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Busy day? 10-minute dinners to save your sanity

Monday - 2/3/2014, 6:09am  ET

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Even adding a bit of heat can turn a regular sandwich into a melty, savory meal. (Courtesy of Kait Fortunado)

Kait Fortunato
WTOP Wellness Contributor

WASHINGTON - There are many nights on my way home from work when I am tempted to call my husband and ask him to go out to eat or order delivery for dinner.

While this is fun every once in a while, I know it is both expensive and unhealthy to do all of the time. To ward off temptation, I try to have a back-up plan: an arsenal of 10-minute meals that I can easily throw together.

Here are some of my favorites:

Sweet potato with spinach and scrambled eggs:

I love how you can cook a sweet potato in the microwave and it's done in just 5 minutes.

While the potato is cooking, I whip up a scramble of eggs and either fresh or frozen spinach to make a complete meal with added protein and vegetables.

Homemade burrito bowl:

I always have a can of low-sodium black beans and kidney beans in my pantry for a quick source of protein and fiber to add to meals. To make this version of a burrito bowl, I begin by rinsing and heating the beans.

Then, I add whatever veggies I have on hand -- diced tomatoes and spinach are my favorites for this kind of meal. To finish, I top the bowl with shredded cheese and diced avocado to aid in the satiety of the dish.

English muffin pizzas:

This recipe brings me back to childhood.

I love pizza, and using an English muffin is a great way to make a healthier and easier version of the classic.

Slice an English muffin and top it with some tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella. Then, add whatever vegetables you have at home -- broccoli, olives and mushrooms are some of my favorites. Toast the muffin in the oven or toaster oven to melt the cheese, and serve the English muffin pizzas with a big salad to help round out the meal.

Stovetop chicken:

Cooking chicken on the stove is much easier than baking it in the oven, and you can add everything you need to make a healthy meal right into one pan.

I cook the chicken evenly on both sides in some olive oil. Then, I add in some herbs to change up the flavor. I love using rosemary and cherry tomatoes, which "pop" when heat is applied and cook down to a sauce-like texture.

A whole wheat roll or some 90-second brown rice adds a filling carbohydrate to this meal.

Paninis and melts:

Sandwiches can be boring, but toasting them adds a whole new dimension of flavor and texture.

For a quick dinner, I grill a sandwich to mimic a hot panini. Adding heat to a sandwich also brings out all of the flavors of its contents.

Get creative with your toppings: I love tuna with avocado and Swiss cheese or chicken with pesto and arugula.

Salmon or chicken burgers:

I love the Chili Lime Burgers and Salmon Burgers from Trader Joe's. More importantly, I love how quickly they come together for a variety of meals.

While burgers are undeniably good, don't just limit yourself to a bun and catsup. I like to chop up the salmon burgers and mix the pieces with broccoli, beans and soy sauce for an easy take on stir-fry.


Planning ahead for your meals is always ideal, but let's be honest, sometimes life gets in the way or plans get changed last-minute.

When this is the case, I always try to keep some of these staples for quick meals I can throw together in 10 minutes or less.

Kait Fortunato is a registered dietitian at Rebecca Bitzer & Associates and serves on the board for the DC Metro Area Dietetic Association. Kait focuses on individualizing her recommendations to have each client see results and live a healthier, more productive life, and she works to help people enjoy food and eat the foods they love. Kait lives in the D.C. area and loves trying new restaurants and activities around the city. Visit Kait's blog, Rebel Dietitian, and tweet her @Rebel_Dietitian for recipes, nutrition tips and activities in the Washington area.

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