Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Meals in 30 Minutes or Less!

Whether you are a student or working professional  finding time to cook a healthy meal can be difficult.   But fear not, there are plenty of meals you can whip together in 30 minutes or less that are both healthy and delicious. Here are my top 5 quick cooking meals that are perfect for weeknights!

(click on link/recipe title for the recipe)

1. Lemon Garlic Shrimp

 This is my slimmed down version of shrimp scampi, one of my favorite meals! This meal only takes 20 minutes to cook and is light and delicious. 
servings: 4
total cook/preparation time: 20 minutes

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 pound of shrimp (fresh or frozen, de-veined/de-shelled)
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli, blanched or frozen broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1. Blanch broccoli. Cook fresh broccoli in boiling water for 2-3 minutes then place in ice water for 2-3 minutes to stop cooking process, then remove.
2. Saute garlic in olive oil, over medium heat for 1 minute. Add in shrimp and cook until almost pink. Add in blanched broccoli, lemon juice, and chicken broth. Partially cover and cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add in parmesan cheese and cherry tomatoes. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Serve over penne pasta.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Turkey Chili

Many people think chili is a meal that takes all day to cook, but those people haven't tried making my quick chili recipe! This recipe only takes 30 minutes to make and is easy to prepare. This recipe calls for ground turkey , but you can substitute with lean ground beef (90% or higher) or omit the meat and double up on the beans!

servings: 4
total preparation/cook time: 30 minutes

  • 1 pound of ground lean turkey
  • 15.5 oz can low sodium kidney beans, strained and washed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 28 oz can crushed or diced low sodium tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1. Brown meat in a large skillet. Drain any fat.
2. Add in peppers and onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft.
3. Add in seasoning, cook for another 1 minute.
4. Add in canned tomatoes and kidney beans and cook for 10 minutes until heated through.
3. Chicken Stir Fry

This is a great dish to make at the end of the week when you are trying to get rid of any vegetable odds and ends left in the refrigerator. Serve over quick cooking brown rice or quinoa! 
cook/prep time: 30 minutes
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast cut into thin slices or cubes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 medium carrots
  • one medium onion
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 - 8 oz can drained water-chestnut (optional)
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  1. Trim and slice about 1 pound of skinless boneless chicken breast into thin slices or cubes. Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat and add the chicken when hot. Stir frequently.
  2. Combine 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in a small bowl. Mix well.
  3. After chicken is cooked for about 5 minutes, add the soy sauce mixture and continue to cook until tender (about 6-8 minutes) and break into bite size pieces with a wooden spoon.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, chop 2 stalks of celery, 2 medium carrots and a medium onion. Prep 2 cups broccoli florets.
  5. Add all the veggies to the pan. Add a 8 oz can of drained water-chestnuts if you want. Stir and cook about 5 minutes.
  6. While dish is cooking, mix chicken broth with corn starch until dissolved. Add the chicken broth/ corn starch mixture and stir continuously until boiling and veggies are tender. About 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with brown rice or quinoa

4.  Fish Tacos

 Whether is tacos, quesadillas, burritos or taco salad Mexican dishes are delicious and easy to prepare. Here is one of my favorite Mexican dishes, fish tacos, where I have substituted fried fish with baked tilapia to cut back on added calories and fat from the breading and oil.

servings: 4
total cook/preparation time: 25 minutes

  • 2 pounds tilapia fillets
  • 1 lime
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Seasoning:
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • optional toppings: shredded cabbage, avocado, low fat sour cream or Greek yogurt, lime, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa
  • Combine seasonings and set aside.
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Preparing baking sheet by lining with aluminum foil and spraying with cooking spray. Then place tilapia fillets on baking sheet, and squeeze lime juice on them. Season with salt and pepper and seasoning mixture.
  • Bake tilapia for 15 minutes, or until fish opaque and juices run clear.
  • While tilapia is baking prepare toppings and warm up tortillas.
  • To assemble tacos. Place cooked tilapia in center of tortilla and then layer on toppings.

5.  Pesto Caprese Sandwich

This is one of my go to in a pinch meals! To liven up a basic caprese salad I add my homemade pesto sauce. For a lighter version use fresh basil and balsamic vinegar instead of pesto and omit the bread. 

servings: 1
  • 2 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 2-3 slices of tomatoes
  • 2 slices of crusty bread ( e.g. sour dough, whole wheat, italian)
  • 1 Tablespoon Pesto (see recipe below)
-Toast bread
-Spread one piece of toasted bread with ~ 1 Tablespoon of pesto mixture
-layer on sliced mozzarella and then tomatoes, top with another piece of bread

  • 3 cups basil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
In a food processor first process basil leaves then add in remaining ingredients and process until well combined.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right!

Happy National Nutrition Month! Research shows that consumers top reason for choosing one food over another is taste.  This month make it a goal to focus on making meals that are both nutritious and delicious!  Here are 4 simple tips to help you transform your meals...

1. Choose whole grains over processed refined grains.

Whole grains are packed full of fiber and other essential vitamins and minerals which are removed during the refining process. To get the most out of what you purchase and consume choose whole grains over refined grains when possible!

Examples: whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole wheat flour, quinoa, whole ground corn

2. Add at least one fruit or vegetable to each of your meals or snacks. The more color and variety the more nutrition!

Fruits and vegetables are "nutrient dense" foods. This means they are packed full of nutrients like vitamins, minerals and fiber but provide very little calories. Vegetables only provide 25 calories per serving (1 cup raw, 1/2 cup cooked) while fruits provide 60 calories per serving (small fruit, 3/4 cup berries or melon).

3. Choose low-fat and non-fat dairy products

Low fat dairy products provide the same great nutrients (vitamin D, calcium, protein) as full fat dairy products but are significantly lower in calories and fat. If you are not used to low fat dairy products slowly cut back. (e.g  1 cup 2% --> 1/2 cup 2% + 1/2 cup 1% -->1 cup 1%)

4. Choose lean protein sources.

There are a variety of lean protein sources out there like chicken, ground turkey or beef (85% or higher), turkey, pork, fish, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy bean based food products. These lean protein sources provide a great source of protein but are much lower in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol than high fat meats like beef, sausage, or bacon. Try a new protein source each day to mix it up and prevent you from getting bored!