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Start out the week with chicken and veggies

> Family Sunday

Today, serve the family coconut-almond chicken stew (see recipe) with jasmine rice for a flavorful entree. Add mixed greens and bread sticks. Enjoy lemon sorbet for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough chicken and rice for Monday.

Shopping list: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, coarse salt, black pepper, olive oil, onion, roasted red chili paste, fat-free chicken broth, fat-free half-and-half, coconut extract, sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, no-salt-added or regular smooth almond butter, lime, fresh cilantro, jasmine rice, salad greens, bread sticks, lemon sorbet.

> Heat and eat Monday

Make chicken rice soup tonight. Shred the leftover chicken. Heat some fat-free chicken broth, add the chicken, leftover rice and any available vegetables for a hearty soup. Serve with a spinach salad and whole-grain crackers. Try tapioca pudding for dessert.

Shopping list: Fat-free chicken broth, fresh spinach, whole-grain crackers, tapioca pudding.

> Kids Tuesday

What kid doesn't like chicken fingers? Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup panko crumbs, 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon each dried thyme and dried basil. Coat 1 pound of chicken tenders in cooking spray, then roll in crumb mixture. Place chicken on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray; bake 20 minutes.

Serve with frozen oven fries, celery sticks and dip, along with soft rolls. Peaches are good for dessert.

Shopping list: Panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, dried thyme and basil, chicken tenders, cooking spray, frozen oven fries, celery sticks, dip, soft rolls, peaches.

> Meatless Wednesday

Enjoy the seasonings in vegetable chili with sweet potatoes. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine 1 medium chopped red onion, 1 medium chopped green bell pepper, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (yes, cocoa powder), 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 (28-ounce) can undrained no-salt-added or regular fire-roasted diced tomatoes, 1 (15.5-ounce) can each rinsed low-sodium black beans and kidney beans, 1 (8-ounce) peeled sweet potato (cut into 1/2 -inch slices) and 1 cup water. Cover; cook on low 6 to 7 hours or until potatoes are tender and chili has thickened. Garnish with reduced-fat sour cream and sliced green onions.

Serve with a lettuce wedge and egg slices and whole-grain rolls. Fresh pineapple is good for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough chili for Friday.

Shopping list: Red onion, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, no-salt-added or regular fire-roasted diced tomatoes, canned low-sodium black beans and kidney beans, sweet potato, reduced-fat sour cream, green onions, lettuce, eggs, whole-grain rolls, fresh pineapple.

> Budget Thursday

Pasta is a low-cost meal and easy to prepare, as is this spaghetti with parsley and cheese. Cook 8 ounces whole-grain spaghetti according to directions; drain. Meanwhile, combine 5 minced cloves garlic and 1/3 cup chopped flatleaf parsley. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high for 1 minute. Add the parsley-garlic mixture; stir well to combine with the oil and remove skillet from heat. Add cooked pasta to skillet and toss well to coat. Add 1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Serve with Italian bread. Orange sections are a simple dessert.

Shopping list: Whole-grain spaghetti, garlic, flatleaf parsley, olive oil, Romano cheese, salt, pepper, Italian bread, oranges.

> Express Friday

Make it quick tonight and heat the leftover chili. Serve it over brown rice. Add a packaged green salad and cornbread (from a mix). Keep dessert easy and serve pears.

Shopping list: Brown rice, packaged green salad, cornbread mix, pears.

> Easy entertaining Saturday

Tonight, serve your guests sweet and smoky "pork and beans" (see recipe). Serve the combo with broccoli florets, a romaine salad and baguettes. For dessert try blueberry oatmeal crumble bars (see recipe).

Shopping list: Honey, fish sauce (such as Thai Kitchens), lime, smoked paprika, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, pork tenderloin, bacon, canned no-salt-added petite diced tomatoes, no-salt-added tomato paste, ground ginger, coarse salt, black pepper, canned no-salt-added or regular adzuki or small red beans, green onions, broccoli florets, romaine, baguettes, fresh or frozen blueberries, white sugar, orange, cornstarch, rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, butter, cooking spray.





Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: About 40 minutes

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium chopped onion

2 tablespoons roasted red chili paste

2 cups fat-free chicken broth

1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half mixed with 3/4 teaspoon coconut extract

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch slices

1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1/2 cup no-salt-added or regular smooth almond butter

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven on medium-high. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove chicken. Add onion; cook and stir 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add chili paste; cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in broth, half-and-half with coconut extract, sweet potatoes and bell pepper. Bring just to boil. Return chicken and any juices to Dutch oven. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender. Mix almond butter, lime juice and 1 cup of the sauce from stew in a medium bowl with wire whisk until smooth. Gradually stir back into stew. Simmer 5 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Per serving: 381 calories, 36g protein, 17g fat (39 percent calories from fat), 2.4g saturated fat, 24g carbohydrate, 118mg cholesterol, 436mg sodium, 5g fiber.


Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes for pork; 10 to 13 minutes for beans; standing time for pork: 5 minutes

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as Thai Kitchens)

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, divided

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 (1 1/2 -pound) pork tenderloin

2 slices diced bacon

1 (14.5-ounce) can undrained no-salt-added petite diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon no-salt-added tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can rinsed no-salt-added or regular adzuki (see Note) or small red beans

2 thinly sliced green onions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix honey, fish sauce, lime juice, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and red pepper until well-blended. Brush on pork. Roast 25 to 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 150 degrees. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet on medium until crisp. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, remaining paprika and garlic powder, ginger, salt and pepper; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Gently stir in beans. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through. Slice pork on an angle into thin slices; serve over bean mixture. Garnish with onions.

Note: If not in your local supermarket, look for adzuki beans in a health food stores, if desired.

Per serving: 288 calories, 30g protein, 6g fat (19 percent calories from fat), 1.9g saturated fat, 27g carbohydrate, 79mg cholesterol, 534mg sodium, 4g fiber.


Makes 18 (1-by-2-inch) bars

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: About 45-50 minutes

For the filling:

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon cornstarch

For crust and topping:

2 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

4 ounces butter, melted

In medium pan, stir together all filling ingredients. On medium-high heat, bring to simmer; cook 15 minutes. Stir often, until mixture is thick and berries break down.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl mix together oats, flour, sugar, zest and baking soda; add butter and blend. Reserve 3/4 cup mixture for topping. Transfer remaining mixture to a 9-by-9-inch baking pan, coated with cooking spray. Press firmly in bottom to form a crust. Spoon filling in an even layer. Sprinkle with remaining topping. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool before cutting.

Per bar: 172 calories, 2g protein, 5.8g fat (30 percent calories from fat), 3.4g saturated fat, 29g carbohydrate, 14mg cholesterol, 57mg sodium, 2g fiber

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