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Zone meals without cooking (Assembly required)

by Dave Schreck

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.

Proteins:
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.
Bumble Bee: Salmon with lemon and cracked pepper or mesquite grille in foil packets.
Chicken of the Sea: Albacore tuna, light tuna, pink salmon.
Jerkys: Salmon, ostrich, venison, turkey.
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.

Carbohydrates:
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.

Fats:
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 two delicious non-cook recipes from Lynn Sears’ book, “Zone Meals in Seconds.”
“Indian Curried Chicken and Yogurt Salad with Lentils” (2 servings)
Ingredients
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)

Procedure
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 (one serving)
Ingredients
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

Procedure
In a large bowl gently toss all ingredients. Prepare olive oil and vinegar dressing. Add to salad.

Quick recipe idea:
Chilled Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup (1 serving)
Ingredients
2 cups Trader Joe’s Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup (Chilled)
11/2 fully cooked chicken sausages, (Al Fresco Spinach & Feta - diced)

Procedure
Place soup in serving bowl; add chicken sausage.

The Zone can be that simple