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COLUMN: Spend more time outdoors; less time in the kitchen


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I heard you loud and clear! You told me as soon as the weather gets warmer, you cannot wait to resume some outdoor activities. How about enjoying the sunshine outside, and eating nutritiously without spending much time in the kitchen?

I’m going to share with you several time-saving, cook-once-eat-many nutritious recipes from our friends at the US Department of Agriculture, that would help you gain health by spending more time outdoors and less time in the kitchen this spring. Each of these recipes makes enough for freezing for multiple dinners for weeks to come, to save you time and money. Recipes can also be assessed at www.myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen/recipes.

Slow Cooker Pork Stew over Brown Rice


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Apple juice and dried fruit add a touch of natural sweetness to this stew. This dish can be put together in minutes and then left to simmer in your Crockpot. Served over brown rice, it’s great comfort food to have waiting after an afternoon of gardening. The whole-grain cereal thickens the stew and adds a nutty flavor to the stew, and provides you with extra healthful dietary fiber. Substitute raisins for dried cherries if you’d like. Soak brown rice ahead of time to reduce cooking time. Did I mention this dinner is an excellent source of immune-boosting mineral zinc, heart-healthy potassium, and muscle-strengthening high-quality protein?

Ingredients-serves 8

2 pounds lean pork stew meat

3 cups baby carrots

1 large onion, sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups complete bran and wheat flakes ready-to-eat cereal (crushed to 3/4 cup)

1 cup dried tart cherries

3/4 cup 100% apple juice or apple cider

4 cups hot cooked brown rice

Spray a large pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cook half of the pork at a time until browned. In a 4-6 quart crockery cooker layer carrots, onion, thyme, pepper, salt and garlic. Sprinkle with cereal and cherries. Top with pork and pour apple juice or cider over the contents in the cooker. Cover and cook on low setting for 7-8 hours or on high setting for 3 ½ to 4 hours. Prepare the brown rice according to package directions toward the end of the stew cooking time. (Brown rice typically takes about 40-45 minutes to cook). Stir pork mixture and serve over 1/2 cup brown rice.

Nutrition info. per serving: 350 calories, 50 g carbs, 27 g protein, 5 g fat, 139 mg sodium.

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

Who doesn’t love a hearty Chicken, vegetables, and egg noodles soup? For added dietary fiber, you can substitute brown rice for egg noodles, or use whole-grain noodles. You can use fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables. I love to add plenty of frozen broccoli or to use up the last bit of green beans in the fridge. This dinner is an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamin A for vision health, and folic acid which can reduce heart disease risk! Great to eat with crackers for a light meal.

Ingredients-serves 6

3 pounds chicken pieces (skin removed)

8 cups of water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 onion (chopped)

1 cup celery (washed and chopped)

3 carrots (large, scrubbed, thinly sliced)

4 cups noodles, dry thyme or sage (optional)

Place chicken pieces in a large kettle. Cover completely with 8 cups of water. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 2-3 hours. Remove cooked chicken pieces from broth with tongs or slotted spoon. Cool 10-15 minutes before separating bones from meat. Break meat into bite-size pieces. Remove any bones from broth. Put chicken meat, seasonings, and vegetables into stock.

Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat and cook covered about 15-20 minutes on medium heat until sliced ​​carrots are crispy-tender. Add noodles and boil uncovered for about 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any noodles that might stick together. (One cup of dry noodles (1.5 ounces) makes one cup of cooked noodles). Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours of cooking. If refrigerated, use within 2 days. When reheating, bring to a boil.

Nutrition information per serving — 276 calories, 24 g carbs, 32 g protein, 5 g fat, 338 mg sodium.

Easy Beef and Vegetable Soup

This must be one of the easiest dinners to make. Very little prepping at the cutting board is required. Nothing replenishes you from that 30-minute walk in the park better than this wholesome, delicious and satisfying Beef and Vegetable Soup. It features canned beef broth, carrots, green beans, and stewed tomatoes. The beef protein is a good source of iron which supports your energy.

Ingredients-serves 6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound 90% lean ground beef

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 can low sodium beef broth (14.5-ounce can)

1 can sliced ​​carrots, drained (14.5-ounce can)

1 can no salt added cut green beans (14.5-ounce can)

1 can no salt added stewed tomatoes (14.5-ounce can)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup cooked egg noodles

In a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, in hot oil, cook ground beef until well browned on all sides, stirring frequently. With slotted spoon, remove beef to bowl. In drippings remaining in saucepan over medium heat, cook onion and garlic until tender-crisp. Add beef broth, carrots, green beans, stewed tomatoes, basil and ground beef; over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally. Stir in cooked egg noodles. Nutrition information per serving: 226 calories, 17 g carbs, 19 g protein, 10 g fat, 319 mg sodium.

Written by Cindy Chan Phillips, registered dietitian. Phillips is the contract RD for Oneida County Office for the Aging. Call Oneida County Office for the Aging/NY Connects at 315-798-5456.


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