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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: mangoes

 

This past week my market had a buy one – get one free for small peppers. I couldn’t pass that up. So, then came the planning – what to cook without getting sick of the peppers. Here are some dishes I came up with that include peppers.

Vegetable Quesadillas With Mango Salsa

Serves 2

Ingredients

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup diced jalapeños
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey cheese
Kosher salt
Three 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the bell pepper, onion, corn, jalapeños, chili powder,1/8 teaspoon salt and cheese.

Divide the mixture between the tortillas, scattering it over half of each and folding the tortillas in half.

Heat the oil in a heavy-duty 10-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the quesadillas and cook until browned and crisp on the bottom, about 1 minute.

Turn the tortillas over and continue to cook until browned and crisp on the other side, 1 minute more. Let cool slightly, cut into wedges, and serve with lime wedges and Mango Salsa.

Mango Salsa

Ingredients

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
Half a yellow bell pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch of cayenne
Salt to taste

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine all the mango salsa ingredients and set aside. Let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Toss before using.

Sautéed Sausage, Peppers and Onion Sandwiches

Reserve 4 pieces of sausage and ½ cup of the peppers and onions for the Stuffed Zucchini recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 pound each of hot and sweet Italian sausage
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red bell pepper, sliced into long strips
2 yellow or orange bell pepper, sliced into long strips
2 garlic cloves, sliced into slivers
1 large sweet onion, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt to taste
Ciabatta rolls

Directions

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, deep skillet with a lid. When the oil is hot, add the sausages and brown them slowly. You want a gentle browning, not a quick sear.

Cook for several minutes, turning them occasionally so they brown on all sides. When the sausages are browned, remove them from the pan and set aside.

When cool enough to handle cut into two-inch lengths.

Increase the heat to high and add the onions and peppers. Toss so they get coated with the oil in the pan and cook, stirring often.

Once the onions and peppers soften, sprinkle some salt on them, add the garlic and Italian seasoning and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the sausages back in. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the peppers are soft and the sausages are cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Heat the rolls and fill them with the sausage mixture.

Sausage and Peppers Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 oz cooked Italian sausage, chopped
¼ cup cooked peppers and onions, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 F. degrees.

Trim the stem end of the zucchini, cut a thin slice from the top and scoop out the zucchini flesh with a teaspoon. Finely chop the zucchini flesh and the slice from the top of the zucchini.

Place the zucchini shells in one layer in a baking dish. Generously brush the inside of the zucchini with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil and add the chopped zucchini.Cook until soft and tender. Add the chopped sausage and chopped onions and peppers. Cook until hot. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the panko breadcrumbs to the filling and let cool until  easy to touch. Stuff the zucchini boats with the filling.

Sprinkle the top of the filling in the zucchini with Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with a little oil.

Bake the zucchini for 30 minutes, until the topping is crispy and golden.

Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Pork Fajitas

Use pork tenderloin — a tender, lean meat. Traditionally, fajitas are made with skirt beef steak, which has twice the fat and three times the amount of saturated fat.

Makes 8 fajitas

Ingredients

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 small onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 flour tortillas, about 8 inches in diameter, warmed in the microwave
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 plum tomatoes, diced
4 cups shredded lettuce

Directions

In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, oregano, paprika, coriander and garlic powder. Dredge the pork pieces in the seasonings, coating completely.

Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil. Add the pork, peppers and onions and cook over medium-high heat, turning several times, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

To serve, spread an equal amount of pork, peppers and onions on each tortilla. Top each with 1 tablespoon cheese, 2 tablespoons tomatoes and 1/2 cup shredded lettuce.

Fold in both sides of each tortilla up over the filling, then roll to close. Serve immediately.

Turkey Salad

Ingredients

2 cups leftover roasted turkey breast, diced
2 stalks celery
¼ cup finely diced sweet onion
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper together in a mixing bowl with a cover. Add the diced turkey, celery, onion and bell pepper. Mix well.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator before serving.

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icecream

According to the International Dairy Foods Association, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day in 1984. “He recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by the nation’s population. In the proclamation, President Reagan called for all people of the United States to observe these events with ‘appropriate ceremonies and activities’.”

A 2012 survey revealed that vanilla is America’s most popular flavor, followed by chocolate and cookies ’n cream. In truth, though, ice cream flavors are virtually limitless. Specialty flavors can be found in supermarkets, as well as individual ice cream shops and many of them feature seasonal flavors. If you look hard enough, it’s even possible to find grown-up flavors like bourbon butter pecan, blue cheese pear and foie gras or sea urchin.

No one knows who invented ice cream, although Alexander the Great reportedly enjoyed a refreshing snack of snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. More than a millennium later, Marco Polo brought back from his travels a recipe for a frozen treat similar to modern sherbet. Historians believe that recipe eventually evolved into ice cream during the 16th century. “Cream ice” was served to European royalty, although it wasn’t until much later, when insulated ice houses were invented, that ice cream became widely available to the general public.

Types of Frozen Treats

  • Frozen yogurt is yogurt that is frozen using a technique similar to soft serve. While lower in calories and fat than ice cream, not all frozen yogurt is made with live and active cultures the way that standard yogurt is. To make sure that a frozen yogurt contains “yogurt” and a significant amount of live and active cultures, look for the National Yogurt Association (NYA) Live & Active Cultures seal. Without that seal, frozen yogurt does not contain any probiotics.
  • Gelato. Italian ice cream that doesn’t have as much air as traditional ice cream, so it has a much denser texture.
  • Ice cream. This frozen treat is made from milk or cream, sugar and flavorings. The FDA requires that ice creams with solid additions (nuts, chocolate, fruit, etc.) contain at least 8 percent milk fat, while plain ice creams are required to have at least 10 percent milk fat. “French” ice cream is usually made with a cooked egg custard base.
  • Ice milk is made with lower-fat milk, making it less creamy. However, it does contain fewer calories than ice cream.
  • Italian ice (also called Granita) is a mix of juice (or other liquid like coffee), water and sugar, usually in a 4:1 ratio of liquid to sugar. The ices are stirred frequently during freezing to give it a flaky texture. These are almost always fat-free, contain minimal additives and are the lowest in calories of all frozen desserts.
  • Sherbet has a fruit juice base but often contains some milk, egg whites or gelatin to thicken and enrich it. It’s a creamy version of sorbet (see below).
  • Slow-churned (double churned) ice cream is made through low-temperature extrusion, to make light ice cream taste richer, creamier and more like the full-fat variety. Extrusion distributes the milk fat evenly throughout the product for added richness and texture without adding extra calories. By law, “light” ice cream must contain at least 50% less fat or 33% fewer calories than regular full-fat varieties.
  • Soft-serve is a soft “ice cream” that contains double the amount of air as standard ice cream, which stretches the ingredients and creates a lighter texture. It’s lower in fat and calories, but it often contains fillers and additives.
  • Sorbet, softer in consistency than a sherbet, is usually fruit and sugar that has been frozen. Its texture more “solid” and less flaky than Italian ice.

How healthy are these treats?

While ice cream does contain bone-building calcium, you’re better off getting calcium from other food sources, since ice cream contains about half the calcium as an equal serving of milk, which is lower in fat and calories. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re eating healthy by getting calcium from Haagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s—both of which can pack more fat per serving than a fast food hamburger!

Some ice creams, especially “light” varieties are sweetened with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. Using an artificial sweetener in place of some or all of the traditional sugar can reduce calories, but these sweeteners aren’t for everyone and may cause stomach upset when eaten in high quantities.

In general, regular (full-fat) ice cream contains about 140 calories and 6 grams of fat per 1/2 cup serving. Besides the fat content, premium brands pack more ice cream into each serving because they contain less air—they are denser and harder to scoop than regular brands—meaning more calories, fat and sugar per serving. Low fat or “light” ice creams weigh in at about half the fat of premium brands but they still contain their fair share of calories, thanks to the extra sugar added to make them more palatable.

Toppings such as chocolate chips, candies and sprinkles send the calorie count even higher and don’t offer any nutritional benefits. Choose vitamin-packed fruit purée (not fruit “syrup”), fresh fruit or nuts, which contain healthy fat, protein and fiber. While chocolate does have some health benefits, most choices like chips and syrup are usually full of fillers with very little actual chocolate. If you want extra chocolate, use a vegetable peeler to shave dark chocolate over the top of your serving.

If animal-based products aren’t part of your diet or you can’t eat dairy, you can choose from a wide variety of non-dairy frozen desserts such as soy, coconut or rice “cream.” These desserts cut the saturated fat because they don’t contain milk or cream, but can derive around 50% of their calories from fat (usually by adding oil to the product for smoothness or “mouth feel”).

So what should you look for when you want to indulge in a creamy dessert but not go overboard? Check the nutrition label and choose a frozen dessert that meets these guidelines per 1/2 cup serving.

  • 120 calories or less
  • 4 g of total fat or less
  • 3 g of saturated fat or less (sorbet, sherbet and low-fat ice cream usually fit the bill)
  • 10 mg of cholesterol or less
  • 15 g of sugar or less (this is equal to about 3 teaspoons of actual table sugar)

Remember to keep portions small. A pint of ice cream is not a single serving; it’s FOUR servings. If you eat an entire pint, you have to multiply the number of calories, fat grams, etc. listed on the label by four. Stick to portion sizes and always scoop your ice cream into a small bowl, instead of eating it directly from the container to prevent overeating. And use a teaspoon rather than a tablespoon to take smaller bites.

If you want total control over what goes into your ice cream, consider buying your own ice cream maker. Experiment with the recipes that come with the machine, adding your own fresh fruit to create a treat that tastes good and is good for you at the same time.

Ice cream is by no means a health food or a vital component of a healthy diet. But it is a simple pleasure in life most people wouldn’t want to give up. Here are a few frozen dessert recipes to indulge in without blowing up your diet.

icecream1

Chocolate Banana Frozen Yogurt

Makes 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large ripe bananas, cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons 2 percent milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the bananas in a single layer and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Cook over moderate heat, turning once, until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Off the heat, add the rum and swirl the pan to dissolve the sugar.

Place three-quarters of the bananas into a food processor and add 3 tablespoons of the milk. Puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a small bowl and freeze until chilled, 15 minutes. Chop the remaining bananas and freeze until chilled. Chill the remaining milk and yogurt.

In another bowl, whisk the cocoa with the granulated sugar, salt, vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Whisk in the yogurt until smooth, then the banana puree.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions until nearly frozen. Mix in the chopped bananas and chocolate. Place the frozen yogurt into an airtight container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

FW0508FWB01

Watermelon Granita with Cardamom Syrup

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 pounds seedless watermelon, rind removed, flesh cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (6 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

Directions

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the water with 3/4 cup of the sugar and stir over moderate heat until dissolved, 2 minutes.

In a blender, working in batches, puree the watermelon with the sugar syrup and lemon juice until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and freeze for 30 minutes. Using a fork, stir the granita; continue stirring every 30 minutes, until frozen and fluffy, about 3 hours.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar with the cardamom seeds and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Strain the syrup and refrigerate.

Fluff the granita with a fork. Scoop into bowls, drizzle with the cardamom syrup and serve immediately.

icecream3

Caramelized Pineapple Sundaes with Coconut

10 servings

Ingredients

  • One pineapple—peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sweetened wide shredded coconut strips or regular cut
  • 2 1/2 pints fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt
  • Mint sprigs, for garnish

Directions
Light a grill. Brush the pineapple rings with the vegetable oil. Grill over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until the pineapple is lightly charred and softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer the rings to a work surface and cut into bite-size pieces.

In a medium skillet, toast the coconut over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Scoop the yogurt into sundae glasses or bowls. Top with the grilled pineapple, sprinkle with the coconut, garnish with the mint sprigs and serve right away.

icecream4

Easy Soft-Serve Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds frozen strawberries, mangoes or blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Kosher salt

Directions
In a food processor, pulse the fruit with the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and a generous pinch of salt until the fruit is finely chopped.

Puree until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes; scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. Serve soft or transfer to a metal baking pan, cover and freeze until just firm.

MAKE AHEAD: The soft-serve can be frozen for up to 3 days. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

icecream5

 

Sherbet Fruit Pops

Ingredients

  • 10 5-ounce paper cups
  • 3 peeled and chopped kiwi fruit
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 quart raspberry or tangerine sherbet
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 10 flat wooden craft sticks

Directions

Arrange cups on a baking pan.

In a small bowl combine kiwi fruit and sugar. Divide chopped kiwi fruit among the paper cups.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer on low-speed beat together sherbet and orange juice until combined. Spoon sherbet mixture over kiwi fruit filling cups.

Cover each cup with a square of foil. Use table knife to make small hole in center of each foil square. Slide wooden craft stick through each hole and into fruit mixture in the bottom of the cup.

Freeze at least 6 hours or overnight. To serve remove foil; carefully tear away cups. Serve immediately. Makes 10 pops

 

Note to my readers: I added a print friendly icon to the end of the share button row on the right. It follows the email icon but before the More box. When you click on the print friendly icon, a new window will open and you should be able to print the new page. Some of my readers said they had difficulty printing from my website with the regular print button on the left, so this is another option.


BalancedLunch

Eating a healthful lunch can help control blood glucose, hunger and weight. Lunch is a chance to keep you full until dinner and fit in some important food groups. Get more mileage out of your lunch by including fiber from whole grains and protein from low-fat dairy products and other lean protein sources.

Build a Balanced Lunch

Studies show people who tote their meals with them weigh less, eat more healthfully and spend less money.

When compiling your midday meal, remember this simple formula, even at home: whole grain + dairy/protein +vegetables = healthy lunch.

Include whole grains for the starch portion of your meal. You’ll get hearty satisfaction from grains with all their fiber and nutrients intact. This will be your main carbohydrate source.
The dairy/protein digests more slowly than carbohydrates, helping you feel satisfied and adding staying power to your lunch. Vegetables add color, flavor and antioxidants to your meal.

If you love sandwiches, use a variety of whole-grain breads, pitas and wraps. Choose lean fillings like sliced eggs, tuna fish, cheese or lean meats. Then add interest to your sandwiches with assorted greens, fresh basil, sliced cucumbers, onions, pickled peppers and tomatoes.

But sandwiches are far from your only option when you’re brown-bagging it. Last night’s dinner, anything you enjoy at home can, be packed up and eaten for lunch. In fact, you might want to make extra food for dinner, so you’ll have leftovers to bring for lunch. Leftovers are the perfect food to pack and take for lunch because you can control the portions and calories in the meal to insure it will be nutritious, filling and delicious.

For example, pack the leftovers from last night’s casserole into a reusable container that can be microwaved at the office. Add some carrot, celery and pepper strips for a hearty and satisfying lunch. To take this idea a bit further, try cooking in bulk. On the weekend, make a big pot of chili, chicken noodle soup or rice and beans and freeze into individual portions that are ready to take to work in a flash.

Keep it cold. For safety’s sake, pack lunch with a reusable ice pack.

Pasta Lover’s Lunch Salad. Make the salad with lean meat or fish, some cubed or shredded cheese (for protein), lots of vegetables to boost fiber and nutrition and use whole wheat or whole-grain pasta. Toss everything together with a vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil or canola oil. Pack into individual lunch containers.

Mediterranean Pita Pocket. Fill a whole wheat pita with homemade or store-bought hummus, tabbouleh and sliced cooked chicken. All you need is a piece of fruit to round out the meal.

Fruit and Cheese Plate. Fill a divided plastic container with assorted cubes or slices of cheese and easy-to-eat fruit, such as apple and pear slices, grapes, berries or melon. Add some whole-wheat crackers to your lunch.

Everything Is Better on a Mini Bagel. Whole-wheat bagels are a wonderful foundation for sandwiches that stand up to being in a backpack or desk all morning. Start with two mini bagels. Add tuna, smoked salmon, oven baked turkey or roast beef. Top it off with cheese, fresh tomato, onion and Romaine lettuce. Two mini bagels can supply 6 grams of fiber to the meal.

Enjoy Lunch Salads. A plastic container can hold the makings of a delicious salad lunch. For a Cobb salad, fill it with spinach or chopped dark green lettuce, chopped hard-boiled egg, shredded cheese, lean ham or turkey. Or toss in the ingredients for a chicken salad: dark salad greens, shredded chicken, shredded carrots, sliced green onion and toasted sliced almonds. Pack the dressing separately and add it to the salad just before eating.

Lunches at Home

Include more whole foods and choose lunch items with higher amounts of fiber and nutrients (like calcium, protein and vitamin C). Include fewer processed foods such as cookies, chips and snacks, which have higher sodium, added sugar and saturated fat.

spicypoachedegg

Spicy Poached Eggs

5 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 hot pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 5 large eggs

Directions
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and peppers. Stirring occasionally, cook until the onion starts to turn translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, paprika, oregano, cayenne and salt. Add the tomato mixture to the skillet with the onions and peppers and stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Make 5 hollows in the tomato mixture and carefully crack the eggs into each hole. Cover and cook until the eggs set, 5 to 7 minutes. Serve hot with a small whole wheat roll.

spanakopita-quiche-h-4

Spanakopita Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained well
  • 1 (9-inch) pie crust (homemade or store-bought) 
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill 

Directions
Heat oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes.

Add spinach and stir until spinach is dry, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place pie crust in a 9-inch Quiche dish or pie pan. Press into the pan, sealing any cracks. Crimp the edges.

Mix flour with Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over bottom of the crust, followed by the crumbled feta cheese. Top with spinach mixture.

Beat eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg in large bowl to blend. Pour over spinach.

Place pie pan on a baking sheet and bake about 50 minutes or until the top is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly. Cut in to wedges and serve.

chicken-salad-rs-1213081-l

Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 scallions (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

Directions
Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Pound it to an even thinness between pieces of plastic wrap.

Place the chicken in a large, wide saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until no trace of pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lime juice, vinegar and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the scallions and apples and toss.

Drain the chicken and pat it dry. Dice the chicken and add it to the apple mixture along with the peanuts, basil and remaining salt and pepper. Toss and divide among individual plates.

unhealthy lunch

Unhealthy lunch

Lunches For Work

Taking a healthy lunch to work is one of the simplest ways to trim your budget. Most people think nothing of spending $10 or so for a restaurant lunch, but over the course of a month — or a year — the expense can really add up.
Beyond the cost savings, most meals packed at home are healthier than foods from restaurants or fast food counters. When we eat out, we’re often faced with huge portions and fattening extras — like the french fries that routinely come with sandwiches. But when you pack lunch at home, you can control your portions and choose healthier ingredients.

tuna

Tuscan Tuna Wrap

2 servings

Ingredients

  • 4-5 ounces tuna packed in olive oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped black olives
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 2 whole-wheat wraps
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach leaves

Directions

Break up the tuna in a mixing bowl and mix in the parsley, lemon, oil, tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper.  Divide the mixture between the wraps, top with spinach leaves and roll up. Wrap the sandwiches tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

pesto-turkey-club-1994854-x

Pesto Turkey Sandwich

If you would like a little crunch in your sandwich, add a slice of cooked turkey bacon.

1 serving

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons prepared pesto
  • 2 slices pumpernickel bread
  • 2 ounces sliced turkey
  • 2 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 4 slices tomato

Directions
Spread pesto on the bread. Top 1 bread slice with turkey, lettuce, tomato and top with the remaining bread slice. Place in a large plastic sandwich bag.

corn salad

Corn & Black Bean & Mango Salad

Make ahead salad to pack for lunch. Serve with healthy toasted corn tortillas.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups frozen corn, defrosted and drained
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (pignoli)
  • Lime wedges for garnish

Directions
Whisk lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the corn, beans, cabbage, tomato, mango, parsley and onion; toss to coat. Sprinkle nuts on top. Refrigerate in lunch containers with a lime wedge.

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Hit the market and it sure seems like everyone is cooking for a crowd. Everything seems to be in such large packages.

In reality, there are a lot more folks cooking for one or two than you might think. There are, of course, those seniors and empty nesters but there are also the newlyweds, the college kids, the single parent and child and other young professionals.

It does take a bit of organization to make cooking for two a pleasurable experience. With some organization, you won’t find yourself eating goulash leftovers for an entire week.

Here are some organizing ideas for cooking for just two.

  1. Purchase a supply of freezer bags, plastic wrap, foil, freezer dishes, freezer labels and a permanent marker. This way you can be prepared for those too-large-for-you portions.
  2. Sure you think you’ll remember but, once frozen, it is often hard to tell which dish is which. Use your marker to write on the foil or bag or use stick on labels. Adding the cooking temperature and time will save you from looking it up later.
  3. Perhaps your recipe needs only half of a can. Place the remaining half of the can in a small freezer bag or container, label and freeze for another day or use.
  4. Most recipes seem to serve four, six or eight. However, you don’t need to divide the recipe in two. This often results in less than satisfactory results. Instead, prepare the dish but divide it in two. Have half for dinner and place half in the freezer.
  5. Individual casserole dishes are a great gift for you. Dishes, such as lasagna, chicken tetrazzini and tuna casserole, can be prepared and divided among small casseroles. Freeze the extras and pull out one or two, as needed, on a busy night.
  6. Shop in smaller quantities. When cooking for two, the big box discount stores are probably not your friend. You’ll surely tire of the five pounds of anything before it is consumed. You might think you are saving money but, if you end up wasting some of what you bought, then you haven’t saved anything.
  7. Continue to buy the meat you enjoy but divide the package into smaller portions and place some in the freezer. When buying something larger, like a roast, you can ask at the meat counter for them to split into two pieces for you.
  8. Purchase frozen vegetables in plastic bags. This allows you to pour out just the right serving for two and reseal the bag to preserve the rest.
  9. For dry goods, such as pastas, beans and rice, use what you need and then reseal the container. Sometimes, you can just place the entire box in a quart or gallon plastic bag and zip it shut to keep it fresh.
  10. Desserts for two pose a special challenge. While you can make a whole cake or pie, you might not want to be tempted by having the entire cake on that kitchen counter.  Turn that cake recipe into cupcakes, freezing some of them. Turn the pie recipe into tarts. Look for dessert mixes that make an 8 x 8-inch size pan rather than a 9 x 13-inch pan. When making desserts, such as brownies or cookies, divide them into individual portions and wrap them separately. 
  11. When making a casserole that calls for half-cup of green pepper or a few ribs of celery, head to the salad bar. Instead of an entire head of celery going bad in the refrigerator drawer, you can scoop up just the portion you need.
  12. If you have trouble using fresh produce before it can go bad, try some of the fresh produce bags, sometimes marketed as “green” bags. These extend the life of produce.

Here are some menus to get you started and these recipes are designed for two.

Menu One

 

Seared Scallops with Mint Pesto

2 Servings

Serving Size: 3 scallops, 1/4 cup pesto, 1/2 cup spinach

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons almonds, toasted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 sea scallops (8 to 10 ounces total)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh spinach

Directions:

For pesto::

In a food processor, combine mint, parsley, almonds, Parmesan cheese, the water, lemon juice, garlic, 1/8 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Cover and process until nearly smooth. Set aside.

Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle scallops with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add scallops; cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until scallops are opaque, turning once halfway through cooking.

Serve scallops and pesto over spinach.

Roasted Beets and Shallots

2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces trimmed red and/or yellow small beets, quartered
  • 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon snipped fresh sage or tarragon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange beets and shallots in a single layer in a 2-quart square baking dish. Drizzle with oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Uncover and roast for 10 to 15 minutes more or until beets are tender. Cool completely. Peel the beets. Drizzle beets and shallots with lemon juice; sprinkle with sage.

Apple-Cranberry Cobbler

2 servings

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 small apples (such as Granny Smith, Braeburn, or Honeycrisp), cored, quartered, and thinly sliced (1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat granola without raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat two 6-ounce custard cups or other 6-ounce oven-safe dishes with nonstick spray; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together apple slices, cranberries, honey, the water, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Divide mixture between prepared custard cups. Cover cups with foil.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove foil and top with granola. Bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes more or until granola is lightly browned.

Menu Two

Grilled Fish with Pepper Salsa

2 Servings

Serving Size: 1 fish steak and 2/3 cup salsa each

Ingredients:

  • 2-5 ounce fresh or frozen fish steaks, cut 3/4- to 1-inch thick
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped, seeded tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow or orange bell pepper
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh mint
  • Lemon wedges

Directions

Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. Place fish in a large resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish.

In a small bowl, combine crushed fennel seeds, the lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, 1/8 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper and the salt. Pour over fish in bag; turn to coat fish. Seal bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes, turning bag occasionally.

Meanwhile, for salsa:

In a small bowl, combine tomato, bell pepper, green onion, mint, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Set aside.

Drain fish, discarding marinade. For a charcoal grill, grill fish on the greased rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 6 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, gently turning once halfway through grilling.

For a gas grill, preheat grill . Reduce heat to medium. Place fish on greased grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.

You can also use a preheated stove top grill or grill pan; follow directions above.

Serve fish topped with salsa mixture and lemon wedges.

Quinoa

2 Servings

Serving Size 2/3 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup chopped seeded cucumber
  • 1 large green onion, thinly sliced, or 3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil

Directions:

In a small nonstick saucepan, cook quinoa and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Remove from heat. Stir in cucumber, green onion, and snipped basil.

 

Berry Cheesecake Dessert

2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fat-free cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel 
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 1 ½ cups sliced strawberries, raspberries, and/or blueberries
  • 2 gingersnaps or chocolate wafers, broken

Directions:

In a blender container or food processor bowl combine cream cheese, ricotta cheese, sugar, orange peel and orange juice. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours.

To serve, spoon the fruit into two dessert dishes. Top with the cream cheese mixture and sprinkle with the broken cookies

Menu Three

 

Wine-Glazed Steak

2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (8 to 10 ounces total)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions:

Trim fat from steak; cut steak into two equal portions. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add steaks. Reduce heat to medium; cook for 10 to 13 minutes or until desired temperature (145 degrees F for medium-rare or 160 degrees F. for medium), turning steaks occasionally. If steaks brown too quickly, reduce heat to medium-low. Transfer steaks two dinner plates; keep warm.

Add mushrooms, garlic, and crushed red pepper to skillet; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Carefully add wine. Return to heat. Boil gently, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and honey; return to simmering. Cook and stir about 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Spoon over steaks.

Roasted Carrots

2 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 slender carrots, trimmed, scrubbed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange carrots in single layer in a small baking pan. Add olive oil and orange peel; sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss. Pour orange juice over; cover tightly with foil. Roast until crisp-tender, about 20 minutes. Remove foil. Increase oven to 450°F. Drizzle honey over carrots. Roast uncovered until carrots are tender and browned in spots, about 10 minutes longer. Divide carrots and transfer them and any juices to the dinner plates with the steak.

 

Cucumber Radish Slaw

2 Servings

Serving Size: 3/4 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Dash salt
  • Dash ground black pepper
  • 1/4 of a medium English cucumber, thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 of a medium red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Add cucumber, radishes, sweet pepper, and green onion. Toss to coat. Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to 2 hours.

Roasted Mangoes with Brown Sugar Topping

2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium ripe mango, halved lengthwise and pitted
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
  • 1 teaspoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

Directions:

Place mango halves in a small baking dish. Combine brown sugar, coconut, orange peel, and crystallized ginger in a small mixing bowl. Sprinkle over mango halves.

Bake in a 425 degree F. oven about 10 minutes or until mangoes are hot, and topping just begins to brown.

Vegetarian Entree Option

Substitute this entree for any of the entrees above.

 black bean burger - saveur.com

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

2 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 15- to 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 2 tablespoons plus extra salsa, recipe below
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • 2 whole wheat hamburger buns, optional

Directions:

Using a fork, mash half of the beans in medium bowl. Mix the remaining beans, onion, carrot, bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons salsa, oregano and hot pepper sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Using moistened hands, shape bean mixture into two 3- to 4-inch-diameter patties.

Preheat broiler. Brush broiler rack or pan with oil. Broil burgers until heated through, about 3 minutes per side.. Spoon 1/4 cup salsa over each. Serve in a hamburger bun, if desired.

Homemade Tomato Salsa

Makes 3 cups

 Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/4 lb), stems removed, finely diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
  • 1 serano chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

Chop 2 medium sized fresh tomatoes. Prepare the chilies. Be very careful while handling these hot peppers. If you can, avoid touching them with your hands. Use surgical gloves or a paper towel to protect your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn’t hot enough, you can add a few for heat.

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. If not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies and the oregano

Let sit for an hour for the flavors to combine.



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