Raise your hand if you like quick, easy solutions! Yes, I thought so. My hand is up, too! But, how about quick, easy, and effective solutions? Even better!
This healthy dinner strategy hits all those requirements for you with a quick and healthy vegetarian sauce that will make five different 20-minute dinners that are tasty and full of goodness. If you have a busy week coming up but still have mouths to feed, including your own, and don’t want to succumb to take-out, let me help.
HEALTHY BENEFITS & SHOPPING TIPS FOR THE BEST RED PEPPERS
The main vegetable in the sauce (which is used in all the dishes in various amounts) is the red pepper. Here are some facts and shopping tips on the glossy, glorious red pepper and why you may want to make this sauce and include it in your diet:
1. That rich, red color means business.
As shown by their bright red color, red peppers are rich in the pigment beta-carotene, which is converted by your body to retinol, a form of vitamin A. Vitamin A is necessary for eye health and maintaining healthy skin, your immune system and many other bodily functions.
2. Better to choose red over green.
Although all bell peppers are good sources of vitamins A and C, red bell peppers contain larger amounts of these vitamins than bell peppers of other colors.
3. Everything gets better with age, doesn’t it?
Red bell peppers are actually green peppers that have been given more time to ripen on the vine in the sun producing a sweeter flavor along with that rich color and the amazing host of nutrients.
4. Red peppers help decrease the damage we cause.
Due to their high concentration of vitamins A and C, roasted red peppers are a rich source of antioxidants that prevent damage by free radicals. Vitamin C is a faithful immune system supporter and both vitamins A and C together help the body repair itself after it has been injured or stressed. And, look around, a lot of us are stressed!
5. Red bell peppers contain phytochemicals that are hard to pronounce but help us so much!
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids found in the lens and retina of the eye. Consuming foods that contain lutein and zeaxanthin, like red peppers, may slow the development of macular degeneration and cataracts.
6. Choose organic, when possible.
Bell peppers of all colors are heavily sprayed with pesticides – in fact, they usually are on the top of the dirty dozen list of fruits and vegetables sprayed the highest. Pick organic, if you can.
HEALTHY RECIPE: ONE RED PEPPER SAUCE FOR MANY EASY DINNERS
These fast, healthy dinners start with this quick sauce. If you use the jarred peppers (and some brands are very good), it comes together in 15 minutes and makes about 8 cups of sauce. It freezes well, too. Although it can be used right away, as most sauces, it is better the next day so perhaps make this over the weekend to use all week.
Please don’t miss the post links below (sentences in bold) explaining the distinction of a few select ingredients and why they can make a difference for your family’s health. If you are interested, I also link to actual products below that I use and find to be of excellent value as well as a much healthier choice.
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- a generous sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt
- 1 teaspoon white miso paste (optional)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper flakes
- 1 cup red wine (optional)
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth (2 cups if not using wine) You may need more of this.
- 6 cups chopped organic roasted red peppers (drained and rinsed if jarred) or freshly roasted
an immersion blender
Now do this
- Saute the onion and garlic in a few teaspoons of water and keep stirring until soft.
- Add tomato paste, salt and miso and stir for a few seconds to incorporate.
- Add paprika and cayenne and stir for another few seconds to incorporate.
- Add wine, broth and peppers. Stir well.
- Heat together for 8-10 minutes.
- Take off the heat.
- With an immersion blender, blend until smooth leaving bits of chunks of red pepper. Add more broth by a teaspoon at a time if necessary to thin the sauce, but leave a thicker consistency. You can always add liquid later.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Refrigerate for later use as flavors meld and taste even better a little later or overnight, but you can use immediately if you must.
Don’t miss this: Why Himalayan pink salt, that I linked to above, is so superior for your health over white table salt and why you should make the simple switch today.
FIVE 20-MINUTE HEALTHY DINNERS THAT TASTE GREAT
Here are five suggestions to make (mostly) vegetarian main course dinners for four in 20 minutes. To round out the meal, be sure to tap on my links to side dish ideas in the next section or you can always turn to simple roasted vegetables or a salad and fresh berries with a drizzle of raw honey and Ceylon cinnamon for dessert:
Don’t miss this: Why Ceylon Cinnamon, that I linked to above, is a better choice for your health over regular cinnamon – that may not even be cinnamon at all! And, why raw honey, that I linked to above, tastes so superior (you won’t believe it!) and does so much for your health.
1. Toss the sauce with some pasta of choice.
- Stir in 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese to about four cups of sauce.
- Warm on the stove and serve with gluten-free, whole wheat, or whatever pasta you like.
- Add lots of freshly sliced basil, perhaps a few chopped olives and more Parmesan.
2. Make a Mexican lentil soup.
- To 4 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, add 1 cup of roasted red pepper sauce.
- Add 1 cup of cooked beans or lentils, a few chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup of corn, a teaspoon of cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, a chopped chipotle pepper, some pink salt and a few handfuls of spinach. Heat gently.
3. Create pink vegetarian fried rice.
- Cut up four cups of seasonal vegetables of choice in small pieces.
- In wok or pan, heat 1 teaspoon avocado oil, (a high smoke point oil) and saute 2 scrambled eggs. Remove from pan.
- Saute vegetables until crisp-tender and remove from pan.
- Saute 4 cups cooked rice stir frying consistently.
- Make a well in the center of the pan and add a few tablespoons of red pepper sauce to center of the pan. Add 4 teaspoons soy sauce, a sprinkling of rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil to the well. Stir. Toss well with the rice.
- Add back vegetables and egg to the pan and toss again.
- Sprinkle with lots of chopped green onion and a few black sesame seeds.
Don’t miss this: Tap here to find your best egg choice for superior nutrition.
4. Fire up the grill.
- Marinate two pounds of your favorite fish with the juice and zest of one large or two small limes, pink salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 cup of some minced fresh herbs for 10 minutes.
- Warm 1 cup of red pepper sauce.
- Grill fish and drizzle red pepper sauce over fish. Garnish with herbs of choice.
5. Fill up the center.
- Slice 8 small zucchini in half and scrape out the center seeds.
- Place a few teaspoons of rice or quinoa combined with finely chopped greens like kale or spinach in the center. Season well with pink salt and pepper.
- Drizzle a few teaspoons of red pepper sauce over each and top with feta cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes in 375-degree oven or until soft and bubbly
FOR EVEN MORE ON THE TOPIC . . .
- Need more healthy entrees? You can’t miss with this whole mess of easy dinner ideas.
- How about some great salads to accompany those dinners? Follow my salad ideas here and get inspired!
- Look here for vegetable recipe ideas that your whole family can pile on their plates.
Do you have an easy way to get several healthy dinners prepped for a really busy week ahead? I’d love to hear your ideas for my next crazy week!
photo: red pepper: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ianfuller/76775480/”>Ian Fuller</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>
Featured on Jill Conyers blog hop.