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Healthy Dinner Recipes in 20 Minutes

  • Peter Ardito

    Beef Stir-Fry with Avocado Salad

    Recipe developed by Anna Berman

    Makes: 4 servings
    Prep time: 10 minutes
    Cook time: 10 minutes

    12 ounces beef tenderloin, cut into thin strips
    1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
    1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
    1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
    1 poblano, thinly sliced
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
    1 avocado, diced
    1/4 cup Cojita cheese, crumbled
    1/4 cup cilantro plus more for garnish, chopped
    Corn tortillas (optional)

    1. In a bowl, combine beef, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1 tablespoon chili powder; set aside.
    2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, bell pepper, and poblano and saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    3. Add beef and marinade to vegetables and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
    4. In another bowl, combine beans, avocado, cheese, 1/4 cup cilantro, and remaining lime juice and chili powder.
    5. Garnish beef and vegetables with remaining cilantro. Serve with avocado salad and warmed tortillas if desired.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 436 calories, 28g protein, 30g carbohydrate, 26g fat (7g saturated), 10g fiber

  • Peter Ardito

    Lemon-Thyme Chicken with Sauteed Vegetables

    Recipe developed by Anna Berman

    Makes: 4 servings
    Prep time: 5 minutes
    Cook time: 15 minutes

    4 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 tablespoon chopped garlic, divided
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
    Freshly ground black pepper
    1 pound chicken breast tenders, lightly pounded
    4 teaspoons canola oil
    1 medium shallot, sliced
    1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed
    11/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
    2 medium zucchini
    1/3 cup crumbled feta

    1. In a ziplock bag, combine 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons garlic, and 2 teaspoons thyme; season to taste with salt and black pepper. Add chicken tenders, seal the bag, and gently turn to coat. Set aside.
    2. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot, remaining garlic, edamame, and tomatoes; saute 4 minutes.
    3. Use a vegetable peeler to slice zucchini into long ribbons. Add zucchini and remaining lemon juice and thyme to vegetables in skillet; saute 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl, stir in feta, and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
    4. Add remaining oil to skillet. Remove chicken from marinade and saute 2 to 3 minutes a side or until cooked through. Serve with vegetables.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 327 calories, 28g protein, 16g carbohydrate, 13g fat (3g saturated), 5g fiber

  • Peter Ardito

    Chili Roasted Salmon with Cilantro Cream

    Recipe developed by Jeanne Kelley

    Makes: 4 servings

    Prep time: 10 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes


    Nonstick cooking spray

    4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

    4 garlic cloves, smashed

    2 teaspoons chili powder

    2 teaspoons ground cumin

    3 teaspoons olive oil

    4 5-ounce skinless salmon fillets

    1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

    1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

    1 poblano pepper, thinly sliced

    1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced


    Freshly ground black pepper

    1/3 cup light sour cream

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mist 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray. In a small baking dish, mix together 2 tablespoons lime juice with garlic, chili powder, cumin, and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add salmon and turn to coat; let sit.

    2. In a medium bowl, toss corn, bell pepper, poblano pepper, and onion with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Transfer corn mixture to one of the baking sheets; spread into a single layer.

    3. Remove salmon from marinade and arrange on second baking sheet. Drizzle corn mixture with remaining salmon marinade. Season salmon and corn with salt and black pepper to taste and roast 8 to 10 minutes, until fish is just cooked through and vegetables are tender.

    4. Mix together sour cream, cilantro, and remaining lime juice. Season with salt to taste. Spoon corn onto plates and add salmon. Drizzle cream over fish.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 444 calories, 33g protein, 22g carbohydrate, 25g fat (5.9g saturated), 3g fiber

  • Peter Ardito

    Mustard-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Brussels Sprout Ragout

    Recipe developed by Liza Schoenfein

    Makes: 4 servings
    Prep time: 5 minutes
    Cook time: 20 minutes


    10 ounces brussels sprouts, quartered

    3/4 teaspoon salt

    3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    1 large pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds), butterflied

    2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1/4 cup white wine

    1/4 cup chicken broth

    1/2 cup diced pancetta or bacon

    1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

    1/4 cup dried cherries

    1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves

    1. In a medium pot fitted with a steamer, steam brussels sprouts 8 minutes.
    2. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper on pork and then spread with mustard. In a 12-inch skillet, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat; add pork and cook 7 minutes. Turn and cook 6 minutes more; remove from pan and slice. Add wine and chicken broth to pan and stir, scraping up brown bits; set aside and keep warm.
    3. Warm remaining olive oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add pancetta or bacon and saute until brown, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add onion; cook until translucent, 5 minutes. Add cherries, sage, and brussels sprouts; cook 3 minutes more. Season with remaining salt and black pepper.
    4. On a platter, arrange pork and vegetables; drizzle with sauce. Serve.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 386 calories, 35g protein, 16g carbohydrate, 19g fat (4.9g saturated), 3g fiber

  • Peter Ardito

    Chicken Soba Bowl

    Recipe developed by Anna Berman

    Makes: 4 servings
    Prep time: 5 minutes
    Cook time: 12 minutes


    3 tablespoons orange juice
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1 tablespoon sesame oil

    1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
    2 teaspoons minced lemongrass or lemon zest
    1 teaspoon grated ginger
    1 pound chicken tenders
    6 ounces soba noodles
    2 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
    4 baby bok choy, quartered

    3 cups broccoli florets
    1/4 cup torn basil leaves (optional)

    1. In a large bowl, whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, serrano pepper, lemongrass or lemon zest, and ginger.
    2. Fill a large skillet 3/4 full with water, add a sprinkle of salt and bring to a simmer. Add chicken tenders and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until chicken is tender. Drain chicken and shred directly into bowl with dressing.
    3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add soba and shiitakes; cook 3 minutes. Add bok choy and broccoli; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until noodles are al dente.
    4. Drain noodles and vegetables and add to bowl with chicken and dressing. Toss gently to combine. Garnish with basil if desired.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 377 calories, 37g protein, 50g carbohydrate, 6g fat (1g saturated), 6g fiber

    Power Food
    Chicken is not just a low-cal way to get your protein. Half a breast has more than three-quarters of your daily intake of vitamin B3 (niacin), which boosts levels of good (HDL) cholesterol. Chicken is also high in other B vitamins that allow your body to convert food into usable energy. And three ounces has almost half your daily dose of selenium, which helps keep blood sugar stable.

  • James Baigrie

    Southwestern Pizza

    Prep time: 8 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes

    Makes: 3 servings


    Nonstick cooking spray

    1 12-inch 100% whole wheat pizza crust

    1 cup prepared tomato salsa

    1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat 2 percent mozzarella

    1 1/3 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed

    1 small sweet red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (about 2/3 cup)

    2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

    1/4 cup cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)


    1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place crust on sheet and top with salsa, 1 cup mozzarella, beans, sliced red pepper, and scallions. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

    2. Place pizza in oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes or until mozzarella is melted. Remove from oven and garnish with cilantro if desired. Cut into six slices and serve.

    Nutrition facts per serving (2 slices): 488 calories, 28g protein, 72g carbohydrate, 12g fat (5.4g saturated), 16g fiber

    Pie Pointers

    It's easy to turn an otherwise healthy pie into a calorie bomb. Keep things waistline-friendly with these tasty tips from Janel Ovrut, RD, a dietitian in Boston.

    Add flavor. Spice up a jar of pizza sauce by adding herbs like basil, oregano, and rosemary.

    Choose the right cheese. Instead of mild mozzarella, try Asiago, Parmesan, or sharp cheddar, which have stronger flavors.

    Bulk it up. Pile your pizza high with "meaty" vegetables to create a heartier slice. Eggplant, artichokes, and zucchini are packed with fiber.

  • Grilled Curried Shrimp with Mango Couscous

    Recipe developed by Anna Berman

    Prep time: 10 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes

    Makes: 4 servings


    1 cup whole wheat couscous

    1 mango, peeled and diced

    1 teaspoon finely diced jalapeno pepper

    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice

    1/4 cup chopped cilantro


    Freshly ground black pepper

    2 tablespoons red curry paste

    2 teaspoons vegetable oil

    1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic

    3/4 pound shrimp, cleaned and shelled, tails on

    1 7-ounce container 2 percent Greek yogurt

    1 teaspoon grated ginger

    Lime wedges (optional)


    1. Cook couscous according to package directions. Combine with mango, jalapeno pepper, 1 teaspoon of the lime juice, and half the cilantro. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

    2. In a large bowl, whisk together red curry paste, vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon of the garlic, and remaining lime juice. Add shrimp; toss to coat.

    3. Mix together yogurt, ginger, and remaining cilantro and garlic in a small bowl. Season to taste with black pepper.

    4. Heat a grill to medium high. Grill shrimp until just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.

    5. Arrange shrimp and couscous on a platter and serve with the yogurt sauce. Garnish with lime wedges if desired.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 405 calories, 31g protein, 60g carbohydrate, 6g fat (1.2g saturated), 9g fiber

    How Sweet It Is

    With 61 percent of the vitamin C and 55 percent of the vitamin A you need daily as well as three grams of fiber per cup, mango is a superfruit. To find a ripe one, pick up the fruit and lightly squeeze its middle; if it gives a little, the mango is ready to be eaten, says Allison Beadle, RD, a dietitian in Austin, Texas. At home, "stand the fruit on its end, slice off the two meaty sections on either side of the pit, score the halves with a knife, and then scoop."

  • Peter Ardito

    Grilled Beef with Basil Puree Over Tuscan Beans

    Prep time: 10 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes

    Makes: 4 servings


    1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves

    3 garlic cloves

    1 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Nonstick cooking spray

    1 pound 1-1/2-inch-thick sirloin steak, cut into 4 portions

    2 15.5-ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained

    1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

    1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion


    1. In a food processor, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, 1 cup of the basil leaves, 1 garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt ,and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Puree until smooth; set aside.

    2. Heat a grill to medium high and mist with cooking spray. Halve one garlic clove and rub the steaks with its cut sides. Season meat with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and black pepper. Grill 5 to 6 minutes a side.

    3. Mince remaining garlic and saute in pan coated with nonstick spray over medium-low heat for 2 minutes; let cool slightly. In a medium bowl, combine the white beans, tomatoes, red onion, remaining salt and black pepper, and sauteed garlic. Tear up remaining basil and combine with bean mixture.

    4. Divide beans among four plates and top with steak. Add basil puree and serve.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 478 calories, 35g protein, 32g carbohydrate, 28g fat (7.5g saturated), 11g fiber

    Beef Up

    This dish is typically made with juicy, buttery tenderloin. But at a price that can reach $28 a pound, it's not exactly a bargain. That's why we substituted sirloin. It's about one-third the price per pound, extremely flavorful, and equally lean, with fewer than 210 calories per 3-ounce serving. (Tenderloin has 232 calories.) Because sirloin is a slightly tougher cut of meat, be sure to cook the steaks just five to six minutes a side for medium rare and six to seven minutes for medium.

  • Peter Ardito

    Lemony Fusilli with Chicken, Zucchini, and Pine Nuts

    Prep time: 5 minutes

    Cook time: 15 minutes

    Makes: 4 servings


    3 teaspoons salt

    8 ounces whole wheat fusilli

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    2 slender zucchini, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces

    5 scallions, chopped

    1/4 cup pine nuts

    1 lemon, rind peeled in strips

    Small pinch red pepper flakes

    12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

    5 large basil leaves, sliced

    1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)


    1. Bring a large pot of water with 2 teaspoons of the salt to a boil; add the fusilli. Cook until al dente.

    2. Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the zucchini, scallions, pine nuts, lemon peel, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; cook, tossing frequently, until zucchini is well browned and tender, about 5 minutes.

    3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer zucchini to a serving bowl. Remove lemon peel from pan. Mince 1/2 teaspoon of the peel and discard the rest. Squeeze half the lemon over the zucchini.

    4. Turn heat to medium-high and swirl in remaining olive oil. Add the chicken, minced lemon peel, and remaining salt; cook, stirring, until golden, about 7 minutes.

    5. Drain fusilli, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Add fusilli, zucchini, and reserved cooking water to skillet. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and top with the basil and, if using, Parmesan.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 426 calories, 32g protein, 49g carbohydrate, 14g fat (2.2g saturated), 6g fiber

  • Peter Ardito

    Grilled Halibut with Puttanesca Salsa and Parmesan Orzo

    Recipe developed by Laraine Perri

    Makes: 4 servings

    Prep time: 10 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes


    1 cup whole wheat orzo

    1 1/2 cups fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth

    1/4 cup dry white wine (or 3 tablespoons chicken broth and 1 tablespoon lemon juice)

    2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    4 6-ounce halibut fillets

    4 teaspoons olive oil

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered

    8 large pitted Kalamata olives, slivered

    1 tablespoon drained capers

    2 garlic cloves, minced

    1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

    2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil


    1. In a medium saucepan, combine the orzo, broth, and wine. Bring to a boil and stir; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until orzo is just tender, about 12 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and black pepper. Cover and set aside.

    2. While orzo is cooking, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the halibut with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Grill until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.

    3. Combine the tomatoes, olives, and capers in a medium bowl. Warm the remaining olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper; saute until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in remaining salt. Toss garlic mixture with tomato mixture. Add basil and toss well.
    4. Serve the fish over the orzo. Top with salsa.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 414 calories, 43g protein, 31g carbohydrate, 11g fat (1.6g saturated), 7g fiber

    Two Other Ways to Jazz Up Grilled Fish

    In a pinch, lemon juice and sea salt are the perfect complements to just-grilled fish. But with 10 extra minutes, you can make a delicious sauce, says Mark Fuller, executive chef and co-owner of Spring Hill Restaurant in Seattle. Here, his two favorites.

    Romesco sauce: In a food processor, combine 1/2 cup cubed whole wheat bread, crusts removed; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel; 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar; 2 jarred roasted red peppers; 1/2 teaspoon chopped paprika; 1/8 cup almonds; 1 chopped garlic clove; 1/2 teaspoon salt; and a pinch of black pepper. Slowly pour in 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil until fully mixed.

    Herb sauce: In a blender, puree 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, 1/2 teaspoon fresh chives, 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. (Both sauces make about 4 servings.)

  • Peter Ardito

    Chicken BLT Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

    Recipe developed by Laraine Perri

    Prep time: 10 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes

    Makes: 4 servings


    4 slices lean turkey bacon

    4 1-inch-thick slices ciabatta bread

    2 teaspoons olive oil

    1 garlic clove, halved

    1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk, well shaken

    2 tablespoons light mayonnaise

    2 teaspoons cider vinegar

    1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

    1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/8 teaspoon sugar

    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    4 cups tightly packed chopped romaine lettuce

    1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

    2 cups roughly torn rotisserie chicken, skin removed


    1. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and beginning to crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Crumble into large pieces.

    2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush the ciabatta slices with the olive oil and grill until just toasted, about 2 minutes per side. Lightly rub the cut garlic clove halves over the surface of each slice. Let the bread cool, then cut into 1-inch cubes.

    3. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, minced garlic, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Add the lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, croutons, and half the bacon. Toss well. Transfer to plates and top each serving with some of the remaining bacon.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 295 calories, 28g protein, 20g carbohydrate, 11g fat (2.8g saturated), 3g fiber

    Salad Smarts

    Keep your dinner or side greens healthy, not to mention yummy, with these quick tips from Marissa Lippert, RD, author of The Cheater's Diet.

    • Splurge a little. Yes, cheese, avocado, and nuts are high in calories and fat, but they taste good!
    • Adding a few of your favorite toppings will make your salad more satisfying.
    • Dish it out. If you buy a prepared salad, resist the temptation to eat it straight from the container.
    • Instead, put it on a plate so you can see how much you've got. Chances are, the portion size is bigger than you think.
    • Make a fresh start. Filling up on a salad of water-rich veggies before dinner may help you munch less of your meal.

    Danielle Alvarez

  • Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Vinaigrette

    Makes: 4 servings

    Prep time: 10 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes


    12 ounces sea scallops, thawed if frozen

    2 lemons

    3 tablespoons olive oil

    1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

    1 medium red onion, cut into wedges

    Salt, to taste

    Black pepper, to taste

    2 to 3 fresh basil sprigs, including stems

    2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, cut into strips (optional)


    1. Rinse the scallops and pat dry. Set aside.

    2. With a sharp knife, score one lemon lengthwise in four sections and remove the peel from each section. Scrape the white portion from the peel; discard. Cut the peel into very thin strips and set aside. Squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice from the lemon; reserve.

    3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes; season to taste with the salt and black pepper. Transfer to a serving platter and keep warm.

    4. Combine the lemon peel, basil sprigs, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Cook for 1 minute or until heated through. Remove the lemon peel and basil sprigs with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil in the skillet; discard.

    5. Cook the scallops in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes or until opaque, turning once. Stir in the reserved lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

    6. Place the scallops over the asparagus mixture. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges. Garnish the scallops with the wedges and, if desired, the fresh basil.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 190 calories, 16g protein, 6g carbohydrate, 11g fat (1g saturated), 1g fiber

    The Freshest Catch

    To find the best-tasting scallops, ask at the seafood counter if the dry-packed kind are available, says Quinn Hatfield, chef and owner of Hatfield's Restaurant in Los Angeles. Highly perishable seafood is often treated with a preserving solution to extend freshness for several weeks; this can affect the color, taste, and cooking time. Dry-packed means that no solution was used and the scallops were caught within the past few days. Also, make sure that the scallops are intact and translucent. "If they look milky or smell fishy, don't buy them," Hatfield says. Cook them the same day you buy them. To clean, rinse under cold water, peel off the muscle found on the side of each scallop, and pat dry.

  • Peter Ardito

    Vegetable Curry

    Makes: 6 servings

    Prep time: 5 minutes, plus 5 extra minutes while the onion is cooking

    Cook time: 15 minutes


    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 large red onion, halved and cut into thin wedges

    2 teaspoons curry powder

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    1/4 teaspoon garam masala powder

    1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    3 cups cauliflower florets

    1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid

    2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)

    2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)

    1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    1 cup loose-pack frozen peas

    4 1/2 cups cooked couscous or brown rice


    1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the curry powder, cumin, garam masala powder, and cayenne pepper. Stir well and cook for one minute.

    2. Stir in the cauliflower, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, broth, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the peas; heat through. Serve over couscous or brown rice.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 284 calories, 9g protein, 55g carbohydrate, 3g fat (0g saturated), 7g fiber

    More About Indian Spices

    Used in traditional Indian dishes such as this curry, garam masala is a powdered seasoning blend that has an earthy, spicy flavor. Typically it includes black pepper, cloves, cardamom, cumin, and cinnamon. (Garam masala is also available as a paste.) You can find it in the spice aisle of most major supermarkets or at gourmet specialty stores. Both the powder and the paste make a delicious rub or marinade for meat, poultry, fish, and roasted vegetables such as squash, cauliflower, potatoes, and eggplant, says Anar Allidina, RD.

  • Bryan McCay

    Pasta Rosa Verde

    Makes: 4 servings

    Prep time: 10 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes


    8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 medium onion, thinly sliced

    2 garlic cloves, minced

    4 to 6 medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

    1 teaspoon salt

    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

    3 cups arugula, watercress, and/or spinach, coarsely chopped

    1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

    2 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese


    1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

    2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is tender. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and red pepper, if using. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes, until the tomatoes are warm. Mix in the arugula, watercress, or spinach and heat until just wilted.

    3. Spoon the pasta into bowls and top with the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and cheese.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 362 calories, 12g protein, 55g carbohydrate, 12g fat (2g saturated), 5g fiber

    Tips for Perfect Pasta

    Sticky rotini? Overcooked penne? Never again! Chef Rocco DiSpirito, a FITNESS advisory board member and author of Rocco Gets Real, shares three tips for cooking the perfect pasta every time.

    Measure it out. A serving size of dry noodles is two ounces. Most boxes contain a pound, so if you're cooking for two, use one-quarter of the carton; for four people, one-half.

    Speed it up. Bring water to a boil, then add pasta and some salt. The mineral raises the temperature of boiling water a few degrees, which reduces cooking time.

    Keep it from clumping. Never (ever!) rinse pasta, DiSpirito says. Stir it frequently while it's boiling to keep strands from clinging together, and set a timer so you don't overcook.

  • Bryan McCay

    Flank Steak with Caramelized Onions

    Makes: 4 servings

    Prep time: 5 minutes

    Cook time: 15 minutes


    1 tablespoon butter

    2 large red onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

    1 red or green bell pepper, cut into thin strips

    1/2 teaspoon dried sage

    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

    1 beef flank steak, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds

    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

    4 7- to 8-inch flour tortillas, warmed

    1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained, warmed


    1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the bell pepper strips, sage, and oregano. Stirring constantly, cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are golden and the peppers are crisp-tender.

    2. Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Trim fat from the steak; score on both sides by making shallow cuts at 1-inch intervals in a diamond pattern. Rub with salt and black pepper. Grill 8 to 12 minutes for medium rare or 12 to 15 minutes for medium, turning once.

    3. To serve, thinly slice the steak diagonally across the grain and top with the onion mixture. Serve with warm tortillas and black beans on the side.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 434 calories, 40g protein, 36g carbohydrate, 15g fat (6.5g saturated), 7g fiber

    How to Choose the Best Steak

    Need dinner on the table fast? Flank steak is easy to prepare, quick to cook, and low in calories, says Boston-area chef Michael Schlow, author of the cookbook It's About Time. "It absorbs marinades well and grills evenly." Here, Schlow's tips for buying the best steak.

    Be picky. Look for a cut that is deep red in color and has white specks of fat, which give the meat flavor.

    Buy a thick cut. Choose a steak that's 1 to 2 inches thick so it will be brown on the outside but medium rare on the inside after grilling.

    Serve, don't store. The steak will stay fresh for up to three days, but for the juiciest texture and best flavor, marinate and cook it within a day or two of purchase.

  • Bryan McCay

    Ancho-Glazed Salmon & Sweet Potato Fries

    Makes: 4 servings

    Start to finish: 20 minutes


    1 tablespoon sugar

    1 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper or chili powder

    2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed

    Nonstick olive-oil cooking spray

    4 skinless salmon fillets (5-6 ounces each)

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    2 tablespoons fresh cilantro sprigs


    1. Preheat broiler. In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt, cumin, and chili powder. Cut sweet potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place on the greased rack of a broiler pan. Coat sweet potatoes with cooking spray and sprinkle with half the spice mixture. Broil 10 minutes, turning once halfway though.

    2. Rinse and dry salmon; coat with remaining spice mixture. In a large skillet, cook fish in hot olive oil over medium heat for 4 minutes per side, or until it flakes easily with a fork.

    3. Sprinkle sweet potatoes and salmon with cilantro before serving.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 363 calories, 29g protein, 17g carbohydrate, 19g fat (4g saturated), 2g fiber

    How to Pick the Freshest Seafood

    Not sure how to pick out the freshest fillet? Here, three easy tips from chef Rick Moonen, owner of Rick Moonen's RM Seafood in Las Vegas.

    Buy fish that's caught locally. If you live in the Northeast, choose arctic char or striped bass; Midwesterners can look for yellow perch and lake trout; on the Pacific coast, go for wild halibut or cod.

    A fillet should be almost odorless and have a firm texture — pass if it's mushy. Also, check the ice underneath a piece of fish. Discoloration from dripping juices means the seafood's been sitting out a long time.

    Can't buy fresh? Look for fillets frozen in individual packets. This locks in freshness and prevents freezer burn.

    Go Fish

    Next time you're at the seafood counter, look for the FishWise symbol, which identifies the most sustainable choices (meaning seafood that's good for you and the oceans) based on research by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Environmental Defense Fund. Green labels represent healthy fish populations, yellow means there are some environmental concerns, and red labels mean the fish is in trouble. Or send a text message to 30644 with the message FISH and the type of fish you'd like to buy. The Blue Ocean Institute will text you right back with an assessment of your pick and, if needed, offer more sustainable alternatives.

  • Joyce Ouderk Pool

    Mediterranean Chicken and Pasta

    Makes: 4 servings

    Prep time: 5 minutes

    Cook time: 15 minutes


    1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces

    3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

    1/4 cup chicken broth

    1/4 cup dry white wine

    1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

    1 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips

    1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives

    3 cups hot cooked campanelle or penne pasta

    1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)


    1. Drain artichoke hearts, reserving marinade, and chop them. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add chicken and garlic. Cook and stir until chicken is brown. Add the reserved artichoke marinade, broth, wine, and dried oregano.

    2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in chopped artichokes, roasted peppers, and olives.

    3. To serve, spoon chicken mixture over pasta. If desired, sprinkle with feta cheese.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 347 calories, 26g protein, 38g carbohydrate, 9g fat (1g saturated), 3g fiber

    Spice Up Your Chicken Dinner

    A simple rub or glaze is an easy way to turn a plain chicken breast into a delicious dinner. "They boost the flavor without adding fat or too many extra calories," says chef Bobby Flay, host of Grill It! With Bobby Flay on the Food Network. Try one of these recipes.

    Red Chili Rub

    Mix together 3 tablespoons ancho chili powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon light brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; rub over 4 to 6 chicken breasts that have been brushed with 2 tablespoons canola oil. Season bottoms with salt. Bake or grill.

    Mustard-Molasses Glaze

    Whisk together 1/2 cup molasses, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Grill or bake 4 to 6 breasts, drizzling glaze over chicken in the last minute of cooking. Once chicken is done, brush with remaining glaze.

  • Marty Baldwin

    Sesame-Tofu Stir-Fry

    Makes: 4 servings

    Prep time: 14 minutes

    Cook time: 6 minutes


    1 12-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes


    1/4 cup finely chopped peanuts

    1 tablespoon sesame seeds

    1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

    1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

    1 tablespoon cooking oil

    1 16-ounce bag frozen stir-fry vegetables, thawed

    2/3 cup bottled stir-fry sauce

    2 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)

    2 cups hot cooked brown rice


    1. Lightly coat tofu with cornstarch. In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the peanuts, the sesame seeds, ginger, and red pepper. Add tofu; toss gently.

    2. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add tofu mixture to skillet. Cook briefly, stirring gently, until sesame seeds are toasted and tofu begins to brown.

    3. Remove tofu. Add vegetables to skillet; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes, or until heated through. Add stir-fry sauce; cook and stir gently until mixture is bubbly. Stir in tofu; heat through. Sprinkle with remaining peanuts and the scallions. Serve over rice.

    Nutrition facts per serving: 386 calories, 19g protein, 45g carbohydrate, 14g fat (2g saturated), 6g fiber