We’ve all been there, especially when you have a clingy baby who only wants to hang on mom all day and no one else. But that’s still no reason to starve or survive off of protein bars and stale tortilla chips. I’ve compiled these five easy go to recipes for busy families who still want to have a nice healthy dinner.
Salsa Chicken Bake
This one is so good! When it’s done cooking, you can shred up the chicken and put it in a tortilla if you want. Cheese is optional on this, depending on how healthy you want to go. It can also be done in a crockpot if you remember in the morning to get it going.
-Preheat oven to 375.
-In a baking pan, lay down the chicken breasts. Pour a can of black beans and a can of corn over everything, then plenty of salsa on top of that. I like to add a can of those Rotel chilis too. At this point, you can add some Velveeta cheese on top too if you want; just chop it into blocks and disperse it evenly. I usually nix this part in favor of a healthier version (although I may add some shredded cheddar cheese at the end).
-Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on how thick the chicken breasts are.
Chicken Broccoli Bowls
I love the idea of bowls that encompass all the food you need for a nutritious meal. I make the bowls all the time for lunch and dinner. In order to make this meal even speedier, it helps to have made some rice in bulk and keep in stored in the fridge. I also like to have my veggies cut up and ready to go as well, for any meal actually. I dice peppers, cut broccoli, cut zucchini, onions, you name it, I prepped it. That helps so much with time!
-Cut up chicken breast into small pieces.
-Heat oil in a pan, and add the chicken to it. Cook all the way through.
-Add the broccoli and rice to the pan, and stir thoroughly over low heat (just enough to soften the broccoli a little bit) NOTE: It’s best to throw the broccoli in raw, and just heat it up with the other ingredients. It adds a nice crunch of texture to the bowl.
-Add any sauce you would think would give your bowl a punch: teriyaki, sriracha, or just some soy sauce. Totally up to you. You can add the sauce to the whole pan, or let everyone individualize their bowls.
Korean Beef and Rice
Ok, I LOVE the flavoring of Korean beef, it’s salty and a little sweet and SO addicting. One of my favorites. So I usually don’t eat red meat, but when I do, I make sure it’s the leanest I can find. You can also substitute this recipe with ground turkey! Again, this recipe is faster if you have a stockpile of cooked rice for the week already in your fridge!
-Brown the meat in a skillet (recipe calls for 1lb)
-In a small bowl, combine 1/3 C brown sugar, 1/4 C low sodium soy sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, and some crushed red pepper if you want. Add a little salt and pepper for taste.
-Cook it all up and serve it over some rice in a bowl.
You’ll be going back for seconds, trust me, make a lot!
One Pan Salmon and Asparagus Bake
So you guys know I’m a huge fan of Costco…well they happen to sell probably the most delicious salmon cuts I’ve ever eaten. I mean it’s perfect, and since it’s a huge cut, it’s great for leftovers. Since it barely needs any seasoning, it makes a healthy and easy dinner for the family.
-Preheat oven to 400.
-Place salmon in individual cuts on one side of the pan, and the raw asparagus on the other side. Juice one whole lemon over the salmon and the veggies, then a little salt and pepper. Bake it for about 20-30 minutes and enjoy!
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
Yesssss, who doesn’t love chicken fajitas. Honestly they’re delicious, healthy, and super easy to make if you do it in one pan in the oven.
-Use your prepped peppers and onions
-Slice chicken breasts into very thin strips and season with chili powder, paprika, and cumin. Or you can use low sodium pre-made fajita seasoning mix.
-Combine all of this (chicken and peppers) together on the baking pan, and put it in the oven until everything is throughly cooked, maybe 30-40 minutes.
-Squeeze a fresh lime over it if you want, and enjoy in a warm tortilla and with some fresh salsa!
I’ve tried my fair share of protein bars throughout my fitness journey, and you have to be careful. Many bars are advertised as low calorie, low this, low that, type of snack, when in reality they have almost no nutritive value. They’re usually jam packed with carbs and sugar, and leave you feeling hungry 30 minutes later. And then you have to go through the process of finding one that is good for you AND tastes good. I just can’t stomach a protein bar that tastes like cardboard, it’s not worth it to me. I’ve gone through a lot of different types of bars; Quest bars, Oh Yeah bars, Optimum bars…you name it, I’ve tried it. Most of the bars have great “macros”; listed on the nutrition label, your main large nutrient groups (carbs, sugar, protein, fat, etc). But the taste of them is usually hit or miss; sometimes you get a good flavor, but most of the time the texture is off-putting.
Then, my saving grace came along, in a form that I would not have expected: The Costco, Kirkland’s brand protein bar. It is the best protein bar that I have ever had in my life, not exaggerating. I could literally be the face of the brand of bar the way that I go on about it. Granted there are only two flavors, but they are the best kind, so it doesn’t even matter. We have cookie dough and brownie. Perfect. Along with being AFFORDABLE (yes!), the macros on the bars are just as good as the more pricey Quest bars; low carb, low sugar, and they taste so much better. If you’re lucky enough to have a Costco near you (or just go online), go there, buy two boxes of 20 bars, and enjoy. One box is only $18…doesn’t that average out to like 89 cents a bar?? You can’t find that ANYWHERE people, I know from experience.
So let’s do a little comparison between what you think my be a “healthy” protein bar, and this actual healthy protein bar. I’m going to choose those Gatorade brand bars that you see in gas stations; convenient to grab and well advertised. (Gatorade bar on the left)
First, there’s the calorie comparison: 360 vs. 190
Also, the Gatorade bar is almost DOUBLE the carbs and here’s the best part…29 GRAMS OF SUGAR. WHAT. You’re better off eating a candy bar to be honest. And yet both of the bars have the same amount of protein.
So what will you choose? Have you ever chosen a bar based on the advertising on the front without checking the nutrition label? Start looking at the facts, you’ll be surprised!