As entrepreneurs and business owners, we work ridiculous hours and often stay glued to our desks and chairs for far too long. Not only is this prolonged sitting absolutely horrible for our health — sitting for eight to 12 hours or more a day increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 90 percent, but it also causes us to develop poor eating habits.
If you are constantly in the office, it’s too convenient to order delivery. Then when you get home after a long day the last thing on your mind is whipping up a healthy and nutritious meal. In one of my previous columns I mentioned that I was about to embark on a 10-day super cleanse, and I am currently in the middle of day four of 10 as I type this. It's mentally tough, but I know I will make it to the end — and when I complete it the last thing I want to do is fall back into bad eating habits, so I called in an expert.
Carina Sohaili is a board certified celebrity nutrition and health counselor and the founder of Vibrant Healthy Life. I first communicated with Sohaili through Twitter and after a few back and forth direct messages and emails I challenged her to put together a full days worth of healthy meals that not only tasted great, but that I could also prep in the morning in just 15 minutes.
While we work our asses off and dedicate 100 percent to our businesses, it’s amazing that we can be so lazy when it comes to eating healthy.
“There are 24 hours in a day, so taking 15 minutes to make these healthy delicious meals and snacks should not be a problem," she says. "All meals and snacks in this plan contain less than six ingredients and are designed with the right combination of nutrients to increase cognitive function, improve focusing abilities, control cravings and keep you energized for long periods of time without the crash and burn effect.
Related: Plant-Based Energy Foods That Will Give You a Boost
"Those vending machine candy bars, and chemically processed junk foods might satisfy short-term cravings, but in the long run, will leave you drained and craving more junk food," Sohaili adds. "I am an advocate of five small meals eaten every two to three hours. This prevents extreme hunger, keeps your energy levels in-check and metabolism humming.”
Meal 1: Sweet cinnamon cream cup
Prep time: two minutes
- 6 ounces of plain non-fat Greek yogurt (you can buy pre-portioned cups at any market)
- 1/2 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of stevia (an all natural sweetener from the stevia leaf)
Directions: Mix ingredients together.
Nutrition: The protein-healthy carbohydrate combination is key. Greek yogurt has double the amount of protein than normal yogurt, healthy bacteria for digestion and calcium for bone health. Protein will help curb cravings and keep you full for a longer amount of time.
The healthy carbohydrates will keep you energized without the crash. Cinnamon is a natural metabolism booster, helps curb cravings and increases your post meal satisfaction levels. It helps reduce anxiety and decreases cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone) within the body. Stevia is an all-natural sweetener from the stevia leaf that does not spike your blood sugar levels while adding sweetness to the meal.
Snack 1: Dark chocolate protein mud muffin
Prep time: two minutes
- 2 tablespoons of Hershey’s raw cacao (special dark tastes best)
- 2 tablespoons of liquid egg whites
- 2 tablespoons of stevia
Directions: Mix ingredients together and microwave in a mug for one to two minutes.
Nutrition: Heart-healthy fats are great brain boosters, help reduce stress, increase energy and post meal satisfaction levels. Raw cacao is a great source of heart-healthy fat. It also contains magnesium, and other essential minerals including calcium, zinc, iron and sulfur along with fiber, cancer fighting antioxidants and protein.
The combination of healthy fat from the dark chocolate and protein from the egg whites make this a winning combination. The fiber helps with digestion, and it also curbs junk food cravings by keeping you more full for a longer amount of time. The protein helps stabilize energy levels and keeps your “furnace” burning strong.
Meal 2: Spicy southwestern salsa scramble
Prep time: three minutes
- 2 eggs (organic is best)
- 2 tablespoons of all natural salsa (simply make sure no sugar is added and there are no processed ingredients, or if you are in the mood, dice up your own tomatoes)
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1/2 tablespoon of hot sauce (if desired)
Directions: Spray pan with cooking spray and scramble eggs for two to three minutes until cooked then top off with salsa.
Nutrition: The combination of healthy fat from the yolk of the egg and the protein of the egg white makes eggs a true nutrition powerhouse.
Salsa is full of fiber as well as antioxidant packed tomatoes, and loaded with vitamin C and vitamin A — two immune boosting superstars. Salsa also contains capsaicin, the chemical responsible for spiciness. It stimulates digestion and in various studies has been shown to aid in the prevention of stomach ulcers. Capsaicin can stimulate the release of endorphins, the feel good hormone, in the body.
Do not fall for the canned salsa trap — make sure the salsa does not contain high fructose corn syrup or excessive sugars. You can dice up your own tomatoes and onions instead of buying pre-made salsa but if you are on the go, or simply not a fan of manual labor, there are plenty of all natural store brands.
Related: 10 High Impact Foods That Will Boost Your Energy and Make It Last
Snack 2: Chunky berry bliss cream cup
Prep Time: two minutes
- 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries
- 1 tablespoon of stevia
- 1/2 cup of plain non-fat Greek Yogurt
Directions: Mix together and enjoy.
Meal 3: Dijon Garlic Spinach Smoked Salmon Wrap
Prep Time: three minutes
- 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
- 1 whole-wheat tortilla (around 8 inches in diameter)
- 4 to 6 ounces of smoked salmon (wild caught is best)
- 1/2 cup of spinach
- 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder (optional)
Directions: Mix garlic powder with dijon mustard and spread the mix on the tortilla. Add the smoked salmon and spinach. Wrap up and enjoy. (Note: if you do not eat salmon or raw fish, 4 to 6 ounces of lean turkey can be a great substitute. If you are vegetarian, 2/3 of a cup of garbanzo beans is another healthy protein alternative.)
Nutrition: We need healthy carbohydrates for energy. Carbohydrates are a key macronutrient and essential for your body to function properly. The reason why white breads and starchy processed carbohydrates are not good your body is because they are virtually stripped of all nutrients and packed with chemicals that interfere with hunger hormones.
Refined and processed carbohydrates increase your levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates your appetite and makes you crave more fake, highly processed foods. When you eat white "restaurant bread" on an empty stomach, it enters your blood stream and instantly spikes your blood sugar, making you crave more of the same empty foods. This tends to lead people to overeat and then feel hungrier with no energy an hour or so later. The healthy carbohydrates from the whole-wheat tortilla will keep you energized, as well as satisfied in the proper portion size.
Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that the body does not produce on its own. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease, irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels. These healthy fats also increase your ability to focus and improve your mood.
Garlic is great for cardiovascular health, a natural metabolism booster, helps curb cravings, increases post meal satisfaction levels and is an immune system booster. It also transforms the taste of dishes. Spinach is loaded with fiber, iron and a variety of different minerals that simply adds to the meal.
The more nutrients your body gets the less you will crave junk food, and the more energy your body will have to thrive.
Dessert: Fried cinnamon banana bites
Prep Time: three minutes
- Half of a small banana
- 1/4 tablespoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon of stevia
- Canola oil cooking spray
Directions: Slice the banana into thin, bite-sized pieces, heat saucepan and spray with cooking spray. Cook bananas with cinnamon and stevia until a crispy golden brown.
There you have it — days worth of completely healthy and delicious meals that you can prepare in 15 minutes. It doesn’t get any easier than this, so throw those excuses out the window and start to reap the benefits of a healthy diet starting tomorrow.
Related: The Busy Entrepreneur's Guide to High-Performance Lunches