I'm a Fitness Trainer, and These Are My 3 Favorite Quick and Healthy Meals
Even if you love cooking, it’s not always practical to spend an hour or two in the kitchen whipping up a new recipe. But that doesn’t mean you have to ditch healthy, homemade meals for a drive-thru — there are plenty of easy meals that you can create in minutes. We asked Openfit Live trainer Alexis Craig to share her favorite quick and nutritious meal ideas. These simple meal ideas can help you stick to your healthy eating goals — even when you’re crazy busy — and they don’t skimp on variety, taste or texture.
Zoodles with Marinara
Craving a bowl of spaghetti as comfort food after a long day? Instead of carb-heavy pasta, Craig opts for this delish pasta alternative made with zucchini. Balance out the meal by serving it alongside a protein (like baked chicken breast), or adding ground turkey or veggie meatballs to the sauce.
- Pour half a jar of marinara sauce in a saucepan on medium. Craig says she usually keeps a couple of jars of marinara around the house — preferably sugar free, organic, and vegan. “If you prefer meat sauce or to make your own, that works too,” she adds.
- Run a raw zucchini (or two) through a veggie spiralizer to make zoodles. Add the noodles to the sauce simmering in the pan and stir.
- Add a splash of olive oil (and MCT oil, if you have it) to the noodles and marinara, then stir again until the zoodles reach the desired consistency.
- Sprinkle some cheese on top to taste. “Sometimes I put a bit of Miyoko’s vegan cheese on the top,” Craig says. “It’s amazingly delicious, and you would never know it’s not dairy.”
Veggie and Chia Pancakes
Craig makes these healthier pancakes when she wants to sneak in some extra fruits and veggies at breakfast. “I make these pancakes with whatever starchy fruits and veggies I have around the house,” she says. “Usually it’s some combination of apples, potatoes, or squash, but my favorite is to use kohlrabi.”
- Use a cheese grater or food processor to grate about two handfuls (around ½ cup) of fruits and vegetables.
- Dice ½ of a white onion. Combine the diced onion and grated produce in a bowl.
- Add two eggs and ½ cup of chia seeds.
- Squish the mixture together with your clean hands. The chia seeds will start to absorb the liquid from the veggies and egg.
- Create small patties by pressing them between your hands until they’re about ½-inch thick. “They can be as big or small as you like, but keep in mind that you are going to need to flip them with a spatula,” Craig says.
- Heat a skillet to medium-high and grease with oil or butter.
- Add patties to the hot skillet, and flip each “pancake” when it’s golden brown.
- Enjoy! “I like mine with just butter, salt, and pepper — but you could try cinnamon, applesauce, plain yogurt, or a drizzle of pure maple syrup as well,” Craig says.
Oven-Roasted Veggies with Chicken
You can’t get much simpler than combining a boneless, skinless chicken breast with a colorful variety of oven-roasted vegetables.
“I pretty much do some version of this almost every night for dinner,” Craig says. “Sometimes, instead of chicken, I make a pork loin or just load up on vegetables — and I always change up the spices to keep it interesting.”
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Chop up a variety of veggies. “I encourage eating whatever is in season at the time, but I always tend to include some onions,” Craig says.
- Put the cut veggies in a bowl and toss them with a bit of avocado oil, salt, and pepper. “Feel free to play with the spices and get creative with different combinations,” Craig says.
- Spread the veggies on a baking sheet, and place a skinless chicken breast (or pork loin) on top of the vegetables.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Check and stir the veggies after 15 minutes.
- Cut the meat and check that it is cooked through to 165 degrees for chicken.