Today’s Happy Note: Meeting my new students! I volunteer with high schoolers in NYC public schools and love it. Some of them told me that I have really strong arms and legs, randomly. I guess all my strength training and running pay off (although in reality the benefit for me is mostly mental — I want to look fit, but I don’t have a pathological need to “look good” — I’m past that stage, thank God)!
Marathon Training: During my hilly 9-miler this morning, I realized that my half-marathon on Saturday is not gonna be easy. I have already run 39 miles this week and will probably do 3 or so tomorrow. Saturday will include the half-mary plus an extra 5 for a grand total of 18 and 60 for the whole week. Wow. Holy crap. That’s a lot of miles.
I need new shoes just thinking about it.
Today was another super busy day of running, classes, therapy, more classes, volunteering and….law school fair! This probably sounds really boring to you, but applying to law school is actually something I’m genuinely excited about. Every time I find a new school that seems fun and vibrant and has good programs in the areas I’m interested in, I add it to The List. The List is getting bigger every day.
I haven’t felt so thrilled about most big changes or decisions in my life. But, like my decision to leave school in the second half of my sophomore year, this is just something that I feel clearly and simply right about. In my heart.
All this is to say that my life is crazy busy right now, just like so many of your lives! And I want to share with you my favorite easy dinners (and easy dinner-making tips) for when life gets like this.
Sometimes I get home at 8 or 9 and I. Do. Not. Want. To. Cook.
Chopping vegetables and coming up with complicated fish marinades can be relaxing. But not when you haven’t eaten in six hours and you’re ready to eat the damn non-stick pan you’re cooking with.
Speedy-but-healthy weeknight dinner tips:
- Do not fear the afternoon snack. I always have one between three and five. Usually something relatively large. A good afternoon snack means that you’ll have the time and energy to prepare a tasty, healthy dinner.
- If you can, prep your vegetables on the weekend. I like to either make a giant stir-fry over the weekend or just cut up a few cups of sliced carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, or whatever is in season and in my fridge!
- Simple does not necessarily mean bad. When you’re pressed for time and money, fancy is rarely an option, in fact. Pick simple proteins and fats. Don’t buy a live lobster or a 10 pound complicated rack of lamb. Some of my favorite choices: eggs, hummus and cheese, salmon (cooks quickly!), natural/organic deli turkey, canned beans, canned tuna, quinoa, frozen pre-cooked shrimp, extra firm tofu, and nut butters, of course. You can spice up a simple protein relatively easily and quickly.
- You don’t need a lot of equipment but the essentials are, well, essential. A cutting board (or a very sturdy plastic plate that I may or may not use as a cutting board), a good knife, a measuring cup, a glass mixing bowl or two, a good spatula, a wooden spoon, a pot, and a non-stick pan.
- Invest in some spices and sauces that you can throw into a dish to take it to the next level: salsa, hummus, peanut vinaigrette, green chiles, lemon pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, seedy mustard, guacamole, etc.
And without further ado, easy weeknight dinners in pictures!
I tend to go for easy stir-fry comobs. This was the one I mentioned yesterday — broccoli, onion, sweet potato, tofu, and peanut sauce. I paired it with some TJ’s carrot ginger soup. Soups, provided that they’re low in sodium and don’t have crazy ingredients, can be great sides or main dishes if you add in some fillers.
Sweet potatoes are really easy to steam in the microwave! I topped mine with turkey here, but you can also use beans, greek yogurt, nut butter — whatever. Paired with a side salad, dinner was good to go.
Sometimes you just need a Smoothie In A Bowl for dinner. Throw on some granola and nuts for toppings to make it heartier. And pair it with a side salad if you’re weird like I am and don’t mind veggies with your smoothie.
Omelets or egg scrambles are always a good choice! Tonight I had one stuffed with broccoli, green pepper, and cheddar, with a bowl of oatmeal on the side. Breakfast for dinner is usually quick and always tasty!
These have all been dinners from just this week. It’s easier than you think to be creative but tasty. Inexpensive yet healthy.
Some of my other favorite weekday dinners include quinoa with beans mixed in, salmon baked up with soy sauce, ginger, maple and roasted veggies, whole grain pasta with marinara and local grass-fed ground beef, wraps with avocado, hummus, spinach, and tuna…the list goes one.
Your favorite quick and easy dinners?
Because let’s face it. We can’t all be Julia Child all the time.
I have more exciting (and important) things to do than cook dinner. BUT I still want to be nourished and satisfied. These tips and dinners fit the bill.