We hear it a lot. The Zone is too complicated. “I don’t like to cook, and I don’t have the time.” Is it possible to prepare quick and easy Zone meals without cooking? Yes! Grocery stores offer a large selection of proteins that are ready to eat right out of the package.
Here are a few suggestions to create balanced Zone meals.
First, select your protein. Then choose your favorable carbohydrate (colorful, non-starchy veggies) and add in a dash of monounsaturated fat:
Canned albacore tuna, salmon, smoked trout, brisling sardines, mackerel fillets, low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks, lean sliced deli meats, packaged cooked chicken and beef tips, fully cooked low-fat turkey or chicken sausages, 2% cottage cheese, 2% plain yogurt. Try brands like Bumble Bee or Chicken of the Sea. Even Spam offers a new line of acceptable proteins like oven-roasted white turkey, a welcome addition to their infamous ham and pork loaf that your father ate.
V-8 juice, cucumbers, tomatoes, canned lentils, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, apple sauce, roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, Wasa crackers, packaged fresh salad varieties, broccoli, zucchini, summer squash. Fruits; oranges, grapefruit, pears, apples, apricots, berries, plums, peaches.
Olive oil, almond oil, peanuts, almonds, avocado, guacamole, olives.
To create a Zone meal, ask yourself, “What is my lean protein choice?” Next select your non-starchy veggies, have a small piece of fruit (mixed berries are best) and add in a little monounsaturated fat. Divide your plate into three sections. On one-third place low-fat protein (about the size of the palm of your hand and same thickness). Super size the remaining two-thirds with colorful, non-starchy vegetables. You’re on your way to the Zone.
Be flexible and creative and realize that being within a range by avoiding or limiting starchy foods (breads, potatoes, rice, cereals, pasta, etc.) and always consuming a lean protein with the colorful non-starchy carbs will get you the benefits you're looking for.
Here are three delicious non-cook recipes from Lynn Sears’ book, “Zone Meals in Seconds.”
Indian Curried Chicken and Yogurt Salad with Lentils
- 1 cup Dannon nonfat plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/3 cups Perdue Shortcuts cooked chicken strips
- 2 cups canned lentils (rinsed and drained)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes (cut in half)
- ½ cup Del Monte lite apricots (drained and cut in half)
- 2-3 scallions (green onions) cut on bias
- Lettuce leaves
- 24 cashews (crushed)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, curry powder and salt and mix well.
- Add chicken, lentils, cherry tomatoes, apricots and scallions and toss.
- Serve the salad on the lettuce leaves.
- Garnish with crushed cashews.
Tuna and White Bean Salad
- ¼ cup canned white beans (cannellini) - rinsed and drained
- 4 oz solid white tuna - (packed in water)
- 1 large bell pepper – chopped
- ½ cup roasted red pepper – minced
- 2 large celery stalks – chopped
- ¼ cup red onion – minced
- 1 1/3 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Salt, pepper, and spices (cumin is suggested) to taste
- In a large bowl gently toss all ingredients.
- Prepare olive oil and vinegar dressing.
- Add to salad.
Chilled Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup
- 2 cups Trader Joe’s Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup (Chilled)
- 1 1/2 fully cooked chicken sausages, (Al Fresco Spinach & Feta - diced)
- Place soup in serving bowl.
- Add chicken sausage.
The Zone can be that simple!