(Family Features) If you’re having trouble getting started, or even sticking to, a healthy eating regimen, you may be surprised that one highly effective practice doesn’t require counting calories or hours of exercise. You simply need to plan out your meals.
When hunger strikes, it’s tempting to grab the fastest, easiest-to-make food available, but that’s rarely the best choice for your health. Planning your meals encourages you to invest in better-for-you options ahead of time and reduces food waste, while saving significant time and money in the long-term. If you don’t know where to start, follow these easy tips to help make meal planning a breeze:
- Build meals around themes like taco night or seafood night. This can help narrow down your options but still allow you to experiment with new recipes or variations on favorites that can be added to your regular rotation.
- Be sure to include breakfast, lunch and snacks. Whether these are meals on the go or foods you’ll eat at home, planning ahead can help ensure you have tasty, healthy options at your fingertips all day long.
- Make it a family affair. Invite meal feedback from everyone and keep kids involved in the prep process to create more family time together.
- Take inventory of your pantry and leftovers before heading to the store – yesterday’s grapefruit breakfast could be today’s citrus salad.
- Shop wisely. Maximize time and money savings by shopping at a store such as ALDI, where you can find all your weekly must-haves, like fresh produce and organics, dairy, USDA Choice beef and bakery items. ALDI also offers a variety of healthy eating resources, including weekly meal plans and recipes like these Quinoa Lentil Tacos, at aldi.us/hellohealthy.
Quinoa Lentil Tacos
Recipe courtesy of Chef Michelle, ALDI Test Kitchen
- 32 ounces SimplyNature Vegetable Broth
- 3/4 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Iodized Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Ground Black Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Stonemill Essentials Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Onion Powder
- 1 cup SimplyNature Organic Tri-Color Quinoa, rinsed
- 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon Baker’s Corner Corn Starch
- 10 Pueblo Lindo White Corn Tortillas
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/2 cup crumbled Pueblo Lindo Fresco Cheese
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- In medium saucepan, bring broth, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, quinoa and lentils to boil; reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes, partially covered.
- Remove lid and add corn starch. Stir 5-8 minutes until lentils are cooked through.
- Heat medium pan over high heat. Heat tortillas 1 minute on each side.
- Divide lentil mixture evenly among tortillas. Top with red onion, avocado and fresco cheese. Serve each with lime wedge.
(Family Features) As the chill settles in, comforting, warming, seasonal favorites like stews and soups become top of mind. However, with busy work schedules, there’s often not enough time to prepare them during the week.
When Carrot-Lentil Stew is on the menu, time isn’t an issue. It’s ready in under an hour, plus it’s packed with healthy ingredients and robust flavor. Start with quick-cooking lentils, add nutrient-rich vegetables, vegetable broth and the secret ingredient: a jar of Aunt Nellie’s Glazed Sliced Carrots. The perfectly cooked carrot slices and their flavorful sauce add texture, flavor and vibrant color to the stew, which needs only 10 minutes to cook.
Serve topped with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese for another splash of color and an extra layer of flavor. This vegetarian stew can easily be adjusted to include chicken sausage for even more protein.
For additional cold-weather cooking ideas, visit AuntNellies.com.
Carrot-Lentil Vegetable Stew
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 cup dry lentils
- 3 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium vegetable broth, divided
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup sliced celery
- 3/4 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
- 1 jar (15 1/2 ounces) Aunt Nellie’s Glazed Small Sliced Carrots
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Rinse lentils and drain. Place in Dutch oven or other large saucepan. Add 2 cups broth and water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes (lentils should be slightly undercooked).
- Add onion, celery, bell pepper, remaining broth, tomatoes with liquid, carrots with liquid and garlic. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes, until liquid is reduced as desired and vegetables are just tender. Stir in parsley. Serve topped with Parmesan, if desired.
Note: If desired, 1/2 pound chicken sausage links, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces, can be added to stew during last 5 minutes of cooking.
Nutritional information per serving: 280 calories; 14 g protein; 54 g carbohydrate; <1 g fat; 390 mg sodium; 10 g dietary fiber; 5 mg iron; 0.46 mg thiamin; 5499 IU vitamin A; 36 mg vitamin C.
Source: Aunt Nellie’s