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Forget fast food: 10 secrets to making good food fast

Published On: Jul 25 2013 02:52:40 PM CDT
Vegetables, farmer's market

(NewsUSA) - Today's busy lifestyles leave little time for basic cooking, and have led to a growing trend of daily fast food meals -- for breakfast, lunch and dinner! But eating healthy and cooking at home can fit within a busy lifestyle if you learn to make quick, 15-minute meals.

Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati, authors of the "Cooking with Trader Joe's" cookbooks, are two moms who found that recipe shortcuts are the key to quick meals -- and kicking the fast food habit.

"By taking fresh ingredients and strategically coupling them with prepared items and shortcuts from the grocery store, we can create healthy meals in a fraction of the time it would take to make from scratch," says Gunn.

Most markets now offer fresh, ready-to-use ingredients such as jarred sauces, cut veggies, bagged salads and marinated meats -- the key to these easy shortcuts. Here are Gunn and Miniati's top 10 kitchen tips and tricks for cooking delicious and easy meals at home, without compromising quality or resorting to the drive-through:

1) Use prepared sauces, from marinaras to curries. Add vegetables or meats and simmer, or toss sauces with couscous or pasta.

2) Add everyday superfoods, like canned beans or pre-cooked lentils, to soups or salads, or serve them over rice.

3) Pick up a fully cooked rotisserie chicken. Use the leftovers in wraps or soups.

4) Perk up any meal with fresh herbs. Add fresh basil to a simple pasta dish, cilantro to plain rice, or rosemary to roasting potatoes.

5) Toss a healthy salad in minutes using washed and bagged salad.

6) Salad dressings do double-duty as fast and flavorful marinades for chicken or meats.

7) Transform boxed meals such as rice pilaf or mac-n-cheese by adding frozen vegetables, ready-cubed pancetta or a little curry powder.

8) Put an end to greasy pizza delivery. Use ready-made dough to roll out quick pizza crusts that you can top with your own favorite and healthy ingredients.

9) Customize cake and bread mixes to your tastes. Add dried fruits and nuts to a bread mix, or stir lemon and orange zest into a plain white cake mix.

10) Plan simple recipes for the week before going shopping. If you shop with meals in mind, you'll save time and wasted groceries.

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