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Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus — April 25-29

Every Sunday, we publish a week of Cooking Light dinner plans filled with our favorite recipes—both from current issues and classics. Each meal is designed to be ready and on the table in about an hour so that you have more time to enjoy the food you’ve prepared and the company of those you’ve prepared it for. Our May 2016 issue hit stands two weeks ago, so each main this week features a gorgeous and nutritious dish from the issue. Enjoy!

If you like having a healthy meal plan but want something customized to your dietary or caloric needs, check out The Cooking Light Diet. It’s a calorie-driven weekly meal plan—breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner—based on your dieting goals and food preferences.

The Plan Monday: Risotto Primavera and Balsamic Kale and Radicchio Sauté Tuesday: Chicken Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce and Coconut-Cilantro Rice Wednesday: Flank Steak with Tomato-Balsamic Sauce and Goat Cheese and Basil Polenta Thursday: Twice-Cooked Garlic and Butter Shrimp with Broccoli and Penne with Asiago Friday: Fresh Thai Noodle Bowl Dessert Bonus: Black Forest Parfaits

Monday: Risotto is notoriously difficult--it must be watched closely, or the whole pot will be ruined. Our foolproof, no-fail method is showcased in this superfast Risotto Primavera. Meaty mushrooms make up for any actual meat—it is Meatless Monday after all—and a side of Balsamic Kale and Radicchio Sauté sets off the richness of the risotto with a crisp, bright tang. That's thanks to balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar. 421 calories, 13.1g fat, 4.7g sat fat, 632mg sodium

Tuesday: My go-to recipe on busy nights. This recipe for Chicken Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce comes together in under 40 minutes and hits on so many tongue-pleasing notes you're not sure what to love most. Warm, peanutty flavors are offset by delicately sweet coconut and brought altogether in one big blanket of happiness over a pile of Coconut-Cilantro Rice. 486 calories, 17.5g fat, 6.2g sat fat, 544mg sodium

Wednesday: Flank steak is often sold in 2-pound cuts. Ask your butcher to cut one in half, or freeze the other half for another use later. Tonight's Flank Steak with Tomato-Balsamic Sauce is ready in under 20 minutes. If you don't like flank steak, opt for chicken or pork chops. It's equally delicious with all those proteins. While the steak cooks, stir together Goat Cheese and Basil Polenta. Polenta is similar to grits, so feel free to sub with those if you happen to have some on hand. 450 calories, 16.2g fat, 7g sat fat, 564mg sodium

Thursday: This Broccoli-Bacon Skillet Pizza is piled high with broccoli and crispy bacon. Slice in the skillet and remove each pieces for mess-free serving. Serve with Browned Butter Green Beans. 402 calories, 18.8g fat, 7.2g sat fat, 853mg sodium

For the Pittman family, broccoli is one of the top two favorite foods ever. So Broccoli-Bacon Skillet Pizza keeps everyone happy, piling on that beloved veg and using just a little bit of bacon for flavor. And it's pizza!

Friday: It's Friday, and who has time to fuss over a dinner? Not me, that's for sure. And not you either, I suspect. That's why this Fresh Thai Noodle Bowl will become a much-adored recipe in your house as it has become in mine. Instead of making your own stock, we speed up the noodle bowl with store-bought vegetable stock and add lots of flavor with sautéed garlic and ginger. If you want, add some sautéed shrimp, chicken, or thinly-sliced beef. 488 calories, 11.9g fat, 1.4g sat fat, 637mg sodium

Dessert Bonus: Strawberries would be a good substitute for the cherries in these quick Black Forest Parfaits. For a less sweet parfait, try using plain Greek yogurt in place of the vanilla frozen yogurt. 315 calories, 3g fat, 1.1g sat fat, 220mg sodium

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