A week’s worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families.
SUNDAY: For a special family day, prepare Yucatan Pork Tenderloin With Jicama, Avocado and Red Onion Salad (see recipe). Serve it with brown rice, steamed fresh asparagus and whole-grain rolls. Enjoy chocolate layer cake and fresh strawberries for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough cake for Monday.
MONDAY: Let’s celebrate our independence with All-American Burgers. In a large bowl, mix together 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Shape into 6 patties; grill 5 or 6 minutes, turning once. Top with any cheese and serve on whole-grain buns along with your favorite trimmings. Add Red Potatoes With Walnut Mint Pesto (see recipe) on the side. Top leftover cake with vanilla ice cream for a bang-up dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Thursday.
TUESDAY: Here’s another delicious version of Chicken Chili. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil on medium in a Dutch oven. Add 1 large onion (chopped); cook 5 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add 2 tablespoons cumin, 2 teaspoons dried oregano and 3 medium cloves garlic (minced) and cook 1 minute. Stir in 2 to 3 cups cooked chopped chicken and 1 (4-ounce) can drained diced green chiles. Add 4 cups unsalted chicken broth, 1 (15-ounce) can white beans (rinsed). Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, 20 minutes to blend flavors. Meanwhile, mash another can of rinsed white beans with fork or potato masher. Spoon into Dutch oven along with 1 cup frozen corn (thawed); cook 5 more minutes to heat through. Serve it with a lettuce wedge and cornbread. Slice a cantaloupe for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough chili for Wednesday.
WEDNESDAY: Use your microwave and top Baked Potatoes with leftover Chicken Chili for a quick meal. Serve with a spinach salad. Add plums for dessert.
THURSDAY: White Pizza With Tomato and Basil makes a summery no-meat meal. Heat broiler to high. Place baking sheet in oven; heat 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1 (10-ounce) Italian-cheese-flavored thin pizza crust on another baking sheet sprinkled with some cornmeal. Lightly coat crust with cooking spray. Spread 3 tablespoons refrigerated basil pesto over crust, leaving a 1-inch border; sprinkle ½ cup shredded fresh mozzarella cheese over pesto. Dollop ½ cup part-skim ricotta by teaspoonfuls, evenly, over mozzarella. Slide crust onto heated baking sheet. Broil 5 inches from heat for 5 minutes or until cheese begins to melt. Remove from oven; top evenly with 4 sliced Roma tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper and ¼ cup fresh basil leaves. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper if desired. Cut into 8 slices. Serve with mixed greens. Scoop some leftover ice cream for dessert.
FRIDAY: Tell the kids they are having Muffin Heads for dinner and watch them smile. Top toasted whole-grain English muffin halves with a thin layer of spaghetti sauce and slices of cheddar cheese; broil until cheese is melted. Top with a silly vegetable face using halved red pepper rings (mouth), baby corn (nose), sliced black olives (eyes) and julienne carrots (hair). Continue the fun with Apple Pie in a Bowl for dessert: In a small bowl, spoon alternating layers of chunky applesauce, vanilla yogurt and crumbled gingersnaps; dust with cinnamon.
SATURDAY: Your guests will enjoy Creamy Peppered Chicken and Mushrooms (see recipe). Serve with Poppy Seed Noodles, toss hot cooked noodles with a little olive oil and poppy seeds). Add a Boston lettuce salad and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, pair Chocolate wafer cookies with peach sorbet.
Yucatan Pork Tenderloin With Jicama, Avocado and Red Onion Salad
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, chile powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Add enough grapefruit juice (about ¼ cup) to make a paste. Rub the paste all over the pork; set on rack in small roasting pan. Roast 20 to 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Transfer to a cutting board; tent with foil and let stand covered 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine jicama, avocados and onion in a medium bowl. Drizzle with lime juice and the remaining grapefruit juice. Slice pork and serve with salad.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 276 calories, 27 g protein, 13 g fat, 15 g carbohydrate, 75 mg cholesterol, 238 mg sodium and 8 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 1
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Red Potatoes With Walnut Mint Pesto
Cover potatoes with cold water in medium pot by 1 inch; boil for about 12 minutes. After potatoes have cooked, add 1 cup of peas to pan and then immediately drain.
While the potatoes are cooking, in a food processor, combine the parsley, mint, cheese, walnuts and garlic; pulse until roughly chopped (about 10 times). Scrape sides of processor, add remaining cup of peas and pulse until roughly chopped. Scrape down sides. Turn on processor and drizzle in oil and add salt. Immediately turn off processor so pesto remains slightly chunky. Place potatoes and peas in serving bowl, then add the pesto and toss gently to coat. Serve at room temperature. (Recipe compliments of California Walnuts.)
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 249 calories, 8 g protein, 11 g fat, 32 g carbohydrate, 2 mg cholesterol, 162 mg sodium and 6 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 2
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Creamy Peppered Chicken and Mushrooms
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium high. Add chicken, onion and mushrooms. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of pepper blend, garlic powder, salt and Italian seasoning. Cook and stir 5 to 7 minutes or until chicken is lightly browned. Stir in cream and remaining pepper blend; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 3 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened.
Meanwhile, microwave spinach, covered, 30 seconds on 100% power or until wilted. Place spinach on platter; spoon chicken over spinach and garnish with bacon.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 333 calories, 30 g protein, 21 g fat, 8 g carbohydrate, 117 mg cholesterol, 212 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: ½
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: email@example.com
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