4 Bariatric-Friendly Dinners in 15 Minutes or Less

Article By: Maria Tucker, MPH, RDN, LDN, CDCES

Maria Tucker is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 20 years of experience assisting patients with diabetes, obesity, and nutrition-related conditions. Maria is also the Founder of MyBiyaya.com, a site dedicated to healthy recipes and kitchen shortcuts.

We’ve all been there — finding yourself driving home from work and thinking, “What am I going to cook for dinner?” As a Registered Dietitian specializing in weight management and bariatric surgery, patients often tell me that they get “stuck in a rut” with food options when following a post-WLS meal pattern.

Patients get tired of eating the same meals over and over and/or having to prepare different meals for themselves and their family members who may not want to eat healthier options. Time constraints sometimes prevent patients from trying new recipes. Some patients even worry that having bariatric surgery means spending a lot more time in the kitchen cooking homemade meals. Not necessarily so, I would say!

If you have 15 minutes to spare, you can prepare healthy recipes to feed yourself and your family! Here are a few quick and easy recipes for you to try with each recipe serving 4 people.

1) Blackened chicken salad. Take 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cut them in half. Place chicken breasts in a gallon-size zipper lock bag. Season the chicken breasts in the bag with 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.

Squeeze the chicken breasts and seasoning until evenly coated. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a non-stick pan until slightly shimmering. Add seasoned chicken breast halves and cook until slightly golden brown and cooked through, about 7-10 minutes per side with temperature reading 165°F. Cut chicken into strips and place them over store-bought mixed greens salad. Top with crumbled feta cheese. Serve with your favorite low fat or fat-free salad dressing.

2) 15-minute chili. Brown 1 pound ground chicken or turkey breast in 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add 1 small chopped onion and cook onion until translucent and soft. Add 3 chopped garlic cloves and toss.

Drain and rinse 1 (16-ounce) can each of pinto beans and red kidney beans, saving 1 tablespoon of each bean. Add beans to ground chicken in pot. Add 1 can stewed tomatoes and the seasoning — 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/4 cup medium heat salsa, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Cook chili through. Mash the saved beans and add to the chili. Serve hot, topped with 1 tablespoon of your favorite reduced fat shredded cheese and light sour cream.

3) Fluffy egg bites. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Separate the yolks and whites of 4 large eggs. Whisk the 4 egg yolks until lemon yellow in color. Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and onion powder. Set aside. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into egg yolks. Add 2 chopped crisp turkey bacon strips, 1 teaspoon dried chives, and gently fold just until combined.

Divide egg mixture into a greased muffin tin. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. These egg bites can be frozen and re-heated by steaming in a double boiler until warmed through.

4) Portobello mini pizza. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush parchment paper lightly with olive oil and set aside. Take 4 portobello mushroom caps and brush each with olive oil. Spread 1 tablespoon pizza sauce on gill side of each mushroom cap. Top each mushroom cap with 1 tablespoon shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese and 5 slices turkey pepperoni.

Top the pepperoni with another tablespoon of shredded mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle a pinch of Italian seasoning on top of mini pizzas. Place portobello mushroom cap pizzas in the baking sheet and bake in the pre-heated oven for 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

Preparing homemade meals does not have to mean spending hours in the kitchen. These recipes are just a small sampling of what you can do in 15-30 minutes. There are several cookbooks out there on quick and easy meals, 30- minute dinners, and more!

Here are some tips on how to shorten prepping and cooking time so you can have more time enjoying your meals with your loved ones:

1) Have some ingredients you use more often ready and within easy reach when you are cooking. Think spices like garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, black pepper, cumin, etc.

2) Buy packages of pre-cut veggies, pre-grilled chicken strips, meat balls, mixed salad greens, and other convenient pre-prepped ingredients to use when you don’t have time to cook from scratch.

3) Don’t shy away from canned goods. Think beans, artichoke hearts, or canned chicken breast.

4) Try meal delivery kits with pre-prepped, pre-measured ingredients that you then just cook. Definitely a time saver!

Next time you get asked, “What’s for dinner?”, you won’t have to stress about it or end up running to the nearest fast food drive-thru. You’ll be able to pull off a delicious dinner in just 15 minutes!

BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.

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