All Entries For what's for dinner

13 Easy, Tasty Ways to Eat Brown Rice


Why does brown rice get such a bad rap? Sure, rice can be a little bland. And yes, the brown version does take longer to cook. But here’s the thing: In addition to being one of the healthiest foods in the human diet—rich in fiber, cholesterol-lowering fats and nutritious minerals and antioxidants—brown rice has a deep, nutty flavor and hearty texture that’s anything but boring.
 
White rice is highly processed brown rice that’s been stripped of its bran—and nearly all its nutrients. You’ll find short- and long-grain varieties; short-grain rice tends to be more sticky and compact when it’s cooked, while long-grain rice is fluffier. You may also be able to find quick-cooking brown rice (which is partially cooked and then dried). Brown rice is different from wild rice (which is actually a grass, not a rice), though they’re delicious together. Here are some great ways to enjoy brown rice:
 
Cooking brown rice.
To make 3 cups of cooked rice, bring 1 cup of brown rice, 2 1/2 cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 40 to 50 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Turn off the heat, leave the lid on the pan and let the rice sit for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork before serving. (You can also make brown rice in the slow cooker.)
 
Oven-Baked Brown Rice.
This SparkRecipes member recipe is dubbed “foolproof”; it’s baked in a foil-covered dish in the oven for an hour.
 
 
Prepared And Make-Ahead Brown Rice.
You’ll find already-cooked brown rice on your grocery shelf, and it’s a quick and easy way to enjoy this staple. Too, cooked rice freezes well, so if you plan to cook a batch of brown rice for a recipe, make double what you need and freeze the rest for up to 6 months.

Now, onto those recipes and meal ideas... 
Posted 6/13/2013  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 45 comments   326,343 views
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Weekly Menu: Gluten-Free Dinners


Per your requests, our recipe ideas come in a handy, downloadable calendar packed full of meal ideas that are healthy and delicious. (It's printable, too!) Whether you use this calendar every day or just use it for ideas is up to you. We hope we've inspired you to get into the kitchen and get cooking!

Each week we'll choose a different theme: our favorite no-cook summer recipes, 7 days of meatless meals, or a week of diabetes-friendly dinners, for example. If you have a special dietary request, let us know in the comments, and we'll do our best to devise a recipe plan that might suit your needs.

By posting a weekly calendar, we think it's easier for you to save and even reuse these recipe collections over time.

This week's theme is Gluten-Free Dinners.
Posted 5/30/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 50 comments   140,722 views
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6 Ways to Pick Peppers for Dinner


We love bell peppers. Served raw, they're a tangy and low-calorie snack and a great addition to any salad. When cooked, their natural sweetness is highlighted. We've picked a pack of pepper recipes that are both delicious and nutritious!
Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers: Who says you have to serve fajitas in a flour tortilla? Instead of serving peppers in the fajitas, I serve fajitas in a roasted pepper!

Chicken Oregano with Sweet Peppers: Serve this on top of a bed of brown rice.

Stuffed Bell Peppers: This stuffed bell pepper recipe is really delicious! You can use red bell peppers if you like that flavor better. It incorporates your protein, starch, and veggies in one neat package! Brown rice is used for an added nutritional punch.

Chicken Tostadas with Corn and Peppers: Tostadas top tacos in our book: This knife-and-fork meal lets you pile on more (healthy) toppings!
Posted 4/9/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 45 comments   396,844 views
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What's for Dinner? 30 Easy, Healthy Meals for April


Starting this month, we're offering up some of our favorite recipes from Chef Meg, the SparkPeople Team and members to last you the entire month. This handy list is packed full of meal ideas that are healthy and delicious. Whether you use these recipes in order and every day, or just use a couple a week is up to you. We hope this inspires you to get into the kitchen and get cooking!
 
We even threw in a few probable scenarios that could prevent you from eating right. See these as a chance to "take off the training wheels" and get creative while sticking with your healthy eating plan.
 
Sunday, April 1:
Easy Slow Cooker Lemony Garlic Chicken Breast--add asparagus (it's in season!) and whole-wheat couscous (ready in minutes!)

Monday, April 2:
Serve the leftover chicken from last night with a green veggie and Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"

Tuesday, April 3:
Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken served with baked tortilla chips

Wednesday, April 4:
Pantry night: Low-sodium canned soup with Coach Nicole's Grown Up Grilled Cheese

Thursday, April 5:
Chef Meg's Super Fast Pork and Veggie Stir Fry with brown rice

Friday, April 6:
Leftover Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken as burritos. Tip: Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream!

Saturday, April 7:
Crockpot Spicy Beef Brisket with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed veggies, plus whole-wheat bread
Posted 3/31/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 37 comments   273,983 views
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What to Serve with Chicken: 10 Quick & Easy Side Dishes


When it comes to the protein portion of a healthy diet, boneless, skinless chicken is a hero. It’s versatile, easy to prepare and naturally lower in fat and calories than many other meat options. But by itself, chicken can be, well, a little boring.
 
Baked, grilled or roasted chicken is probably a regular part of your dinner rotation. So you’ll need some great side dishes for chicken that add a little spark to the plate. We’ve gathered 10 side dish recipes to help you bring new life to that chicken dinner.
 
 
Green Beans with Miso and Almonds
If you haven’t tried miso, the flavorful, fermented Asian ingredient made from soy, then you should. Miso adds umami, or savory flavor, to any dish. Serve this recipe as a side dish for grilled chicken marinated in soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic and lime.
Posted 2/25/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 14 comments   352,390 views
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10 Retro Comfort Foods, Updated


One big food and cooking trend that we’re keeping an eye on is the continued resurgence of old-fashioned recipes and methods. You may see this trend showing up in food magazines, which are emphasizing cooking techniques your grandmother would recognize (like roasting and slow cooking) or in your favorite restaurant (wood-fired breads and pizzas are hot).
 
Old-fashioned recipes have lots of appeal: They’re time-tested favorites. They don’t require fancy ingredients. These are easy recipes for uncomplicated dishes. From breakfast to dinner to dessert, here are a few of our favorite—healthier—versions of old-school comfort foods you’ll love.
 
Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese
You’ll remember this classic combination from childhood: grilled cheese and tomato soup. This soup is creamy and delicious without a bit of dairy. And the grilled cheese sandwiches feature whole-grain bread and added vegetables.
Posted 2/18/2013  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 12 comments   18,722 views
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10 Great-For-You Chicken Soup Makeovers


Chicken soup has seemingly mystical properties; moms swear by its ability to cure anything that ails you.
 
While its medicinal attributes are still being tested, the Mayo Clinic does report that chicken soup can reduce inflammation and speed up the loosening of mucus in the nose and sinuses, which makes it a good-for-you remedy when you’re not feeling well. Add in some spice (like ginger or chile), for more relief of that stuffed-up feeling that comes with a cold. Plus, a batch of homemade chicken soup tastes a whole lot better than over-the-counter cold medicines.
 
Try these alternatives to classic chicken-noodle soup next time you’re under the weather—or you just want something to eat that’s warm, comforting and delicious.
 
Chicken Stock
Any good homemade chicken soup starts with good stock. For store-bought chicken stock, we recommend Swanson’s low-sodium organic chicken broth. But really, it’s so easy to make your own homemade stock that you should try this recipe—make a big batch and store it (in 3- or 4-cup containers) in the freezer for soup-making.
 
Basic Chicken Noodle Soup
We’ll start with this simple recipe for chicken noodle soup. It has everything you want: chunks of chicken, carrots, celery and slurp-able noodles.
Posted 2/8/2013  12:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 17 comments   32,384 views
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Simple Sauces for Steaks


Have you ever noticed how, at restaurants, even lean cuts of steak come to the table glistening?  Then, with the first bite, they taste so rich--and they're never dry! No matter what you do, you just can't figure it out. Is it the professional stove that does it? A wood-fired grill? A fancy cut of meat?

Nope. The secret's in the sauce--and I'm about to spill.  The secret is butter.
Maître d’hôtel butter is a mixture of raw butter, parsley, and lemon juice.  The butter is spooned over a steak just as it leaves the grill, then melts onto the surface to leave behind only a sheen.

While I'm sharing a major trade secret here, I feel it’s my duty to report to all those trying to make healthy and positive changes in food they eat.  

The next time you order a lean steak at a restaurant ask your waiter if the chef finishes the steaks in butter and just say, “No, thank you.”  Better yet, save money and grill at home--then add color and flavor to your lean meat with these easy ideas and recipes. (We think these ideas are perfect for a simple Valentine's Day meal!)
Posted 2/6/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 23 comments   77,586 views
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13 Healthy Ravioli Fillings (and an Easy Way to Make Them)


Making ravioli can be a snap if you use my trick of swapping out wonton wrappers for homemade pasta dough.  Wonton wrappers are found in the cold food area of the produce aisle (usually also where you would also find tofu). 

Pick up round, rectangular and square shapes to mix up your ravioli.  My favorite are the rectangular shaped wrappers because I can fill one half then do a quick egg wash glue and fold over to seal.  The round and square ones are smaller, so I place filling in the middle of one, spread egg wash on the edges, then top with another wonton wrapper.

A tip: Don’t throw out leftover chicken, fish or beef.  Keep it for ravioli filling! Instead of a second night rerun meal, you turn leftovers into a premiere.  Use my recipe for Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken as a base for some of the ideas below.  Get the kids involved and make an assembly line, soon you will have enough to freeze or share with the neighbors.

Prepping your ravioli:
Instead of using a whole egg as the glue to hold the ravioli together, opt for egg substitute or egg whites.  I like to add 1 teaspoon of water to each egg white or 1 tablespoon of egg substitute to thin it out.  Press down the edges with your fingers or a fork.

When filling the wontons, keep the package covered with a damp towel so they don’t dry out.  Wrap and freeze any unused wonton wrappers for up to two months. 

Cooking your ravioli:
Bring water to a boil before adding the ravioli.  Add them one at a time so they don’t stick together, then give them a stir.  Don’t allow them to boil rapidly; if the water has too much movement, the ravioli will break open.  Ravioli will give you a sign when they are cooked: They will float to the top of the water.

Now you're ready to start cooking. You can use your favorites, such as cheese, spinach, or sausage, but you can also get creative and start cleaning out the fridge to fill your ravioli.

Here are some non-traditional but super delicious fillings:
Posted 1/30/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 17 comments   80,330 views
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12 Easy Ways to Serve Lean Pork


On more SparkPeople members' dinner tables, chicken is stepping aside while lean pork is the star of the meal. I am a big fan of lean pork products for busy weeknight meals, slow cooker Sundays, and tablecloth: and: good china Saturday night dinners.  Choosing leaner cuts of pork such as the tenderloin, roast, and chops will bring more flavor to your favorite recipes than leaner cuts of poultry and at about the same price.
 
Not sure how to cook pork or need some new ideas? Here are a dozen to get you started.
Posted 1/24/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 8 comments   28,742 views
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7 Perfect Pork Chop Recipes


Pork Chops are not just the "Other White Meat," but a surprisingly versatile, affordable, and healthy meal plan option. A few simple changes are all that's required to bring this slice of Americana--pun intended--into the health-conscious 21st century. Try baking, slow-cooking, or grilling them, and then add your favorite fresh herbs to boost the chop's natural flavor structure. Opt for a more nutritious sauce or topping, like all natural apple sauce, spiced yogurt-based sauce, or home made chutney. Another benefit is that it doesn't take long to cook, nor are the ingredients very costly. Feed your family a healthy meal with these pork chop recipes. 
Posted 1/4/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 12 comments   19,356 views
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7 Quick and Easy Salmon Recipes


When I was in high school, my parents made a big lifestyle change that included improved diet and exercise. One of our staples when eating out became salmon. Many years later, it's still my favorite fish, but now I enjoy it at home around our family dinner table too. The best thing about salmon is that you don't have to be a professional chef or require expensive ingredients. This fish is simple to prepare, cooks fast, and has high levels of omega-3 fats and protein, but is relatively low in calories. I prefer fresh wild salmon, but you can opt for farmed or canned salmon also. Whether you already love salmon, or if you're ready to try something new, try these simple and healthy recipes to acquaint yourself with this amazing fish. 
Posted 11/27/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 17 comments   68,830 views
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7 Recipes From Around The World


One way to bring fun and excitement into your kitchen is to cook recipes that come from around the world. Even if you are not able to travel much, you can introduce your loved ones to other cultures and exciting flavors by using ingredients from the international aisle in most super markets, spice shops, or specialty markets. These recipes are simple to prepare and versatile. As you master them, start experimenting to create your own new international favorites. 
Posted 10/26/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 6 comments   10,104 views
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Meals That Serve A Crowd


I recently came across my great grandmother's focaccia pizza recipe and was surprised that it served 100 people. Apparently, cooking for a crowd was the norm in my family. One thing my family has taught me is that cooking a big meal doesn't have to be complicated or unhealthy. My guests often mention how surprised they are how tasty a healthy dish can be and how inspired they are to try simple substitutes in their recipes. Here are seven SparkRecipes that can easily be doubled when cooking for a crowd.

 
Posted 10/19/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 7 comments   53,223 views
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Chef Meg's Most Popular Recipes


Did you know that our resident healthy cooking expert Chef Meg has been creating original recipes and comfort food makeovers for more than three years on SparkRecipes.com? She has amassed hundreds of recipes. We've rounded up her seven most popular, as selected by SparkRecipes.com users.
Posted 10/12/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 11 comments   13,995 views
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