5 Healthy, Meaty Meals That Respect Your Time and Your Body
This fantastic article was written by Gwendy Taylor, a mother of two who researches and writes about various health and wellness topics. We encourage you to check out some of her work on Diabetes Daily and Twitter!
With all the time and energy that work takes from our lives, it’s hard to put the effort toward cooking healthy food. But using the right ingredients makes things a whole lot easier. One of my favorite tricks to creating delicious, easy meals is ground meat.
With the right seasoning and sides, ground (ideally grass-fed, antibiotic free) meat is a great base for a quick and easy dinner any night of the week. Below are some of my favorite ground meat recipes, along with tips for optimizing their easy preparation and health benefits.
Ground Beef Gyros
Gyros are one of my favorite healthy meals. The main ingredients are meat, vegetables, and tzatziki, which is a yogurt sauce. We all know how good yogurt is for us!
For quick weeknight gyros, I just mix oregano, garlic, and whatever other spices I’m in the mood for and make hamburger patties. After I cook those in a skillet (you can also use a grill, griddle, or even cook them in the oven), I cut the patties into long strips, and then throw them on pita bread with tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and lots of homemade tataziki. Since the vegetables can be cut and the sauce can be mixed while the patties are cooking, this whole meal can be done in 20 minutes!
Chicken Pot stickers
Pot stickers are one of my favorite quick light meals, and making them yourself is a lot easier than you think!
These pot stickers are loaded with ingredients that are great for you. Chicken, of course, is a lean meat and a great source of protein. It also provides your body with Vitamins B6 and B12, selenium (great for your bladder, immune system, and both male and female fertility), and choline (important for liver function, muscle movement, nerve function, brain development, and more!). This recipe also has ginger and garlic, which are effective at fighting off colds and keeping your immune system function high.
This recipe required minimal cutting and is basically just throwing all the ingredients into a bowl. The most time consuming part is filling and sealing the pot stickers, and I’ve got a few tricks to speeding that up.
- 1 lb Ground Chicken
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 TBSP ground ginger
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 1 8 oz can water chestnuts, cut into small matchsticks
- 2 TBSP soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 TBSP seasoned rice vinegar
- ¼ tsp white pepper
3 dozen round wonton wrappers (also known as gyoza) (I’ve made my own wonton wrappers before, which you can make with gluten-free flour. Some stores also carry vegan and gluten free wonton wrappers.)
- Mix all filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Make sure not to over-mix, as it will dry out the meat.
- Lay out wonton wrappers on a flat surface. Spoon filling onto middle of wrappers, about 1 TBSP per pot sticker. By filling all pot stickers at once, instead of filling one then folding it, you save a lot of time. This also allows you to make sure the filling is evenly spread between all the dumplings.
- Set a small bowl of water by your pot stickers. With your fingers, rub water along the edge of each wrapper. then fold wrapper in half, which will result in a half moon shape. Pinch the edges together with your fingers to create the crimped style often seen on pot stickers.
- Heat up 1 TBSP of your favorite cooking oil in a large skillet. Place pot stickers evenly in pan and brown one side. Then add ½ cup water to the pan and steam for about 10 minutes or until water is gone.
- While your pot stickers are steaming, whip up these 15 minute garlic fried rice noodles. You can even soak the noodles while the pot stickers are steaming, then remove the completed pot stickers and use the same pan to fry the noodles! 1-pot dinner in the bag!
Tip: Figure out how many pot stickers you want to eat that night, then put the rest flat on a baking tray in the freezer to be bagged once they’re frozen. Easy lunch or snack for later in the week! You’re making multiple meals at once and it won’t even seem like leftovers!
Whether you have a fire pit in your yard or are looking for quick camping meals, tin foil or parchment paper meals are a major time saver. You can make a quick tin foil casserole by throwing ground meat, vegetables and spices of your choice into foil and cooking over the fire for 30 minutes. You can even do this in the oven and have a living room camping trip! The link above has a base recipe as well as some other ideas for tin foil meals!
Meatballs are one of the easiest ground meat recipes to make, and they are so versatile! Here are my favorite turkey meatballs. I love to make a big batch and freeze them for use in meatball sandwiches, pastas, or just to heat up as a high-protein snack!
Homemade Taco Hamburger Helper
When I was growing up, I’d often cook dinner for my brothers and I on nights my mom worked late. One of our go-to meals was hamburger helper. Of course, now I scoff at that box full of preservatives and more sodium than anyone needs to consume in a week, let alone one day. Once I started cooking for myself, I realized that I could make a tastier, healthier version of hamburger helper in the exact same amount of time as the boxed version.
- 1 lb ground beef (I use 93% lean, or sometime 85%. I don’t recommend going lower, as it gets really fatty).
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ a yellow onion, diced
- ½ a green bell pepper, diced
- 1TBSP chili powder
- ½ TBSP paprika
- ½ TBSP Cumin
- ¾ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 cups non-dairy milk of your choice
- 2 cups colby-jack cheese
- 8 oz your favorite short-noodle gluten-free pasta
- Brown your ground beef in a large skillet. When you turn the meat the first time, add the onions.
- When the meat is almost brown, add the garlic and bell pepper. Saute until peppers are almost soft. If there is more than a TBSP of fat left in your skillet, drain before continuing.
- Add in seasonings and mix well to completely coat the meat.
- Add pasta and milk to the pan. Make sure pasta is almost completely covered by liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for 10 minutes or until pasta is done, stirring occasionally.
- Add in cheese and stir until melted.
- Top with your favorite taco toppings like cilantro, sour cream, olives, tomatoes or tortilla chips.
One of the many great things about this recipe is how customizable it is. Change the seasonings so it’s Asian-themed by replacing cumin and chili powder with ginger and soy sauce. Make it Greek by adding kalamata olives and using feta cheese. Serve it on a pita. Wrap it in burritos. You can even take it camping. The possibilities are endless. Best of all, it’s a one-pot meal, so you won’t need to spend a lot of time doing dishes!
As you can tell by now, working with ground meat is often as easy as throwing ingredients in a bowl, mixing it up and throwing it on some heat. With all the time you’ll save on prep and dishes, you’ll be able to spend more time with your family, which is also important for your health!
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