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5 Ways to Add Big, Low-Calorie Flavor with Roasted Red Peppers

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist

Both smoky and sweet, roasted red peppers add instant oomph to any dish. While it’s easy to make your own (remember to turn on the hood fan as even sweet red peppers can make your eyes sting), the jarred versions can also be good. For instance, I just discovered Trader Joe’s house brand, which are dead ringers for homemade.

Here are five ways I like to use them, and you’ll no doubt enjoy, too!

roasted peppers
Add to salads, just as you would any other vegetable. This Balsamic Tomato and Red Pepper salad recipe includes instructions for roasting the peppers.

Purée in dips, like the red pepper and walnut-based muhammara from Syria that’s popping up in Middle Eastern restaurants, or this lower calorie Roasted Red Pepper Dip.
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35 Quick and Healthy School Night Dinners Your Kids Will Actually Eat

What’s for dinner is the most impossible question to answer on our best nights, but during the chaos and rush of back to school it feels nearly hopeless. Adjusting to new schedules and adding extracurriculars to an already crammed-tight calendar and you’ve got a recipe for another drive-through dinner.

This year, don’t sweat it. Put prioritizing dinner on your back to school list. Any of these dinners can be thrown together and in the mouths of your hungry family in 30 minutes or less. They’re also healthier meals you can feel good about serving. And in many cases you can eat them on the run.

We may not change how you see dinner as a necessary evil, but we can certainly take the devil out of the details!

Mexican and Southwest

quesadilla black beans

Black Bean and Mushroom Quesadillas

For meatless Monday or exclusive vegetarians, hearty black beans and mushrooms melted together with cheese is simple and satisfying.

BBQ Chicken Tacos with Avocado Coleslaw

Fire up the grill and you’re only 30 minutes away from the best tacos ever! Buy pre-shredded coleslaw to really save prep time.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers - Barr and Table

These peppers use protein-rich quinoa instead of rice and can be prepped and served in just 30 minutes with on-hand ingredients.

Chorizo Nachos

Biggest Loser has a homemade chorizo recipe that tastes and looks like the real deal but is much better for you (just make it in advance).

Apple Sausage Quesadillas

The kids can practically make these themselves and will love every last comforting bite.

Classic Comforts

meatloaf mug

Meatloaf in a Mug - My Recipes

Individual meatloaves are made in minutes in the microwave. Not only are they adorable, but they practically make themselves.

Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders

This drive-thru favorite is better than ever when you use panko to get that crispy crunch the kids crave.

BBQ Pork Sliders

It takes only 30 minutes to roast a tenderloin, which you can then shred, toss in your favorite BBQ sauce, and serve!

Turkey Meatball Subs

The sandwich shop has nothing on our effortless meatball subs, made lighter with ground turkey. Serve in hot dog buns for tiny hands.

Pumpkin Chili

Chili in 30 minutes is possible. The pumpkin adds delicious nutrition without influencing the flavor much at all.

Sandwiches

finished pita

Mediterranean Chicken, Pear, and Arugula Stuffed Pitas - Fit Bottomed Eats

Our original recipe for FBE starts with a store-bought rotisserie chicken for the ultimate in hand-held, get-out-the-door meals.

Best Club Sandwich Ever

We use Applegate Farms ham, turkey, and bacon to craft a cleaner sandwich that’s finished with avocados and veggies.

Oprah’s Love Sandwich

This grilled panini sandwich presses turkey and cheese together for a super-quick, hot and ready dinner.

Almond Butter Banana Crazy

It doesn’t get any easier – we fold almond butter with banana slices and sprinkle a few dried cranberries.

Super Sloppy Joes - Meal Makeover Moms

This family favorite is made lighter with ground turkey and always gets two messy thumbs up from the kids.

 

Meals On a Stick

chicken stick

Maple Ginger Chicken on a Stick - Green Lite Bites

Make the marinade in the morning and dinner is literally minutes away when you get home. Roni says kids will eat anything on a stick!

Bayou Kabobs

Shrimp, sausages, and peppers take less than 15 minutes on the grill.

Fancy Fish Sticks

A Jillian Michaels creation that is super family friendly and way better than any frozen fish stick in a box.

Jalapeno Cheddar Burger Bite Kabobs

Hand-held burgers without the bun are stuffed with gooey cheddar cheese and a bit of jalapeno pepper for big flavor.

Stuffed Almond Butter and Jam French Toast Kabobs - Nibbles by Nic

It’s breakfast for dinner in a whole new way! You could even add bites of ham to the kabobs if you’re looking for more protein.

 

Pasta and Noodles

butternut squash macaroni

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

An Abra Pappa original that uses less, but higher quality cheese and a butternut squash puree for a kid-approved mac!

Creamy Avocado Pasta - In Good Taste

One of our very favorite 15-minute dinners. Prepare it meatless or top with shrimp.

Tomato Basil Alphabet Soup

A super simple homemade soup that easily fills thermoses for feel-good brown bag lunches all week long!

Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

It’s a no-noodle pasta dish and they’ll never know the difference! More nutritious and just as fast as a heap of spaghetti.

Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli - Picky Eater Blog

Turn a package of store-bought ravioli in to a quick and easy feel good dinner the kids will rave about!

Breakfast for Dinner

waffle panini

Prosciutto and Apple Waffle Paninis – HelloGiggles

If you’ve made the waffles in advance, or have frozen available, the prep time on these is dramatically reduced!

Pigs in Comforters

Biggest Loser’s Chef Devin Alexanders rolls all-beef hot dogs in buttermilk biscuits.

Cornbread Waffles - Edible Perspective

Prepare these heartier waffles with our oven-baked chicken tenders for a better take on chicken and waffles!

Egg and Kielbasa Sausage Pizza – Kid Friendly Home

The eggs form a breadless crust that holds kielbasa sausage, fresh herbs, and both cheddar and parmesan cheeses.

Carrot Cake Pancakes – Grimmway Farms

We crafted these using Grimmway’s famous baby carrots. Topped with cream cheese and walnuts, they’re quite satisfying.

 

Mediterr-Asian

Hoppin Johns Hummus

Black Eyed Pea Hummus

Our “new year” hummus will bring good luck to your pupils. Serve with warm pita and fresh veggies for an easy, filling dinner.

Crispy Pork Wontons

Another winner of a dinner from Chef Devin, these wontons bake up in minutes and are easily eaten on the go.

Mediterranean Fish Tacos - Food Network

A Rachael Ray original that takes only 30 minutes to prep and serve and offers a lighter, cooler meal for those hot and busy nights.

Chinese Potstickers with Turkey - Super Healthy Kids

If you’ve got about 20 minutes, a food processor, and a pot of boiling water, you’ve got time to make a super lean take-out-inspired meal!

Caprese Grilled Cheese

The grilled cheese is all grown up! We make it better with real mozzarella, fresh basil, and juicy tomatoes.

meal planner

Keep it all organized! Download our FREE meal planner worksheets HERE!



Eat 120-Calorie Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo to Pimp Your Pasta

By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

If I had a dollar for every time Fettuccine Alfredo came up in a nutrition session with a client I would be a very wealthy woman. It seems to be the dish that is the ultimate counterpoint to healthy eating, the sin that must be confessed. That steamy bowl of rich creamy pasta is not sensible – it is evil, ridiculous, void of common sense, and completely and utterly delicious!

Unfortunately, one bowl piles in about a day’s worth of calories and fat. ONE BOWL has approximately 1200 calories and 75 grams of fat!

The original recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo was created nearly 100 years ago by a man named Alfredo di Lelio in Rome. He created the recipe to please his very pregnant wife who struggled with morning sickness. Butter, heavy cream, cheese, and pasta to the rescue!

This morning sickness cure can now be purchased jarred or frozen and is on nearly every Italian restaurant menu across the country. Fettuccine Alfredo is an indulgence that we tend to “indulge” in way too often.

Now you can have your Alfredo and eat it too. Just make it at home. The Abra Pimped way.
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Kid-Approved Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese Launches ‘Pimp That Recipe’ Makeover Series

By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America

The idea behind most recipe makeovers is to take out or replace the “naughty” foods with “lighter” versions in order to reduce the big numbers from calories and fat. While reducing numbers is a piece of the health puzzle it doesn’t tell the whole story. Specifically since high fat/high calorie items are frequently replaced with chemically processed or highly processed “lite” versions which leaves a recipe that, quite frankly, can have a negative impact on your overall health.

This recipe makeover, however, is based on a non-reductive food philosophy; one that doesn’t just rely on taking high calorie foods OUT but focuses on adding the right foods IN. Adding in real whole foods, clean foods, foods as close to nature as possible.

So off we go with a new way of re-doing recipes. Pimp That Recipe will take your favorite comfort foods and upgrade them to a new, wholly health supportive, nourishing, satiating, and delicious version. Surely you’re on board with that!

Pimp That Recipe Mission 1: Macaroni and Cheese

I am jumping right out of the gate with a tough one. Macaroni and cheese is delicious. There, I said it. I understand why many of my clients are in love with this rich, creamy indulgence. But, holy cow traditional macaroni and cheese is not a waist-friendly food. It typically weighs in at 600 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving, with very little micro-nutrients to speak of. Additionally, the standard white pasta and heavy dairy will wreak havoc on gut health, blood sugar stabilization, and your body’s ability to effectively burn fat. Let’s turn this yummy delight into a health friendly, (yet delicious) masterpiece. Shall we?
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Kashi’s New Steam Meals Make a Healthier Dinner for One

Kashi has just launched a new product line. Instead of adding a new breakfast cereal or another on-the-go granola bar, they’ve added a whole new line of easy-to-prepare steam meals. The bags come microwave-ready so all you have to do is find it in the freezer aisle, throw it in the microwave, and serve.

These steam meals come in four different flavors, each containing an average of 35 grams of whole grains, 17 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, and only 9 grams of fat. Different flavors vary. Each are the same in that there are no artificial ingredients and they’re all minimally processed. The bags come in a single-serving size making it easy for you to not over indulge, however, multiple bags will need to be bought if you plan on serving the whole family. Listed below are the four different flavors currently available.

Sesame Chicken

This meal contains natural white and grilled chicken, 7 whole grain sesame pilaf, carrots, edamame, red peppers, and roasted green beans. It’s all topped off with a spicy citrus sesame sauce that seems to be not too heavy nor not too light. The nutritional facts are 35 grams of whole grains, 17 grams of protein, 8 grams of fiber, and 9 grams of fat (guideline is 3.5 grams or less). The meal has 300 calories, which is inline with nutrition guidelines for a meal like this. It does slightly exceed the 600 milligrams or less guidelines for sodium.
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