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?
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 (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
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
Use any combination of frozen vegetables that you like in place of the California Blend.
- 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
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
- 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
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.
For a bit of sweetness, add a handful of raisins to the bean mixture.
Baked Eggs Florentine
- 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
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
- 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
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook fettuccine according to package instructions. Drain.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
- Quick Summer Side Dishes (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Speedy After-Work Dinners (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Recipe – Baked Fish with Herbs, Healthy, Delicious and Easy to cook! (ahdalin.wordpress.com)
The history of ravioli is yet another example of the many stories and myths surrounding pasta creations. The word, ravioli, may derive from the Latin rabiola (a little turnip) whose shape resembles ravioli, or from ravolgere (to wrap) directly suggesting the way ravioli are made or in Italian, the term “ravioli” is derived from a word meaning “to stuff” .
Enjoyed worldwide, but where do ravioli actually come from?
The city of Cremona claims to be the birthplace, competing for this title with Genoa that traces the etymology of the word back to their dialect word for the pasta, rabiole, which signifies “something of little value” and, as the legend has it, originates from the practice of local sailors who would wrap the leftovers from one meal in thin sheets of dough to use for another meal and to break the monotony of a sailor’s diet.
Although no-one can be sure when ravioli were first made, the earliest written mentions appear in 14th century manuscripts including pieces by Francesco di Marco Datini, a merchant of Prato, Tuscany and in a Venetian manuscript which had a ravioli recipe consisting of chopped blanched green herbs mixed with beaten egg and fresh cheese which was simmered in broth – a very traditional way of eating ravioli (al brodo) which is still observed today. References have also been found dating back to mid 16th century Rome when Bartolomeo Scappi served them to the papal conclave of 1549.
Ravioli is a traditional Italian pasta dish made by filling rounds or squares of pasta dough with a filling, creating a sort of pasta “pillow.” The dish is wildly popular outside of Italy, and can be readily found in fresh and frozen form in most Western supermarkets. The fillings for ravioli are limited only by the imagination, as are the sauces which can complement it, and making ravioli at home is fun and relatively easy, if cooks want to experiment with new flavors.
Within Italy, depending on where you travel, you can have meat ravioli, cheese ravioli, seafood ravioli, and versions stuffed with a variety of vegetables including squash, spinach and seasonal mushrooms. Regional Italian cuisine highlights unique flavors and specialties of the area. Typically, the ravioli are boiled and served with a rich sauce, although some parts of Italy bake their ravioli in cream sauces after boiling them.
Although many consumers associate meat with ravioli, there is actually a long tradition of vegetarian ravioli in Italy. On Fridays and during Lent, vegetarian ravioli is a popular option, because for Catholics, red meat is forbidden during fast periods. Less wealthy Italian families ate vegetarian ravioli more often, and there is a long culinary history of cheese and vegetable filled ravioli with interesting spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Seafood ravioli is also common in port towns of Italy, and is often served with delicate lemon sauces that highlight the flavor of the fish.
All ravioli starts with a pasta dough, typically made by mixing egg, flour, salt, olive oil, and water. The dough is kneaded and worked to a smooth, moist consistency, and then allowed to rest while the filling is made. The vegetable or meat filling is usually cooked and cooled, then mixed with egg and/or cheese. The dough is rolled out into a flat sheet and small spoonfuls of filling are placed approximately one inch apart before another sheet of rolled out dough is carefully placed on top. The ravioli are then cut into “little pillows” with a cutter.
Making Homemade Ravioli
You don’t have to make pasta by hand to make it from scratch. Follow these tips on using a pasta machine.
Combine 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3 eggs beaten, 1 tablespoon water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in food processor. Process until dough forms; shape into a ball.
Place dough on lightly floured surface; flatten slightly. Cut dough into 4 pieces. Wrap 3 dough pieces in plastic wrap; set aside.
Knead dough with pasta machine. Set rollers of pasta machine at widest setting (position 1). Feed unwrapped dough piece through flat rollers by turning handle. (Dough may crumble slightly at first but will hold together after two to three rollings.)
Lightly flour dough strip; fold strip into thirds. Feed through rollers again. Continue process 5-6 times more, until dough is smooth and elastic.
Roll out dough with machine keeping the sheets as wide as the pasta maker roller. Reduce setting to position 3. Feed dough strip through rollers. Without folding strip into thirds, repeat on positions 5 and 6.
Let dough stand 5 to 10 minutes until slightly dry on floured kitchen towels.
Repeat kneading and rolling with reserved dough pieces.
To Shape Ravioli:
In a small bowl, combine 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water; set aside.
Place the rolled dough on a cutting board and brush strips lightly with egg mixture.
Leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges, place about 1 teaspoon of filling at 1-inch intervals on one strip of dough.
Lay a second strip of dough, brushed side down, over the first. Using your fingers, press the dough around each mound of filling so that the two moistened strips stick together.
Cut dough between filling to make individual ravioli. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Fillings to use for stuffing the ravioli.
Butternut Squash Ravioli Filling
- 1 -1 pound butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Seed and peel squash; cut into 1-inch pieces (you should have about 2 2/3 cups).
Place squash in an 8x8x2-inch or 9x9x2-inch baking pan. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss gently to coat. Roast, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until tender, stirring once.
Transfer squash to a medium bowl. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Stir in cheese and nutmeg.
Crab Ravioli Filling
- 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 6 ounces crab meat, drained, flaked, and cartilage removed
- 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons drained capers
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
In a medium skillet, cook pepper, onion, and garlic in hot butter over medium heat about 4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in crabmeat, lemon peel, lemon juice, capers, fennel seeds, and black pepper.
Spinach Cheese Filling
- 1 1/2 cups ricotta
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups packed spinach (1/2 pound of frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry or a pound of cooked drained fresh spinach)
- A pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Drain the ricotta well, if need be by squeezing it in cheesecloth, and crumble it. Mince the spinach. Mix the spinach, ricotta, eggs, and spices together.
To Cook Ravioli:
Bring a large amount of salted water to boiling in a large pot. Gently drop about one-fourth of the ravioli, one at a time, into the boiling water and stir to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Simmer gently for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ravioli to a serving dish. Serve with your favorite sauce.
- Experimenting with Ravioli (shwetathefoodie.wordpress.com)
- The art of ravioli making at Botticino,Trident (i2cook.wordpress.com)
- meatless monday featuring mushroom ravioli with a light cream sauce (thetalkingkitchen.com)
- Homemade Heart-Shaped Gluten Free Ravioli – 2 ways (sprinklesandallergies.com)
- Yes, You Can Make Homemade Pasta! (jovinacooksitalian.com)
- Ravioli from Scratch! (theselightfootsteps.com)
- Pasta Making Class with Mrs. Wheelbarrow (arugulafiles.typepad.com)
- How to Make Fresh Ravioli (americanchefinlondon.com)