Healthy Meals on a Budget – Week 4

Posted in Balanced Nutrition | April 17, 2009 |

I can’t believe that this is the last week of my budget cooking project. I must confess that I am happy that I do not have to write any more recipes for a while because it was not the most exciting job to do. At the same time I am happy that I finished this project because when I started it I was not even sure if I will be able to find enough tasty recipes that will use only the original 13 ingredients. It was a challenge for me and I am glad that you stayed with me through these 4 weeks. Enjoy your last week of meals on a budget!

Extra ingredient for the week:
Cabbage. Most Americans eat this vegetable only in cold slaw once or twice a month and do not even imagine how much they are missing. Let’s start from the fact that this vegetable is very low in calories (just 22 kcal in one cup) and high in fiber. Apart from the fact that cabbage has a ton of vitamins and minerals, this vegetable is also rich in sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is a chemical that helps your body disarm cell-damaging free radicals and reduces your risk of cancer. This chemical is considered to be the strongest of all plant chemicals in its cancer-fighting properties.


Chicken and cabbage stir fry
1/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/3 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar (preferably rice vinegar)
4 teaspoons canola oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound chicken breast, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 small head white or Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
2-5 tablespoons water
2 medium carrots, grated

Whisk peanut butter, orange juice, soy sauce and vinegar in a medium bowl until smooth.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add chicken and cook, stirring, until browned and barely pink in the middle, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Reduce heat to medium. Swirl in the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add cabbage and 2 tablespoons water; cook, stirring, until beginning to wilt, 3 to 5 minutes. Add carrots (and more water if necessary to prevent sticking or burning) and cook, stirring, until just tender, about 3 minutes more. Return the steak and any accumulated juices to the pan, then pour in the peanut sauce and toss to combine. Serve over brown rice.

Southwestern black bean salad
2 cups whole kernel corn, frozen
1/3 cup pine nuts (optional)
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 (15oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups shredded red cabbage (red cabbage or white cabbage)
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 cup minced red onion

Cook corn in boiling salted water for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, place pine nuts (if you are using them) in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Whisk together lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the corn, pine nuts, beans, tomato and onion; toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with warm corn tortillas or with warm brown rice.


Mediterranean chicken, beans and rice salad
1 large chicken breast (2 halves)
4 cups brown rice, cooked
6 large leaks of Romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
1 large tomato, cubed
1 (14.5 oz) can black or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup reduced-fat red wine dressing or Italian dressing
1/2 cup cheese, shredded

Cook chicken on the grill or bake it in the oven, then cut it into cubes. In a large salad bowl toss Romaine lettuce with dressing. Combine warm rice with beans; divide them evenly between 4 plates. Top each entree with dressed lettuce, tomato, cheese and chicken.

Italian peasant soup
2 (14.5 oz) cans cannellini beans, rinsed, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
4 cups shredded white or Savoy cabbage (1/2 medium head)
3 cloves garlic, minced, plus 1 clove garlic, halved
3 14 1/2-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth or 5 1/4 cups vegetable broth
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 1/2-inch-thick slices day-old whole-wheat country bread
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese or 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Mash 1 1/2 cups beans with a fork. Heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cabbage and minced garlic; cook, stirring often, until the cabbage has wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth, mashed beans and whole beans; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer until the cabbage is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Season with pepper.
3. Shortly before the soup is ready, toast bread lightly and rub with the cut side of the garlic clove (lightly or heavily depending on taste). Divide toast among 8 soup plates. Ladle soup over the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon oil over each serving. Serve immediately.


Chili beans
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 (16 oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 tbs olive or canola oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2-2 cups water
Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until it is translucent. Add ground turkey and cook over medium heat until lightly browned. Add the remaining ingredients including water and simmer for 30 minutes.

Bow-tie salad
1 pound bow-tie whole wheat pasta
2 cloves garlic
1 lb frozen green beans
1 big tomato, cubed or 8 oz grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup frozen corn
6 oz cheese cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper
1 tbs dried basil or 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tbs olive oil
juice of one lemon

Cook green beans and corn in salted water. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box in boiling water with two cloves of garlic. Combine cooked pasta, green beans, corn, cheese and tomatoes. Whisk together all of the ingredients of the dressing and pour it over pasta salad. Serve warm or cold.


Chicken with refried beans

2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound chicken tenders or chicken breast cut into 2 inch strips
3 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped or a few dashes of hot sauce
2 (15 oz) cans white beans, rinsed
3/4 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese

1. Combine cumin, coriander, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and saute until golden brown and just cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.
3. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan. Add onion and jalapenoor hot sauce and cook until beginning to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes and any accumulated juices from the chicken; cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the bean mixture to a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher until creamy but still slightly chunky. Stir in cheese. Serve with the chicken. You can top it with shredded cabbage and carrots, mixed with Italian style dressing.

Bonus meal
Spaghetti with fish
1 (14.5 oz) box whole wheat spaghetti
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
10 oz halibut fillet, cut in strips
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs dried parsley
2 tbs olive oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced
Black pepper and salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a big skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic cloves and cook for 30 sec. Add diced tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes. Place halibut strips into the skillet, add lemon juice, parsley, pepper and salt and cook for 5 minutes. Cook spaghetti al dente according to the directions on the box. Combine spaghetti with fish, toss together and serve immediately.

Related articles
Cheap and healthy grocery list for a bad economy
Healthy Meals on a Budget – Week 1
Healthy Meals on a Budget – Week 2
Healthy Meals on a Budget – Week 3

Keep it balanced!