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Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus — December 23-27

Here, another week’s worth of fast, healthy, and tasty menus. It’s not the dread of cooking that deters so many of us from the kitchen each night; it’s actually deciding what to cook from the millions of options bombarding us from so many different places. Here, we’ve done the planning for you. Not just menus, but healthy menus that are fast—on the table in less than 45 minutes.

The Plan Monday: Creamy Butternut, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Cavatappi with Garlic Haricots Verts Tuesday: Shorty Shrimp Po'boys with Baked Pickle Chips and Garlicky Sautéed Kale Wednesday: Warm Potato and Steak Salad with Smoky Haricots Verts and Mushrooms Thursday: Coconut Curry Halibut with Cashew Rice and Stir-Fried Vegetables Friday: Pizza Arrabbiata with Grapefruit, Walnut, and Feta Salad Dessert Bonus: Orange Gratin

Monday: Cozy, warm, and comforting, our Creamy Butternut, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Cavatappi is a perfect menu for starting off this busy holiday week just right. Make this recipe even faster by looking for pre-peeled and diced butternut squash in your produce department. Serve with Garlic Haricots Verts for a quick, flavorful veggie side. Pick up extra haricots verts. We'll have them again later this week.

Creamy Butternut, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Cavatappi | Photo: Johnny Autry/Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr/Lindsey Lower

Garlic Haricots Verts | Photo: Johnny Autry/Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr/Lindsey Lower

Tuesday: These recipes, from our new January/February issue, are featured in the Full Plate/Half the Calories feature. We've loaded you up with a plate full of delicious sides and a hearty Shorty Shrimp Po'boy sandwich. This smaller-scale version of the New Orleans favorite is packed full of flavor and much healthier since you're oven-frying, not deep-frying. A side of Baked Pickle Chips is fun for all ages, and Garlicky Sautéed Kale is a delicious way to take advantage of in-season greens.

Shorty Shrimp Po'boys | Photo: Jason Wallis; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Baked Pickle Chips | Photo: Jason Wallis; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Garlicky Sautéed Kale | Photo: Jason Wallis; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Wednesday: After a busy day of opening packages, playing with new toys, and seeing family, settle in for a quick meal of Warm Potato and Steak Salad with Smoky Haricots Verts and Mushrooms. Hearty, for sure, but fast. The dressing for the salad is superb--lick-the-plate tasty.

Smoky Haricots Verts and Mushrooms | Photo: Johnny Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr

Thursday: This meal is from our Full Plate/Half the Calories feature, too. We challenged our food editors and Test Kitchen professionals to research all the comfort food favorites we know readers love, and then cut the calories by 50% or more. The Coconut Curry Halibut with Cashew Rice and Stir-Fried Vegetables is a delicious example of how successful the challenge was. The classic meal, with full-fat coconut cream and coconut milk, has over 1,700 calories, 75g of fat, and 45g of sat fat. Ouch! Our lightened-up version has only 483 calories, 20.4g fat (most of that is coming healthy fats from the fish and cashews), and 7.3g sat fat. Talk about a makeover!

Coconut Curry Halibut with Cashew Rice and Stir-Fried Vegetables | Photo: Jason Wallis; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Friday: It's Friday! Kick back and relax--you made it through a rather busy week. Holidays are wonderful, but phew! are they stressful sometimes! It's a great time for pizza--forget delivery though! Our Pizza Arrabbiata is ready in just 30 minutes. I'm a fresh pizza dough convert. Nothing beats the fresh-baked taste of a good pizza dough. But if you go with a pre-made crust, you'll shave off even more time. Serve with Grapefruit, Walnut, and Feta Salad.

Dessert Bonus: This Orange Gratin is featured in our January/February issue as well. After a whole month of baked confections and towers of chocolate-dipped this and that, it's time to take a fresh approach to dessert. The gratin is simple yet stunning. It highlights the beauties of citrus season with a punch of peppery ginger and creamy, sweet Greek yogurt. And for the grown-ups: Add a drizzle of bourbon. Oh, it's worth it.

Orange Gratin | Photo: Johnny Miller; Styling: Sarah Smart

Ready to start shopping? View this week’s menu, which includes every recipe you see mentioned here. From there, you can add all the ingredients to your shopping list in one click when you sign into your MyRecipes account.