Healthy Fast Foods for Nurses & CNAs!

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Like it the old fashioned way?

It’s time for another installment from our guest blogger, Linda Shapiro, a.k.a. Meal Planning Maven. After all, none of us can maintain the energy for lifelong learning if we don’t nourish our bodies properly! For those of us who really don’t have the time or inclination to do a lot of cooking each week, Linda has the answers. Keep reading to find out more!

Last time, MPM chatted with you about the importance of taking time to prepare healthy lunches to bring to work. Hopefully you found some of her Favorite Pack ‘n Go Lunches enticing and doable. But let’s face it, with your busy work schedule, you probably have few spare moments to get near the kitchen. So what are the alternatives? Eat meals out everyday? Making a habit of frequenting fast food and quickie restaurants will blow your food budget in no time. And, if you’re not careful, the calories pile up, causing an expanding belly and other undesired side effects such as increased blood pressure and lipids from excess salt and fats.

Happily, there is at least some good news.

Just a few years ago, if you wanted to find a healthier convenience food, you were limited to shopping at specialty natural and organic stores. The prices were quite high and the selection minimal. However, today, more than ever, there is a plethora of more reasonable choices available in local supermarkets such as Publix, Giant, Harris Teeter, Kroger, Safeway, Sweet Bay, Wegman’s and more. Due to customer demand, most of these markets have significantly expanded their selection of natural and organic entrees and products, allowing you to pick up everything from packaged snacks to a complete dinner along with the rest of your shopping list. Many of these foods are even vegetarian and/or gluten free!

Before you buy, become a label detective.

Most food products have enticing labels, making it easy to believe they are wholesome and good for you. The sad truth is that it’s rare to find a convenience meal with a perfect nutritional profile. So, evaluate the Nutrition Facts carefully before you buy. Minimally, if whole foods do not appear at the top of the ingredient list, keep looking. MPM doesn’t want to find meals in your shopping cart that are laden with calories, sodium, soy, preservatives, chemical additives–but low in nourishing vitamins, minerals and fiber! Strive to make selections that are good sources of protein, whole grains, vegetables and/or fiber and that show sodium below 600 mg and fat less than 30% of total calories. Be calorie conscious and pay attention to serving sizes. Do you enjoy an entree that is higher in sodium or carbs than you’d prefer but otherwise has a reasonable profile? Then just make wise choices the rest of the day by choosing simple whole foods like lean proteins, salads, veggies and fruit.

Getting in good nutrition FAST can be easier than you think.

For busy healthcare professionals like you, MPM has created a simple On-the-Go Meal Plan, balancing healthier convenience foods with readily available fresh whole foods. Use this meal plan as a basic template for those days when cooking entire meals is just not an option.

Better-for-you convenience foods that have earned MPM’s stamp of approval.

MPM is forever scouring supermarket, convenience and specialty food stores for healthier packaged complete meals, mini meals and sides that are worthy of your consideration. As ingredients and recipes change, always refer to individual products for current information. Check back often as this collection will be updated frequently to reflect new discoveries.

Real world pressures call for real world healthy eating strategies.

In a perfect world, preparing all our food from scratch as much as possible is always optimal. However, if choosing some of these better-for-you convenience foods will keep you from living in the fast food lane, then MPM is all for it. Just do your homework and proceed with caution.

Have a bit of time to play in the kitchen?

Confetti Turkey Chili pulls double duty for tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch.

Yo-Fruity Crunch Sundaes whip up in seconds for a healthy breakfast on-the-run.

String Bean’n Cherry Tomato
Sauté pairs great with a simple burger for Dinner in a Flash.

Intrigued? Find more quick and healthy recipes like these on MPM’s website.

Linda Shapiro, Meal Planning Maven

About Linda: Along with her lifelong passion as an ardent recipe collector and cooking enthusiast, Linda earned a BS in Nutrition Food Science and Clinical Dietetics from Drexel University. After completing her internship at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, she practiced clinical and administrative nutrition in the Philadelphia area for several years. Eventually, it became evident her true calling was combining her love for recipes and cooking with planning healthy, quick, budget-conscious meals. For the past six years, she has provided Personal Meal Planning and Food Coaching Services for private clients. She has also worked as an editor, meal planner, recipe creator and food product tester for a nationally known nutritionist and N.Y Times Best Sellers List author. Additionally, she has worked on recipes for articles in First for Women and Woman’s World magazines.

Can Meal Planning Maven Help You?

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