Menu planner helps you resolve to eat right

Pork roast: With Jezebel sauce, a sweet-and-spicy combo.
Pork roast: With Jezebel sauce, a sweet-and-spicy combo.

Monday: Meatless

Rigatoni with white-bean sauce is a muscular dish that gets deep flavor from Swiss cheese, making it an unusual take on mac and cheese.

To make the sauce, heat a large saucepan, and sauté 1 cup chopped onion and 3 cloves minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, until tender. Stir in 1/4 cup flour and freshly ground pepper. Pour in 2 2/3 cups milk all at once and cook for another minute. Add 3 cups shredded Swiss cheese and, when it melts, stir in 2 cans drained Northern beans and 1 can drained diced chiles.

This is enough sauce for 1 pound of cooked pasta. Green salad on the side.

Tuesday: Fruit forward

Apricot and mint couscous will go with whatever you are tossing on the grill tonight, especially pork chops. To make the side dish, cook a box of couscous in broth (chicken or vegetable) according to package instructions along with halved apricots and some thinly sliced red onions. When it’s done, season with salt and pepper, fluff with a fork and stir in chopped fresh mint and flat-leaf parsley, about 1/4 cup of each.

Wednesday: Buffalo dip

For Buffalo chicken wing dip, you’ll need 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken to start. Mix it with 16 ounces softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup blue cheese, 1/2 cup hot wing sauce and 1/2 cup chopped celery.

Spread it into a shallow casserole dish and sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with sturdy crackers or celery sticks. You’ll be the hit of the party.

Thursday: Go with tradition

Hoppin’ John, a black-eyed pea and rice dish fueled by smoky ham or bacon, has long been a traditional dish eaten in the South on New Year’s Day. The black-eyed peas are said to bring good luck. Hoppin’ John Noodle Bowls (see recipe) is a twist on that old favorite, introducing Asian flavors into the mix. I love it because diners can reach into bowls of toppings to make it their own.

Friday: Lighten up

We’ve been dancing since around Halloween and now it’s time to pay the piper. The diet piper that is. Sauté cod or halibut seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil. Serve with sugar snap pea salad.

First, make a dressing of 2 parts olive oil and 1 part lime juice plus 1 to 2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Use this to dress sugar snap peas and sliced red onion. Garnish with sesame seeds if desired.

Saturday: Easy Entertaining

Invite guests for Asian flank steak. Serve with rice and sugar snap peas. Add a spinach salad with red onion rings.

For dessert, make blueberries with lemon cream. In a medium bowl, using a fork, break up 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese. Drain any liquid from 3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt and add to cheese, along with 1 teaspoon honey. Using an electric mixer, beat at high speed until light and creamy. Stir in 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest. Divide and layer lemon cream and 2 cups blueberries into 4 stemmed dessert glasses.

Sunday: Family Day

The family will enjoy the sweet-hot flavor of Pork Roast with Jezebel Sauce (see recipe). Alongside, roasted mashed potatoes are welcome.

Bake 4 (about 2 pounds) potatoes; remove pulp, discard shells. In a large saucepan, combine 1 cup 1 percent milk, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook over medium-low heat until warm. Remove from heat; add potatoes to pan and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.

On the side, add steamed fresh brussels sprouts tossed with a little butter and dried marjoram and whole-grain rolls.

Main dish

Hoppin’ John Noodle Bowls

1 (16-ounce) package dried black-eyed peas

3 quarts reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup minced fresh ginger

5 teaspoons soy sauce

3 teaspoons fish sauce

Rinse and sort peas. Boil peas in water (add enough water to cover peas) in a saucepan over high heat for 3 minutes; drain.

Bring broth and ginger to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add peas. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 10 minutes or until peas are tender. Reduce heat to low, and stir in soy sauce and fish sauce.

Place desired toppings (cooked rice noodles, chopped raw collard greens, sliced green onions, shredded cooked chicken, cilantro leaves, pickled okra, Asian hot chili sauce) in individual bowls, and ladle hot soup over toppings.

Note: Cook rice noodles according to package directions, or substitute angel-hair pasta. Serves 10 to 12.

Source: Southern Living

Main dish

Pork Roast with Jezebel Sauce

6 tablespoons hot sauce

6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 (3-pound) boneless pork loin, well-trimmed

1 (8- to 10-ounce) jar apple jelly

1 (8- to 10-ounce) jar apricot-pineapple preserves

2 tablespoons dry mustard

1 tablespoon pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix together hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce; set aside. Combine pepper, garlic powder and salt. Place pork in a roasting pan coated with cooking spray; brush with hot sauce mixture; sprinkle with garlic and salt mixture. Bake 20 minutes per pound or until thickest portion registers 145 degrees; shield pork with foil for the last 30 minutes of cooking. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Slice and serve with Jezebel sauce (combine jelly, preserves, dry mustard, pepper and horseradish; mix well). Makes 12 servings.

Per serving: 259 calories, 21 g protein, 8 g fat (27 percent calories from fat), 2.5 g saturated fat, 27 g carbohydrates, 58 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 236 mg sodium. Carb choices: 2.