Quick Cook Meals for Summertime

Quick Cook Meals for Summertime

As summer gets underway, finding quick and easy recipes is a good strategy to keep the family meal intact. Research has shown that the family meal has a positive effect on the dietary intake and healthful behaviors in our children.

Polenta, Spinach, and Mushroom Lasagna *

  • Per Serving without sauce: 523 calories, 18 grams protein, 16 grams of fat, 77 grams of CHO, 12 grams of fiber, 287 mg sodium.
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Serves: 4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package (10 ounces) chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto, plus additional for serving (optional)
  • 1 cup instant polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • Tomato sauce, for serving (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-icnh pie plate with cooking spray. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cooking, stirring about 10 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. Transfer 1 cup of mushrooms to a small bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan cheese.

Stir in spinach and pesto into the mushrooms in the skillet; cook for about 2 minutes, or until heated through. Set aside. Cook the polenta according to the package directions. Remove the heat and stir in the remaining cheese.

Spread half of the polenta in the prepared pie plate. Spoon the mushroom-spinach mixture over the polenta. With a narrow metal spatula, evenly spread the remaining polenta on top. Cover with the reserved mixture.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve on a bed of tomato sauce or top with a dollop of pesto, if desired.

Shopping List

  • olive oil
  • 1 pound white mushrooms
  • fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package (10 ounces) chopped spinach
  • prepared pesto
  • instant polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • Tomato sauce, for serving

Make-Ahead Tip

Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil; refrigerate up to 24 hours. To reheat, bake in a preheated 375 degrees oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through.

*With permission from, “ 5 a day the better health cookbook.” Elizabeth Pivonka, R.D., Ph.D., and Barbara Berry. ISBN 1-57954-528-9.

Cherry Tomato & Portabella Omelet #

Compiled By Sandra Meyerowitz, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.

This recipe is a great source of protein and calcium. To reduce the fat and cholesterol content, use egg whites only.

  • Preparation and cooking time: 10 minutes
  • Nutritional Information: 388 calories, 27 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 23 grams protein, 14 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 804 mg sodium
  • Servings: 1


  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup sliced baby Portobello mushrooms (about 2 to 2.5 oz.)
  • 2 cherry tomatoes, wedged, or 4 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. bottled reduced-fat ranch salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz.) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In 7- to 10-inch omelet pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until just hot enough to sizzle a drop of water. Add mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes. Cook stirring frequently, until tomatoes are heated through, about 1 minute. Remove mushrooms and tomatoes from pan. Cover and keep warm.

In small bowl, beat together eggs and dressing until blended. Pour egg mixture into pan. (mixture should set immediately at edges.) With an inverted pancake turner, carefully push cooked portions at edges toward center so uncooked portions can reach hot pan surface, tilting pan and moving cooked portions as necessary. When top is thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, fill with reserved mushrooms and tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley. With pancake turner, fold omelet in half or roll. Invert onto plate with a quick flip of the wrist or slide from pan onto plate.

Shopping List

  • Canola oil
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Eggs
  • Reduced-fat ranch dressing
  • Reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • Parsley

# Reprinted with permission from the American Egg Board. For more, please visit www.aeg.org .

Sesame Chicken and Watermelon

This light, healthy entrée is great for weekday dining or entertaining guests.

  • Per Serving: 415 calories, 35 grams protein, 20 grams of fat, 18 grams of CHO, 3 grams of fiber, 424 mg sodium.
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Serves: 4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil*
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons extra dry vermouth
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 bunches scallions, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 4 cups minced and drained seedless watermelon


Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until it just begins to smoke. Stir-fry the chicken chunks in the oil until they begin to brown. Reduce the heat to medium and add the soy sauce, vermouth, garlic and ginger, and stir-fry until the majority of the liquid in the wok is gone. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and sauté until the chicken is cooked and the sesame seeds are toasted. Arrange the minced watermelon over 4 to 6 plates and serve the chicken over the watermelon.

Shopping List

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • soy sauce
  • extra dry vermouth
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • fresh ginger
  • 2 bunches scallions
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • seedless watermelon

* To decrease the calories and fat, you can use half the oil or use an olive oil spray to coat the wok.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a nutritionist with a masters degree in clinical nutrition who is also registered dietitian and has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy active lifestyles to consumers. Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is the publisher and nutrition editor of Kentuckiana HealthFitness and Kentuckiana Healthy Woman and a runner, cyclist and hiker.

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