15 Minute Meals for Those Who Do Not Have the Time For Anything Else

I love to cook! I know I’m in the minority; only 3 out of 10 Americans actually enjoy cooking. I watch the cooking channel religiously and am constantly searching through Pinterest for new meal ideas. Most weeks I map out all of my meals planning to create wonderful masterpieces, everything from homemade spaghetti to homemade chicken potpie.   Then life happens. Meetings go long, my car catches on fire, my dog decides to get into a fight with the tree and I need to take him to the vet; there are so many things that can go not as planned. All of a sudden my plan to make my French onion soup for dinner, which takes a long time in order to be delicious, is shot and I have to figure out something else. The quick option is to get fast food or even better, go out to dinner with my fiancé to enjoy some restaurants delicious cuisine. Either way, my night of healthy eating has now turned into a 1500 to 2000 calories meal. This is definitely not ideal. It often seems that life goes out of its way to sabotage my efforts to have a healthy lifestyle, there has to be another way. Well after thinking about it there definitely is a solution: quick delicious meals that can be prepared in 15 minutes. Now, cooking quick meals does not mean I can once in a while make one of my more involved long cooking meals again but as long as I plan on at least two quick meals a week then whenever my life tries to sabotage my weight loss I can be prepared with a quick meal.

The best part of quick meals is not only that they are quick but also that they are very easy to prepare. So when I am tired or rushed I don’t have to put a lot of thought into the meal. I have been playing around with a variety of “quick meals” and wanted to pass on those that were the most successful.

So here we go:

Lettuce Wraps– I am a big fan of lettuce wraps. They are delicious and low in calories. Here are my two favorite lettuce wraps.

Taco Lettuce Wrap- an altered version of a recipe found on Pinterest

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • I can of corn (drained)
  • I chopped onion
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (if you can go for it try the spicy, it is better for weight loss to eat spicy food)
  • I can of green chilies
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 jalapeno chopped (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Heat up the olive in the pan
  2. Brown the meat in the olive oil.
  3. Add onion and jalapeno cook for two minutes.
  4. Add the black beans, corn, taco seasoning and green chilies.
  5. Mix well and heat through.
  6. Serve using romaine lettuce as the wrap.

Chicken Lettuce Wrap- an altered version of Amy and Marty Wolff’s Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons liquid aminos (soy sauce alternative)
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium teriyaki sauce
  • 1 small can drained water chestnuts
  • 1/2 chopped onion (I love onion so I sometimes use a full onion)
  • Handful of almonds
  • 4-6 leaves romaine lettuce

PREPARATION

  1. In a pan, heat olive oil. Add ground chicken and brown; stir occasionally to separate the meat.
  2. Add almond butter, liquid aminos; and teriyaki sauce to the chicken until well mixed.
  3. Add water chestnuts, onion; and almonds.
  4. After chicken is completely brown, let simmer for about five minutes; stirring every couple of minutes. Uncover and cook until a thick consistency.
  5. Cool and serve on large lettuce leaves.

Shrimp Fajitas-

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 pound of shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 onion chopped loosely
  • 1 sliced green pepper
  • 1 sliced red pepper
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (spicy if you can handle it)
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas

Toppings: (all optional)

  • guacamole (can be purchased prepared or if have more that 15 minutes can be made at home)
  • pico di gayo (can be purchased prepared or if have more than 15 minutes can be made at home)
  • plain greek yogurt- a healthy alternative to sour cream
  • ice berg lettuce chopped
  • low-fat shredded cheese of your choice

Preparation:

  1. Heat up olive oil in pan
  2. Cook onion and peppers for 5 minutes
  3. Add shrimp and cook until a bright pink color
  4. Add water and taco seasoning
  5. Heat through and scoop into a whole wheat tortilla and top with any toppings you would like.

Roasted Chicken & Mashed Cauliflower (This is the best of two worlds, I still get to cook and the entry is already prepared)

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 Head of Cauliflower (chopped up)
  • ½ cup of low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 Tbsp of chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp of butter
  • 1 Roasted Chicken
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Himalayan Salt (to taste)

Preparation:

  1. Boil a pan of water
  2. Cook the cauliflower for 10 minutes or until tender with a fork
  3. Place cauliflower, chicken broth, garlic, rosemary, butter, pepper and salt in food processor
  4. Process until smooth and creamy
  5. Serve with roasted Chicken

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches (yes this takes way more than 15 minutes but it is in a crock pot so the only work you have to do takes 15 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of chicken breast
  • 1 bottle of Franks Red Hot
  • 1 Packet of Ranch seasoning
  • Whole wheat buns

Preparation:

  1. In crock pot place chicken breast at the bottom
  2. Cover chicken with Franks Red Hot
  3. Sprinkle ranch seasoning over top
  4. Cook on low for 4-6 hours until chicken is cooked through
  5. Shred Chicken with a fork
  6. Mix chicken up with the sauce and ranch powder
  7. Serve on bun! 

These are just a few of my easy recipes I have stumbled on. I will continue to post other delicious recipes that I have discovered (or that I have invented myself).

Until next time use your extra time that you don’t spend cooking on something you enjoy, a walk on the beach, playtime with your kids or anything else that will relax you.  Now, stay motivated, happy and remember to have fun in your journey to a healthy lifestyle.

Next Blog: Getting healthy with my two best friends

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Good Morning

My morning started out like every other day. I woke up with a smile on my face; every hair perfect in place; stretched my arms over my head and skipped humming to the window. Flew the window open to feel the prefect breeze and the hum of the birds. Oh wait… that was a Disney princess movie. My mornings go a little bit more like this. I wake up to an ear-shattering ring that tears me out of my sleep. Flailing around for my snooze button as I smack my dog in the face who, by the way, has placed his head on the pillow next to me snoring loudly.   Once I have found my phone I hit snooze not once but up to six times (it turns out I am part of the 3% of people that hit snooze that many times).   I now groggily roll, literally, out of bed because I have overslept and have a short window of time to get ready for my first meeting.

That was the past though. On my new journey, these mornings will just not fly. Although I know that I’ll never have a Disney princess morning (my hair is always a mess), I can work on getting my day started at an earlier time and maybe not injure my dog. Not be rushed, and even though it may take some getting used to, make waking up not feel as painful.

In order to make this a reality I came up with 5 things to help my morning be a little more like a Disney movie and a little less like a Jersey Shore episode.

  1. Go to sleep earlier- This is not rocket science. If I want to wake up earlier, and feel ok about it, I need to go to bed earlier. Setting a new bedtime will not be easy but day-by-day my body will adjust.
  2. Preparation- No matter what time I get up or how much sleep I have the night before I am always groggy the next morning. This means in order to have a successful start to my day I need to prepare for it the night before.
  3. Find something to be excited about in the morning- I started thinking about the mornings that I was able without issue: Christmas morning; vacation mornings; and my birthday. These were all days that I was excited about what the day held for in store for me. I need to figure out a way to make getting out of bed everyday feel the same. Well, maybe not the same, but at least close.
  4. Hydrate- Medical studies show that a warm glass of lemon water in the morning help all systems of your body.
  5. Stretch- Nothing does a better job of getting the kinks out of your body than taking a few minutes every morning to stretch. It’s a great way to wake up and get the juices flowing.

Now time to put my “getting up” plans into motion. I started with deciding the night before what my plan was going to be for the morning; something that I would look forward to waking up to. So for my first day, I decided I would go for a run in the harbor and then go to the beach with my dogs, something that I love to do. Now time to prepare. I laid out my clothes for the morning as well as the beach bag. Made up some crockpot oatmeal (recipe listed below), set the coffee timer and made my playlist to listen to while running (playlist listed below). I got into bed at a much earlier time and laid there not able to fall asleep for a bit (this new bed time will take some getting used to). In the morning the awful shrill of my alarm wrenched me from my sleep (note to self find a better alarm) but instead of hitting the snooze for 6 times, as I mentioned I typically do, I remembered my fun plans and got myself up. As expected I was very groggy and was happy that everything was laid out for me. I walked into my kitchen to the smell of my pre-prepared oatmeal and had a glass of lemon water (definitely not amazing but did seem to wake me up a little). Had half of a banana because I read that it’s important to have something small to eat before working out in the morning. Your main breakfast can wait until later in the morning. Then did a few stretches and felt almost, if not completely, awake! Doing the run that early was actually invigorating; instead of dying from the heat had I run later, the cool morning air felt great. The harbor, that is usually too packed to run without bumping into people, was actually completely empty minus one individual. With the aid of the beautiful views and my jamming playlist I ran my best time for three miles! Following the run I grabbed my fiancé, dogs, cup of coffee and headed to the beach for a gorgeous morning. I finished the morning with a long shower a yummy breakfast and a still had a little extra time to pamper my pups! With all that done, I was still in front of my computer working by 9:00 AM and ready to be productive!

But….now I know the hard part is about to start. It takes 21 days to develop a new habit. That means I need to be dedicated to my new life and take one day at a time! So with day one down I have only 20 more days to go until this miraculously becomes a part of my life. Stay tuned to hear how it goes!

Recipe of the Week: Cinnamon, Banana Crock Pot Oatmeal

1 Cup of Steel Cut Oats

1 Ripe Banana- Mashed

¼ Cup Of Chopped Walnuts

2 Cups of Cashew Milk

4 Tbsp of Ground Chia Seeds

2 Tbsp of Flax Seed Meal

2 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp Vanilla

½ tsp Nutmeg

– Combine all ingredients and cook in crockpot on low for 8 hours. When finished feel free to add sliced bananas, walnuts or honey to it.

Playlist to Get Your Morning Jamming:

While fast runners can run 3 miles in 15-21 minutes and moderate runners can run in 21- 33 minutes I am none of the above. My goal is to run under 36 minutes. So therefore I made a playlist for that amount of time with songs that fire me up in the morning. You should create your own list with songs that get you going. As I get faster I will create playlists with fewer songs.

(4:51) We Didn’t Start the Fire- Billy Joel

(3:26) Happy Girl- Martina McBride

(4:07) Work B**ch- Britney Spears

(3:23) Fight Song- Rachel Platten

(3:16) I’m Alright- Jo Dee Messina

(3:31) Black Magic- Little Mix

(3:04) Dear Future Husband- Meghan Trainer

(3:19) Shut up and Dance- Walk the Moon

(3:45) Country Girl (Shake It for Me)- Luke Bryan

(3:20) Bye Bye Bye- N’Sync- Bringing it home with an oldie but goodie

What to look forward to on my next Blog: 15 Minute Meal Preparation For When You Don’t Have Time For More, Which Lately Seems To Be Everyday.

Hello World

Hello world!  Let me introduce myself to you.  My name is Mary Anna and I live on Hilton Head Island with my fiance and two dogs.  When you talk to my mailman he will tell you that, looking at my mail, I am an extremely active and healthy person.  I subscribe to every health and fitness magazine, belong to a gym, a Bikram yoga studio, and am constantly making purchases for new health videos and books.  Ok, now it is time to be real.  I am the farthest thing from a fitness guru or health junky.  I definitely have tried but every time I try to do something healthy other EXTREMELY important things come up, like brunch or girls night.  Like most of America I have a full-time job, bills, and outside responsibilities.  I travel a lot and I am constantly having new things pop up in my life.  I would love to have abs like Britney Spears in her prime but who in the world has the time.  On top of that how can I be a health nut and balance out the rest of my life.  Give up alcohol and chocolate for life, be real!  That is CRAZY TALK!  No more binge watching lifetime movies on my down time… no thank you (at this point and time feel free to judge me)!  On the other side of the coin I would love to feel and look great.  So how in the world am I going to do this.  Well this is what my blog will be about.  I am taking six months to figure out how to balance my life and live a healthy life style while still having a good time.

The first thing I know that I need to do is figure out what’s important to me.  I go crazy when my life feels out of balance.  I may go to hot yoga for 10 days straight and feel great but then I miss my friends so much that I end up going out with them every night for a week.  Everything in life requires balance.  I know everyone is different but to me the following 10 things are what I need to make sure I do not neglect.

1. My Health-  This means diet and exercise.  Now don’t get me wrong I am not someone who goes running for five hours and say “wow that was so much fun I had a great time running”.  No I am the girl who looks like she is about to collapse on the ground and is saying “I hate this, I hate this, I hate this…. if that person running with a smile on their face tries to talk to me I am going to use my last bit of energy to trip them”.  Yep that’s me!  That’s what I have to change!  Time to start enjoying getting healthy!

2.  My Fiance- I am crazy blessed to have an amazing fiance and it is important to me that we have our time together.  Date nights and fun time spent together is something I treasure and something I am not willing to give up.  The question that always pops into my head is, can we have a date that doesn’t involve martinis, wine and a 2,500 calorie dinner?  This is going to take some extensive research but no fear readers I am on the mission!

3. My Friends- I am such a social person!  I love being with my friends and spending as much time with them as possible.  I actually go a little nuts if I go even as much as four days without spending time with any of them.  Now like date night how do I spend time with my friends without having bottomless mimosas at brunch or margaritas, chips, and salsa at the weekly fireworks?  This won’t be easy but with my friend’s support we will conquer this task together!

4. My Family- My family does not live on the island but it is so important to me to keep in touch with them as often as possible.  My fiance and I are fortunate enough to have the best families ever who are very supportive of us.  We try to visit them as often as possible and when they are in town we always make sure to carve out time for them.

5. My Dogs- My loving boxer and lab are so important to me.  I do not want them to be forgotten in my new crazy life style.  And even now I feel guilty that I don’t get them to the beach enough.

6. My Job- I have a great job!  I am an event planner and writer.  Which means my schedule is all over the place.  It also means I can work some crazy hours.

7. Spirituality- This means different things to different people.  To me it means feeling close to God, whether at church or on the beach and taking time to meditate for myself.

8. Charity- I love giving back.  I think it is everyone’s duty to try to make this world a better place.  I always feel at my best when I am helping others.

9. Home- I wish I was loaded and could hire someone to do my cleaning and cooking.  I also wish I could win the lottery but both of these things are just fantasies, at least for now.  Like almost everyone else out there I have dirty dishes and laundry that piles up.  I have three meals a day to prepare for my fiance and I and groceries that need to be purchased.  While I would LOVE to not concentrate on this aspect of my life unfortunately that is just not an option.

10.. SLEEP- This may seem like a nutty thing to prioritize.  But I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to focus on all of the above, seemed to be doing great, but ended up being exhausted because I didn’t have enough time to get enough sleep.  Some individuals can rock out their life with a couple of hours of sleep, I am not one of those people.  I love sleep!  I can tell when I am low on sleep because my fiance will start walking around the apartment with a helmet and protective gear on.  I become one scary person when I’m exhausted!  I need somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep a night to be content.

So wish me luck readers!  Time for my journey to begin.  I will continue to update my blog and let you know how it’s going and what I have discovered on this adventure to balance my life and become healthy.  Trust me I know this won’t be easy… MY STRUGGLE IS SO REAL!