By Bridget Shannon

As a dancing, soccer-playing, religion class-attending child, I remember being chauffeured around in the back of my mom’s mini van with a fast food stop somewhere in between activities. Tuesday was personal pan pizza day at Pizza Hut. My favorite!

At college, the shuffle continued with classes, intramural sports and study sessions, and with the real world came work, the gym and happy hours.

Neither schedule allowed room for grocery shopping, and cooking seemed like a luxurious endeavor reserved for the weekend.

When I started at Integrative Nutrition, two things stood out to me the most: First, how much of an effect processed foods have on our bodies, and second, how impactful whole foods can be. Up to that point, I wasn’t regularly throwing back Big Macs, but my definition of health foods was flipped on its head. I’m not kidding when I tell you I had never heard of quinoa, and my usual turkey sandwich on wheat with a side of Goldfish crackers for lunch? Didn’t seem so “healthy” anymore.

I discovered the benefits found in real foods like fruits and vegetables: the nutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. I learned processed foods are loaded with sodium, sugar and saturated fat. Convenient, maybe. But good for us? Not so much.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve since learned how to incorporate whole foods into what is still a busy schedule. Weeknights can be tough, as it’s hard to take time to cook after a long day. But it’s harder not to feel good everyday, right?

My go-to dinner can be made in 20 minutes tops, and it’s just as delicious as what you’d grab on the way home from a packed day, but probably a lot more nutritious.

Quick and Easy Vegetable Stir Fry

Serves two

Ingredients:

¼ large carrot

¼ large zucchini

¼ red or yellow pepper

¼ red onion

4 ounces dried kelp or vermicelli noodles

1 egg

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or oil of choice)

2 tablespoons tamari (wheat-free soy sauce substitute: always check the label if avoiding gluten)

Salt + pepper to taste

Optional: ½ tablespoon Sriracha

Directions:

Wash and slice all the vegetables. (Quick tip: you can often buy pre-sliced vegetables at the grocery store and eliminate this step if you’re short on time). Set aside.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil then remove from heat. Immediately add the noodles for 1-2 minutes or until al-dente. Rinse the noodles and set aside.

Scramble the egg, being careful not to overcook, remove from heat and set aside.

Add the coconut oil to a pan over medium heat and stir fry the garlic for one minute. Add in the sliced vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent and vegetables slightly charred. Add the scrambled egg back in and stir in the cooked noodles. Add the tamari and salt and pepper to taste and stir everything for another 30 seconds until combined.

Remove from heat and serve immediately. I like to throw a little ground flaxseed or chia seeds over the bowl, plus a few splashes of Sriracha for an extra kick. Enjoy!

Bridget Shannon is co-founder of Crop Tops & Kale, an online resource for women who want to feel good. Through a mix of nutrition, wellness and personal development, she investigates and reports back on the most fun and effective ways to create a life that feels awesome every day. She is a 2012 graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

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