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Eat well: 5 hearty meals you can make without breaking the bank 

When you're trying to juggle your schedule and your budget, sometimes eating healthy can fall through the cracks. 

After a busy day, it's easy to stop on your way home and pick up any number of delicious, fast options that will get you home as quickly as possible. However, if you're looking to clean up your eating habits, you might want to rethink your choices.

Jenny Askew, registered dietitian and owner of Balance Fitness and Nutrition, LLC, told the AJC that cooking at home is key when you're trying to improve your food intake. "You've got to make planning your meals and cooking them a priority," Askew said, "It's got to be like anything else that's on your essential things-to-do list."

But what kind of meals can you make on a regular basis without spending too much time or busting your budget? Here are some recipes inspired by tips from Askew for those looking for healthy meals without breaking the bank:

1. "It's important to make sure you're eating breakfast." 

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Breakfast Egg Muffins

Prep and cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 egg muffins

Ingredients:

  • cooking spray
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup cooked chopped spinach, excess water removed
  • 1/3 cup crumbled cooked bacon
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat 6 cups of a muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
  2. Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Use a Braun MultiQuick 7 Hand Blender or a whisk to blend the eggs until smooth; this will take less than a minute.
  3. Add the spinach, bacon and cheese to the egg mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Divide the egg mixture evenly among the muffin cups.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until eggs are set.
  6. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

2. "Whenever possible, plant-based is always the way to go. Leafy greens are always a safe bet."

Warm Kale Quinoa and Broccoli Salad with Cider Mustard Dressing

Prep and cook time: Under 30 minutes
Servings: 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 small head broccoli, cut into little florets
  • 1 bunch curly green kale, about 5 stalks
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons each sunflower and pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh cracked black pepper + sea salt

Directions:

  1. Start with the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a metal sieve for about 30 seconds. Add rinsed quinoa and 1 cup water to a pot and season with salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until quinoa has increased in size and absorbed most of the water. Remove from heat and let sit with the lid on for another 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, steam the broccoli in a double boiler or blanch it in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two. Once the broccoli is a vibrant green and the tops of the florets are tender, drain and rinse under cold water; set aside.
  3. Remove the kale leaves from the stems and give the leaves a rough chop. Add a drizzle of heat resistant oil to a hot pan, then toss in the kale leaves with a good pinch of salt. Sautée the leaves until just some are starting to get crispy around the edges. Remove from heat.
  4. Toss cooked quinoa, steamed broccoli and crispy kale leaves together in a large bowl. Whisk together grainy mustard, vinegar, olive and black pepper and then pour over the salad. Top with raw almonds and toasty seeds. Serve warm or refrigerate for later.

3. "Always make sure there's protein on the plate. Chicken is a good, lean protein source."

Chicken Breasts with Herbs

Prep and cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together parsley, oregano, lemon peel, and garlic. Set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. In 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat cook chicken in butter for 6 minutes or until browned, turning once. Transfer to plate. Remove skillet from heat; stir in half herb mixture. Return to heat. Add broth; bring to boiling, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Return chicken to skillet; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 8 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Serve with pan sauce; sprinkle with remaining herb mixture.

4. "The more veggies, the better. Getting a variety of colors helps you get a variety of nutrients."

Edamame Succotash

Prep and cook time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 medium-size orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium-size red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 medium-size yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (16-oz.) package frozen edamame, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Sautée onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes or until tender. Add bell peppers and corn, and cook 5 more minutes or until tender.
  2. Stir in chicken broth, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low. Stir in edamame; cook 3 minutes. Stir in butter until melted. Remove from heat, and stir in mint and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Add your favorite meat or tofu, if desired.

5. "We try to make sure [our clients] eat enough healthy snacks throughout the day so that they don't overeat at night."

Turkey Roll Ups

Prep time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 8 slices turkey breast
  • 2 large red leaf lettuce leaves, spines removed, torn into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 large English cucumber, seeded and cut into 3-inch long sticks
  • 1/4 large red pepper, sliced
  • 8 large basil leaves

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the Dijon mustard and honey until well combined.
  2. Lay a slice of turkey on a plate or cutting board. Spread a 1/2 teaspoon of the honey-mustard mixture width-wise along the turkey about 2 inches from the end of the slice. Place a piece of lettuce on top, then a couple of sticks of cucumber and slices of red pepper. Top with a basil leaf and roll it all up in the turkey slice.

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