In a recent post, I wrote that I’d be sharing lean protein recipes. “By using proteins differently in our diet, this year we’ll be eating better for our bodies and our budget. That’s a win-win from my angle!”
It has been win-win so far, I’m happy to report. I’ve purchased very little in the way of meat, because of a bountiful freezer stash. (I did get one pound of lean ground beef yesterday, and it was on super bargain.) Last week saw a thorough inventory of the freezers, and meal planning through Easter (end of March)! If I only used what I have on-hand, replenishing fresh veg and dairy, I would still have enough in my freezers to last a short while. (I may be gifting some of this.) The planned dinners are the kind my family likes: simple, defined foods with tasty meats. For the most part (some tasty twists are in the works). That means better nutrition and lower cost.
Because I’ve been making the protein more flavorful, we’ve actually been eating less, but the guys aren’t noticing that. Until they read this, I guess. But our meals have been half vegs/fruits, which helps keep consumption of meat down. And we’re having two meatless meals per week. Here are some of my recent successes. Not everything I make is 100% approved by all, but some things are definite hits and I do take note. These aren’t traditional “recipes,” but they’ll show you how I prepared the dishes.
Chicken enchiladas — Modified to use up what I had on-hand: whole wheat tortillas, leftover chicken, a little sour cream, a little leftover cheese, salsa, spices, onion. Topped with homemade enchilada sauce. Served with big salads and brown rice for the guys. The point is that I got creative with what I had, including lean cooked chicken (which I get incredibly cheap).
Lemon baked Parmesan fish — Tilapia (what I had in the freezer) topped with a mixture of panko, seasonings, Parm and a dribble of EVOO. Made a nice crispy and tasty topping. Served with salads, steamed peas and brown rice. The topping was not a “breading,” so it used less panko/carbs. I squirted half a lemon over the top just before serving, and that made a huge difference. I also made this with cod and no lemon or Parm, and we all liked it.
Pork with apples — (I had chicken breast.) I made a pork tenderloin, brushed with EVOO and seasoned with S&P, and served it with something I had in the freezer. A few weeks back we had some apples starting to turn, so I cut and cooked them in a pot with some butter and a glug of orange juice, to be saved for just such an occasion. They loved the combination, and the apples went well with the chicken, too. Served with sauteed cabbage and onions, and carrots. Again, using what I had.
Roast split chicken breasts — These were in the freezer, purchased at a terrific bargain, and were a nice portion size (not too big). I made an herb mix of parsley, rosemary, thyme and garlic, and rubbed it under the skin. Then I brushed lightly with EVOO (because one likes the skin), and roasted till done yet juicy. Even when the skin came off, the herb mix held lovely flavor. Served with brussels sprouts, carrots and some roasted leftover potatoes. High positive comments.
Pork sandwiches — (I had chicken.) Boneless pork chops (ridiculously cheap and FoodSavered in the freezer) were cut thin and pounded with the tenderizing side of the hammer, then sprinkled with S&P and dusted with flour to help browning. They were sauteed and served on 100% whole wheat toast with olive oil mayo for tasty sandwiches. I was told they were very tender, and went well with the coleslaw with homemade dressing, and homemade oven “fries.”
Maybe not incredibly different, but the meat is being used more creatively and healthfully, and in smaller amounts. I have purchased some quinoa, which is high protein and which I have not ever made before. It goes on a menu instead of the planned brown rice soon. And I’ve switched to 100% whole wheat flour, which is also higher in protein and fiber than “all-purpose.” There are more nuts in the cupboard (almonds, unsalted peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts), and lots of eggs in the fridge (.79/doz a week ago).
I’ll keep sharing the new healthy, low-meat dishes that get “thumbs up,” and I invite you to share yours, too!