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Making meals for 1 or 2 folks adds variety

March 27, 2012

Sometimes, cooking for one or two may seem like it’s not worth the trouble; however, everyone needs a variety of foods to stay healthy. Homemade meals usually are more nutritious, better tasting and more economical, compared with restaurant meals.
Choose recipes that fit with your tastes and time requirements. Whether you’re a 20-something single person or an empty nester couple with grown children, you don’t need to throw out your favorite family recipes. You can adapt many of them to fit your current household size.
Try these tips to help reduce your recipes:
• Choose recipes that are easy to divide mathematically. In recipes calling for three eggs, use two eggs and remove 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (if present) from the recipe.
• If a recipe calls for a can of beans or soup and you would like to divide the recipe in half, use what you need and either refrigerate of freeze the remaining food. Label the container with the contents and date.
• Add seasoning gradually. Sometimes you may need to add more (or less) of the spice to reach the desired flavor.
• Check for doneness of halved recipes five to 10 minutes sooner than the original recipe.
• Keep notes about what works and what doesn’t.
Use your Leftovers/planned-overs creatively
Making family-sized recipes can provide you with leftovers for future meals. Freeze the remaining food in meal-sized containers. Be sure to label the containers with the contents and date to avoid surprise meals later.
What if you don’t like leftovers? Consider them as planned-overs and try them in completely different recipes. For example, add leftover fruit to muffin, quick bread or pancake batter. Freeze planned-over vegetables and use in stews, soups and other dishes. Use extra bread to make French toast, quick bread or pancake batter. Freeze planned-over vegetables and use in stews, soups and other dishes. Use extra bread to make French toast, bread pudding or stuffing. Use planned-over meat in tacos, soup or stir-fry, or on salads.
Liven up your menus with these ideas:
• Use planned-over macaroni to make pasta salad or quick casseroles. Add planned-over vegetables or meat.
• Make mini-pizzas by topping English muffins with planned-over spaghetti sauce, vegetables and shredded cheese.
• Add chopped onions, mushrooms, peppers, and cooked meat to canned spaghetti sauce. Serve spaghetti sauce over noodles one day, then add kidney beans and chili seasoning for another meal.
• Top a microwave-baked potato with planned-over chili and cheese.
• Mix chopped yellow squash, green peas and grated carrots with a prepared rice mix.
• Spice up canned tomato soup by adding chopped green onion, celery and some garlic powder.

Recipe of the Week

Sweet Pepper and Olive Pork
Nonstick cooking spray
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb.), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
2 med. onions, cut into thin wedges
2 med. green bell peppers, cut into thin bit-size strips
1/2 cup sliced mushroom
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 medium ground cumin
1/3 cup chopped pimiento – stuffed green olives
Spray large skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Season pork slices with salt and pepper. Cook pork in batches 3 minutes or until browned and juices run clear, turning once. Remove pork from skillet; keep warm.
Add oil to skillet; heat over medium-high heat. Cook and stir onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, cumin 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in olives; heat through. Serve vegetable mixture with pork slices.
Makes 4 servings
Nutrients per Serving: 3 ounces pork (cooked weight) with 3/4 cup vegetable mixture.
Calories 207
Fat 8g
Protein 24g
Carbohydrate 10g
Fiber 3g
Cholesterol 63mg
Sodium 330 mg
Exchanges: 2 vegetables, 3 lean meat.
Recipe source: "Taste of Home’s Diabetic Cookbook 2008"
Pamela Redwine is a nutrition and food safety agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Article provided by Oktibbeha County Extension Service; for more information call 662-323-5916.

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