Monday, December 29, 2008

Shortcuts to Healthy Cooking

If you're tired of takeout but too tired to cook, you can still eat healthy without a lot of effort.

Sometimes cooking healthy while you’re trying to lose weight can seem like extra effort, but it doesn’t have to be. If you're tired of takeout but too tired to cook, you can still eat well without a lot of effort. What's the secret? Cutting back on prep and cooking time, without adding calories.

Here are some recommendations

Shortcut Strategies

Purchase dried bean, rice and pasta mixes with flavor packets so that you don't have to measure out lots of spices and seasonings. (Buy reduced-sodium varieties if you're following a low-salt diet.)

Eliminate slicing and dicing with packages of fresh or frozen vegetables that are already cleaned and chopped or shredded.

Take home a whole roasted chicken to make a quick chicken salad, burrito or wrap.
Use canned and dehydrated soups as bases for heartier soups and stews.

Short on Time, Long on Flavor

Jodie Shield, M Ed, RD, recipe developer and nutrition consultant to The Chicago Tribune, shares some of her super-fast meal ideas below. A few more tips come from Bev Bennett, cookbook author and weight-loss columnist for The Los Angeles Times Syndicate.
For quick jambalaya., stir-fry salad-size shrimp, diced low-fat Italian sausage and chopped bell pepper. Combine with a cooked Cajun-style rice mix until well blended.
One-dish pasta entrées. make simple family meals. Try adding chopped broccoli and diced lean ham to a cooked reduced-fat macaroni-and-cheese mix. Or make a vegetarian version with chopped fresh tomatoes and lightly steamed asparagus tips.
Feed a crowd with a wild rice-turkey casserole: Stir-fry leftover turkey breast, chopped broccoli and dried cranberries; combine with a cooked wild-rice mix.
Go vegetarian with black bean burritos.. Stir-fry diced onions and combine them with canned black beans (rinsed and drained) and a cooked rice mix. Layer down the center of tortillas, top with salsa and low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, roll up, and bake until heated through and the tortillas are slightly browned.
Add a dash of lime juice, hot sauce and a cup of chopped cooked chicken breast to canned chicken soup. Sprinkle with cilantro and you've got hot-and-sour soup. in a jiffy.
Slice and arrange store-bought, precooked polenta. in a 9-inch square pan; top with soy-based chorizo and a little tomato sauce. Bake until just heated through, and you'll be dining Italian-style with almost no effort.

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