If you are into clean eating, sooner or later you will one day find yourself Googling healthy fast food recipes. At least that’s what has happened to me…
As much as I love to cook, life doesn’t always allow for elaborate meal preparations. Certain hours of the day and times of the week are more challenging than others, but when it comes to getting dinner on the table the weeknight evenings when my teenage son, Blake, and I workout together are anything but easy. Since I am also working on a major website revamp, I have not even had a minute to prep food during the workday—so the whole dinner needs to come together, from scratch, starting at 8 pm.
And I’m not giving up the workouts either. That’s because now that he is 15 years old, it has become increasingly difficult to find things Blake and I can do together (that he actually likes to do!) We’ve long outgrown bedtime stories, after school park dates and even homework—Blake is 2 full grades ahead in math and he’s at the point in school where there is hardly a single subject I can even dream of helping him with. But working out together really has been such a special way for us to connect. I normally like to workout in the mornings but with his school schedule the only time we can exercise together is several nights during the school week.
But dinner is definitely the downside to workout nights. Trust me, if there were such a thing as healthy fast food delivery in our area, I would be dialing a dinner order in a minute (wish we lived closer to Bolay!)
The thing is, by the time we finish the workout at about 8:00 p.m. Blake and I are ravenous and my husband is definitely ready to eat. There are not too many things I dislike more than being hungry. And when it comes to cooking, I would have to say the only two times I really dislike it are 1) When I am too hungry to think straight and 2) When I am rushed. Of course both 1 and 2 apply on workout nights (sigh….)
My Healthy Fast Food Solution
Because of my recent post-workout dinner dilemma, I have been searching for healthy fast food ideas. And I mean REAL fast. Like 10 or 15 minute dinner fast. But they couldn’t just be healthy and fast, they had to taste good too. It’s a lot to ask for, I know, but for me, what to have for dinner has always been kind of a big deal. I can manage with a so-so breakfast and not-super-good lunch, but the day just doesn’t feel complete if dinner isn’t good. So I searched and searched for a solution…
I found my solution within the pages of Gwyneth Paltrow’s new book, It’s All Easy. Co-written with chef Thea Baumann, the book is not marketed as a clean food cookbook and not every recipe as-written is in fact “clean”, but the vast majority of the recipes are clean. And for the most part, if you are already someone who knows how to eat clean, the recipes that are not clean can easily be modified by simple swaps (use hemp or almond milk instead of whole dairy milk, use coconut sugar instead of granulated sugar, etc.)
The two recipes I tried below required no ingredient “cleanup” whatsoever. And both were the epitome of healthy fast food….
It’s All Easy Recipes for Fish in Parchment & No-Bake Coconut Key Lime Tarts
The first two healthy fast food recipes I tried from the book were the no-bake Coconut Key Lime Tarts and the fish in parchment Asian Steamed Halibut with Scallions and Bok Choy (I used Chilean Sea Bass instead of Halibut). Considering my husband, Andy, is a key lime pie connoisseur—so much so that he insisted we serve the Florida State Pie at our wedding back in 2000—the fact that he gave the Key Lime tarts two thumbs up is kind of a big deal. Since I didn’t even have to turn on the oven to make them, I have a feeling Andy will be seeing more of Gwyneth’s tarts than my Key Lime Pie in the upcoming future 😉
And honestly, although I did not use the same fish called for in her recipe, Gwyneth’s Chilean Sea Bass was about the best I have ever had. Hands down, Chilean Sea Bass is my favorite fish (so much so that we served that too at our wedding) and I have tried and tested umpteen different Chilean Sea Bass recipes in the past, but I’m telling you, the one from the book is downright delicious.
I did make a few minor tweaks to each recipe though, only because there has yet to be a recipe I follow exactly as printed. Ever. Here are the tweaks I made:
- To the Coconut Key Lime Tarts: I felt they could use a wee-bitty bit more almond flour (I added about 1/4 cup more than the recipe called for). And I added an extra tablespoon of coconut sugar, for no other reason other than I have a sweet tooth.
- To the Fish in Parchment: I used our wedding fish, Chilean Sea Bass, instead of Halibut. I also added some freshly grated turmeric, only because I am obsessed lately with doing everything I can to activate my Nrf2 pathway.
It’s All Easy Will Make You THINK Before You Cook…
To me, a truly great cookbook always offers so much more than just a bunch of new recipes. A great cookbook will make you approach cooking in a whole new light. And that’s exactly what Gwyneth’s cookbook has done for me. It’s gotten me to think before I cook.
Hyper-focused on the concept of using the least amount of ingredients possible, It’s All Easy dishes out a collection of recipes that not only live up to the title, but compromise nothing in flavor. And I mean nothing. As someone who cooks a lot, I would bet Gwyneth and Thea spent far more time researching and carefully thinking through each and every single recipe than they actually had to spend in the kitchen cooking. And trust me, the thinking and planning part is not easy! It is considerably more difficult to create an incredibly delicious recipe using just a handful of ingredients and the bare minimum of steps than it is to work with countless spices, vegetables, condiments, etc. with no limit on the complexity or number of cooking steps involved.
But beyond the 130 delicious recipes in the book, It’s All Easy will get you to approach mealtime in a whole new light. Instead of heading into the kitchen ravenous and pulling out umpteen different ingredients (and simultaneously making a colossal mess!), the book will get you to THINK before you cook. The thinking part takes more effort than the cooking part—but just like a good investment, it pays big dividends. If you can collect just a handful of out-of-this-world recipes that your whole family loves and you can throw them together literally in minutes, then the cooking part really will be easy. And mealtime will be memorable…in a good way.
If you are a devoted clean eater, don’t expect every single recipe in It’s All Easy to be squeaky clean, but I promise you will find more than a handful of new ultra-clean healthy fast food staple recipes that you will want to cook over and over. I’ve already made the 7-ingredient (minus the salt and pepper) fish in parchment and the no-cook Key Lime Tarts twice in two weeks, which is practically unheard of for me. The recipes have definitely made my post workout dinner nights easier. And tastier.