Friday, September 14, 2018

healthy living: 4 Easy Weeknight Meals!

It's a busy time of year with school back in session and practices and sporting events galore.  It's easy to make a last-minute decision to hit up a fast food restaurant for dinner when you are tired and hungry.  To help you ditch the drive-thru, here are 4 easy dinner ideas to keep your family happy and well-fed during this hectic time of year.  

Chicken Caesar Salad (above)

This meal requires zero preparation- simply run into the store and grab a salad kit, rotisserie chicken, and a hearty loaf of bread with butter (or olive oil) and you have a quick and easy meal!  Of course, you could just cook chicken breast on your own, but rotisserie chicken is a great option for the nights you just aren't up for cooking and washing pans. There are many varieties of chopped salad kits at the store to choose from if Caesar isn't your thing.  If you'd rather not have bread, have some fresh fruit on the side as a source of healthy carbohydrate. 

Chicken Meatballs with Rice and Vegetables (above)

Who says meatballs can only be paired with spaghetti?  Alfresco brand sells numerous flavors of pre-made chicken meatballs with a good quality ingredient list and they are very flavorful just by themselves.  I like to pair the meatballs with a fresh or frozen vegetable and rice.  Cook the rice in broth instead of water and add some fresh herbs (like parsley) in for a little extra flavor.  Simply heat up the meatballs in the microwave or on the stove before serving. This meal requires very little prep and takes between 15-35 minutes depending what type of rice you use.  If you are feeing motivated, of course you could make your own meatballs from scratch or just use frozen ones. 

Egg Roll in a Bowl (above)

This is such an easy and tasty low-carb and one-pan meal with the option to pair with rice if desired.  This recipe also makes quite a bit and I can confirm that the leftovers freeze well.   It's just like eating the inside of an eggroll without the wrapper. Simply do a quick google search for "egg roll bowl" and you will find many recipe options, but here is a general overview of how to make this: 

Step 1: Thinly slice some green cabbage and dice an onion.  If using whole carrots, julienne them (or take the easy way out and buy matchstick carrots).  Step 2: Brown the ground beef.  Step 3: Add the onions, carrots, and cabbage to the pan and cook down until tender.  Step 4: Stir in about 1/2 cup of beef broth and mix in some of the following flavors to taste: garlic, ground or fresh ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, and soy sauce/tamari (or coconut aminos).  Enjoy the egg roll bowl by itself or over rice with extra soy sauce for flavor if needed.

Fresh Tortellini and Pesto (above)

This meal is SO easy and takes less than 10 minutes to completion.  Most supermarkets have many varieties of fresh pasta in the cooler section and tortellini is usually a winner with kids and adults alike.  Simply boil a pot of water and cook the tortellini for 4-5 minutes (it really just needs to heat through).  While that's cooking, throw some frozen broccoli or cauliflower into the microwave.  Drain the pasta and mix in pesto (or other sauce) and the vegetables and enjoy! If you have big appetites in your family, consider serving a side salad with this because the portions in the fresh pasta containers aren't huge.  

Kelsey Stricklen, MS RD CLT is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in women's health and food sensitivities. She runs a primarily virtual private nutrition practice out of Grand Rapids, Michigan called Nutrition in the Mitten. You can check out her services and blog here.  Or find her on Instagram here. To view more meal ideas check out the Healthy Living tab under features on the top of this blog or click here!

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