A month to change your heart: Day 21

Sunday’s are reserved for food preparation.  If you will agree to spend a few hours over the weekend engaged in food purchasing and preparation, you can make your entire week so much easier.  Since the nutrition topic this week was protein, let’s focus on ways to prepare the protein portion of your meals to lighten up the work you have to do during the week.

The emphasis of the Mediterranean diet is on chicken, turkey or fish as the primary sources of animal protein.  Vegetarian meals such as tofu, beans, lentils and nuts are also encouraged as is low-fat dairy.

We are going to suggest that you limit your consumption of beef, pork, veal and lamb for many reasons.  They are higher in saturated fat, calories and cholesterol than chicken, turkey and fish.  Even the biggest hot dog and bacon fan has got to admit that these processed meats are just not a heart-healthy choice. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) cancer research group has offered evidence that these processed meats increase your risk of colorectal cancer.  WHO also says red meats including beef, pork, veal and lamb are "probably carcinogenic" to people. If our goal is to do some prep work to lighten our work load during the week, here are two suggestions:

Turkey London broil.  This is a boneless, skinless turkey breast that you can marinate and then grill or bake in the oven. To pump up the flavor, try marinating the turkey in Garlic Expressions, a vinaigrette dressing made with whole garlic cloves usually found in the produce section of the supermarket. 

  • Marinate for at least one hour.  If you have the time, marinating overnight is even better.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Cover a baking pan with aluminum foil.  Place the London Broil in the foil-covered pan and top with some of the marinade. 
  • Cook the Turkey London broil for 50 to 60 minutes until cooked through depending upon the thickness.  A turkey is thoroughly cooked when a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees.  If grilling, allow 15 minutes per pound and turn the breast every 10 minutes.   

Leftovers can be used for sandwiches or salads during the week. Depending on the size of your family, you might decide to cook two turkey London broils.  One for dinner and the second one to slice for sandwiches for the week.  The cost of a turkey London broil varies but the cost per pound is usually less than one pound of a prime turkey lunch meat.  Save money and give your family a more nutritious lunch. 

Boneless skinless chicken breasts: Marinate and grill enough chicken to feed your family for three meals.

Night 1: Chicken with rice and veggies

  • Seasoned grilled chicken breast
  • Brown rice- make enough for two meals, assume one cup of rice per person
  • Steamed broccoli- make enough for leftovers

Night 2: Chicken quesadillas

  • Fill ½ of a whole wheat tortilla with low-fat mozzarella cheese. 
  • Top with several strips of grilled chicken, 2-3 Tablespoons-black beans, slices of resh red bell pepper and leftover broccoli or any green vegetable you have in your refrigerator
  • Fold whole wheat tortilla in half and grill in a frying pan that has been sprayed with light oil. 
  • Flip the quesadilla once to thoroughly cook and melt the cheese.
  • Cut each Quesadilla in half and serve with a large green salad and salsa. 

Night 3: Chicken stir fry

  • 1 cup Sweet onion, diced
  • 1 whole Red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks Celery
  • 1 large Carrot, chopped
  • 2 cups Broccoli
  • 1 package shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • 1 Tablespoon Sesame oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1Tablespoon Reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons Corn starch

In a large skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium high heat.  Stir fry all vegetables until tender.  Stir in water chestnuts.  Add leftover cooked chicken cut into slices.

Mix together chicken broth, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger and corn starch.  Add to vegetable mixture.  Cook until broth thickens, about two minutes.   Serve over re-heated brown rice. 

** For an even easier solution, instead of making your own sauce for the vegetable/chicken stir fry, purchase a bottled Thai peanut sauce or a sweet and sour sauce.  Follow the recipe above until you have added the cooked chicken.  Then add the bottled sauce and serve over the re-heated brown rice. 

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