Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Olympic-Inspired Meals: A Week of Dinner Ideas

Inspired by the Olympic games, Mr. Patton and I thought we'd mix it up last week for dinner. We challenged ourselves to create healthy versions of internationally-inspired meals from different countries every night. It was fun! Although these are meals we've certainly eaten before, it was interesting eating the different flavors of different countries every night. I hope you'll try mixing some of these meals into your routine too! It sure helps you to stay on track with your plan for healthy eating when you're not eating the same foods over and over again. Who said it had to be boring? Of course, they're simple to make and delicious too.

Monday: China
Menu: Baked Chicken Egg Rolls from Trader Joe's with Vegetable and Chicken Lo Mein

Instructions: In a wok or deep pan, stir-fry a mixture of vegetables (bell peppers, broccoli, peas, water chestnuts, onion, mushrooms) and chicken in canola oil and soy sauce. I season with garlic powder, crushed red pepper and parsley. Meanwhile, boil noodles until they're nearly done (al dente) and bake egg rolls. Strain noodles and add to the wok. Mix veggies and noodles together. Serve with sweet n' sour dipping sauce.

Tuesday: Italy
Menu: Salad with my Lemony Dill Dressing and Penne Pasta Bake (made with leftover spaghetti sauce from last weekend)

Instructions: Prepare your favorite pasta sauce (my recipe is below). Pour whole wheat penne pasta in the bottom of a large baking dish (uncooked). Add sauce, ensuring all noodles are covered. Sprinkle reduced-fat mozzarella and parmesan cheese in a thin layer on top. Bake covered for 45 minutes, then uncovered for 15 minutes. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving. My salad includes spring mix, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, banana pepper rings, a few croutons and my Lemony Dill Dressing.

My Beef Marinara: Saute chopped onion, green pepper and mushrooms in a large pot. Add extra lean ground beef and brown. Season with Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder and Italian herbs (basil, oregano, parsley). Pour in two cans of diced tomatoes, one can tomato sauce and 1/2 can tomato paste. Add one can water. Simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Wednesday: Mexico
Menu: Chicken Fajitas, Brown Rice (mixed with tomatoes, onions, green bell pepper and jalapeños) and Fat-Free Refried Beans

Instructions: {Chicken} Marinate chicken in salt, pepper, garlic, red chili flakes, chili powder and cilantro. {Rice} Meanwhile, saute chopped bell pepper, onion, tomato and jalapenos in canola oil. Add brown rice to same pot and prepare according to package instructions. Season with salt and pepper. {Fajita Veggies} Slice onions and bell peppers into strips. Grill vegetables on a grill pan or on foil alongside the chicken. {Beans} Heat fat-free refried beans on low, stirring occasionally. {Fajitas} Serve chicken and peppers in a warmed tortilla with avocado and plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. Top beans with reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

Thursday: USA (yea!)
Menu: Turkey Breast Burgers, Oven Fries and Sautéed Green Beans

Instructions: Slice red potatoes into fries. In a medium bowl, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and parsley. Bake in 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes on a cookie sheet prepared with non-stick cooking spray. Mix ground turkey breast with salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley. Form burger patties and grill. Saute green beans (fresh or frozen) in 1/2 cup water and olive oil, stirring occasionally. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add 1 tablespoon real bacon bits. Serve burgers on whole wheat buns with lettuce, tomato, mustard and ketchup.

Friday: Great Britain
Menu: "Fish and Chips:"Baked Tilapia, Sliced Potato "Chips" and Roasted Broccoli with Lemon

Instructions: This version is baked instead of fried! Slice red potatoes into thin "chips." Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and parsley. Bake in 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes on a cookie sheet prepared with non-stick cooking spray. In a shallow baking dish, place tilapia filets and broccoli. Squeeze fresh lemon across top and place the lemon in the dish too. Season tilapia with same seasonings as the "chips," also adding dill. When halfway through baking time, put fish and broccoli in the oven. Fish is done when it's opaque and flaky.

Saturday: Spain
Menu: Chicken and Shrimp Paella

Instructions: In a deep pan, brown chicken (seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder) in olive oil; remove and place to the side when done. Add more oil to the pan and sauté chopped red bell pepper, onion, mushrooms and peas until they begin to soften. Add water (per instructions on yellow rice package; I use Vigo yellow rice) and bring to boil. Add rice, cover and reduce heat. After 10 minutes, add shrimp, nestling them into the rice so they're covered. Cover and continue cooking until water is absorbed. Mix chicken back in. Serve garnished with parsley.

Sunday: USA (you have to represent your own country twice, right?)
Menu: Grilled Sirloin Steak, Baked Sweet Potato (topped with light butter and plain non-fat Greek yogurt) and Baked Parmesan Zucchini Sticks

Instructions: Grill steak seasoned with your favorite spices. Cut zucchini into spears and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet prepared with non-stick cooking spray. Season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Wash sweet potato, stab once with a knife and microwave for about 6 minutes, or until soft. Top with plain, non-fat Greek yogurt to serve.

Have you eaten any Olympic-themed meals lately? How do you keep them healthy?