With some planning and foresight, you'll always have some muscle-building meals at hand.
Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D. 1 / 10
Sometimes, the everyday hustle and bustle of life gets in the way of healthy eating. But with a little advance planning, prep, and multi-tasking, you can easily have a quick, muscle-building meal on your table within 10 minutes.
Whip up a few of these recipes, and you'll be chowing down in no time.
Turkey BLT Avocado Salad
You can easily shave off about 5 minutes of prep time by whipping up the dressing in advance. The rest you can quickly toss together to get a whopping 31 grams of protein and a healthy dose of fiber.
Plan ahead for this Korean dish (which means “mixed rice”) by marinating the tofu the night before. If tofu isn’t your thing, substitute chicken, marinate, and cook in advance. Also, prep your mise-en-place—all the pre-slicing and dicing of the veggies—cover, and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to toss everything together in the skillet.
Ingredients 3 tablespoons sesame oil 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste) 1 (15-ounce) package firm tofu, pressed, cut into 2-inch triangles 2 medium carrots, sliced into matchstick pieces 2 small zucchinis, sliced into matchstick pieces 1 large bell pepper, sliced into matchstick pieces 2 garlic cloves, minced 3 cups cooked short or medium grain brown rice (according to package directions) 1 large bunch greens (chard, bok choy, spinach), coarsely chopped 1/4 cup water 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1) Whisk together 2 tablespoons sesame oil, rice vinegar, and gochujang to make the marinade.
2) Place tofu in a microwave safe dish and pour half of the marinade over the tofu and marinate for 10 minutes. Place tofu with marinade in the microwave and heat for 4 minutes. Do not drain liquid.
3) Meanwhile, place carrots, zucchini, and pepper in a baking sheet (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) in a thin layer, sprinkle with garlic, and roast in the top shelf of an oven (400 F) until crisp tender—about 5-8 minutes.
4) While the vegetables are roasting, heat a large skillet until very hot. Brush the bottom and sides of the skillet with the remaining sesame oil (1 tablespoon) Press cooked rice into the bottom of the skillet evenly, using a spoon. Place back on medium heat, cover, and cook for about 7 minutes, until rice begins to get golden around the sides (do not stir).
5) While the rice is cooking, place greens in a medium pan with water and steam just until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Drain any remaining water.
6) When rice and vegetables are done, it’s time to assemble the dish. Remove the lid off the skillet and arrange greens, vegetables, and tofu (with marinade) on top. Drizzle remaining reserved marinade over skillet and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately right out of skillet into bowls.
A typical Monte Cristo sandwich is fried in butter and topped with powdered sugar—and that means close to 1200 calories and 70 grams of fat. This version, on the other hand, can be whipped up in 10 minutes and contains 441 calories and 12 grams of fat, along with 34 grams of muscle-making protein.
Ingredients 2 slices whole wheat bread 2 tablespoons red raspberry jam 1 teaspoon mustard 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped 1 slice Swiss cheese 3-4 slices turkey breast (fresh from deli) 1 egg 2 tablespoons low fat or non-dairy milk
1) In a medium bowl, beat together egg and milk and set aside. In a separate small bowl, make sauce by combining raspberry jam, mustard, and rosemary.
2) Preheat skillet over medium-high heat, spray well with non-stick cooking spray.
3) Spread the mustard-jam sauce onto both slices of bread. Add the Swiss cheese and turkey. Put together the slices of bread to make sandwich and lightly dip both sides of the sandwich into egg/milk mixture. Place sandwich onto skillet and cook about 3 minutes each side (flipping when lightly browned). Slice in half and serve warm.
Sometimes dinner doesn’t have to be a traditional chicken-and-rice dish. You can quickly build a savory parfait using leftover quinoa, Greek yogurt, and ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. It’s a simple meal that’ll give you a well-rounded dose of protein, healthy fat, and filling fiber.
Ingredients 2 cups cooked quinoa 1 cup finely diced cucumber 1/2 cup loosely packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons minced, fresh parsley Pinch of salt 3 cups plain low fat Greek yogurt 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 cup sliced pitted black olives 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1) Combine quinoa, cucumber, sun dried tomatoes, red wine vinegar, parsley, and salt. Mix well and set aside.
2) In a separate bowl, mix yogurt with minced garlic.
3) In a tall round goblet or parfait cup, layer about ⅓ cup yogurt then 2 tablespoons of sliced black olives and then ½ cup quinoa mixture. Repeat with another ⅓ cup of yogurt. Then top with 2 more tablespoons of black olives. Lastly, sprinkle top with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts.
To cut back on cooking time, cook the brown rice noodles, broccoli, and edamame the night before. When you’re ready to eat, heat all the ingredients in a pot or skillet, and you’re good to go. If you want even more protein, opt for quinoa noodles and add leftover chicken.
8 ounces cooked brown rice or quinoa noodle 1 head broccoli, cut into florets 1/2 cup frozen edamame 1 tablespoon sesame or canola oil 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup peanut butter 1-2 tablespoon sriracha Splash of low sodium soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free) Salt and pepper to taste Chopped scallions, for garnish
1) When boiling noodles according to the package instructions, towards the end, steam broccoli and edamame in the same pot. Drain water from the noodles and veggies and rinse the pot. This step should be done in advance.
2) Heat a pot over a medium flame. Add oil, cooked broccoli and edamame and pour water, peanut butter, sriracha, and soy sauce until combined.
3) Gently toss in noodles and mix together until well combined.
4) Garnish with scallions and more sriracha if desired right before serving.
Stir-fries are one of the quickest meals you can whip up. Purchasing bagged and pre-cut vegetables also helps cut down on any measuring and prep time. The prepared peanut vinaigrette may add some sugar, but you can cut back on that by making your own several days in advance instead of opting for store-bought. Also, don’t forget to defrost the shrimp in the refrigerator the night before or the morning before you leave for work.
1 (24-ounce) bag of green beans 1 (8-ounce) bag of shredded carrots 1 (9-ounce) bag of snow peas 1/2 large onion, sliced 1/2 jar (6-fluid ounces) of peanut vinaigrette (I like Trader Joe’s) 1 pound defrosted shrimp
1) Heat a large wok or skillet over medium heat.
2) Add all ingredients except the shrimp and cook until vegetables are tender.
Vegetable Fried Rice with Almond Teriyaki Sauce Main
For another easy one-pot meal, use leftover brown rice (or quinoa), toss it with vegetables and almonds, and top it with an over-easy egg cooked using non-stick cooking oil. It’s a speedy way to get in four food groups.
Ingredients 1 onion, diced 1 small package (10 oz) frozen green beans 2 tablespoons slivered almonds 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce 1/4 cup almond butter 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 cups cooked brown rice (I like quick-cooking) Cooking oil spray 4 eggs
1) In a large non-stick pan, sauté onion pieces in a thin layer of water. When the onions become translucent, add almonds and teriyaki sauce. Add minimal water as needed; when liquid begins to absorb, mix in green beans and almond butter. Add cooked rice to pan, mixing in garlic and cayenne pepper.
2) Meanwhile, spray a medium nonstick pan with cooking oil spray, and “fry” eggs.
3) Divide vegetable-and-rice mixture into four bowls, topping each bowl with a fried egg.
Don’t be afraid of butter and bacon. Check the ingredient list below and you’ll notice there's only 1 teaspoon of butter per sandwich and two slices of bacon. If you don’t want to use traditional bacon, swap it for turkey or Canadian bacon instead. If you don’t have a panini press, grill in sandwich in a skillet over medium heat, turning once, until the bread is toasted and the cheese has melted (about 3 minutes!).
The leg, loin, and rack of lamb are considered lean meats so make them part of your weeknight dinner repertoire and use leftovers for these tasty pitas. To save time, make the tzatziki several days in advance and store in the refrigerator.
Ingredients For the Mint Tzatziki 3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt 1/2 cup peeled, coarsely grated cucumber 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt 2 cloves garlic, minced 4 whole wheat pita bread rounds 2 cups chopped or shredded romaine lettuce 1 1/2 cups small pieces leftover roasted boneless leg of lamb 3/4 cup chopped tomato 1/2 cup thinly slivered red onion
1) Stir together all tzatziki ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
2) Cut each pita round in half. Open carefully and fill with lettuce, lamb, tomato and onion. Serve with Mint Tzatkiki Sauce.