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Too busy to cook? Not so fast

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(CNN) -- A busy life can put the squeeze on healthy eating. But that doesn't have to be the case, according to Billy Strynkowski, executive chef of Cooking Light magazine. He says cooking healthy, tasty meals at home can be done in 20 minutes or less.

CNN's Jason White interviewed Chef Billy to learn his secrets for healthy cooking on the run.

WHITE: What is your most important piece of advice for people who think they are too busy to cook healthy meals?

CHEF BILLY: There is enough time in the day to prepare foods that are healthy, that do not take a lot of time and do not require a lot of preparation or clean-up. That's the biggest problem. People envision you need to come home from work and take out every pot and pan and then there's a big wait for the food to cook and big cleanup after you've consumed your food. That's a problem. What I like to think about is our Superfast column -- the number one column in our magazine -- which shows meals cooked in 20 minutes or less. Not a lot of ingredients. Not a lot of pots and pans used. A lot of one-pot, two-pot entrees, started and completed in 20 minutes.

WHITE: Let's say someone is married with two kids and all of them have packed schedules. Where should they begin?

CHEF BILLY: They should begin in the supermarket. Find foods that everybody in the family is going to like. You don't want to make this into a restaurant where the 8-year-old doesn't eat chicken but the 12-year-old does. You want to buy food that is family friendly for all. The next thing you want to start, as a family that lives that hurry-up, immediate lifestyle, is maybe make some foods that are good for a few days: Roast turkey, roast chickens, stews, healthy chili, baked whole wheat pasta, which you can make on Monday or Sunday and it will still be good on Tuesday.

WHITE: Apart from the time involved, many people complain that eating healthy is too expensive, that buying fresh fruit and vegetables isn't cheap. Do you think eating healthy has to be more expensive?

CHEF BILLY: I understand where they are coming from. But they are not buying those expensive snack foods anymore. I think it evens out. The reason is they are eliminating all the snack foods they've been purchasing for their kids to eat on the couch. Instead of buying all those snack foods -- high in fat and calories and carbohydrates -- now they are buying fresher ingredients. They are purchasing more of the better ingredients.

WHITE: I love meat. Can meat be a part of health eating? What kinds do you recommend?

CHEF BILLY: Most meats that are high in fat are ribs, short ribs, beef ribs, briskets. Stay away from those. The good meats are your lean steaks, filet mignon, which can be expensive, lean ground turkey meat. Pork today is very lean. Pork tenderloin is a quality meat that cooks fast, that has a lot of flavor. I like pork tenderloin, turkey breast, and beef that is low fat, like filet mignon or sirloin. Stay away from fatty meats like brisket and ribs. They are very tasty but high in fat. Everything in moderation, which is a big part of the lifestyle.

WHITE: How about prepackaged or prepared foods?

CHEF BILLY: There are some. You do need to read the labels. You need to find ones that are going to accommodate your needs. The frozen food department is a busy aisle. Lots of brands are trying to get into this lifestyle of foods. You have to choose the foods that are best for you. Read the labels for fat, sodium, carbohydrates. There are some for breakfast, for lunch, and tons for dinner. Every company is putting some out. They are jumping on the bandwagon of healthy eating. There are lots of restaurants now that are developing healthier recipes. Everybody is jumping on the bandwagon of healthy eating. I really believe it is not going away. It is here for life.

Chef Billy

A crusader for healthy eating, Chef Billy says healthy meals can be quick meals too.


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