(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) What can family members do special this year for Mom? Most Moms dream of a fine meal they don’t have to shop for, cook or clean up afterwards. Often going out for breakfast on Mother’s Day can mean dealing with long lines and slow service. But Dad and the kids can rise to the occasion and prepare a meal themselves at home that can be a real treat.
Even the dad who only makes breakfast on weekends can cater a fine restaurant meal at home, with kids as willing sous chefs. It’s easy when your family shops where the pros shop, such as Sam’s Club for frozen appetizers, readymade pastry, organic produce, fine wines, quality meats, great breads and fabulous cheesecake ready to thaw and serve. For a crowning touch, add an unexpected and affordable luxury gift and Mom just might decide to sign on for another year.
Check out www.samsclub.com — or the Sam’s Club nearest you — for more great Mother’s Day ideas.
Mother’s Day Game Plan
Here’s the game plan for catering a Mother’s Day meal at home.
- Chill the champagne or make a delicious punch a few hours before the meal.
- Read the instructions on the box, then pop those frozen appetizers in the oven.
- Prepare and cook the salmon.
- Slice up some fresh fruit or bread.
- Finish with a deliciously moist cheesecake - a Mom favorite. (Remember to thaw it beforehand.)
- Serve Mom in bed - let her relax and enjoy the meal and her day.
- Have the kids clean up the kitchen.
- Watch Mom smile.
Mom’s Secret Wish List
Mom usually puts the needs of her family first. But if she were really honest, she would say she’d love to have something from this list. And, Dads, when you shop smart, these become affordable luxuries.
- Diamonds. They’re always a girl’s best friend. Diamond solitaire earrings go with everything — jeans on the soccer field, a suit at the office or workout clothes at the gym.
- Designer Fragrances. Perfume and cologne in her special scent makes Mom feel pampered and special.
- Furniture. Surprise her with something she’s been wanting, whether it’s the armoire for the great room, a new desk for the home office or even a new leather sofa.
- Chocolate. Always a treat, especially now that health experts have declared that dark chocolate is actually good for us. Now, will it be Godiva or Ghirardelli?
- Culinary Ware. If Mom has been trying to make culinary masterpieces from a mismatched set of cookware from her early married days, it’s time for an upgrade. Or, maybe she’d love a stand mixer or a great platter.
Puff pastry encloses flavorful salmon, spinach and herbs in a main dish fit for a special occasion. Wellington preparations are thought to take a great deal of time and skill to make. However, with the time saver of purchased puff pastry, it’s a breeze. The bundles can be prepared up to a week in advance and then frozen. Just pop them in the oven when needed.
Note: Puff pastry must be cold (but not frozen) when placed into a hot oven in order for the pastry to become light and flaky.
Makes: 4 servings
- 1 tablespoon sweet butter
- 1-1/2 tablespoons shallots or onion, minced
- 1/2 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and well drained
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon thyme or dill
- minced Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 1-1/2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
- 4 thick, skinless fillets of salmon (about 6 ounces each)
- 2 packages puff pastry (defrosted in refrigerator)
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- 1 teaspoon milk
- Heat sauté pan with butter over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low and add spinach, nutmeg, lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes; remove from heat and stir in feta. Taste for seasoning and let cool.
- Lightly salt and pepper each piece of salmon and top with 2 tablespoons of spinach mixture.
- Roll out pastry sheets on lightly floured board. Cut 1 piece of pastry for bottom of each fillet — about 1 inch larger than the salmon. Cut a second piece large enough to drape over fillet and touch counter, plus 1 inch to spare all the way around.
- Brush edge of smaller sheet with lightly beaten egg mixed with milk. Place 1 piece of salmon in center of pastry. Drape larger piece over salmon and seal the two pieces of dough together by folding and pleating like a pie crust. Repeat for each “package.” Chill at least 30 minutes or freeze up to 1 week before baking.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush top of each package with a small amount of egg/milk mixture. Put on sheet pan lined with parchment paper and a dusting of corn meal. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 23 minutes, until golden. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Cranberry Splash Punch
Makes: 8 servings
- 4 cups cranberry juice
- 3 cups pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup cherry juice
- 2 cups puréed strawberries or raspberries (fresh or frozen)
- 6 cups ice cubes
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 2 limes, sliced
- 3 cups orange soda or ginger ale
- Mix all juices and puréed berries and chill thoroughly.
- To serve, put punch in handsome container and add ice and fruit. Slowly stir in orange soda.
Source: Sam's Club