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Topic: What's your fav easy meal?  (Read 2180 times)
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« on: July 07, 2009 10:48:10 PM »

Hey Everyone, first post!  Grin
So I was born and raised in the south, and my family's mentality toward food seems to be the best way to cook anything is to fry it, put it in a casserole, or coat it in mayo.
After realizing that the majority of my older family members have issues with diabetes, cholesterol, and cardiac conditions, I decided I needed to learn to cook healthily... don't get me wrong, southern food tastes amazing, but health problems those above aren't family traits care to inherit. =)
I was wondering if anyone on Craftster would care to share one of their fav healthy recipes to a novice cook and poor college student?
Thanks in advance!  =)
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2009 05:07:38 AM »

I've got a few, most from online blogs which I've then tried at home. (I'm a poor student too Cheesy)

Here they are:

1. Chicken caesar pasta salad http://blog.easygourmetdinners.com/2009/07/chicken-caesar-pasta-salad-travel.html
2. Chicken, asparagus and broccoli stir-fry http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.blogspot.com/2009/03/chicken-asparagus-and-broccoli-stir-fry.html
3. I'm planning on trying this tonight, lemon + chicken = yum. http://mytastytreasures.blogspot.com/2009/07/grilled-lemon-chicken-and-sesame-green.html

I just realised all my faves are chicken, but nevermind. Also ...

Sweet potato and carrot soup:

1. Chop veggies into same size chunks. Boil until soft in a pan of chicken or vegetable stock.
2. Blend veggies and chicken stock together (you have to blend the mixture in batches, as it probably won't all fit into the blender at the same time, so if it's looking a little thin, pour away some stock and blend more veggies, if it's too thick, add more stock!)
3. Heat up again in another pan, add salt and pepper to taste, and if you want to, add a dash of pouring cream before serving.

**Yummy and cheap, and you can use any vegetables you want, it's the same principle.**

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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2009 09:25:15 AM »

One of my favorite quick and healthy recipes is a chili rubbed pork chop. Its originally a Weight Watcher's recipe, but it tastes great. Plus, you can use the rub on any kind of protein, so its pretty versatile.


« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2009 11:22:34 AM »

I'm sort of the opposite but have a similar problem.   Cheesy  I moved from San Francisco (land o' crunchy/healthy foodies) to the south & DH loves down home cooking.  And we get a lot of wild game - if you're from the south, you know what I mean.  Wink  To me, the big things are (1) learn how to cook vegetables (sorry but there are waaaay to many places in the south where veggies are a cr@ppy afterthought & so it's no wonder people don't eat their veggies here), (2) don't fry things (there are lots of baked methods to substitute for that crunchy texture, (3) drain meat when cooking it to get excess fat out (especially cheaper higher fat meats), (4) watch the salt, and (5) watch the type of oil you cook with (olive oil is best, followed by canola, and I personally prefer cold pressed oils because there is less processing).  

Check out the book Eight Weeks to Optimum Health by Dr. Andrew Weil.  Particularly in week 1, he talks about a lot of the junk to throw out in your pantry (artificial sweeteners, food coloring, worst/best types of oils to cook with).  It's on Amazon or at a lot of libraries.  If you google it, you can find a synopsis of his suggestions posted for free.  He might seem a little extreme - I admit I haven't even done all of his suggestions but I figure even some is progress.  Smiley  His website also has free recipes although these aren't anything like "down home" cooking.


I really like Clean Eating magazine, too, and I think their website has an offer where you can get a free magazine (I have a hard time finding it in stores around here).  Their recipes are really simple & tasty, but don't have a lot of processed junk.  One of my past issues even had a "meat & potatoes" feature with cleaned up versions of meat & potatoes type recipes.  I have also seen cleaned up casserole recipes.  They also run a feature on how to "eat clean" with a family of four for $50 or less in a week, which is nice.  And they have menu plans where you don't even have to think.  Wink  And the website has some free recipes.


I really like the oil mister they sell at Bed Bath & beyond, too.  You can lightly oil a pan to cook (instead of pouring too much into the pan), but there aren't all the chemicals that are in something like Pam.  And I have an easier time cleaning food off of my pans than scrubbing the "seasoning" gunk Pam leaves in a pan over time.  You can put any kind of oil in it & it's only $10!


I really like the Cooking Light and Epicurious recipe websites, too.  On the Epicurious recipes, sometimes I'll use "healthier techniques" to make the recipes.  I've also decided I'm going to try a couple of the Sneaky Chef recipes & maybe buy the book because DH hardly eats any veggies.  So I'll hide them!  Cheesy  I've been mulling over getting one of Tosca Reno's cookbooks, too - especially the "family friendly" one.  Here are some of the Sneaky Chef's free recipes:


I also sent someone a budget cookbook recently in a swap.  If you'd like the electronic file, PM me your e-mail address.  Some of the recipes are here:


Also, from a practical point of view, when my sister was told she was pre-diabetic (she likes down home food too  Roll Eyes), something they told her was to "balance" her plate by filling it 1/4 with meat, 1/4 with a starch, and 1/2 with veggies.

Hope that helps!
« Last Edit: July 10, 2009 11:26:13 AM by donniesgirl » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2009 11:30:51 AM »

Also, if you go to the Bisquick website & search for impossibly easy pies in their recipe section, they have a bunch of small casseroles (that fit in a pie dish).  I substitute the light Bisquick, use non-fat milk & lowfat cheese (non fat cheese is rubbery & doesnt melt), and egg whites instead of eggs.  DH loves these!  The ham & cheese one is one of my favorites.


Ok Im really done now.  Smiley

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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2009 01:00:37 PM »

Steamed mussels in wine and garlic

Sounds harder than it is, and I challenge any of you who thinks this sounds overwhelming, give it a try and I think you might be surprised.

Before I toss out the recipe I use, I found the most important part for personal taste is to get the broth flavor right before you steam.  Okay for my recipe

I saute leeks and fennel bulb (you can either dice or slice its up to you) in butter until softened in Dutch oven.

I then add crushed garlic because I love garlic and the crushed blends so nicely into a broth without being chunky.  Then I add about a cup of chicken stock (I keep plenty in my freezer) and a cup of white wine (cooking, cheap or fine it's up to you) Add some salt and pepper to taste, or a few more spices if you please. 

Get it to a boil and let it boil at least 10 minutes.

Multi-tasking time!!

While the broth is boiling this would be and ideal time to clean the mussels and discard anyones that aren't good.  I ususally by a pound of mussels per person taking into account that there will be some that don't make it  Sad
Also, I usually buy them the day I plan on making it.  It falls under easy meal since this is a go to if my man hasn't had time to prepare dinner before I get home an I can easily stop at the grocer and pick this up.  Bonus is that mussels are also cheap.

Okay so this is how I clean and its seemed to work out for me.  I clear out one part of my sink of any dishes.  I stick a colindar in there.  I put a good amount of ice in there.  As I put mussles into the ice colindar I trash the bad ones.  I also look for any beards and pull them off.  I grab them and pull them back towards the hinge part of the mussel and usually this gets them off pretty easy.  Everynow and then they are too tough and I just snip them off, but watch out, sometimes when its snipped off a little remains on the inside, and its gritty.  I've only usually had to do this to the ones I get from whole foods.  Chain grocers that sell mussels don't seem to have mussels with the uber strong beard. 

So now we've pulled out all the bad ones and debearded them.  The broth is at a nice boil.  Do a few rinses of the mussels in the colinar just to get them clean.  Now we can drop those little suckers into the broth. Only do as many as will fit in one layer at the bottom of your pot. Mussels ususally take 3 -6 minutes to open up and cook.  If one doesn't open after 6 minutes it's pretty much a goner.   Remove mussels into large serving bowls (as many as people who are eating) and repeat the process with the next batch until done.   

Once all of this is cooked, split the broth between the bowls and serve with a nice loaf of crusty bread and butter.  Yum Yum.  I think I might make that tonight.

« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2009 10:25:02 PM »

Thanks for your suggestions everyone!  I'm excited to try some of this stuff out!  Smiley
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2009 09:38:08 AM »

A couple of super-easy and cheap ones:

Spaghetti with red sauce

Cook spaghetti according to directions on package.
Simmer 1 lg. can pureed tomatoes with one peeled onion for about 10 minutes.
Sauce can be finished with a little butter, salt and pepper, maybe some Parmesan. Add a handful of washed spinach and let it wilt in the sauce if you're feeling virtuous, or serve with a salad.

Heat some tortillas or tostadas. Top with heated beans (can of black beans, pinto beans, chili beans, refried beans) and anything else you like cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, chopped bell pepper, etc. You can also use some meat if you'd like. Endless combinations!

I also often make salads into meals by adding chicken/leftover meat/tuna/beans (usually cannellini) to lettuce/spinach and sliced vegetables + store-bought dressing (check labels for nutrition info, but I'd rather use a little full-fat dressing with natural ingredients rather than artificial low-fat stuff).

By the way, I second the suggestion of Dr. Andrew Weil's book!
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