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Travel adds a layer of complexity to healthy eating, but it is possible. Here’s my easy healthy food list for when I don’t want to cook. And it isn’t take-out or TV dinners, either, but easy enough that anyone make it.
I love to cook. Once you get used to eating home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients, nothing compares. But I know not everyone cooks. Add that all my recipes are vegan and gluten-free, I know that might be intimidating for some people.
So for this post, I’m only going to do easy healthy food that you don’t have to cook. While it’s still vegan and gluten-free, it’s nothing fancy and definitely tasty.
Easy Healthy Breakfast
Contrary to what I see most people eating, a healthy breakfast does not consist of: 1. Skipping breakfast; 2. Coffee; 3. Something full of processed sugar, 4. Something greasy, 5. Calories bereft of most nutrients like buttered toast or a bagel and cream cheese, or 6. Just about anything you can pick up at a coffee shop or drive-through window.
Eating a healthy, filling breakfast isn’t difficult, expensive or time-consuming. Here are 2 options.
Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids–that’s a good kind of fat. They are also filling and provide lots of energy. You can even put this in the fridge overnight so your total prep in the morning involves getting out a spoon. But otherwise, the whole thing should take about 11 minutes–10 of which are letting the pudding thicken.
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1 tbs cinnamon
- chopped walnuts (optional)
Stir and oak overnight or for at least 10 minutes in the fridge. If you don’t like banana, switch it up! Take out the banana and cinnamon and put in blueberries and vanilla extract instead. Or strawberries. Or mango! If it needs a little sweetener, add up to a tablespoon of maple syrup.
This is oatmeal with a twist to pack in extra nutrients. Trust me, this tastes way better than any of those little sugary packets of instant oatmeal, and only takes a few extra minutes to make.
- 1/2 cup rolled oats or other quick-cooking oats
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 tbs ground flaxseed
- 1 tbs maple syrup (optional)
- 1/2 cup fruit (it can even been frozen–by the time you’re done cooking, it will be cooked too)
- 1 tbs nut butter or 1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
- 1 tbs turmeric (optional)
Mix well and cook in the microwave for 3 1/2 minutes. Or, add an extra 1/2 cup of non-dairy milk and cook on the stove in a pot on low heat for 5 minutes.
Easy Healthy Lunch/Dinner
These meals are easy to do for either lunch or dinner. For a bonus quick and easy meal, see my post: Potatoes are not bad for you.
I love rice paper wraps, and they’re very simple to use. You can put whatever combination of foods you want in them (provided they’re cold), but here’s my favorite.
- about 1/4 cup extra firm tofu (you can use it straight out of the package, or bake it in the oven to make the outside crispy)
- 1/4 cup shredded carrot
- 1/4 cup cucumber, cut into matchstick-size pieces
Get a shallow dish and fill with 1/2″ to 1″ of water. Place one rice paper wrap at a time for 5-10 seconds (it will feel slimy but still firm). Remove and shake off excess water.
Lay the wrap flat on a plate and place the filling in the center. Then wrap it like a burrito: fold over the top, and bottom, then one side, then start rolling, tucking in the filling as you go. The rice paper sticks to itself, so as long as you make sure the edge touches more rice paper and not the filling, it will be self-sealing.
I have two favorite sauces I like to use for wraps: The Ginger People Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce and my homemade peanut sauce (also a no-cook recipe–there are 2 other sauce recipes in that post as well).
Hard taco shells usually have oil, but soft corn tortillas often have no oil or lard. I have to eat gluten-free so I always buy corn, but if you can tolerate gluten there are several whole-grain tortilla options out there. Just avoid the white flour tortillas, as they have the least nutrition.
There are also several meat-free options for filling out there, including TVP (textured vegetable protein), soy curls, and pre-made meat-like crumbles. I avoid the latter for the most part, because they are the most processed, but in a pinch or when I’m tired they’re easy enough.
I’ve also used oven-baked tofu, potato or sweet potato as my main “filling.”
You can also simply put some veggies with some hummus or low-fat refried beans in a tortilla and top it off with salsa, if you want to keep it super simple.
If you want to increase your veggie intake, a taco salad is a great way to do it. You can also call this a burrito bowl. Here’s what you need:
- Your favorite dark leafy green in whatever quantity you wish
- 1/2 cup of beans (look for the unsalted vegetarian kind to maximize the health factor)
- chopped veggies such as bell peppers, tomatoes, shredded carrots–whatever you prefer
- 1/4 sliced avocado (optional)
- corn (optional)
- salsa and/or a spicy or citrus-y dressing
Easy Healthy Snacks
This group is for food I eat on the go. I even sometimes buy some of it at gas stations or drug stores.
Fresh juice and nuts
When I say juice, I mean the ones without added sugar. You already lose some of the important parts of fruit when you juice it (for example, the fiber content goes way down), so try not to make it worse by adding sugar to something that’s already sweet. I like Odwalla brand: 100% juices or Smoothies. They also make non-GMO products, use recycling practices and they’re from Santa Cruz, CA (one of my favorite seaside cities).
The juice will give you quick energy while the nuts will help you stay full with the fat, protein and fiber. The other reason I put this is the less-healthy category is nuts from a gas station are probably cooked in oil and covered with salt. But this meal is still better than other things you can find at a gas station (chips, soda, candy, hot dogs…maybe some “nachos” with melted Velveeta sauce).
Fruit or veggies and nuts or nut butter
In addition to the reasons stated above for nuts, I put nut butter in the less-healthy category because it also includes oil, salt and sugar. Also, I’m often tempted to get the chocolate-flavored nut butter! But it’s still easy healthy food.
Hummus and veggies
There are so, so many flavors of hummus these days. They even have dessert-flavored hummus these days (that might be best with fruit and not veggies). These days you can find hummus in just about any grocery store, usually close to the produce so you can pick up your favorite veggies to dip.