> Family Sunday
Make this simple sweet and smoky chicken with potatoes and peppers (see recipe) for family day. Serve it with broccoli, mixed greens and sourdough bread. Toast angel food cake and top it with fat-free vanilla ice cream and sliced peaches for a special dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough peaches for Monday; save enough chicken and vegetables for Tuesday and enough ice cream for Saturday.
Shopping list: Red potatoes, coarse salt, black pepper, boneless skinless chicken thighs, fat-free chicken broth, chipotle chili powder, garlic, red bell pepper, broccoli, salad greens, sourdough bread, angel food cake, fat-free vanilla ice cream, peaches.
> Budget Monday
Cool and budget-friendly, Nicoise salad is easy to prepare. For two servings: quarter 8 small red potatoes and cook 10 minutes in boiling water or until tender; drain. Arrange them on a platter. To the platter, add 1 (6-ounce) can drained white tuna in water, 12 steamed asparagus spears, 8 radishes, 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives and 2 tablespoons minced red onion. In small bowl, whisk 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley and 4 teaspoons olive oil; drizzle over salad. Season with coarse salt and pepper and serve. Serve the salad with bean soup and crusty bread. Leftover peaches are your dessert.
Shopping list: Red potatoes, canned white tuna in water, asparagus, radishes, kalamata olives, red onion, red wine vinegar, parsley, olive oil, coarse salt, pepper, bean soup, crusty bread.
> Heat and eat Tuesday
Enjoy the fruits of Sunday's labor and heat the leftover chicken and vegetables for dinner. Serve it over quick-cooking rice. Add a Caesar salad and whole-grain rolls. How about plums for dessert?
Shopping list: Quick-cooking rice, Caesar salad, whole-grain rolls, plums.
> Meatless Wednesday
Delicious fettuccine with spinach, ricotta and grilled eggplant (see recipe) is a meal you'll enjoy. Serve it with a romaine salad and Italian bread. Fresh pineapple is a light dessert.
Shopping list: Eggplant, olive oil, refrigerated fettuccine, package fresh baby spinach, red wine vinegar, coarse salt, pepper, reduced-fat ricotta, crushed red pepper, romaine, Italian bread, fresh pineapple.
> Express Thursday
Make your own shrimp rolls tonight. In a medium bowl combine 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard, 1/4 cup gherkin pickles (chopped) plus 1 tablespoon brine, 1 pound coarsely chopped cooked shrimp and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon. Divide and spoon onto 4 hot dog buns lined with 4 pieces romaine. Serve with baked chips. Buy brownies for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough brownies for Saturday. Chop and store the vegetables for Friday's entree.
Shopping list: Low-fat mayonnaise, whole-grain mustard, jar gherkin pickles, cooked shrimp, fresh tarragon, hot dog buns, romaine, baked chips, brownies.
> Kids Friday
Everyone will go for the flavor of baked penne with vegetables (see recipe). Serve it with celery sticks and dip. Try an Arctic Zero frozen bar for dessert.
Plan ahead: Make Saturday's buttery spread tonight.
Shopping list: Whole-grain penne pasta, olive oil, yellow squash, zucchini, onion, tomato, garlic, shredded part-skim mozzarella, fresh basil, fresh or dried oregano, coarse salt, crushed red pepper, part-skim ricotta cheese, egg, cooking spray, celery sticks, dip, Arctic Zero bars.
> Easy entertaining Saturday
Invite friends for baked salmon with ginger cilantro buttery spread. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets on a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray; coat salmon with cooking spray. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until opaque throughout. Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup buttery spread (such as Smart Balance or another brand), 2 tablespoons each finely chopped fresh cilantro and lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger; mix until creamy. Transfer to waxed paper and shape into log about 6 inches long; twist ends to seal. Refrigerate. To serve: Top each salmon fillet with 1 1/2 -inch-thick slice of buttery spread. Serve with brown rice, asparagus and whole-grain bread. Top leftover brownies with leftover ice cream for dessert.
Shopping list: Salmon fillets, cooking spray, buttery spread (such as Smart Balance), fresh cilantro, limes, fresh ginger, brown rice, asparagus, whole-grain bread.
SWEET AND SMOKY CHICKEN WITH POTATOES AND PEPPERS (Sunday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 hours on low
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 cup fat-free chicken broth
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, place potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with chicken; pour broth over all and sprinkle chicken with chipotle powder and garlic. Scatter bell pepper over top. Cover and cook 5 hours on low.
Per serving: 208 calories, 21g protein, 4g fat (17 percent calories from fat), 1g saturated fat, 22g carbohydrate, 76mg cholesterol, 353mg sodium, 3g fiber.
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FETTUCCINE WITH SPINACH, RICOTTA AND GRILLED EGGPLANT (Wednesday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: Less than 10 minutes, plus fettuccine
2 small eggplant (1 1/2 pounds total), sliced lengthwise, 1/2 inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
9 ounces refrigerated fettuccine
1 (5- or 6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup reduced-fat ricotta
Crushed red pepper for garnish
Brush eggplant with oil and grill 5 or 6 minutes, or until tender, on medium heat. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bite-size pieces.
Meanwhile, cook fettuccine according to directions; reserve 1/2 cup water and then drain and return pasta to pot. To the pasta: Add the eggplant, spinach, vinegar, 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and the salt and pepper; toss to combine. (Add more cooking water if pasta is too dry.) Serve topped with the ricotta and red pepper.
Per serving: 342 calories, 14g protein, 11g fat (28 percent calories from fat), 2.5g saturated fat, 50g carbohydrate, 15mg cholesterol, 441mg sodium, 8g fiber.
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BAKED PENNE WITH VEGETABLES (Friday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: About 25 minutes, plus pasta
6 ounces whole-grain penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups chopped tomato
1 clove minced garlic
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 3/4 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cook pasta according to directions; drain. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high and add oil. Add both squashes and onion; cook 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic; cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, herbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and red pepper. In a small bowl, combine ricotta, remaining salt and egg. Stir into pasta mixture. Spoon into a 7-by-11-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake 15 minutes or until bubbly and browned. (Adapted from Cooking Light magazine.)
Per serving: 220 calories, 12g protein, 8g fat (31 percent calories from fat), 3g saturated fat, 28g carbohydrate, 47mg cholesterol, 311mg sodium, 5g fiber.