Thursday, March 31, 2011

Swift and Simple Meals

Everyone is busy.  Add to that the need to eat a healthy diet and you sometimes hit a brick wall.  There will always be those days when you just don’t feel like cooking, traffic held you up and you got home later than expected or you discover that you forgot to thaw the chicken for tonight’s dinner.  In those situations it’s so easy to eat something less healthy; to grab some fast food or pizza.  A better idea is to have some quick and easy healthy recipes in your arsenal that you can throw together in a snap.  I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.

Open-face Tuna Melt Sandwich

This is a very simple meal that can be made a variety of ways.  The nutritional values will depend on how you tweak this recipe to meet your own tastes.  For an example, I will list my tuna salad recipe along with the nutritional values for the type of bread etc that I use.  Your mileage may vary.

2 cans tuna packed in water,drained 
1/3 C celery, finely chopped
3 Tbsp fat free mayo
1 Tbsp dill pickle relish 
1 tsp onion powder
4 slices 2% sharp cheddar cheese slices
4 slices whole wheat bread 
Roasted red peppers from jar, patted dry

Mix the tuna, celery, pickle relish, onion powder and mayo until thoroughly mixed.  Toast the whole wheat bread. Place each slice on a cookie sheet.  Divide the tuna mixture between each piece of toast and spread to edges.  Top each sandwich with roasted red peppers placing a slice of cheese on top.

Place the cookie sheet under the broiler (4-5 inches away from flame) and cook approximately 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Serves 4

Per serving: 208 calories, 5.75 g fat (2.5 saturated), 407 mg sodium, 18.5 carbs, 22 g protein

Variation: Replace the red peppers with tomato slices.
Serve with a salad or dipping veggies and ranch dressing.

Asian Chicken Stir Fry

3 oz Asian Rice Noodles (about ½ package)*
1/3 cup bottled fat free Sweet Ginger Teriyaki sauce
1 cup Sugar Snap Peas
1 medium red sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips
8 oz mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 ½ cup cooked chicken breast**
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped cashews, peanuts or sliced almonds (optional)

Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat.  Add onion, red pepper and sugar snap peas.  Cook stirring until onions and peppers are beginning to soften.  Add mushrooms, chicken and teriyaki sauce.  Continue cooking until heated through.  Add cooked noodles and nuts, if desired.  Stir until the sauce is well distributed.  Serves 4

Per serving: 175 calories, .5 g fat, 412 mg sodium, 29.5 carbs, 9 g protein 

*You can substitute other Chinese noodles or pasta as desired.  Be sure to check the nutrition label. 
**You can substitute canned chicken breast.  Look for 98% fat free packed in water.

Cincinnati Chili
1 lb lean ground beef
½ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
½ cup onion, finely chopped
1 pkg burrito seasoning mix
1 Tbsp chili powder, optional (my husband likes it spicier)
1 ¼ cup water
6 oz spaghetti, dry (3 servings, roughly ½ pkg)  (the nutritional values are calculated with Dreamfield brand)
Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook spaghetti per package directions.  Drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, brown ground beef in skillet.  Drain grease and set aside.  Let skillet cool slightly then spray with cooking spray. Add onions and peppers to the skillet and sauté until softened. Return ground beef to skillet with vegetables.  Add burrito seasoning mix, chili powder and water.  Stir and simmer 5 minutes or so, just until well mixed and heated through.  Add cooked pasta and stir.  Top with parmesan cheese if desired.  Serves 6 (makes great leftovers)

Calories 312, fat, 16 g (6 saturated), sodium 258 mg, carbs 24, protein 17

Other meal ideas (not recipes) are:

Gorton’s Grilled Salmon Fillets w/rice and veggies.  These fillets cook up quickly in your oven straight from the freezer.  I use Success Boil-in-bag Whole Grain Brown Rice when I'm in a hurry.


Place tilapia fillets under the broiler for about 4 minutes.  Top with a paste made with margarine, parmesan cheese, lemon juice and seasonings.  Return to the broiler for another 4-5 minutes or until topping starts to bubble and brown.  Watch carefully so the topping doesn't burn. Serve with quinoa or rice and veggies.  Also works well with salmon fillets but longer cooking time needed.

You can find recipes for Chicken Tortellini Soup and Salmon Alfredo in another of my posts: A Few of my Favorite Recipes.  Those are also Swift and Simple meals!

Bon Appetit!

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