SUNDAY: Family day
Celebrate Dad's Day with flank steak with peppers. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup Italian dressing, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey and 11/2 teaspoons ground cumin. Place one (11/2-pound) flank steak in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour 1/3 cup marinade over steak; turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 6 hours to overnight; refrigerate remaining marinade separately.
When ready to cook, remove steak and discard its marinade. Brush three quartered yellow or green bell peppers with separately refrigerated marinade. Grill steak 17-21 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness. Grill peppers 12-15 minutes, turning occasionally. Brush steak and peppers occasionally with marinade; do not brush during last 5 minutes. Remove steak from grill; let stand 5 minutes; carve across grain into thin slices and serve with peppers.
Add your roasted potatoes and carrots, a romaine salad and whole-grain rolls. Buy brownies for dessert and serve them with fresh strawberries. Don't forget to give Dad a big hug.
PLAN AHEAD: Marinate the steak the day before. Save enough brownies for Tuesday.
SHOPPING LIST: Italian dressing, limes, honey, cumin, flank steak, yellow or green bell peppers, potatoes and carrots to roast, romaine, whole-grain rolls, brownies, fresh strawberries.
MONDAY: Meatless meal
No-meat pineapple and black bean enchiladas (see recipe) could win a prize for their flavor. Serve the enchiladas with a shredded lettuce salad and sliced avocado. Sliced kiwis are a light dessert.
PLAN AHEAD: Prepare enchiladas the day before and refrigerate; add 10 minutes to baking time. Save enough enchiladas for Tuesday.
SHOPPING LIST: cooking spray, canola oil, onion, red bell pepper, canned pineapple tidbits in juice, canned reduced-sodium black beans, canned chopped green chiles, coarse salt, fresh cilantro, shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, mild enchilada sauce, whole-grain flour tortillas, reduced-fat sour cream, fresh cilantro, lettuce, avocado, kiwis.
TUESDAY: Heat and eat
Dinner is almost ready! Just heat the leftover enchiladas and serve with deli carrot salad. Leftover brownies are good for dessert.
PLAN AHEAD: Save enough carrot salad for Friday. If time permits, prepare Wednesday's stuffed peppers the day before and refrigerate. Increase baking time by 10 minutes.
SHOPPING LIST: deli carrot salad.
WEDNESDAY: Budget cooking
Picadillo-stuffed peppers (see recipe) are good with red, green or yellow bell peppers; let your budget decide. Serve them with buttered egg noodles, a mixed green salad and whole-grain rolls. Pop a few grapes into your mouth for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: red, green or yellow bell peppers, jar mushroom-and-olive pasta sauce, lean ground beef, zucchini, onions, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, coarse salt, black pepper, raisins, sliced green olives with pimentos, cider vinegar, butter, egg noodles, mixed greens, whole-grain rolls, grapes.
THURSDAY: Express dining
Why let the children have all the fun? How about adult pizza for a change? Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place a pre-baked 12-inch whole-grain thin pizza crust on a baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes or until hot and crisp. Spread crust with 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese, 4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon (cut into strips), 1 cup diced ripe tomato, 1/3 cup diced red onion, 2 tablespoons rinsed capers and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. Season to taste with pepper.
Slice and serve with a spinach salad. Enjoy pears for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: pre-baked 12-inch whole-grain thin pizza crust, whipped cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes, red onions, capers, fresh parsley, pepper, fresh spinach, pears.
FRIDAY: Kids favorite
Make it chili dog night for the children. In a whole-grain hot dog bun, top cooked lowest-sodium, lowest-fat hot dogs with hot canned vegetarian chili and shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese. Serve with leftover carrot salad. For dessert, top fresh blueberries with light whipped cream.
SHOPPING LIST: whole-grain hot dog buns, lowest-sodium, lowest-fat hot dogs, canned vegetarian chili, shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, fresh blueberries, light whipped cream.
SATURDAY: Easy entertaining
Try something new tonight and invite guests for pork stir-fry with asparagus and mint (see recipe). Serve it over jasmine rice. Add steamed baby bok choy and sesame bread sticks on the side.
Make Thai tapioca pudding for dessert: Place 1/2 cup small pearl tapioca in a strainer and rinse under cold running water for 15-20 seconds. Meanwhile, bring 11/2 cups water to a boil; stir in tapioca. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 10-12 minutes or until tapioca becomes translucent. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Stir in one (14-ounce) can light coconut milk, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt. Simmer 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until pudding becomes slightly thickened. Let cool 20 minutes. Serve warm or cold, topped with slices of mango.
SHOPPING LIST: canola oil, roasted red chile paste, fish sauce or soy sauce, sugar, onion, fresh asparagus, pork loin or thin pork chops, red bell pepper, fresh mint, jasmine rice, baby bok choy, sesame bread sticks, small pearl tapioca, light coconut milk, coarse salt, mangoes.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: [email protected] Follow Susan on Twitter: @7DayMenu. The Menu Planner is also accessible at 7daymenuplanner.com. Read Susan's blog: makingthemenu.com.
PINEAPPLE AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS (Monday)
Makes: 8 enchiladas
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 35-45 minutes
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple tidbits in juice, drained, reserving 1/3 cup juice
1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus 8 teaspoons for garnish
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded 50% light cheddar cheese, divided
10 ounces mild enchilada sauce
8 (8- or 9-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium. Add onion and bell pepper; cook 4-6 minutes or until softened. Stir in pineapple, beans, green chiles and salt. Cook and stir until thoroughly heated. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro and 2 cups of the cheese. Spread 1 tablespoon enchilada sauce onto each tortilla. Spoon about 3/4 cup vegetable mixture over sauce on each. Roll; place seam side down in baking dish. In small bowl, mix reserved pineapple juice and remaining enchilada sauce; pour over entire surface of enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Cover tightly with nonstick foil; bake 25-30 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5-10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Top each enchilada with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 teaspoon cilantro. Serve immediately.
Per enchilada: 368 calories, 20 grams protein, 11 grams fat (25% calories from fat), 5.8 grams saturated fat, 52 grams carbohydrate, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 1,198 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fiber. Carb count: 3.5.
PICADILLO STUFFED PEPPERS (Wednesday)
Makes: 6 peppers
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 40 minutes
6 medium red, green or yellow bell peppers
1/2 cup water
1 (25-ounce) jar mushroom-and-olive pasta sauce, divided
1 pound lean ground beef
2 small zucchini (12 ounces total), diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup sliced green olives with pimentos
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the top fourth of stem end of bell peppers; remove seeds. Stand peppers and tops in baking dish. Add water, cover, and microwave on high 5-7 minutes or until peppers are softened. Stir 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce into water in dish. Meanwhile, cook beef, zucchini and onions in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high for 7 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are almost tender. Stir in garlic, cinnamon, cumin, salt and black pepper; cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Remove from heat; stir in raisins, olives, vinegar and remaining sauce. Spoon mixture into peppers; replace tops. Coat peppers with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until sauce bubbles and pepper tops are lightly charred.
Per serving: 287 calories, 19 grams protein, 10 grams fat (32% calories from fat), 2.9 grams saturated fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 778 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.
PORK STIR-FRY WITH ASPARAGUS AND MINT (Saturday)
Makes: 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: less than 15 minutes
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons roasted red chile paste (see Note)
2 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 pound pork (pork loin or thin pork chops), cut into strips 1/4 inch thick by 1 1/2 inches long
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
Heat oil in a wok or skillet on medium-high. Add chile paste, fish sauce (or soy sauce) and sugar; stir well to combine. Cook 1 minute. Add onion and asparagus; stir-fry 3 minutes. Cover and cook 3-5 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove cover; add pork and bell pepper. Stir-fry 3-4 minutes or until pork is cooked through. Add the mint, toss to combine and serve.
Note: Look for roasted red chile paste and fish sauce in the ethnic section of your supermarket.
Per serving: 183 calories, 18 grams protein, 8 grams fat (36% calories from fat), 1.4 grams saturated fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 796 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber. Carb count: 1.