While working in the legal field is definitely rewarding, sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in your work – so much so that you may neglect healthy eating habits. Today on the blog, we have a special guest sharing some tips on how to eat healthier without all the extra work. This blog was written by Jack Harris, a professional chef based in New York.

I’ve found that doing a little planning ahead can be very beneficial when trying to stay healthy and save money.

In the hot summer months, I like to keep the food I eat generally pretty light and, most of the time, cold. This is a big benefit of planning ahead and keeping cooking to a minimum. The less work you have to do to make a delicious and healthy meal is always better. I’ll give you my favorite three ways to do it.

bowl of grilled meats and vegetables1 ) Precooked Foods

Keep precooked foods in the fridge, ready to go.

A few hours of planning and cooking can keep your fridge full of options.

What to keep in the fridge:

  • Cooked grains and legumes: farro, barley, lentils, chickpeas, etc. Pasta gets mushy when cooked and stored in the fridge, so stick to grains and legumes. These can also be marinated ahead of time. They will generally last up to a week, and a few more days if marinated.
  • Proteins: poached shrimp and fish, roasted chicken and steak, hard or soft boiled eggs, smoked or cured salmon or anchovies.
  • Dressings and salsas: Salsa verde (chopped fresh herbs and shallots with olive oil and S&P), aioli, and vinaigrettes.
  • Raw and cooked vegetables: roasted baby carrots, blanched green vegetables (peas, asparagus, pole beans), roasted corn, shaved fennel, etc.

Having these ingredients at your disposal will make for a quick, easy, and creative meal.

Starting with your grain, maybe farro, that’s been marinated with shaved raw fennel, lemon juice and olive oil, you can add chopped roasted vegetables and mix with salsa verde and top with some poached shrimp.

Take cooked pinto beans and mix with shredded chicken, blanched peas, and avocado. Toss in a little alioli and lime juice, top with cilantro and chopped white onion, and you have a Southwest bean bowl.

One of my personal favorites is to take leftover steak, and slice over a big arugula salad with some crumbled feta, fresh tomatoes, pickled onions, and lentils. Mix with a shallot vinaigrette made from chopped shallots, sherry vinegar (or whatever vinegar you’d like), olive oil, a little honey, salt and cracked black pepper.

2) Grilled Meats and Vegetables

grilled meats and vegetablesIf you have a grill, which I assume most people in the desert do, I love to make quick and easy tacos with grilled meats and vegetables.

Making salsas ahead of time can make lunch or dinner super easy, quick, and clean. All you need is a protein, or a couple proteins, like skirt steak and a big piece of swordfish, corn or flour tortillas (corn is better ), and some fresh veggies.

You can cook everything on the grill, and while your meat or fish is resting, heat up your tortillas. Slice your meat and fish and serve with salsa, cilantro, chopped onions, and warm tortillas. Serve some grilled veggies on the side, like asparagus, sliced potatoes, and/or corn on the cob.

If you like more traditional Tex mex tacos, grab some burger patties and season with taco seasoning. Grill to desired temperature, and slice. You can top with cheddar cheese and shredded lettuce, which, in my opinion, beats cooking ground beef in a pan until it’s over cooked.

Also, making a quick and easy slaw (by shredding cabbage and mixing with lime juice, olive oil, sliced jalapeño, sliced red onion, salt and pepper, and cilantro) is perfect for fish tacos, and is actually better if made hours or a day ahead of time.

If tacos aren’t you’re thing, grill some sliced potatoes and mix with salsa verde and aioli (quick warm potato salad) and serve with grilled meat or fish.

*Pro tip: Buy a small rice cooker. It keeps cooking and clean up super simple, and you can add tons of flavor to your rice. Add a few bay leaves and some butter, or use the dripping from your roasted meat mixed with water or chicken stock to add more flavor.

3) Dessert!

I’m not a sweets guy at all really, but sometimes I need a little something extra. My favorite after meal snack is definitely cold fruit. I like to stock up when I go to the grocery store (or farmers market in the summer time).

My favorite fruits to snack on: stone fruits are the best when in season (peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries), grapes, apples, pears, berries, and oranges. Try segmenting oranges ahead of time for easy snacking.  Check out this video on how to segment: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kQr9QQLtBU0.

If you need a little extra, try making fresh whipped cream. You can control the amount of sugar and it won’t have all the stabilizers and preservatives that you’ll find in canned whipped cream. It’s about as easy as anything you can do and the flavor difference is very noticeable.

The only other thing I might go after is good chocolate. Not to sound bougie or elitist, but organic, small production chocolate is my favorite. Usually not a lot of sugar, and the flavor is super complex.

I hope these tips help; they definitely keep me from eating too much junk. Although there’s nothing wrong with a good cheeseburger every once in a while, I personally like to experiment and get creative while also keeping my eating clean.