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Tasty Tuesday by Anna Grindeland, RD, CD: 3 whole food dinners that your family will eat

Anna Grindeland, RD, CD

We have been talking about whole foods all summer, and how eating a wide variety of foods can increase your and your family's health. If you are feeding a family, it can be hard to meet everyone's tastes and needs and get a healthy dinner on the table every night.

According to the 2012 Food and Health Survey, in this country, more than half of the meals we eat are not at home and 1 out of every 4 American reports that they eat fast food every day. It is no wonder, because life moves at such a pace that does not allow us to take time to prepare and eat healthful meals. The same survey also found that Americans eat significantly more (30%) processed foods than whole foods.

These three recipes show how quick and easy whole food cooking can be, and allow you and your family to eat well and live well. Let's change some of those numbers for the better!

1. Cheesy Quinoa Bake. This recipe can be exchanged with rice (brown, white, or a mix), and other vegetables (about 3 cups chopped) can be added in place of broccoli. The cheese and quinoa provide plenty of protein, so it can be made with or without chicken. Recipe source:

Yield: about 8-10 servings


1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 shallots, diced
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded*
2 cups shredded cooked chicken

INSTRUCTIONS: Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Meanwhile, place the broccoli in a saucepan and add a couple inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Let boil just 1-2 minutes more, until the broccoli is crisp-tender. Drain immediately and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400° F. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, shallots, garlic powder, dry mustard and cayenne. Continue whisking the mixture until it is light golden, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the cheddar until melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, broccoli florets, shredded cooked chicken and the cheese sauce. Fold together gently until evenly combined.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased casserole dish. Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.

*For best results, always use freshly shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese comes coated in things such as flour, cornstarch to prevent clumping and results in an unpleasant, gritty texture when melted.

2. Chicken Picatta. Whole wheat pasta might have to cook a bit longer, but contains the whole wheat grain which is rich in fiber and other nutrients that are filling and nutritious. Recipe source:

Serves 4


8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti or angel hair pasta noodles
2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterfly cut or pounded about 1/2" thin.
1 1/2 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp. cooking oil, such as olive oil
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 medium zucchinis, thinly sliced into coins

DIRECTIONS: Prepare the noodles per package directions, drain, rinse, and set aside Mix the flour and pepper in a shallow dish. One at a time, place chicken pieces in flour mixture, and turn to cover.

Heat oil in large pan, and begin cooking chicken breasts on medium heat. Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F. Place chicken on plate and set aside.

Using same pan, sauté sliced mushrooms and zucchini on medium high heat. Stir occasionally. Add garlic, lemon juice, and chicken broth. Add Italian seasoning, bring to a simmer and let cook until zucchinis and mushrooms are tender. Mix pasta with pan sauce, and serve with chicken breasts.

3. White Bean and Andouille skillet: Beans are extremely nutritious, containing healthy protein, fiber, and Minerals and vitamins such as potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, zinc, and many others. We should be eating beans and legumes at least twice per week. Recipe adapted from:

Serves 8


1 pound of andouille sausages, sliced thin
4-5 cups (about 1 bunch) fresh kale, washed and torn into small pieces
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 can white or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
If you have it Hot chili oil.

DIRECTIONS: Cook andouille sausage slices on medium heat in a large skillet until lightly browned. Add olive oil, beans, and shredded kale to pan. Cook until kale has shrunk down and small pieces begin to look crispy, but not blackened. Turn down heat, sprinkle lemon juice, salt and pepper and parmesan cheese on top. Some might want to add a sprinkling of hot oil to this! Serve by itself or with crusty bread.

Have a Tasty Tuesday!

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