It doesn't get easier than this. As a busy mom and dietitian, I want my family to eat healthy at home, even though we don't always have much time or a cupboard full of ingredients to work with! So, we resort to recipes that are quick and simple. Here are examples of four easy meals that only require adding a protein and veggie. Keep these five ingredients on hand for quick options, and you can whip up dinner any night of the week!
1) Minced garlic
2) Soy sauce
3) Maple syrup
4) White cooking wine
5) Hot sauce (or for a less spicy version, choose a lower sugar barbecue sauce such as the Cookie's brand)
Buffalo or barbecue chicken salad
Cut boneless skinless chicken breasts into 1-2-inch chunks or strips. I like to do this the night before, so it is ready to go the next day. Heat a pan with 1 teaspoon olive oil or cooking spray. Brown chicken. Add a few dashes of hot sauce or barbecue sauce of choice. Top a bed of salad greens with your chicken. Add black beans, corn, avocado, or sunflower seeds for extra healthy calories. Top with additional sauce or my favorite, a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese.
Jill Koegel is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Omaha. She blogs every Wednesday. Read more from Jill.
Sweet and savory seafood
Use whatever you have on hand, such as salmon, white fish, shrimp, or scallops. Mix together 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (I use the reduced sugar variety), 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. On a square of foil, place a handful of fresh or frozen vegetables. Top with thawed fish, and drizzle with the sauce you just mixed up! Wrap foil around the fish and veggies, and bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, depending on the type and weight of seafood you are using.
Maple-glazed pork chops
Boneless pork chops are a great staple meat to have on hand. They are extremely versatile! Mix 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon maple syrup with a citrus juice of choice (or I like pineapple juice). Brown pork chops on the stove top in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Remove from pan. Add ½ cup Marsala or white cooking wine to the pan and scrape up any bits of pork. Place pork back in the pan and top with maple sauce. Cook a few minutes more. For extra flavor, you can pre-marinate the chops in the glaze, discard and make another batch for brushing on at the end.
Teriyaki tofu stir-fry
Use extra firm tofu for a great easy stir-fry. Cut tofu in 1-inch chunks and drain slightly on paper towels. Meanwhile, you can make an easy teriyaki sauce. Place 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 2 tablespoons maple syrup in a medium bowl, add 1-2 teaspoons of minced garlic and stir. Add the tofu carefully and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add marinated tofu, broccoli, or other stir-fry veggies. Cook tofu until it is brown on each side and veggies are crisp tender. Serve over brown rice or whole grain noodles.
You likely have the five ingredients already, so try one of these recipes tonight!