What makes a recipe healthy? To me, healthy eating means consuming a wide variety of whole foods, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, limiting fat and sodium intake and trying to meet the minimum vitamin and mineral recommendations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Because we lead busy lives, we need healthy recipes that can be completed in a hurry and provide all those requirements.

Since many of us do use processed foods to cut down on time spent in the kitchen, learn to read nutrition labels. Make special note of the number of servings in each package, and the serving size. Most people eat far more than the recommended serving size of most foods. Also pay attention to ‘use by’ and ‘sell by’ dates, to keep you and your family safe.

Besides the basics of paying attention to calories and serving size, here are a few tips from the Food and Drug Administration to guide you:

● Choose products with high daily value percentages (20 percent or more per serving) of fiber and of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.

● Look for low daily value percentages (5 percent or less) of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.

● The following terms signal added sugars, which contain lots of calories but little nutritional value: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey and maple syrup.

Ideally, if we had all the time in the world, we would cook everything from scratch for our families, using only the most fresh and organic products. But guess what? We don’t always have the time or energy. We know that life gets in the way of even the best plans, and sometimes we can use a little assistance in the form of a time saver when it comes to cooking. There are some convenience products that are great time-cutting products that, also, meet healthy standards for nutrition and flavor.

 

Here Are My Top 10. What Are Yours?

Washed Organic Lettuce or Spinach

Store Bought Pizza Dough. Check if they have a whole wheat variety.

Low Sodium Canned Beans

Fresh Pasta-Whole Wheat Ravioli. Notice the Whole Grain Stamp.

Quick Cooking Brown Rice

Frozen Steamed Vegetables

Low Sodium Organic Chicken Broth

Jarred Spaghetti Sauce with low sodium, sugar and fat

Frozen Sweet Potato Fries

Tuna or Salmon Packed in Water

 

Using Healthy Convenience Foods for Quick Dinners

The recipes below have a low percentage of fat, lots of fiber, cruciferous vegetables, and fruits, and a wide variety of ingredients.  They are ready in 30 minutes or less, or have a preparation time of 20 minutes or less. Try some of these recipes this week and feel good about the food you’re feeding your family.

 

Easy Baked Fish Fillets

Serve with quick cooking brown rice that cooks in 10 minutes.
4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 (4 ounce) fish fillets, such as, tilapia, flounder, cod, grouper.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen vegetables with broccoli and carrots (or any combination your family likes), defrosted and drained

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees F). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Place the fillets in the bottom of the baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
Combine spices and sprinkle over top of each fillet. Top each one with a slice or two of lemon.
Arrange the frozen mixed vegetables around the fish, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Cover the dish and bake for 2o to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until vegetables are tender and fish flakes easily with a fork.

Cheese Ravioli with Veggies                                                                                                                                                           Cheese Ravioli with Veggies

4 Servings
Use any combination of frozen vegetables that you like in place of the California Blend.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen California-blend vegetables
  • 1- 9 ounce package whole wheat cheese ravioli
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic herb salt-free seasoning blend
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Fill a Dutch oven two-thirds full with water; bring to a boil and add salt to the boiling water.

Add the frozen vegetables; cook for 5 minutes. Add the ravioli. Cook 5 minutes longer or until vegetables and ravioli are tender; drain.

Gently stir in oil. Sprinkle with seasoning blend and cheese.

Pork Chops With Chard and White Beans                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          


Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 4  boneless pork chops (3/4 inch thick; about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1  teaspoon  paprika
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1  bunch Swiss chard, stems thinly sliced and leaves torn into bite-size pieces (about 5 cups)
  • 1  medium onion, chopped
  • 1  15-16 ounce can low sodium cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 2  tablespoons  red wine vinegar

Directions:

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the pork with the paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil.
2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chard stems and onion and cook, tossing occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the beans, chard leaves, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until the chard is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes more. Mix in the vinegar and serve with the pork.
Tip:
For a bit of sweetness, add a handful of raisins to the bean mixture.


Baked Eggs Florentine                                                                                                                                                                           

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 36 ounces frozen spinach
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs
  • 8 slices tomato
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook spinach according to package instructions. Wring out as much water as possible and stir in olive oil and butter. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread spinach over bottom of the dish. With a spoon, make 8 indentations; place tomato slices into indentations. Crack eggs over tomatoes and lightly season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Evenly divide and sprinkle parmesan over casserole.
Bake on middle rack of oven 20-30 minutes, or until cheese is golden and eggs are cooked to desired level of doneness.

Fettuccine with Scallops                                                                                                                                                                           

Serve with a small salad on the side.

5 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each

Ingredients:

  • 8-9 ounces fresh whole-wheat fettuccine
  • 1 pound sea scallops or bay scallops
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, (Wondra all purpose flour works well here)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded Romano cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook fettuccine according to package instructions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, pat scallops dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and scallops and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Whisk milk, flour, white pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour the mixture into the skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Return the scallops and any accumulated juices to the pan along with peas and return to a simmer. Stir in the fettuccine, 1/2 cup Romano cheese, chives, lemon zest and juice until combined. Serve with the remaining cheese sprinkled on top.

Quick Berry Cobbler                                                                                                                                 

Self Rising Flour is a time saver.  It is all purpose flour that already has the leavening ingredients (baking powder and salt) in it that gives quick breads, biscuits and other similar recipes the ability to rise. It is considered a convenience item for a baker because it cuts down on the number of ingredients to measure out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of sugar ( or use 1/2 cup light sugar-Domino or Truvia)
  • 1 cup of lowfat milk
  • 1 cup of Self Rising Flour
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 cups of fresh, washed berries *
  • 4 tablespoons butter or Smart Balance Blend

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt butter in a glass 8 inch square baking pan in the microwave.
Combine sugar, milk, water, and flour in a large measuring cup
Pour mixture over melted butter.
Pour berries over the top and spread them evenly.
Bake: 350° for 45 min.

* whatever berries are in season

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