacks—if you pre-wash and slice them!)
• Fresh fruit (just give ‘em a good rinse)
• Nuts (but not peanuts, since we know they aren’t truly a nut)
• Meats and fish (If possible, try to cook more than you need so that you can use leftovers to use in other meals.)
• Fats (healthy oils and butter)
• Fresh spices (they’re more flavorful than the dried ones taking up space on your lazy Susan!)
And now for the recipes…
An Italian breakfast dish, we’ll pull out the pasta and replace it with a ton of hearty – and healthy – vegetables that will keep you satiated through lunch! And, to make it more grab-and-go, we’ll be making it in muffin pans!
1 brick of chopped frozen spinach, thawed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (or, if you pre-chopped, about 1 cup of onion)
1 large clove garlic, minced (about 1tbsp)
9 large eggs (and you’ll use the yolk too!)
2 tbsp milk
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (use fresh grated cheese from your deli – it’s more flavorful than the pre-packaged stuff in the pasta aisle. Romano cheese is also good here.)
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 oz goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain spinach and set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and parmesan cheese. Once combined, add in sun-dried tomatoes and salt and pepper. In a skillet, sauté onions in olive oil on medium heat (about 2 minutes, or until translucent), add minced garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add spinach. In a pre-greased muffin pan, add spinach mixture to fill cups about one-third to half-way. Pour egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle goat cheese over the top of each “muffin” and put back in the oven for 10 minutes or until muffins appear puffy and golden. Remove from oven and enjoy!
Primal Strawberry Smoothie
Short on time? This one will definitely take you less than 5 minutes to throw together (and it’s easy to drink when you’re on the move!)
1 cup frozen strawberries (or blueberries, raspberries)
1 cup milk (don’t worry about going low-fat here – whenever you remove the fat, you up the relative sugar content!)
A couple 20-gram scoops of protein powder (This is our favorite. 😉 )
Throw in a blender, blend and go!
Quick Cottage Cheese Pancakes
You’ll fool even the kids with this healthy pancake alternative.
1 cup cottage cheese (not low fat!)
2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp soy flour
½ tsp cream of tartar
Beat the egg whites until frothy, add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In separate bowl, mix egg yolk, cottage cheese and soy flour. Combine the two mixtures and stir until just combined (otherwise you’ll compromise the “pancakes” fluffiness!). Cook as you would a regular pancake, on a skillet at medium heat, flipping when each side becomes lightly browned. They’re tasty with just a little bit of butter and some cinnamon sprinkled on top or with blueberries or strawberries and a little whipped cream. Or if you have a few more minutes on your hands – or want to up to the protein ante – top with a few scrambled eggs.
Kitchen Sink Soup
If you make this with leftovers you have on hand, it’s really just a matter of throwing it together, letting it simmer and forgetting about it!
5 cups stock or broth
1 15 oz can tomatoes, chopped (peeled plum tomatoes and probably easiest)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
1 tbsp sweet paprika
3 tsp turmeric
½ tsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
“Kitchen Sink” items: Feel free to include as many of the following items as you deem fit:
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium bell pepper
1-2 cups of chard, spinach or another leafy green vegetable
1 cup of pumpkin
4 cups of meat, chopped into bite-size pieces – leftover turkey, chicken, steak, pork tenderloin or ham works best here
In a large soup pot, put oil, onion, and celery (if using). Cook on low heat for 5 minutes to soften. Turn up heat, and add garlic and any other vegetables (except the greens) that you plan to use. Cook for one minute, add spices. Stir and cook about one more minute. Add tomatoes, stock, and meat, if using and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes (we don’t count this as active work since it’s not very hands-on!). Adjust seasonings to taste. This recipe will make about 9 cups of soup, depending on what you add in.
Chicken Club Wrap
As good as the sandwich from your favorite diner, with none of the guilt!
3 large lettuce leaves
1 cup cooked chicken (leftovers is best here!), chopped into bite-size pieces
½ cup sliced red pepper
1 plum tomato, sliced
1 tbsp mayonnaise
If you have it on hand, feel free to add in some bacon
Wash and pat dry the large lettuce leaves. In the center of each leaf, pile all of the ingredients. Top with a dab of mayonnaise, wrap up and enjoy!
Protein Salad Dip
You’re leftovers have never tasted better when you use them as a dip for your fave chopped veggies.
2-3 cups cooked chicken or turkey (skin on, coarsely chopped). Or, alternatively, feel free to use a few a few cans of water-packed tuna fish
2 stalks celery, chopped
¼ cup red onion, chopped
2 pickles, chopped
5 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
If you can slice it, you can use it. Good examples are peppers, zucchini, celery, cucumber, and apple. Or, alternatively, feel free to make it into a wrap by rolling it up in large lettuce leaves.
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the items for the dressing. Mix the dressing in with the salad ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Should make four servings.
8 chicken breast cutlets (roughly 1 1/2 lbs). Opt for the ones that are cleaned and trimmed and that are already sliced thin.
4 oz arugula (about 1 large bunch), trimmed
3 oz of soft goat cheese broken into small pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 425°F. Lay cutlets flat, smooth side down. Season with salt and pepper, layer with arugula leaves and place goat cheese in the center. Starting with the narrow end of the cutlet, roll up the chicken tightly and secure with a toothpick. In a large, non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook the chicken, “seam” side down for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn once and cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and cook 10-12 minutes or until chicken is opaque throughout. While the chicken is cooking, make a quick salad of argula, tomatoes and almonds. Pile on one side of the plate and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with course ground black pepper. Once chicken is done, remove toothpicks, slice the chicken crosswise and arrange on plate. Serves 4.
Leftovers A la King
If you’re in the market for some true comfort food – that won’t make you pack on the comfort pounds – this easy leftovers recipe will be just the ticket.
2 cups cooked chicken or turkey
¼ cup chopped onion
1 small green pepper, chopped
4 to 6 oz fresh chopped mushrooms
2 tbsp oil or butter
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tbsp cornstarch (yes, it’s a starch, but at only 7 grams per tbsp – and double the thickening power of flour – it’ll work just fine here!)
1 cup milk
½ cup cream
1¼ cups stock or broth
4 oz jar chopped pimentos
Quick Cauliflower “Rice” – 1 large head of cauliflower (how easy is that!)
In a large skillet, heat the oil or butter and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the green pepper and mushrooms, and cook until softening. Add black pepper and the cornstarch. Cook for 2 minutes. Add liquids, bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add chicken and turkey, heat through (about 10 minutes). While that’s simmering, in a food processor, chop cauliflower until it is the size of rice. Microwave 4 minutes in a covered dish, but do not add water – the moisture in the cauliflower will allow it to cook. Once finished, position on the center of the plate, then top with the chicken or turkey mixture and enjoy!
It doesn’t get much easier than pizza – and this one is healthy too!
1 large sized eggplant
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 can tomato sauce or store-bought marinara sauce
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
Slice the eggplant lengthwise, making probably 6-8 slices about ½ inch thick. Place on a greased cookie sheet and place under a broiler. Broil until light brown. Remove, flip and cover with tomato sauce, basil, oregano and mozzarella cheese. Place back under the broiler. Feel free to add more toppings here – peppers, onions, pepperoni, diced ham – whatever your favorite pizza is, feel free to add it here! Should serve 3-4 people depending on how big your eggplant is.
Easy Chicken Enchiladas
We say chicken, but steak would be just as good if you have it on hand!
2-3 cups of cooked chicken breast, steak or turkey
1 ½ cups cheddar cheese
¼ cup of cream or half & half
3 egg whites
1 8oz can tomato sauce
2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cornstarch
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp chili powder
First prepare enchilada sauce. In a medium skillet, warm butter and oil. Add all dry ingredients, whisk in two cups of water and tomato sauce. Stir continually until sauce thickens. Adjust spices accordingly and set aside. In a second skillet, heat chicken in a quarter cup of enchilada sauce. Bring to simmer. In a mixing bowl, add eggs and half and half and beat until well blended. Heat up small skillet, spray with non-stick spray and add just enough egg mixture to coat pan. Allow to cook through, about 1-2 minutes. Repeat till all mixture is gone (you should get about 6 crepes). Inside a baking dish, place one of the egg crepes and coat with a small amount of sauce. Add chicken, a small amount of cheese and roll. When all are rolled top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle chopped scallions and cheese on top and bake at 350 for 10-15 min or until cheese melted and bubbly.