Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dinner Food Choices: Your Healthiest Processed Foods Options

© photo copyright Carrie Boyko

All Natural Chorizo and Potatoes

This is the fourth and final post in a series that has an odd angle. First, allow me to bring you up to speed on what my goal is with this series. While the fact is that your healthiest food choices are fresh, unprocessed foods from the outside edges of the supermarket, fresh is not always an option. These articles were written for those times when you just simply cannot serve organic roasted chicken, fresh organic fruits and vegetables, along with homemade organic bread.

If you have missed the earlier parts of this series, you may wonder where the other meals are. Good question. You can find the whole picture at these links: Parts I, II, and III. Now let's move on to your dinner options and pick a few that will prove healthiest:

Main Dishes
  • Organic pasta and sauce can be a quick dinner on a busy night. We love Walnut Acres Garlic-Garlic-Garlic sauce for both pasta and as a pizza sauce. If you have onions, try my recipe for Pomodoro sauce at this link.
  • Using a packaged organic pizza crust from Whole Foods, I add olive oil, canned sauce, mozarella cheese and top it off with whatever odds and ends I can find in the fridge or in cans. This is a great meal that helps clean up my leftovers. Never, no never, forget the onions!
  • Two other favorites for taking care of those odds and ends in the produce bin are quesadillas and stir fry. I apply the same rule here. Never, no never, forget the onions!
  • And still more: Using canned or packaged organic broth, create a quick soup using all your leftover bits of various veggies, rice, and even bitesize pieces of meat. Serve with bread or muffins and you've got a good comfort-food kind of meal for a chilly day.
  • Chicken leftovers make a great addition to rice dishes, such as chicken and yellow rice.
  • Chorizo, a Spanish sausage with a long shelf life in your refrig, makes a wonderful dinner with potatoes, onions, and garlic. My son brought home a fabulous recipe for Chorizo and Potatoes, that you can find at this link.
Fruits and Veggies

Tomorrow is grocery shopping day and your cupboard is bare, at least of a selection of fresh produce. I try to keep a few longer life produce items in stock at all times: onions, garlic, potatoes, apples, broccoli. There are a million ways to prepare potatoes and apples. When all else fails, though, try these:
  • Packaged, organic apple sauce has a long shelf life for those days when nothing else is left.
  • packaged fruit pieces or canned veggies
  • Use canned juice and unflavored gelatin to make a fresh, gelatin or gelatin salad, if you have some canned fruit to add.
  • Make a small fruit salad of dried fruits, adding a few drops of juice to soften, or topping with fruit yogurt.
  • Add canned corn to your cornbread or corn muffins for extra fiber and flavor.
  • For that matter, pack all your muffins full of fruit, adding tons of vitamins and fiber. With fall here, my favorite is pumpkin muffins. I add 1/2 can of organic pumpkin to every batch and they taste fabulous!
  • Make fruit smoothies with frozen, over-ripened fruit.
  • Use your Halloween pumpkin to cook up a pumpkin soup or the filling for a delicious, homemade pumpkin pie. The kids will never know they're actually eating vegetables!! We should call this Jack-o-Lantern pie (or soup).
Dairy Products
  • Dairy products are tough to come by without getting them fresh, but there are a few choices. Pudding is available in store shelves, although it probably has preservatives. Read the label to know what you're getting.
  • Some cheeses can be stored on a shelf for a while.
  • Milk is available in dried, canned and in "juice boxes", for use in making custards, puddings, and as many things as your imagination can cook up.
  • If you happen to have a product like Egg Beaters on hand, you can create quite a few dishes with these: omelettes, quiche, souffles, and more.
Whenever possible, shoot for trying to eat fresh. Every good cook knows you need to have a Plan B. As a back up plan, keep some of your family's favorites from above in stock, for those nights when fresh just isn't happening. As long as you don't serve spaghetti twice a week, it will always be good!

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