Aug. 26--With school back in session, many families are looking for simple yet nutritious recipes for the kitchen stovetop and oven.
The key ingredient usually selected first is protein -- an essential fuel for the body.
Dietitians recommend getting lean protein from sources such as skinless poultry, fish, beef, pork loins and beans.
"Select lower-fat cuts of meat, remove the skin on poultry and trim the fat from meats to avoid unhealthy saturated fats," advises Ellen Haas in "Fit Foods for a Healthy Lifestyle," which includes recipes for dishes such as Salmon Burgers. She also recommend making beans a regular part of your diet.
You can start with the versatile chicken breast; just be sure it is lean. Tuna and seafood are other good sources of protein, with the added benefits of omega-3 fatty acids thought to improve heart health and reduce the risk of some cancers.
For cooks in a hurry, it's OK to look for products to get your healthy dinner on the table faster. Bumble Bee, for example, has created recipes using its canned tuna medleys and pouches of seasoned chicken breasts. Try the Garden Vegetable Medley Skillet, Pit-Za Bella Salada or Thai Wrap & Roll.
You can also use the protein as part of a skillet dinner, stir-fry, wrap or salad to limit the amount of meat used. Take advantage of late-summer vegetables such as zucchini, squash and bell peppers, whether folded into the main dish or served as sides and salads.
You're not alone if you eat poultry or meat for lunch and again for dinner. However, you may not need as much meat as you think to get the necessary protein. Go for a bean- or soy-based meal once a week.
The American Heart Association says many Americans eat more protein than they need. Its "Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook" says it's best to eat a daily total of 5 to 6 ounces of lean meat, poultry and seafood, and keep protein to only about 15 percent of your total calories.
"It's important to get your protein from a variety of foods, including dried peas and beans, meat, seafood, poultry and soy products, such as tofu," the Heart Association cookbook says, and twice a week is a good guideline for serving fish. Both plant and animal proteins give you a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients.
The cookbook offers a recipe for Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas that is an example of a meatless protein-filled main dish.
If you prefer pork tenderloin as your protein source, you may want to try a simple, make-it-after-work recipe from the "Incredibly Easy Weeknight Meals" cookbook. This Pork Tenderloin with Red Pepper Sauce gets extra flavor from a packet of ranch dressing and seasoning mix, and this sauce can also be used over chicken.
Here are some recipes to try:
Garden Vegetable Medley Skillet
2 5-ounce cans of Bumble Bee Sensations Sundried Tomato & Basil Tuna Medley (do not drain)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups diced red potatoes
1 cup onion, sliced julienne strips (1 medium onion)
2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed
1 cup red bell pepper, julienne strips (1/2 pepper)
11/2 cups sliced yellow squash (2 squash)
4 cups sliced zucchini (2 zucchini)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
Dash of salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon rosemary, fresh, chopped
Sprig of fresh rosemary as garnish
In skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add potatoes, onion and green beans. Saute for 5 minutes, turning frequently. Add remaining vegetables, garlic, salt and rosemary. Add tuna, including the flavored juices. Cook mixture, stirring gently until vegetables are tender, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
Serve from skillet and garnish plates with sprig of rosemary. Serve with rolls or garlic bread, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
Note: Frozen vegetables may be substituted for ease of preparation and seasonal availability.
Pit-Za Bella Salada
2 cups dry three-cheese tortellini
4 4-ounce pouches Bumble Bee Prime Fillet Garlic & Herb Chicken Breasts (do not drain)
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Dash of salt
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
4 6-inch pita flatbreads
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 teaspoons dry grated Parmesan cheese
8 cups spring salad mix (5- to 7-ounce bag)
4 tablespoons fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
Prepare tortellini according to package directions. Set aside.
Place chicken breasts, with juices, in sauce pan to heat over medium high burner. Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, pepper, salt and red bell pepper. Heat chicken breasts approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
Lightly coat surface of pita bread with olive oil and sprinkle both sides with dry grated Parmesan. In skillet over medium high heat, grill pita until edges are toasted and crisp, approximately 2 minutes. Remove from pan, place on plate, and set aside to use for crust.
Top each crust with spring salad mix. Divide cooked tortellini to place in center and top with heated chicken breast. Pour warm vinaigrette mixture over top of chicken breast, pasta and salad. Sprinkle with fresh shredded Parmesan. Makes 4 servings.
Thai Wrap & Roll
2 5-ounce cans Bumble Bee Sensations Spicy Thai Tuna Medley (do not drain)
4 10-inch spinach herb flour tortilla wraps
Dressing for Coleslaw:
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons chunky peanut butter
6 cups cabbage, shredded (1/2 head)*
2 cups purple cabbage, shredded (1/4 head)*
1 cup or 4 green onions, sliced crosswise
1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (1 small bunch)
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 cup chow mein noodles
In small cup, combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and peanut butter. Mix well and set aside.
In large bowl, place cabbage, green onion, cilantro, sesame seeds, chow mein noodles and dressing. Toss to combine.
Heat tortilla 10 seconds in microwave to make it pliable. Divide coleslaw mixture and tuna portions to fill four tortilla wraps. Place coleslaw mixture in center of tortilla and top with tuna, making a row down center of tortilla. Fold burrito style one at a time.
Cut in half diagonally. Makes 4 servings. Serve with fresh fruit.
*Note: Pre-packaged shredded cabbage may be substituted for ease of preparation.
Salmon Burgers with Dill Mustard
For the Salmon Burgers:
3/4 pound boneless, skinless salmon fillet
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 teaspoon chopped capers
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns
1 large tomato, sliced
For the Dill Mustard:
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups fresh dill sprigs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Cut the salmon into 1-inch pieces and place in a food processor with blade attachment. Coarsely grind the salmon.
In a small bowl, stir the egg, bread crumbs, dill, shallots and capers together with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Add the ground salmon and stir to combine. Form the mixture into 4 patties about 1/2-inch thick.
Over medium heat, heat a nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Cook the burgers on both sides until they are golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Toast buns and serve with lettuce, tomato and Dill Mustard Sauce. Makes 4 servings.
For the Dill Mustard, place the sugar and dill in a small food processor fitted with the blade attachment and process for 1 minute. Add the mustard, lemon juice and vinegar and process until smooth. With the processor running, add the olive oil slowly through the feed tube. This makes about 11/2 cups and can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator to serve with fish and shellfish.
Pork Tenderloin with Red Pepper Sauce
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup roasted red peppers, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup sour cream
1-ounce packet Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
2 pork tenderloins (1 pound each), cooked and sliced
Saute onion in olive oil in a large skillet until soft and lightly browned. Stir in red peppers and heat through. Remove skillet from heat; stir in sour cream and salad dressing and seasoning mix. Transfer warm mixture to food processor and puree until smooth. Serve warm over sliced pork tenderloin. Makes 11/4 cups sauce, which is also good served over steak or chicken or used cold as a sandwich spread.
Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas
Several quarts of water
8 cups fresh spinach leaves, stemmed (1 pound)*
Vegetable oil spray, if needed
15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup low-sodium salsa
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
6 6-inch corn tortillas or nonfat or low-fat flour tortillas
1/2 cup nonfat or low-fat sour cream
11/2 to 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
4 ounces shredded nonfat or low-fat Monterey Jack cheese (about 1 cup)
2 Italian plum tomatoes, diced
2 green onions (green and white parts), thinly sliced
In a large pot, bring water to a boil over high heat. While water heats, thoroughly rinse spinach. Add spinach to boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well in a colander. Press out as much liquid as possible with the back of a large spoon; discard water.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using a casserole dish, spray it with vegetable oil spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine spinach, black beans, salsa, cumin and chili powder.
Spoon one-fourth of the mixture down the middle of one tortilla. Roll the tortilla around the filling (jelly-roll style). Place tortilla seam side down in a shallow, non-stick baking pan or prepared casserole dish. Repeat process with remaining tortillas. Bake enchiladas, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine sour cream and lime juice. Remove enchiladas from oven and spread sour cream mixture evenly over enchiladas. Top with cheese, tomatoes and green onions and bake for 5 minutes. Makes 6 servings, each with 201 calories, 17 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates and 1 g polyunsaturated fat.
*Note: You can substitute a 10-ounce package of no-salt-added frozen spinach for the fresh spinach. Cook according to package directions, omitting salt and oil; then continue with the recipe. This dish freezes well when placed in an airtight plastic freezer bag.
To see more of The Decatur Daily, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.decaturdaily.com
Copyright (c) 2009, The Decatur Daily, Ala.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
For reprints, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.
"SIMPLE SUPPERS: Choose lean protein and whip up a quick, nutritious meal with a skillet dinner, stir-fry, wrap or pita salad.(Recipe)." Decatur Daily [Decatur, AL] 26 Aug. 2009. General OneFile. Web. 5 Nov. 2009.
(Album / Profile) http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=10034&id=1661531726&l=0b77e26203