Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dinner in a Snap: Recipes For the Health-Conscious Athletes Short on Time

I love to experiment with recipes in the kitchen. Whether it's adjusting a bakery item's recipe to make it more heart healthy or improvising to see if a recipe with 20 ingredients can be just as good with 10, I enjoy a good challenge. However, the best feeling is when I come across recipes that are not only delicious, but are fast and don't require a trip to the grocery store for an ingredient I would never think to stock in my kitchen.

Since we're getting into the time when the allure of New Year's Eve Resolutions are wearing off, I thought it was time to re-start your food and fitness goals with three delicious dinners that require minimal prep and attention and include ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. These are all tested by myself and my husband. Four thumbs up. And when it comes to nutrition, they are spot on.

Turkey & Broccoli Stir-Fry
Woe! Before you scroll past this, I guarantee this is likely the easiest stir fry recipe you will ever encounter. Don't like turkey? Swap out with lean beef, chicken, or shrimp.

Ingredients - Serves 4
1 lb turkey, sliced into thin strips
4 tsp. canola oil, divided (don't use olive oil for this one)
6 Tbsp slivered almonds (could be optional, but oh so tasty)
*1 lg onion, peeled, thinly sliced
2 gloves garlic, minced or pressed (from jar okay too)
1 c. low-sodium turkey broth, fat removed (chicken broth okay too)
*1 lb broccoli
1 c dry white wine or additional broth (wine provides better flavor)
*1/2 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. cornstarch
4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce (Worcestershire sauce + water at 3:1 works too)

*If you want, simplify by getting a 16 oz. bag of store-brand frozen stir-fry veggies instead - just as good for you and saves on time! Don't thaw first.

1. Heat wok or large pan over high heat. Add 2 tsp oil and almonds. Stir 2 minutes; set aside (= toasted almonds!).
2. Add remaining oil and turkey; stir until brown; set aside
3. Combine onion, garlic and 1/2 c broth in wok (garlic and broth only if using frozen veggies). Stir until onions soften - about 4 minutes.
4. Add broccoli, wine, and remaining broth (or all veggies if using frozen mix). Stir over medium heat 4 minutes.
5. Add mushrooms; cook until broccoli tender.
6. Mix cornstarch and soy sauce; stir into liquid to thicken; add turkey; stir 3 minutes.

Garnish with almonds. Serve with brown rice.

Tex-Mex Turkey Soup
Want to go vegetarian? Just leave out the turkey and add an extra can of your favorite beans.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c minced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced (from jar okay)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
4 cups water
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup salsa
4 cups shredded cooked turkey (optional)
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained)
2 cups frozen corn (optional)
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro (if you've got it)

Corn tortilla chips, chopped green onion, shredded Cheddar-Monterey Jack cheese blend, cilantro, low-fat plain yogurt (amount  of each depends on how many are eating that night - you choose!)

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add minced onions and cook until onions begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2. Stir in water, diced tomatoes, salsa, shredded turkey and parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add black beans, corn, sour cream and cilantro. Simmer 20-30 minutes.

3. Serve with desired toppings. Cornbread is also a great addition.

Caribbean Sweet Potato & Bean Stew
This one is for all you slow-cooker lovers. Warning: The ingredients - in my opinion - make the dish sound less than appetizing, but take my word for it and give it a try. I think you'll be surprised.

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups frozen cut green beans
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounces) vegetable broth (low-sodium if possible)
1 small onion, sliced
2 tsp Caribbean jerk seasoning (or whatever seasoning you have that is most similar to this)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
2. Cover; cook on Low 5-6 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Serve with brown rice.
*This recipe modified from one in Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Best-Loved Recipes book.

Happy cooking and let me know what you think!

Be Extraordinary,


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