Simple and healthy often don’t go together when it comes to entrees. But you don’t need elaborate recipes to make healthy food taste good. Discover three simple, healthy lunch dishes that use whole grains, nutritious fish, vegetables and monounsaturated fats–and taste fantastic. The two vegetarian options also please meat-lovers, and you can make any of the dishes low fat by using less oil. Whichever option you choose, in less than an hour you’ll be serving up a tasty lunch your family will ask for again.
Gingered Wild Alaskan Salmon and Rosemary Brown Rice
Use wild Alaskan salmon if you can find it rather than farmed salmon. It’s low in mercury compared to other fish, and high in Omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy essential fatty acid that’s beneficial for your heart and overall health. This aromatic dish can be made with fresh or thawed fish.
Marinate rinsed, boneless fillets of salmon with grated fresh ginger root, some extra virgin olive oil, a dash of soy sauce, a drop of honey and a splash of lemon juice in a plastic food storage bag for at least half an hour in the refrigerator.
While the fish is marinating, saute rinsed, uncooked brown rice in olive oil in a frying pan on low heat for five minutes with fresh chopped garlic, a dash of dried rosemary and a pinch of dried crumbled sage leaf. Add a handful of raisins, salt to taste and plenty of water, and set the rice mixture to simmer. Cover the rice and check it periodically, adding more water as necessary. When the rice is almost done, broil the salmon skin-side down about 10 minutes per inch of thickness on each side, watching carefully. Dress up the salmon with a sprig of parsley and serve on a bed of the rosemary rice.
Savory Vegetarian Wild Rice Cakes
A healthful alternative to potato pancakes, this recipe uses leftover wild rice that can be made the day before. While more expensive than brown rice, wild rice cooks up to twice the volume. And with twice the protein, fiber and niacin of long-grain brown rice, wild rice is a nutritional powerhouse. These patties, adapted from a recipe out of Susan Carol Hauser’s “Wild Rice Cooking,” (Lyons Press, 2000) are filling, light and quick to make.
Toss 2 cups cooked, cooled wild rice, ½ cup raw cashews, ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour, ½ tsp. salt and 1 egg plus 2 egg whites in a medium bowl. Spread a thin layer of butter or olive oil in a frying pan and heat over medium heat. Drop spoonfuls onto the hot pan and cook three minutes per side, turning only once. Serve these cakes plain or with unsweetened applesauce or light sour cream.
Garlic Pasta With Asparagus, Cerignola Olives and Sun Dried Tomatoes
A simple, classic pasta dish that uses intensely flavorful vegetables, this recipe can be made with whole wheat pasta, brown rice pasta–even cooked spaghetti squash for a low-carb option. You can leave off the Parmesan cheese for a vegan option as long as you use quality extra virgin olive oil, whose flavor will be more pronounced.
Prepare the asparagus by breaking the sticks close to the thick end. They will break at the point the vegetable is tender. Discard the tough, short, thick ends and cut into 2-inch pieces. Slice a handful of black cerignola olives, fresh parsley and rehydrated sundried tomatoes. Chop a crushed clove or two of garlic.
Cook the pasta until it’s al dente. About 30 seconds before the pasta is done, add the asparagus. (Or, if you’re using cooked spaghetti squash, steam the asparagus three minutes.)
Drain and rinse the pasta and asparagus in cool water. In a Dutch oven, large frying pan or wok, saute the pasta, vegetables, parsley and garlic with a bit of salt in a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil until steaming hot. Toss in the Parmesan cheese right before serving.