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When you eat well, you feel well – that’s common knowledge – but sometimes busy workdays leave little time for dinner prep. A Harvard Business Review article noted that 62 percent of high-earning individuals work more than 50 hours a week, saying the 60-hour workweek “is now practically considered part-time.” For most, the average workday starts with an early commute and ends with a late night at the office, which leaves more time for stress and less time for self-care and eating properly. In fact, the American Psychological Association directly links stress with poor eating habits, as people tend to reach for fast food and candy bars during periods of anxiety.

In the Stress in America survey, participants said they often felt unhappy or unconfident when they engaged in unhealthy eating. In this same study, 33 percent of adults to who claim to overeat see food as a distraction from stress. Alternatively, those who skip meals are also in danger of poor eating habits. For example, a study conducted by the Montreal Neurological Seminar found that people are likely to purchase junk food when they visit the grocery store while hungry.  

There’s no doubt that longer work hours and heightened stress influence our eating habits. After a long day, you may want to just fall asleep without eating dinner or crave a hamburger instead of something healthy. That said, there is something to be said about sticking to a well-balanced diet. Rather than relying on sweets and snacks for a quick energy boost, consider consuming nutrient-rich foods that will keep you full and energized throughout the day.

If preparing healthy dinners after a long workday seems like a challenge, there are plenty of fast and easy recipes that will help you work smart and live well. Plus, many of these recipes can be frozen and reheated for a fast and delicious lunch while on the go. If you’re looking for fresh and flavorful dinner options that can be prepared in a flash, check out the list below.

1.       Quinoa and Vegetables Salad

Quinoa, sometimes referred to a “superfood” or “supergrain” has made a splash in the culinary world for its protein and fiber-dense composition. In fact, one half cup of quinoa has a whopping 14 grams of protein and six grams of fiber! One of the best parts of choosing a protein-rich diet is that it keeps you satisfied for extended periods of time, so you can easily shake off the temptation to eat junk food. This vibrant salad includes eggplant, zucchini and grape tomatoes topped with lemon juice, feta, fresh basil and mint. Even better, total cooking time for this dish is 35 minutes, so you can have a flavor-packed dinner ready in no time!

2.       Seared Salmon with Balsamic-Blistered Tomatoes

Often a go-to for fast and wholesome dinner recipes, salmon is both delicious and chock-full of nutrients. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, selenium and vitamin B12, salmon has been touted for its ability to combat heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Plus, it tastes amazing! This recipe lets salmon be the star of the show, as the fish is quickly baked and paired with lightly roasted cherry tomatoes and sautéed shallots. Another great reason to choose salmon for dinner is its fast cooking time, all it takes is eight minutes and you can put a golden-brown salmon fillet on the table!

3.       Chicken Lettuce Wraps

In the market for a nutritious and savory 30-minute meal? Look no further than these zesty chicken lettuce wraps! During a busy workweek, you need lots of protein to get you through the day – in fact, you need about 30 grams of protein with every meal. Protein helps you maintain muscle health and a speedy metabolism. A great source of protein, these chicken lettuce wraps can be prepared in exactly 30 minutes and are served with a mouthwatering dipping sauce. If you’re building out meals for the entire week, this chicken dish keeps well in the fridge for three to five days.

4.     Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Lots of Kale

Did you know kale has more calcium per calorie than milk? It’s no secret that greens are essential to physical and mental health, providing us with a high volume of vitamins and minerals. This dish is comfort food with a healthy twist, combining spaghetti with detoxifying, iron-rich kale. To liven things up, the recipe also calls for a garlic, known for its ability to regulate blood pressure and boost the immune system. To prepare, simply cook the pasta and sauté the kale in garlic and olive oil. Add some goat cheese for extra creaminess and you have a fabulous pasta dish plated in under 15 minutes!

5.       White Chicken Chili

As the weather cools down for the fall and winter, we find ourselves craving warm and comforting dishes for dinner. This 15-minute chili covers all the bases with a satisfying combination of shredded rotisserie chicken, white beans and avocado. Meal prep is as easy as throwing the chicken broth, chicken, beans and salsa verde in a pot and letting it simmer for 15 minutes. Once ready, simply top with your choice of avocado, cilantro, shredded cheese, green onions, sour cream and tortilla chips.

A balanced combination of vegetables and protein can work wonders for your attitude and energy level. If you’re interested in learning more about working smart and living well, check out Fitspirationby KINETIC, a workplace fitness and wellness movement fueled by Irvine Company. Here you can find delicious and wholesome recipes and workout tips to enhance your daily life.

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