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June 23, 2021

Well-seasoned cuisine: Easy week night meals are made healthy

The last few weeks, I’ve tried to transform some meals that I like into healthier options. I love quesadillas, but I rarely ever order them when I eat out at a taqueria or make them at home. But when I found the recipe for veggie quesadillas, it seemed like a great way to make a favorite dish a little bit healthier. The one change we made to the recipe was to cook the vegetables before putting them into the quesadillas so they are tender instead of crispy. The recipe can be altered to include other vegetables such as asparagus, mushrooms, bell peppers and yellow onions.

Served with the pico de gallo, the quesadillas had a lot of flavor. This is a great meal to serve as an appetizer or as a side dish to a light meat dish such as grilled chicken breast.

The skillet barbecue chicken uses breast meat so it is healthier than dark meat. I coated it with the garlic and seasonings before grilling it in a hot pan. The chicken stays moist when the barbecue sauce and water is added to finish cooking it. I served the chicken dish with the potato dish on the side. I grew up eating potatoes au gratin, and this is a healthier take on that dish. It uses a light Alfredo sauce and a sprinkle of gruyere cheese. The dish came out creamy and tasted great. Because it made eight servings, we had leftovers for the next day.

Veggie quesadilla

Recipe courtesy of “The Diabetic Cookbook”

8-8 inch flour tortillas

1 c. finely chopped broccoli

1 c. thinly sliced mushrooms

¾ c. shredded carrots

¼ c. chopped green onions

1 ¼ c. reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Serve with 2 c. zesty pico de gallo

Brush both sides of tortillas lightly with water. Heat small skillet over medium heat until hot. Heat tortillas, one at a time, 30 seconds on each side. Divide vegetables among four tortillas; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Top with remaining tortillas

Cook quesadillas, one at a time, in a large nonstick skillet or on griddle over medium heat two minutes on each side or until surface is crisp and cheese is melted.

Cut each quesadilla into four wedges. Serve with zesty pico de gallo.

Zesty pico de gallo

2 c. chopped seeded tomatoes

1 c. chopped green onions

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

½ c. minced fresh cilantro

1 to 2 tbsp. minced jalapenos peppers

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

Calories per one wedge of quesadilla and 1 1/2 tbsp. of pico de gallo: 79; carbs: 12 g; dietary fiber: 1 g; fat: 2 g: protein: 4 g.

Skillet barbecue chicken

Recipe courtesy of “Weight Watchers five ingredient 15-minute recipes”

4- 6 oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp. salt-free Southwest chipotle seasoning blend

¼ tsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ c. honey-roasted garlic barbecue sauce

¼ c. water

Place chicken between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to ½-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Rub garlic over chicken, and sprinkle evenly with seasoning.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook three to four minutes on each side. Add barbecue sauce and ¼ c. water, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook one to two minutes or until chicken is done.

Makes four servings of one chicken breast half and ¼ c. sauce.

Calories: 266; fat 7.3 g; protein: 34.3 g; carbs: 11.7 g.

Potatoes Alfredo with Gruyere

Recipe courtesy of “Weight Watchers five ingredient 15-minute recipes”

2 lbs. small baking potatoes

1-10 oz. container light Alfredo sauce

½ c. fat-free milk

Cooking spray

2 tbsp. shredded Gruyere cheese

1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Peel potatoes, and cut into thin slices (about 1/16 inch thick) on a mandolin slicer. Combine potato slices, Alfredo sauce, and milk in a bowl, stirring gently. Arrange potato slices in overlapping layers in an 11-17-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, scraping any remaining sauce onto potato; sprinkle with cheese and pepper.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until potato is tender and golden.

Makes eight servings.

Calories: 149; fat: 4 g; protein: 5.6 g; carbs: 23.6; fiber: 1.5 g.

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