Preparing your meals is one of the most important aspects of achieving a healthy balanced diet. Knowing what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat are critical points to a well-balanced diet; however, these critical points are often over looked and/or ignored because of our busy schedules.
Want to eat healthier but don’t know where to start, or you are on a fixed limited budget? We have your back! Here are a five cheap and clean eats with recipes ideas to help jump start your macros for the week. Clean eating doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to make. KEEP READING!
Lemon Tart Linguine
Ah, pasta is a meal prepping staple. With modern versions of pasta, you should be able to get a brand such as Barilla Protein Pasta to keep you on the right track. This take on linguine possess a bold and zesty lemon flavor. Also, it goes great with chicken, shrimp, or fish. Viola!
This meal should only take you 30 minutes of prepping and 10 minutes to cook:
- Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until just tender or according to package directions. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid and drain the pasta in a colander.
- Meanwhile, finely grate 1 tablespoon zest (see Tip) and squeeze 1/4 cup juice from the 2 lemons; set the juice aside. Pat leek slices dry. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leek, the lemon zest, 1/4 cup parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the leek is lightly browned and softened, about 6 minutes.
- Add the pasta, 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, the reserved lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 cup parsley to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the remaining 1/2 cup liquid, if desired. Remove from the heat. Discard the garlic. Toss the pasta with 1/2 cup Parmesan and 2 tablespoons chives. Transfer to a serving bowl or bowls; sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and 2 tablespoons chives and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
Tip: When we call for citrus zest (i.e., 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest) we are referring to the finely grated outer rind (not including the white pith) of the citrus fruit. Use a microplane grater or the smallest holes of a box grater to grate the zest. In some cases we call for long strips or threads of zest. To get long strips, peel the citrus with a vegetable peeler. To remove long threads, use a 5-hole citrus zester or remove long strips of zest with a vegetable peeler, then use a knife to cut into very thin strips.
- Per serving: 315 calories; 9 g fat (3 g sat, 4 g mono); 13 mg cholesterol; 48 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 15 g protein; 8 g fiber; 388 mg sodium; 250 mg potassium.
- Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (37% daily value), Vitamin A (26% dv), Magnesium (25% dv), Calcium (22% dv), Iron (18% dv), Folate (17% dv)
- Carbohydrate Servings: 2 1/2
- Exchanges: 2 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 medium-fat meat, 1 fa
Quinoa (keen-wah) Veggie Burger
This veggie burger is bursting with flavor. Packed with toasted pecans, fresh herbs, red quinoa, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese; it doesn’t get better than this! Red quinoa is preferred because it gives the burger the right appetizing color, however white quinoa will work the same.
This meal should only take you 30 minutes of prepping and 30 minutes to cook:
- Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, marjoram and oregano; cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Beat egg in a medium bowl. Add the quinoa, mushroom mixture, cheese, pecans, oats and soy sauce; stir to combine. Scoop scant 1/2-cup portions of the mixture onto the baking sheet and shape into 8 patties, about 3 inches wide, leaving about 1 inch of space between each patty. (The mixture will be crumbly; patting it into burgers on the baking sheet makes it easier to work with. The burgers hold together very well once baked.)
- Bake the burgers until crispy, 28 to 30 minutes. Serve on buns with your favorite garnishes.
Tip: Individually wrap and freeze cooked burgers for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat in a skillet with a little oil. For the best flavor, toast nuts before adding to recipes. Spread whole nuts on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F, stirring once, until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes. For chopped nuts, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Per serving (with bun): 280 calories; 12 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 29 mg cholesterol; 35 g carbohydrates; 4 g added sugars; 11 g protein; 6 g fiber; 320 mg sodium; 353 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Magnesium (19% daily value), Calcium (16% dv), Zinc (15% dv).Carbohydrate Servings: 2Exchanges: 2 starch, 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 medium fat meat, 1 1/2 fat
Havana Grilled Chicken
This spicy rub of crushed hot pepper, caraway, and coriander will make you feel like you are dirty dancing in Havana. You can sub out the grilled chicken for salmon or pork tenderloin if you wish.
This meal should only take you 15 minutes of prepping and 15 minutes to cook:
- Grind coriander seeds, caraway seeds and crushed red pepper in a spice grinder (or mortar and pestle) until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in garlic powder and salt.
- Coat both sides of chicken with the rub up to 30 minutes before grilling or broiling.
- Preheat grill to medium-high or position a rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler.
- To grill: Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the chicken, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 4 to 8 minutes per side.
- To broil: Line a broiler pan (or baking sheet) with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place the chicken on the foil. Broil, watching carefully and turning at least once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, 10 to 15 minutes total.
Store the rub in an airtight container for up to 3 months; coat the chicken with the rub up to 30 minutes before grilling or broiling.
Note: It’s difficult to find an individual chicken breast small enough for one portion. Removing the thin strip of meat from the underside of a 5-ounce breast—the chicken tender—removes about 1 ounce of meat and yields a perfect 4-ounce portion. Wrap and freeze the tenders and when you have gathered enough, use them in a stir-fry or for oven-baked chicken fingers. If you can only find chicken breasts closer to 8- to 9-ounce each, you’ll only need 2 breasts for 4 servings—cut each one in half before cooking.
Oiling a grill rack before you grill foods helps ensure that the food won’t stick. Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to coat the food with cooking spray.
- Per serving: 131 calories; 3 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 63 mg cholesterol; 2 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 23 g protein; 1 g fiber; 195 mg sodium; 228 mg potassium.
- Carbohydrate Servings: 0
- Exchanges: 3 lean meat
Pizza Pizzalad Delight
What do you get when you cross an Italian margherita pizza with a salad? A Pizzalad! This delightful dish puts the fun into eating healthy. The salad is arugula based mixed with basil and parsley topped with a balsamic vinaigrette. Yum!
This meal should only take you 50 minutes of prepping and 45 minutes to cook:
- To prepare pizza dough: Stir water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl; let stand until the yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Stir in bread flour (or all-purpose flour), whole-wheat flour (or all-purpose flour) and salt until the dough begins to come together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, mix the dough in a food processor. Process until it forms a ball, then process for 1 minute to knead.) Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat.
- Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel; set aside in a warm, draft-free place until the dough has nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- To bake pizza and prepare topping & salad: Position rack in lower third of oven, place a pizza stone on the rack and preheat oven to 500°F. Let the stone heat at 500° for 20 minutes. Want to grill your pizza instead? See Tips below.Roll pizza dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12- to 14-inch circle (depending on the size of your stone). Transfer to a lightly floured pizza peel (or inverted baking sheet).
- Combine 1 tablespoon oil and garlic in a small bowl and brush the dough with it. Top with tomato and mozzarella slices. Slide the pizza onto the hot stone. Bake until golden and crispy, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, mustard and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add arugula, basil and parsley and toss to coat.
- When the pizza is done, transfer to a large cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes. Mound the salad in the middle of the pizza, sprinkle with Pecorino Romano and serve immediately.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare dough through Step 2, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Or tightly wrap unrisen dough in oiled plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Let refrigerated (or previously frozen) dough stand at room temperature for 1 hour before rolling out.
Try using white whole-wheat flour in place of all-purpose flour. It’s made from a white variety of wheat, light in color and flavor but with the same nutritional properties as regular whole-wheat flour. Look for it in supermarkets, natural-foods stores or online at bobsredmill.com or kingarthurflour.com. Store it in the freezer.
We made and enjoyed a gluten-free pizza crust using King Arthur Flour’s gluten-free bread mix. To order, visit kingarthurflour.com.
To make this pizza on the grill instead, preheat grill to medium-high. Slide the rolled-out pizza dough onto the grill rack; close the lid. Cook until lightly puffed and browned on the bottom, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, charred-side up. Spread on toppings from Step 6. Return to grill, close lid and cook until browned on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Per serving: 332 calories; 12 g fat (4 g sat, 6 g mono); 18 mg cholesterol; 44 g carbohydrates; 1 g added sugars; 13 g protein; 4 g fiber; 463 mg sodium; 264 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (32% daily value), Folate (28% dv), Iron & Vitamin C (27% dv), Calcium (19% dv)Carbohydrate Servings: 3Exchanges: 2 1/2 starch, 1/2 vegetable, 1 medium-fat meat, 1 fat
Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese, Ohh Yess!
This one is surely one my favs! This fiber rich sweet potato based dish will surely make your taste buds and your wallet happy. Don’t let the color full you into thinking this is cheese based; there is only a quarter amount of the cheese than traditional mac & cheese. The color comes from the sweet potatoes. #science.
This meal should only take you 30 minutes of prepping and 30 minutes to cook:
- Position a rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Coat a 2-quart broiler-safe baking dish with cooking spray.
- Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until just tender, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain; set aside.
- Meanwhile, prick sweet potato with a fork in several places. Microwave on High until tender all the way to the center, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Whisk milk, flour and garlic in a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking frequently, until steaming and hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat.
- As soon as the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, cut open and scoop the flesh into the steaming milk. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. (Alternatively, transfer to a blender and puree just until smooth, then return to the pot; use caution when pureeing hot liquids.)
- Add cheese, mustard, salt and pepper and stir until the cheese melts. Add the pasta and peas to the sauce and stir to coat. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Combine breadcrumbs and oil and sprinkle on the pasta. Broil on the upper rack until the top is lightly browned and crispy, 1 to 2 minutes.
To make your own coarse dry breadcrumbs to top this baked mac & cheese, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread, tear the bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, 10 to 15 minutes. (One slice of bread makes about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs).
- Per serving: 479 calories; 14 g fat (8 g sat, 4 g mono); 40 mg cholesterol; 68 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 13 g total sugars; 24 g protein; 10 g fiber; 511 mg sodium; 628 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (218% daily value), Calcium (45% dv), Magnesium (31% dv), Vitamin C & Zinc (22% dv), Iron & Potassium (18% dv), Folate (16% dv), B12 (15% dv)Carbohydrate Servings: 4Exchanges: 4 starch, 1/2 nonfat milk, 1 high-fat meat, 1/2 fat
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