Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Super-Healthy, Super-Easy Cooking

Preparing healthy meals does not have to be a difficult, complicated endeavor.  In the winter, my "go-to" meals revolve around soups but soup just isn't that appealing in the summer, especially when the temps top out in the 90's.  Borrowing from the theme of my kids' favorite casual dinners when they were little ("snack dinners"), I've gotten really excited about preparing fun & appealing cold one-dish dinners that can be made ahead of time, arranged on a platter, then pulled out of the refrigerator after an evening bike ride or leisurely walk after work - no race against the clock or "deer in the headlights" look into the pantry as you try to come up with something - ANYTHING! - for dinner.  A HUGE bonus is that this type of meal looks as beautiful as it is healthy, and when dealing with especially reluctant eaters, presentation can win 90% of the "battle".

The key ingredients to aim for on a one-dish meal platter would be:
*a HUGE portion of greens (can be salad greens or spinach dressed with some olive oil and vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice; or gently steamed then chilled kale, collards, chard or mustard greens dressed like a salad), since this is one group of foods that is THE most lacking in our American diets
*a protein source (my first choice is always some kind of beans, but can also be diced or shredded chicken, beef or fish), seasoned or dressed
*a variety of colorful veggies (some like raw beets, I marinate in cider vinegar and herbs) - see what uncommon ones you can successfully sneak onto these platters, aiming for pretty colors and appealing textures

See what types of healthy combos you can come up with, arranged on a pretty platter for an awesome presentation.  I have found myself gravitating towards themes, lately:  Italian - can be served with cannellini beans and a great crusty artisan bread; Mexican - served with black beans or pinto beans and some warm corn tortillas, salsa and lime wedges; Asian - with chicken or fish and some cold noodles and Asian sauces.

Give it a try tonight!
This is my take on a Mexican-Style platter, which we served with warmed organic corn tortillas and salsa.  Stay tuned to my recipe blog (see button at right) for specific recipes for dressings and marinades for these platters and others!

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