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Flank steak, any packaged dry or prepared marinade for steak, cooking spray, canned cream-style corn, canned no-salt-added corn kernels, canned chopped green chiles, corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy), reduced-fat sour cream, egg, fresh zucchini, salad greens, fat-free strawberry ice cream.


Jar roasted red peppers, reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese, large fat-free whole-grain tortillas, refrigerated ranch dip, fresh baby spinach, cucumbers, fresh cherries.


Potatoes to bake, cottage cheese, baby spinach, marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, dried oregano, dried basil, romaine, whole-grain bread, fresh pineapple, coconut.


Canola oil, ground chicken breast, garlic, canned diced tomatoes with jalapeño peppers, cumin, chili powder, canned reduced-sodium kidney beans, canned reduced-sodium black beans, canned no-salt-added corn kernels, reduced-fat sour cream, 50 percent reduced-fat jalapeño cheese, baked tortilla chips, lettuce wedge, crusty rolls, chocolate syrup.


Elbow macaroni, butter, flour, 1 percent milk, coarse salt, 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese, canned mild chopped green chiles, diced ham, deli carrot salad, soft rolls, instant banana pudding, bananas.


Deli tuna sandwiches on whole-grain bread, gazpacho, packaged green salad, ice cream sandwiches.


Chicken to grill, arborio rice (or other short-grained rice), large ripe tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, Pecorino-Romano cheese, fresh basil or parsley, coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, yellow potatoes (such as Yukon gold), romaine, baguettes, sugar, limes, strawberries.

Main dish


Makes 10 servings. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: less than 10 minutes, plus macaroni.

16 ounces elbow macaroni

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

3 cups 1 percent milk, divided

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

2 cups shredded 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese

1 (4-ounce) can mild chopped green chiles

4 ounces diced ham

Cook macaroni according to directions. Melt butter in another pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup milk. Gradually whisk in remaining milk, 1 cup at a time, until smooth. Add salt. Simmer, whisking for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and chiles. Drain pasta; return to pot. Toss with cheese sauce and ham.

Per serving: 312 calories, 17 g protein, 9 g fat (26 percent calories from fat), 5.4 g saturated fat, 41 g carbohydrate, 31 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 476 mg sodium. Carb choices: 2 1/2.

Side dish


Makes 6 servings. Preparation time: 25 minutes. Cooking time: about 1 hour.

2/3 cup arborio rice (or other short-grained rice)

6 large ripe tomatoes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/3 cup freshly grated pecorino-Romano cheese

1/4 cup fresh basil or parsley

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 pounds yellow potatoes (such as Yukon Gold), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges

Boil 8 cups water in medium saucepan; add rice and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain; place rice in bowl. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the top 1/2 inch off tomatoes; reserve caps. Scoop out pulp and juices. Chop pulp and add it, with the juices, to the bowl with the rice. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, cheese, basil, salt and pepper. Stuff the mixture into tomatoes and set caps on top; set aside. Toss potatoes with remaining olive oil. Place potatoes in rimmed baking pan large enough to hold them and the tomatoes in a single layer. Bake potatoes 15 to 20 minutes or until they begin to turn brown; toss potatoes. Place tomatoes in same pan between the potatoes. Bake 30 minutes more or until tomatoes and potatoes are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per serving: 273 calories, 7 g protein, 6 g fat (18 percent calories from fat), 1.2 g saturated fat, 50 g carbohydrate, 2 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 221 mg sodium. Carb choices: 3 1/2.

Source: Adapted from “The Italian Vegetable Cookbook,” Michele Scicolone.

Main dish


Makes 6 servings. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: about 15 minutes.

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 pound ground chicken breast

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with jalapeño peppers

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 (15- to 16-ounce) can reduced-sodium kidney beans, rinsed

1 (15- to 16-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed

1 (15- to 16-ounce) can no-salt-added corn kernels, rinsed

Reduced-fat sour cream

Shredded 50 percent reduced-fat jalapeño cheese (such as Cabot)

Baked tortilla chips

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Reduce heat to low and add garlic, tomatoes, cumin and chili powder. Cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the beans and corn, cover and heat through. Serve with sour cream, cheese and chips.

Per serving: 279 calories, 26 g protein, 4 g fat (11 percent calories from fat), 0.6 g saturated fat, 40 g carbohydrate, 48 mg cholesterol, 12 g fiber, 804 mg sodium. Carb choices: 2 1/2.

Universal UClick

SUNDAY (Family)

Prepare marinated flank steak for the family using any packaged dry or prepared marinade and follow the directions on the package. Grill the (1- to 1 1/2-pound) steak 17 to 21 minutes on a medium grill. To serve, thinly slice across the grain.

On the side, serve spicy corn bake. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine 1 (16-ounce) can cream-style corn, 1 (16-ounce) can rinsed and drained no-salt-added corn kernels, 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, 1 (8 1/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix (such as Jiffy), 8 ounces reduced-fat sour cream and 1 lightly beaten egg; mix well. Spoon into baking dish; bake 30 minutes.

Serve with steamed fresh zucchini. Add mixed greens. Fat-free strawberry ice cream is dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough steak and corn bake for Monday. Save enough ice cream for Wednesday.

MONDAY (Heat and Eat)

Use the leftover beef in Mediterranean wraps. Add beef slices, drained (diced) roasted red peppers (from a 12-ounce jar) and 1/2 cup reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese to a bowl; stir to mix. Spread 1 side of 4 large fat-free whole-grain tortillas with 2 tablespoons refrigerated ranch dip. Top each tortilla (1 inch from the edge) with fresh baby spinach (from a 5-ounce bag), followed with the beef mixture. Starting at the edge nearest you, roll tightly. Cut in half diagonally and serve. Heat the leftover spicy corn bake and add cucumber sticks. Enjoy fresh cherries for dessert.

TUESDAY (Meatless)

Baked potatoes with Italian stuffing is a light dinner. Slash tops of 4 baked potatoes. Stir together 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup chopped baby spinach, 1/4 cup marinara sauce. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon shredded mozzarella cheese, some dried oregano and dried basil. Heat in microwave 1 more minute or until heated through. Serve with a Romaine salad and whole-grain bread. For dessert, fresh pineapple with toasted coconut is easy.


We never mind saving money when chicken chili (see recipe) is on the menu. Serve with a crisp lettuce wedge and crusty rolls. Top leftover ice cream with chocolate syrup for dessert.


Calling all kids for macaroni and cheese with ham (see recipe). Add a deli carrot salad and soft rolls. Show the children how to make instant banana pudding with 1 percent milk. Stir in sliced bananas.

FRIDAY (Express)

Tuna salad sandwiches (on whole-grain bread) from the deli along with gazpacho is a no-fuss dinner, especially when you add a packaged mixed greens salad. After a hard week, bite into another sandwich for dessert, ice cream sandwiches.

SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)

Treat your guests to your grilled chicken tonight. Serve it with Roman rice-stuffed tomatoes with roasted potatoes (see recipe). Add a Romaine salad and baguettes. For dessert, berries in lime syrup is perfect. Boil 1/3 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Reduce heat to low; simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 cup fresh lime juice. Refrigerate until cold. Refrigerate 6 cups halved strawberries. Pour syrup over berries, add lime zest (green part only) and toss to coat. Garnish with thin strips of lime peel if desired.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email:

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