Exercise & Fitness

Yes, you can cook! Healthy shortcuts and easy recipes

home chefImage via ChefCoreyWilson

I hope you guys enjoyed my blog a couple of weeks ago about ordering salads in restaurants. Since then I’m sure you are making better decisions and being more cautious about what is on your salad when eating out…I bet it’s even showing in your waistline!

As promised, this is part two of the response to the question that stumped me. Remember that?

Participant: “I don’t cook”

Me: “Do you grill? You don’t cook anything?”

Participant: “I’m not even willing to boil water.”

Me: “Okay, what do you eat?”

Participant: “I eat every meal out.”

Wow! I’ve never had anyone that wasn’t willing to throw a chicken breast on their George Foreman or steam a bag of veggies.

So here’s the deal…if you want to lose weight you have to get in your kitchen a little bit…but you don’t have to be a full-on gourmet. Let’s talk about throwing some things together that are fast, easy and simple. To keep this blog short and sweet, I’m only going to focus on a couple of breakfast ideas and an easy way to prep some chicken. As time goes on, I plan to teach you a few more tips and tricks along the way!

  • Breakfast
    Of course you know that this is the most important start to your day. If you set up your breakfast correctly your day will be great, your metabolism will be cranking and your energy will be sky-high! I am a fan of promoting protein at breakfast so eggs and oatmeal (not the instant kind) are my go-to, along with berries and maybe a few nuts.

Eggs…did you know you can microwave them? Yes, you can. Here is a great quick recipe.

For the egg recipes below: stir together 2 eggs in a microwave-safe bowl until blended. Then add remaining ingredients. Nuke for 2 minutes, 30 seconds or until eggs are set in the middle. How easy is that?!

You can substitute the whole eggs for egg whites – do 3-4 whites or 2 whites and 1 whole egg, etc.

egg mug by Hungry Girl

Muscle Morning
2 eggs
1 slice smoked deli turkey, diced
1 tbsp. grated red-fat mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup torn baby spinach leaves
235 cal., 26g protein, 4g carbs, 12g fat

Feta Eggs
2 eggs
½ tbsp. feta cheese
1/3 cup baby spinach leaves
1 sprinkle of dried oregano
163 cal., 13g protein, 2g carbs, 11g fat


  • Protein at Lunch and Dinner
    Protein is a non-negotiable for me and my clients. When I talk about protein I focus on complete, lean proteins. Think chicken, eggs, fish, turkey, protein shakes and lean cuts of beef. I love to recommend that someone strive to get .8 – 1g of protein per pound of desired body weight. Wow…that’s a lot of protein! Yes, it is, and it’s something you should slowly move toward. The best rule of thumb: Make sure you have 20-30 grams of protein in your breakfast, lunch and dinner PLUS one or two snacks per day that equal 10-20 grams of protein.

    GrillingImage via SeriousEats

Grilling is my go-to for most protein because it’s easy to marinate some chicken and throw it on the grill. Of course it’s just as easy to bake chicken in the oven or even boil some chicken breasts in chicken stock. When it comes to protein, here are my top rules:

1.     Cook enough for the week on Sunday, and aim for two different proteins so you can alternate and you don’t get too bored…plus you have a healthy option ready to go for dinner and you can pack some for lunch. I usually do a big batch of chicken and then rotate between some fish like tilapia or salmon and lean steaks like a top sirloin.

2.     Focus on Flavor! Season until your heart is content and experiment with different marinades…just be mindful of sodium and sugar. Fresh herbs are a great way to add a little kick to your protein.

Make sure you surf the Internet. Every Saturday morning while planning my grocery list, I visit a few cooking websites or Pinterest and look for healthy marinades and new recipes to make sure I’m changing it up for me and my family. Look for easy recipes with just a few ingredients and you’ll be fine!

3.     Easy, easy, easy…don’t make it complicated. One of my favorite kitchen tools is a crock pot because that is easy to set and leave on all day, plus it allows you to cook in bulk. Here is a great crock pot recipe:

Taco Chicken: My family loves this, plus it has many uses. Some days I’ll eat it plain, or I throw it in a low-carb or corn tortilla for a fun soft taco. We also make chicken taco salad with it—the list goes on!

Turn your crockpot on low and fill with 4-6 chicken breasts, or more if your crock pot will allow. Sprinkle with a low sodium packet of taco seasoning, and then pour a jar of chunky salsa over the chicken. Let simmer and cook for 8 hours and then shred the chicken. You can use this chicken in a lot of different ways, so get creative!

When you’re in the grocery store look for easy, healthy items to go with your protein…Here are a few of my in-a-pinch favorites:

  •        Salads in a Bag
  •        Potatoes that are microwave-ready
  •        Veggies that are prepped and ready to be roasted in the oven
  •        Steam Fresh Veggies or Frozen Berries…so you don’t have things going rotten in your fridge
  •        Frozen Brown Rice…Whole Foods and Trader Joes carry this…you just take out your portion size and microwave! I eat this every day with chicken or steak at lunch.

    Protein on the run:

  •        If I haven’t cooked, all grocery stores now offer grilled chicken breasts in their deli. It’s a great quick solution.
  •        Greek Yogurt. Grab the 0% and add your own fruit.

    I hope these really quick tips spark some ideas and get you in the kitchen, as that is the key to success. Prep and plan, and you’ll be lean and mean!


     Jill Stoppel has been involved in the fitness industry since 2009 and has been personal training full-time since 2002. She is the sole owner of Excel Wellness Studio, is certified through the American Council of Exercise and holds several certifications in group exercise, spinning and kickboxing. She also maintains memberships, affiliations and mentorships within the major health and fitness organizations in the nation to stay connected to other top professionals. She and her team offer fitness advice to Kansas Citians exclusively for Good Health KC magazine online