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Cooking for Healthy Aging: Recipes for a Happy Future!

Studies have shown that some diets correlate to healthy and happy aging. Watch this clip from the film about cooking for a healthy brain.

Sue Stillman Linja (L) SeAnne Safaii-Waite (R)

5 Minute Meals from Sue and SeAnne

“I don’t have time to cook!”

This is one of the most common things we hear from clients about why they can’t eat nutritious meals. No more excuses…….healthy meals can be made in a matter of 5 minutes. Unlike many dietitians, we are not master chefs.

We would rather be outside playing, not inside cooking, so take it from us, eating healthy can be done in a jiffy! Here are some tried and true ideas to make quick, easy, healthy meals for you and your family.

Refrigerator Must Haves:

  • Big box or bag of fresh spinach, arugula and salad varieties, including cabbage shreds. Boost the nutrition in a basic green salad by adding a cup of chopped spinach, arugula or cabbage. Add spinach or arugula to a frozen pizza, smoothies, rice, quinoa, eggs/omelets or many of the recipes below.
  • Salsa, teriyaki, pesto, sweet and sour, marinara, sesame ginger sauce or your own favorite sauces. Have a vinaigrette made and ready for use at all times.
  • Pre-cut fresh (or frozen vegetables) – keep a variety of your favorites on hand.
  • Eggs, leftover cooked chicken or meat, plain yogurt OR tofu, hummus, tempeh, beans (kidney, black, cannellini, pinto, garbonzo), plant-based meat crumbles or meatless burgers.
  • When you make brown rice, pasta, quinoa or other grain, double the recipe and store the extras for easy meal add-ins.

5 Minute Recipe Ideas:

3 Ingredient Stir Fry

Heat up a pan with some a couple teaspoons of oil over medium heat. Add tofu, fully cooked meat such as a rotisserie chicken, plant-based meat crumbles, chicken or tempeh to the pan. Add your favorite veggies until tender and then add your sauce. Serve on top of a bed of leftover brown rice or quinoa—or make some minute rice. It can also be served over greens or shredded cabbage for less carbs and more fiber.

English Muffin Pizza (a kid favorite)

Using a whole wheat English muffin or bagel, spread on some marinara sauce and any cheese or toppings you like. Pop it in the oven until the cheese is melted. Takes 2 minutes tops! Serve with a healthy salad from your green and veggie selection and top with the vinaigrette.

Veggie Scramble

Heat 1-2 tsp of olive oil in a saute pan. Add your favorite vegetables and a cup of spinach – saute for a couple minutes. Add 1/3 cup liquid eggs or 2 whole whipped eggs and 2-3 tablespoons pesto, salsa or other favorite sauce and cook all together. Serve over 1/2 whole grain bagel or in a tortilla and don’t forget to include your favorite fruit on the side.

Hummus Bowls

Spread hummus around the bottom of the bowl and add whatever toppings you would like—shredded carrots, beets, cucumbers, tomatoes, shredded spinach, chicken—and top with a dollop of plain low-fat yogurt. Use a whole wheat pita for dipping.


Using 2 whole wheat tortillas add any veggies, beans or cheese of your choice in between them (one tortilla and fold in half for an individual serving). Cook over medium heat until all is heated through or the cheese is melted the tortilla is crispy. Serve with tomato soup, salsa or guacamole. Add your own spices for heat.

Cauliflower or Brown Fried Rice

Heat a pan with 1-2 tsp olive oil. Sauté riced cauliflower or brown rice. Add your choice of pre-chopped or frozen veggies, a protein source (egg, plant-based crumbles or cooked Beyond Beef burgers work well) and your favorite asian-style or teriyaki sauce. Heat all the way through or until egg is cooked. This is delicious and colorful and one of my favorites.

Quick Chili

Open a can of your favorite beans, drain and add to a saucepan. Add 1/4 cup salsa and heat until boiling. Eat alone or serve over a bed of spinach or arugula. Top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream. A piece of fruit or whole grain toast completes the meal.

Meal in a Bag—Salad

Eating a salad every day is a great idea, but it can require a lot of prep. Chopped salad kits sold in bags in the produce section of most grocery stores are a convenient way to add more green to your diet. You can enhance these with a chopped pear or apple, red onion, nuts, cherry tomatoes, chicken or meat alternate, dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries, nuts and a small amount crumbled gorgonzola, bleu, feta or parmesan cheese. Try to use vinaigrette dressings or simply olive oil, cider vinegar, lemon juice and garlic.

Indian-Spiced Veggies and Protein

Saute tofu, cooked chicken (maybe left over from the rotisserie) and/or paneer (Indian Cheese) and frozen veggies together in a pan. Add curry powder, salt, garlic, minced onion and lemon juice. Serve with rice, couscous, beans, lentils or quinoa. Don’t forget to either add your daily dose of greens to the pan or eat a salad on the side.

Chilled Burrito Bowl

Place a corn or whole grain tortilla into the bottom of a quart-sized bowl. Add 2-3 cups of greens, 1/2 cup of beans, chopped tomato and onion, cooked meat/meat sub and a little cheese (if you’d like), 1/4 cup of salsa or enchilada sauce, a dab of cottage cheese, sour cream or guacamole. Enjoy!

There you have it—10 days of healthy meals that can be made in 5 minutes. No more excuses😊

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