Are you having success with your goal to make more healthy meal choices for the new year or has it been difficult to stay on track? There is a variety of resources available to you to make that job easier. One of those resources is the Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), through the Montana State University Extension Service and USDA. They have a website, buyeatlivebetter.org, that features nutritious, low-cost and simple-to-fix meals. Two of the following recipes come from calendars prepared on a yearly basis by the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Complete calendars are available through the university.
Pork loin roast with veggies
Makes 6 servings
On a cold winter evening a roast with veggies makes a tasty family meal. This healthy pork roast uses the lower-in-fat loin cut and includes veggies cooked in the same pan along with the roast. It is a meal that can easily be prepared in just over an hour. Don’t worry about peeling the potatoes, just scrub them well.
2 cups onions cut in wedges (about 1/2 pound or 2 medium onions)
2 cups potatoes, diced (about 12 ounces or 2 medium)
2 cups baby carrots or 3/4 pound regular carrots, sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pound pork loin
1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl mix veggies with 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper. Lay veggies around the edge of a 9-by-13-inch pan and put in oven. Use a small bowl to make the rub. Mix the brown sugar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl. Sprinkle the rub over the loin. Press gently so the rub sticks to the roast. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the loin; brown the sides of the meat. Turn after about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to the center of the pan with veggies. Bake for about 40-50 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 145 degrees. Check the temperature after 30 minutes in the oven. Remove from oven when correct temperature has been reached; let set for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.
Source: “Healthy & Homemade 2013 Fitness Calendar,” Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Fish and noodle skillet
Makes 4 servings
It is recommended that we include fish in our meals at least two times per week. This healthy and easy-to-prepare fish and noodle skillet will provide one of those fish meals. The recipe includes the inexpensive and now a popular menu item — ramen noodles. If desired, salmon also could be used in place of cod, however the cod is less expensive.
1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive or vegetable)
1 pound white fish (cod, tilapia)
1 cup onion, chopped (1 medium)
1 carrot, diced
1 package (14-ounce) frozen stir fry vegetables (thawed and drained)
1 cup water
1 package (3-ounce) chicken flavored instant ramen noodles (broken into pieces)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut fish into chunks (about 1 to 2 inches) while oil is heating. Add fish, onion and carrot to oil. Sauté until fish is cooked through and vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the thawed stir fry vegetables to the skillet. Stir and heat about 2 minutes. Add the ramen noodle seasoning packet to the water. Stir into the skillet. Add the ramen noodles to the skillet when the water simmers. Stir to moisten the noodles. Cover the skillet and cook until done, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Source: “Healthy & Homemade 2018 Nutrition & Fitness Calendar,” Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Lentil stuffed peppers
Makes 6 servings
If you are looking for an eye-appealing and delicious vegetarian dish, try these stuffed peppers. Rather than baking the filling in the peppers in the traditional way, the stuffed peppers in this recipe have the filling and peppers each prepared separately and then combined before serving. For variety in color, use a mix of red, orange and yellow peppers. If your grocery store does not have the red lentils called for in the recipe, substitute brown or green instead. Brown and green lentils tend to hold their shape more after cooking, unlike red lentils that will be softer after cooking.
2 medium yellow onions
2 stalks celery
6 sprigs oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock, divided
3 cups red lentils
6 bell peppers
3 ounces feta cheese
Fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste
Finely dice the onions and celery. Peel and finely dice the carrots. Reserve the top parts of the oregano sprigs and chop the remaining leaves. Heat the oil to medium temperature in a large saucepot. Add the onions, carrots and celery; sauté for 5 minutes, then add 1 cup of the vegetable stock and the lentils. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked. Cut off the tops of the peppers, leaving the stems attached and remove the seeds. Place the peppers in a shallow pot with the remaining 3 cups vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and drain. In a bowl, mix together the lentil mixture, the chopped oregano, feta and black pepper; spoon the mixture into the peppers. Serve the peppers with the stem tops ajar. Garnish with reserved oregano tops.
Source: “The Everything Mediterranean Cookbook,” Dawn Altomari-Rathjen, LPN, BPS and Jennifer M Bendelius, MS, RD.