Bring the family together for citrus-marinated beef and fruit kebabs (see recipe). Serve the sizzling summer combo with rice and a mixed greens salad. Add sourdough bread. Buy a Key lime pie for dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough steak and pie for Monday.
MONDAY (Heat and Eat)
Make a steak salad for a quick, cool meal. Toss sliced beef from 2 leftover kebabs with a package of salad greens, 1 cup reduced-sodium rinsed canned chickpeas, 1/2 cup sliced black olives and 1/2 cup light balsamic vinaigrette. Portion onto serving plates and garnish with red bell pepper rings. Serve with tomato-basil soup and whole-grain bread. Slice the leftover pie for dessert.
Summertime is chili dog time. Top the lowest-fat, lowest-sodium hot dogs in toasted whole-grain buns with canned vegetarian chili and shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese. Serve with deli carrot salad and baked chips. Juicy nectarines make a welcome dessert.
Make a beet and shrimp salad for a no-cook meal. Divide 1 package salad greens among 4 plates. On top of the greens, divide and arrange 1 (16-ounce) jar of drained, sliced pickled beets, 1/2 pound cooked and deveined shrimp, 4 ounces crumbled goat or blue cheese and 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds. For the dressing, whisk together 1/2 cup light vinaigrette, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Drizzle over salad. Serve with chicken rice soup and bread sticks. Buy or make tapioca pudding for dessert.
Lentils are an inexpensive source of calcium, which makes this lentil and bean bowl (see recipe) both low-cost and nutritious. Add a mixed greens salad and flatbread. For dessert, pears are easy.
For a delicious no-meat meal, try huevos a la Mexicana. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil on medium-high. Add 1 medium chopped onion and cook 5 minutes or until softened. Add 1 large chopped tomato and 1 or 2 finely chopped serrano or jalapeno peppers (remove seeds and veins for less “heat”); cook and stir 3 minutes. Remove tomato mixture to a bowl; stir in 1 chopped ripe avocado; set aside. In the skillet, heat 1 more tablespoon canola oil on medium; add 8 lightly beaten eggs and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes or until eggs are cooked. Stir in tomato mixture; cook about 1 minute or until hot. Divide mixture among 4 plates; top with another sliced avocado. Serve with canned fat-free refried beans and warmed fat-free flour tortillas. Fresh blueberries are a perfect dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough blueberries for Saturday.
SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)
Add a taste of the exotic to chicken and serve your guests garam masala chicken with fresh vegetables (see recipe) and entertain in style. Add orzo, a bibb lettuce salad and crusty rolls. For dessert, very vanilla no-bake cheesecake is as easy as pie. Beat 2 (8-ounce) packages softened less-fat cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract with an electric mixer until smooth. Fold in 2 cups less-sugar frozen whipped topping (thawed) until blended. Spoon into 1 (6-ounce) prepared graham cracker crust. Cover lightly and refrigerate 3 hours or until set. Slice and top with leftover fresh blueberries.
Citrus-Marinated Beef And Fruit Kebabs
Yield: makes 6 beef kebabs, plus 4 fruit kebabs
1 medium orange
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups cubed mango, watermelon or peaches
1 1/2 pounds boneless beef top sirloin steak, 1-inch thick
Grate peel and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from orange; reserve juice. In a small bowl, combine peel, cilantro, paprika and cayenne pepper. Cut beef into 1 1/4-inch pieces. Place beef and 2 1/2 tablespoons cilantro mixture in a resealable plastic bag; turn to coat. Place remaining mixture and fruit in another bag; turn to coat. Close bags and marinate 15 minutes to 2 hours. Thread beef onto 6 metal skewers, leaving a space between pieces. Thread fruit onto 4 skewers. Grill beef kebabs on medium, covered, for 11 to 16 minutes, turning occasionally. Grill fruit for 5 to 7 minutes, covered, or until softened and beginning to brown, turning once. Drizzle reserved orange juice over fruit kebabs. Season beef with salt as desired.
Per beef kebab: 127 calories, 21 grams protein, 4 grams fat (30 percent calories from fat), 1.5 grams saturated fat, no carbohydrate, 56 milligrams cholesterol, 44 milligrams sodium, no fiber. Carb count: 0. Per fruit kebab: 69 calories, 1 gram protein, no fat (0 percent calories from fat), no saturated fat, 17 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 2 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Lentil And Bean Bowl
Yield: makes about 8 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 (14-ounce) cans unsalted chicken broth
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes in sauce
1/2 cup water
1 (15- to 19-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed
1 (15- to 19-ounce) can reduced-sodium chickpeas, rinsed
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
In a Dutch oven, heat oil on medium-high. Add onion; cover and cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned; stir occasionally. Add garlic; cover and cook 1 minute. Add broth and wine; bring to boil. Stir in lentils and allspice. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, 15 to 18 minutes or until lentils are softened. Add tomatoes and sauce, water, beans and chickpeas; cook 8 to 10 minutes more. Ladle into bowls; garnish with cilantro.
Per cup: 257 calories, 17 grams protein, 2 grams fat (6 percent calories from fat), 0.2 gram saturated fat, 46 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 347 milligrams sodium, 12 grams fiber.
Garam Masala Chicken With Fresh Vegetables
Yield: makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons garam masala, divided
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Cook chicken 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn chicken; add onion; cook and stir 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, carrots, garlic salt and water. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala over chicken and vegetables. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until chicken and vegetables are tender. Remove chicken to serving platter; cover to keep warm. Stir remaining 1/2 teaspoon garam masala into skillet. Bring to boil. Cook 5 minutes to reduce liquid and thicken mixture, stirring occasionally. Spoon mixture over chicken and serve.
Per serving: 274 calories, 38 grams protein, 8 grams fat (27 percent calories from fat), 1.3 grams saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 109 milligrams cholesterol, 465 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.