We know the facts: Preparing meals at home is good for your health and your wallet. But let’s face it, with minimal free time and other priorities taking up space in our schedules (think: long hours at work, significant others, keeping in touch with family, maybe even a workout here and there), spending hours or even minutes in the kitchen isn’t always at the top of our to-do lists.
READ 26 Healthy and Portable Mason Jar Meals
But before you give in to endless Seamless clicking, becoming a regular at the Chinese place near the office, or living off of frozen meals, know that in the time it takes to watch your favorite cat videos on YouTube, you can make a nutritious, home-cooked meal. All of these recipes are easy and healthy—and ready in 10 minutes, tops. No matter what meal of the day—including make-and-take breakfasts and lunches—this is fast food that health experts would approve of.
Photo: Spoonful of Flavor
Forget flavored oatmeal packets and go au naturel with this oatmeal that’s reminiscent of a cobbler. With fresh peaches, chopped pecans (or your nut of choice), and cinnamon, it will satisfy your sweet tooth so much that you may find yourself making it for dessert.
Photo: Pinch Of Yum
Avocado toast is all the rage, but adding a poached egg takes it to a new level and completes the trifecta of nutrition: protein, fats, and carbs. Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs sprinkled on top make it look and taste fancy.
Photo: Ambitious Kitchen
A stack of homemade flapjacks doesn’t take that long—and these are high protein and free of gluten. But they still taste amazing and fluffy, thanks to bananas, oats, vanilla, and of course blueberries.
Photo: Buns In My Oven
A Southern classic, cheesy grits don’t have to be a complete fat and calorie bomb. Cook them in water rather than milk and omit the butter. But keep the cheddar (the two tablespoons per serving here keeps this gooey and rich and provides almost 10 percent of your daily calcium), then add eggs for staying power, chopped chives to lend a slightly oniony flavor, and garlic, which makes everything taste better.
Photo: Marin Mama Cooks
Fabulous as it is, quinoa takes some time cook, and while some people have said it can be nuked, most microwaves take more than 10 minutes. But quinoa flakes—which are like oats but are a complete protein—can be ready in a flash. Cook them in your preferred milk with dried berries, then top away with nuts, nut butter, seeds, and fresh fruit.
When properly prepared, tofu is anything but blah—and this version provides as much protein as a scrambled egg. Toss the vegan staple with cheesy nutritional yeast, turmeric, cumin, and paprika (buy smoked for even more flavor), and even egg lovers will enjoy it.
Photo: Two Healthy Kitchens
This healthy, autumn-inspired oatmeal combines pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and vanilla to give it a pie flavor, then tops it all off with dried cranberries to natural sweetness.
Photo: John Autry
Morning sandwiches can be so much more than a smashed bacon, egg, and cheese eaten behind the wheel. Yes, this one does call for a fork and knife, but it’s worth it. Toasted bread is topped with spicy arugula, a good source of vitamin K, which helps blood clot. Then add an egg, salty ricotta (it has more protein than cottage cheese), Parmesan, and thyme, and it’s a sandwich like no other.
Photo: Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom
Toss your favorite breakfast meat (or skip it if you’re vegetarian), salsa, eggs, and cheese in a mug, zap for 2 minutes, and season to taste. Breakfast has never been easier to make—or clean up.
Photo: In Pursuit of More
A delicious dinner for one, this noodle bowl gets all the flavors of your fave quick-cook noodle cups without the icky additives. Rice noodles provide the bulk of this vegetarian-friendly bowl that uses boxed butternut squash soup as the base for fast cooking. Pea shoots taste like, well, peas, and are rich in vitamins A and C and folic acid, but use spinach if you can’t find them.
Photo: The Noshery
Rather than topping a salad with bagged croutons, whip up this Tuscan version with toasted pita bread. There’s the usual good-alone-but-better-together suspects expected in something called “Mediterranean”: tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and olives, which are key since the fats in them help your body absorb the nutrients in the veggies.
Photo: Gimme Some Oven
Colorful and crunchy, this salad is just what the doctor ordered when leafy-greens-based varieties are boring you out. Crunchy coleslaw mix and dried ramen noodles (swap in crunchy rice noodles for a healthier option) are tossed with avocado for healthy fats, edamame for protein, and mango for vision-protecting beta carotene.
Photo: Brunch Time Baker
Leftover chicken finds a new home in this quick burrito. Mix it with avocado and cheese—we’d take it one step further and toss in some peppers, onions, and maybe some greens—and cook in a pan. Bonus: Make a few at once and freeze the extras for an even faster lunch next time.
Photo: Supermarket Healthy
Bored with tuna salad? Try canned salmon mixed with creamy, slightly nutty cannellini beans, veggies, and fresh herbs for a super easy meal that’s as delicious on its own as it is in a pita, or with whole-grain crackers.
Photo: Boys Ahoy
If you always reach for the wings during game day, this is the lunch quesadilla for you. It’s spicy, creamy, and loaded with flavor. Black beans add extra fiber and protein, and green onions add a little extra zest. Feel free to scale back on the sour cream or sub Greek yogurt instead.
Photo: Taste of Home
Not only good for guacamole, moist desserts, and rich smoothies, avocados are designed to be stuffed! Remove the pit and fill the center with a mixture of tomato, feta, onion, and herbs, and it’s a filling meal that’s pretty enough to serve at a brunch—after all, not every breakfast-meets-lunch recipe should take hours to prepare.
Stuffed with tasty, healthy ingredients, quesadillas are an easy way to get a quick lunch on the table. This Tex-Mex version pairs black beans and corn with salsa, cheese, and red pepper flakes in a flour tortilla for a filling, fiber-packed meal, especially if use whole-wheat tortillas.
Photo: I Don't Go To The Gym
Italian and Mexican favorites team up for a mashup that’s better than anything mixed by a DJ. The how-to is pretty obvious: Fill a tortilla with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil; cook until the cheese is melted; then drizzle with balsamic glaze for the final, flavor-loaded touch of the salad.
Photo: Eating Well
While this recipe uses liquid eggs, substitute two whole eggs instead since the cholesterol and fat from the real thing aren’t bad for you. Add whatever herbs—fresh or dried—appeal, since all have different flavors and health benefits. Like pizza and mashed potatoes, frittata tastes just as good cold as it does hot, so go ahead and double the recipe and have the other half for breakfast.
Photo: Pumpkin 'N Spice
This is not just another turkey sandwich. Smear heart-healthy avocado and mayo on a tortilla and roll up with lettuce, provolone, and tomato. This recipe is soft, creamy, and crunchy, but view it as a starting place and play with other fillings.
Photo: The Fitchen
The addition of cashews—a good source of bone-building phosphorus, energy-producing magnesium, and other minerals—makes pesto incredibly creamy. Make the sauce in a food processor, spiralize zucchini (or use a vegetable peeler), and combine the two, then dig in!
Photo: Pinch Of Yum
Fried rice is a dream for cooks pressed on time, and this version is no exception. Leftover brown rice works best for this but, if you’re in a pinch, microwaveable rice stands in well. Peas, eggs, and corn get tossed in with salty soy sauce and rice vinegar. Mix in any of your other favorite vegetables too; you really can’t go wrong.
Photo: Love Grows Wild
Because it cooks so quickly, shrimp is the perfect protein for busy evenings. Season with paprika, cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon (yes, cinnamon; it adds warmth) for maximum taste, and sauté for just minutes in butter. Toss with fresh lime juice and a homemade honey lime dipping sauce that tempers the heat of the crustaceans.
Photo: Yellow Bliss Road
Crunchy, oven-baked corn tortillas star in this meal. Once they’re golden and crispy, top with refried beans (or any basic beans), lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese, avocado—this is one recipe to have fun with and see what combinations you can create.
Photo: The Stone Soup
With five ingredients and 10 minutes, dinner is ready. Cooking the broccoli with a Parmesan rind infuses cheesy flavor into every spoonful, and a touch of soy adds umami—that savory “something” that you can’t quite describe but taste hints of (in a good way). This pureed soup packs vitamins C, A, and B6, plus phytochemicals that may fend off cancer.
Photo: Fit Bottomed Eats
As if the ingredients alone weren’t enough to draw us in, this meal is also speedier than Usain Bolt (OK, may not). Nuke a potassium-rich sweet potato, then scrambled the insides with protein-rich eggs. Stuff all that goodness back into the tater shell and top with cilantro, avocado, salsa, and Greek yogurt. We think we’re in love.
Photo: Serious Eats
A complete seafood dinner in 10 minutes? Oh yes. While the salmon sears on the stove, toss arugula with a lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, cubed avocado, and Parmesan. Once the fish is done, plate it on top of the salad. Your heart will thank you, since two servings of fatty fish weekly may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
There’s a reason why rice and beans are so popular: They’re inexpensive and easy—but they can be boring. Not so in this flavorful take. Traditional Latin spices like sofrito, cumin, and chili powder are added to cooked rice. Toss in green chile peppers for heat, black beans for protein, and you have a full meal in no time.
Photo: I Breathe I'm Hungry
When you want chili and you want it now, pull this recipe out. Using your favorite store-bought salsa speeds things up, and there’s not even any dicing or chopping involved. Use ground lean beef or turkey, and top with your favorite fixings like sour cream, corn, avocado, or fresh-squeezed lime juice.
Photo: Six Sisters' Stuff
Forget frozen pizza or delivery—this pie is ready even faster! Use a whole-wheat pita as the crust, and top with barbecue sauce, red onion, mozzarella, and precooked chicken (leftover or rotisserie from the store work well). Microwave until the cheese is perfectly melted, and go ahead—eat the whole thing!
Photo: Eating Bird Food
Stir-fries are a natural when you want a healthy meal fast, plus they’re an easy way to pack in vegetables: This recipe includes onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and 2 cups of spinach per serving—that alone provides about a third of the daily recommendation of vitamin A, plus loads of vitamin K and some potassium, nutrients that are important for healthy eyes, bones, and heart health.
Originally published January 2015. Updated January 2016.
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