Nutritious 5-Minute Meals

How can you help clients move from eating fast food regularly to cooking at home? The thought of having to plan, shop, cook, and clean may feel overwhelming to novice cooks. Thirty-minute meals, or even 15-minute meals, may feel like too much of a time commitment to someone who’s used to hitting the drive-thru on the way home.

The solution I’ve found to be effective is encouraging clients to try five-minute meals. I provide clients with a few simple recipes that require minimal preparation and take five minutes or less of actual cooking time. The recipes contain short lists of familiar, whole food ingredients. When clients are successful preparing five-minute meals a few nights per week, they increase their confidence in the kitchen. It sets the stage for them to prepare more time-intensive meals in the future.

The following are some examples of five-minute meals clients can try.

Fruit Cobbler Oatmeal
Eating breakfast may improve clients’ cholesterol levels, fuel physical activity, and curb hunger later in the day. To make this simple meal, instruct clients to combine quick-cooking oats with their favorite fresh or frozen fruit and milk. Using a variety of seasonal fruits makes every bowl a new experience. Microwave for three minutes or until the desired consistency is reached. To boost the protein content and provide a dose of disease-fighting nutrients like lutein and choline, clients can whisk an egg into the bowl before cooking. The end result is a light, custardlike texture. It’s like eating dessert for breakfast.

Clients who tend to skimp on produce may find it easier to meet their nutrition needs with a smoothie. Instruct clients to blend frozen fruit with milk and a touch of honey. If clients are feeling adventurous, encourage them to try adding a handful of spinach or shredded red cabbage for a nutrient boost. My current favorite recipe combines avocado, spinach, blueberries, bananas, cocoa powder, and milk for a creamy smoothie that tastes like a chocolate milkshake.

Pita Bread Pizzas
Pizza tops the list of our clients’ favorite foods. Instead of avoiding these foods, clients may enjoy experimenting with more healthful versions. To prepare this dish, top whole grain pita bread with tomato sauce, cheese, and favorite vegetable toppings. Cook in a toaster oven for three minutes or until the cheese has melted. Whole grain pita bread is a great staple to keep in the freezer. For a delicious variation on this recipe, clients can top pita bread with pesto sauce, feta cheese, and fresh tomatoes.

Grilled Fish Tacos
This dish was inspired by street tacos my husband and I enjoyed during a trip to Ensenada. You may not be able to travel to Mexico in five minutes, but you can cook these fish tacos. To make this recipe, grill strips of fish, bell peppers, and onions on an indoor electric grill. Fold into a whole grain tortilla and top with salsa, cilantro, or other favorite toppings. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice per week. This recipe offers a delicious, simple way to help clients meet that goal.

Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse
When I was a teenager, preparing desserts was my first introduction to cooking. It’s a rewarding way to get comfortable in the kitchen. To prepare, clients should microwave one ounce of dark chocolate chips in a bowl for 90 seconds, or until melted, and then stir in 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin. Even though it’s a dessert, this recipe provides nutritional benefits, such as beta-carotene, flavanols, and fiber.

— Nicole Geurin, MPH, RDN, is a corporate wellness dietitian and author of the e-book 5-Minute Meals: It’s Not Fast Food … It’s Real Food, Fast!. If you’re interested in purchasing copies of the e-book to distribute to clients, contact Nicole at

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