Sunday, March 18, 2012

Last week's meals

I'm sure you already had this marked down on your calendars and have been celebrating accordingly, but the month of March is "National Nutrition Month". In honor of this, and to promote healthy eating, my boss, my intern and myself did some planning to provide activities and some healthy meals for employees and families who eat in the cafeteria. My intern planned the learning activities and I got the fun task of planning one healthy entree every day for the cafeteria (not to be confused with the meals we serve the patients - their meals are always well-balanced).

I really enjoyed poring over recipes I thought people would enjoy and it also insipred me to put a little more effort into meal planning for the last week and try a few new items, too. Here is a little summary: (Blogger has not been allowing me to link ... I apologize, but you should easily be able to google the recipes)

Saturday - My parents joined us for dinner and I made Low-fat Chicken Enchiladas from for the first time. My neighbor Cassie made these for us one evening and they are so, so tasty! And a little spicy. I had been looking for an excuse to make them, unfortunately there was only 1/2 of 1 enchilada leftover. I made them with Cilantro-lime rice and R made beans. R had 3, Dad had 2, I had 1 1/2 (but really only needed one to be full - I was just being greedy), and Mom had 1. (No, I don't usually keep tabs on how much other people eat, but thought it would be helpful for you to judge how many this would feed).

Sunday - R worked all day long so I got to experiment with a meal I felt sure I would enjoy but didn't know how excited he'd be about. I made QUINOA (pronounced keen-wah, I believe) for the first time! This grain-like food is promoted frequently for its health benefits. For one, it is significantly higher in protein than your typical grain (rice, pasta, etc). Also, unlike the protein in most vegetable sources, it is "complete" - meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids. In addition, quinoa is a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron - and gluten free. This little bag contains 1 1/2 cups, 3 servings according to the container and cost $2.99. I used 1 c. for my dish.

I was taken aback a bit when I looked at the nutrition facts. For 1/2 c dry, there are 290 kcal and 12 gm protein... That's a lot of calories compared to other grains - until you consider that 1/2 c. dry turns into 1 1/3 c. cooked. So I did some math: For 1/2 c. cooked quinoa (an average serving of a grain), there are 109 kcal, 4.5 gm protein, 2.25 gm fiber and 9% of the daily value for iron. So, not as bad as I thought at first. Here's what I made:

Butternut Squash with Quinoa, Spinach and Walnuts
(Bobby Deen

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
2 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth (I used chicken broth b/c I had it on hand)
2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
1 cup quinoa
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 cups baby spinach
2 Tbsp toasted chopped walnuts

Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat.
Add garlic and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth, squash, quinoa, and raisins and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed and the squash and quinoa are tender, 15-20 minutes.
Gently stir in the spinach and cook until it just begins to wilt, 2-3 minutes.
Remove from heat. Sprinkle with walnuts.

It was quite tasty and filling! Richard turned his nose up when he got home so I made him something else, but he did taste it and agreed that it was good. He ate all of the leftovers for lunch the next day. I did notice that he picked around the raisins. I will classify this one as a winner.

Here are the nutrition facts:
For each of 4 servings: 345 kcal, 14 g protein, 8 g fat (3 g mono unsaturated fats), 60 g carbs, 9 g fiber, 7 mg iron, 147 mg sodium, 239 mg calcium

Monday - R worked late and I was having Bible study at the casa, so I made spaghetti - the easy way, with pre-made sauce. He ate when he got home, then ate leftovers a few times, and I was able to freeze 2 portions. (I used 1 # ground turkey, garlic, 1 sliced leek (leftover that I bought for the quinoa dish), 1 jar of sauce, plus 1 large can of diced tomatoes for the sauce and 1 box of whole grain thin spaghetti. I wish I had added some more tomato sauce, but it was still good.)

Tuesday - I made pork carnitas from in the crock pot, which I hadn't done in several months - and it was really good, as always! Like good Mexicans, we always use corn tortillas (ok, with the exception of the enchiladas I made on Saturday). I put diced tomatoes, avocado, a little shredded cheese and a smidge of sour cream in mine. R added tomatoes, avocado, onion, and cilantro. We ate it with R's beans. Later on in the week, he sauteed the leftover meat with tomato, onion, and cilantro and put it in tortillas - even better.

Wednesday - Once again, R was working late so I didn't feel like going to alot of trouble. I utilized a few individually frozen tilapia filets that I bought in an economy-sized bag from HEB I purchased to take advantage of a "meal deal" and borrowed Bobby Deen's super easy method ( - Bobby's Baked Tilapia).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Simply spray a cast iron pan with cooking spray, throw in 4 filets, season with salt, pepper, lime zest and lime juice (I used lemon b/c that's what I had), add a small pat (about 1 tsp) of butter to each filet and cook in the oven for 8-12 minutes. Not super exciting, but good, easy and healthy. I sauteed some yellow squash to eat with it and I think I had some salad. I fixed R's plate with some leftover coucous that was sitting in the fridge (don't tell him!) and gave him 2 pieces of fish instead of 1.

Thursday - R worked a lot this week so I wanted to make a meal I thought he would really enjoy and I found a "healthy" recipe for - Old Fashioned Salisbury Steak with Shitake Mushroom Gravy, another Bobby Deen recipe. Do y'all know who he is? He's Paula Deen's son and he has a new show on the Food Network, "Not My Mama's Meals", cooking mostly healthier versions of comfort food. As you can see, I've tried out a few of his items recently, and all have been successful.

1 # extra-lean ground beef (5% or less fat - I used the 93% lean, so mine had a couple more gm fat)
1/2 tsp salt
2 slices light whole wheat sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1-8oz pkg shitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (I just used whatever was easy to grab at the store)
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 c reduced-sodium beef broth
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Spray a broiler pan rack with cooking spray. (I don't think I have a broiler pan, maybe I do... but I used a cookie sheet with a cooling rack on top instead) Preheat the broiler.

Combine the beef, salt, bread and half of the onions in a large bowl until well mixed. Shape the meat mixture into four 4x3 inch oval patties. Place the patties on the broiler pan rach 6" from the heat. Broil until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 degrees for medium, about 12 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time.

Heat the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and the remaining chopped onions. Cook, stirring occassionally, until the mushrooms are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the broth and Worcestershire and bring to a boil. Add the patties to the skillet and bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce bubbles and thickens and the patties are heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Nutrition facts for one serving: 316 kcal, 36 gm protein, 11 gm total fat, 19g carbs, 3 g fiber, 5 mg iron, 962 mg sodium.
I served with Ellie Krieger's "smashed" potatoes - steamed unpeeled yukon gold potatoes with 1/2 c. warm chicken broth, 1/4 c. light sour cream, 2 Tbsp chopped chives, salt and pepper to taste - and fresh broccoli. Was a great meal! Got a little hectic getting everything finished at the same time and I ended up making a lot of dirty pots and pans for R to clean!

I have a couple other posts in the works - one about a few diets that have been popping up in the media more lately and one a survey that I was tagged in (harder than I thought it would be!) Hopefully this time next week I'll be blogging about another week of successful meals. Here's what's on the menu:

Tonight: Peppercorn Pork with Wine Sauce (Ellie Krieger - EK); Green beans with Mushrooms and Shallots (EK); possibly roasted potatoes... still deciding
Monday: Balsamic Chicken with Baby Spinach and Couscous (EK)
Tuesday: The class we're going to at church serves dinner! Whoot!
Wednesday: Chicken Cacciatore (EK) and rice
Thursday: Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream (EK) and probably R's beans
Friday: Turkey burgers and sweet potato fries (I usually just buy the frozen kind)

I better get to it or we'll never eat dinner!

Love, B

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