Maintaining Your Budget and Waistline
December 20th, 2011

waistlineBy cooking at home, you can manage your budget and, more importantly, your health and the health of your family. By carefully choosing nutritious ingredients, you can help reduce the risk for heart disease and obesity while still enjoying satisfying and delicious meals. Making good food choices will benefit you and your family for years to come.

Rosemary Chicken With Mediterranean Brown Rice
Source: Recipes are reprinted with permission from Light & Easy Recipes, © 2008 by the American Heart Association. Published by Publications International, Ltd. Available at while supplies last.

½ cup uncooked instant brown rice
½ 0.7-ounce packet Italian salad dressing mix
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 4 ounces each), all visible fat discarded
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup dry white wine (regular or nonalcoholic)
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 medium green onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves (optional)
1 medium lemon, quartered

Prepare the rice using the package directions, omitting salt and margarine.

Sprinkle the salad dressing mix and rosemary over both sides of the chicken. Using your fingertips, gently press the mixture so it adheres to the chicken.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Add the chicken and immediately reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in the center. Transfer to a plate.

Increase the heat to medium high. In the same skillet, stir together the wine, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cook for 2 minutes, or until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Stir green onions and oregano into the cooked rice. Spoon the rice onto a platter. Arrange the chicken on the rice. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Squeeze the lemon over the chicken and rice.

Serves 4

Spinach-Stuffed Baked Salmon

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 ounces fresh spinach leaves
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ cup chopped roasted red bell peppers, rinsed and drained if bottled
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
Cooking spray
4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each), rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
½ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper


In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the spinach and lemon zest for 2 minutes or until the spinach is wilted, stirring constantly. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the bell peppers, basil and walnuts. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking spray.

Cut a lengthwise slit in the side of each fillet to make a pocket for the stuffing. Be careful to not cut through to the other side. With a spoon or your fingers, carefully stuff a ½ cup spinach mixture into each fillet. Transfer to the baking sheet. With a pastry brush or spoon, spread the mustard over the fish.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle over the fish. Lightly spray the tops with cooking spray.

Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork and the filling is warmed through.

Serves 4

Swiss Chard and Ricotta Manicotti

Cooking spray
8 dried manicotti shells
½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


1 bunch Swiss chard (about 8 ounces)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 large egg white
¼ cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 large Italian plum tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and cut into wedges
¼ cup no-salt-added tomato paste
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper


Lightly spray a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Prepare the pasta using the package directions, omitting the salt and oil. Drain well in a colander, being careful to not tear the shells. Set aside.

Discard the stems of the chard. Stack several leaves and cut crosswise into ½-inch slices. Repeat with the remaining leaves.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, or until soft, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chard. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the chard is wilted and the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a medium bowl. Let cool slightly. Stir in the remaining filling ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

In a food processor or blender, process the sauce ingredients for about 20 seconds, or until chunky (do not process until smooth). Pour 1 cup sauce into the baking dish, spreading to cover the bottom.

Gently spoon about ¼ cup filling into a manicotti shell, being careful to not tear the shell. Transfer to the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining shells. Top with the sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella.

Bake covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through.

Cook’s Tip: Take care to not overcook the manicotti shells. To make sure they don’t get too soft and split, start checking them about 2 minutes before the package instructions say they should be ready.

Serves 4