Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus—January 12-16
The second week of the New Year is when we really put our many resolutions to the test, especially now that work and school have begun again and we fall back into familiar routines. Was your resolution to cook more? Eat more vegetables and less meat? Break out of a recipe rut? It’s time to put that plan into action with healthy, delicious dinners that are ready in 45 minutes or less. You’ll enjoy them long after friends’ nothing-but-boiled-chicken-breasts resolutions have lost steam. Find a week of Cooking Light dinner plans filled with favorite recipes, all under 400 calories, below. If healthy, sustainable weight loss is your goal for 2015, check out the Cooking Light Diet.
The PlanMonday: Veggie and Tofu Stir-FryTuesday: Chicken Breast with Pancetta Cream and Peas with Honey Balsamic Arugula SaladWednesday: Tilapia with Lemon-Garlic Sauce and Lemon-Herb Potato SaladThursday: Fast Chicken ChiliFriday: BLT PastaDessert Bonus: Quick Banana and Milk Chocolate S’Mores
Monday: Start off the week with a satisfying meatless Veggie and Tofu Stir-Fry. The tofu gets incredibly crispy, while bok choy, carrots, and snow peas caramelize in the hot wok. Woks need less oil for cooking than traditional pans, so you get more seared, smoky flavor for just 233 calories per serving.
Tuesday: A little bit of a good thing—crispy pancetta, luscious mascarpone cheese—goes a long way in this Italian spin on a simple chicken dish, Chicken Breast with Pancetta Cream and Peas. Keep this recipe on hand as your go-to chicken dinner and riff away (sub bacon for pancetta, cream cheese for mascarpone, even chopped asparagus, mushrooms, or green beans for the peas). Serve with a fresh Honey Balsamic Arugula Salad.
Wednesday: Trying to incorporate more seafood into your meals this year? Tilapia is an inexpensive, firm white fish, similar enough to chicken for cooks who may not be total fish fans. Just like chicken, tilapia is a great canvas for flavor. Tilapia with Lemon-Garlic Sauce is akin to a typical piccata and even faster to prepare. Serve with a warm Lemon-Herb Potato Salad for an extra hit of brightness.
Thursday: Dice up any cooked chicken from earlier in the week to fast track this Fast Chicken Chili. Instead of the pinto and tomato route, try cannellini beans and chopped green chiles (a great pantry staple for adding kick to enchiladas, quesadillas, or tacos). The chili would be delicious on its own, but even better over a scoop of brown rice or served with corn bread.
Friday: We love the old-school BLT so much, we’ve reinvented the dish as a pizza and as this superfast, 5-ingredient BLT Pasta. Use the bacon or pancetta from earlier in the week for this recipe. Grape tomatoes defy the “tasteless tomatoes in winter” credo. Even in January, they are sweet-tart and juicy. Kids will love this dish.
Dessert Bonus: It may be too cold for campfires, but you can still cozy up with Quick Banana and Milk Chocolate S’Mores. The secret is marshmallow crème, broiled just slightly to attain that perfect ooey gooeyness. Get the kids involved in assembly, and keep napkins handy (this dessert is messy in the most wonderful way).