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Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus—December 21-25

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 45 minutes or less so that you have more time to enjoy the food you’ve prepared and the company of those you’ve prepared it for.

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 prefer

The Plan Monday: Open-Faced Sandwiches with Mushrooms and Fried Eggs with Arugula and Pear Salad with Toasted Walnuts Tuesday: Chicken Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce over Coconut-Cilantro Rice Wednesday: Black and Blue Quesadillas with Avocado and Radish Salad Thursday: Seafood Arrabbiata with Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Golden Raisins Friday: Mexican Chorizo Hash with Pineapple and Orange Salad with Toasted Coconut Beverage Bonus: Pomegranate Gin Sling

Monday: This week, to-do lists tend to run 10,000-plus items long, and for most of us, dinner has to get onto the table without demanding an excess of time or effort (we need the kitchen clear for cookie-baking, after all). Easy to construct and customize, hearty Open-Faced Sandwiches with Eggs and Mushrooms are the ideal meal for a manic meatless Monday. A side salad of Arugula and Pear with Toasted Walnuts adds a pop of green color and fresh crunch. Combining the juicy sweetness of ripe pears with the peppery bite of arugula and toasty crunch of walnuts, this salad is a fantastic winter go-to. It's simple enough for a weeknight side, yet elegant enough for a special holiday dinner.

  

Open Faced Sandwiches with Mushrooms and Fried Eggs

Arugula and Pear Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Tuesday: Chicken Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce is a great example of how to coax bold flavor out of common, staple ingredients you likely have on hand. Soy sauce, peanut butter, lime, and dried spices combine to create the vibrant, tangy-sweet sauce that ties this dish together. Sriracha gives the stir-fry a bit of a kick, but feel free to reduce the amount if serving to heat-sensitive palates. While this is a veggie-loaded entree, there's always room for more! If you happen to have leftover mushrooms from last night's sandwich, go ahead and throw those into the mix. Slightly sweet and aromatic Coconut-Cilantro Rice serves as the perfect bed for serving your chicken and vegetables on.

Chicken Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce over Coconut-Cilantro Rice

Wednesday: After all of the holiday pandemonium, take it easy this hump day with an insanely simple, 5-ingredient entree. Enjoy the classic flavor trio of roast beef, balsamic, and blue cheese in a toasty, melty, wholly comforting quesadilla. If roast beef isn't your thing, shredded rotisserie chicken would make a tasty substitute. A simple and refreshing salad on the side is going to taste especially delicious during the abundance of rich and heavy holiday fare.

Black and Blue Quesadillas

 Avocado and Radish Salad

Thursday: Don't be fooled by the ease of preparation, Seafood Arrabbiata is a special, totally Christmas Eve-worthy dish that guest are sure to love. A load of fresh seafood and spicy tomato sauce served over linguine--really, what's not to love? Depending on how many you're serving, you will likely need to double or triple the recipe. To create a festive red and green plate, serve the arrabbiata with a side of Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Golden Raisins. Toasty garlic matched with plump, sweet golden raisins deliver a powerful flavor punch to tender-crisp broccoli rabe.

Seafood Arrabbiata

 Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Golden Raisins

Friday: Here we have a little Sunday Strategist Breakfast Edition. We assumed you might already have some idea of what you're making for Christmas dinner, but hey--if not, breakfast for dinner is always a winner. Keep your focus on time with loved ones by making breakfast simple with a single skillet hash. Mexican chorizo sausage largely defines the flavor profile of this dish, but you are welcome to vary it up by using Italian sausage or country sausage instead. Both would work well with the other elements of the hash (potatoes, spinach, peppers, onions, and eggs). A bright and cheery fruit salad balances out the intensely savory entree. Flakes of toasted, sweetened coconut add texture and depth to the luscious winter citrus salad. Merry Christmas!

 Mexican Chorizo Hash

Pineapple and Orange Salad with Toasted Coconut

Beverage Bonus: Pomegranate juice plus gin... yes, you deserve it.

Pomegranate Gin Sling