Three Fast New Meals to Make in '19
No Measuring Spoons Necessary
January, 2019 - Issue #172
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock

If 2019 is your year to eat healthier at home, we've got three quick new dinners that you can get on the table in 20 minutes or less. Each relies on a mix of pre-packaged and fresh ingredients, are gluten free and can be vegan with a few simple modifications.

Fried Cauli-rice
For a no-gluten, lower-carb quick meal fit for a family of four or more, grab a bag of pre-made frozen fried rice (We're fans of the Trader Joe's version.), a whole cauliflower and any proteins you'll use to top the finished product - tofu, chicken or scrambled eggs. Rice or finely chop the cauliflower, then toss it in a frying pan on medium with a heavy pinch of salt, a splash of soy sauce and some finely-chopped garlic and onions. Stir and cook until the "rice" is tender to the tooth, but not soft. You want it to have a real-rice feel. Empty the pre-made bag of the fried rice on top and bring both up to heat while mixing the two together. Our kids have yet to notice that half the rice is cauliflower, so don't tell them! Add in your pre-made protein and serve. The whole process should take less than 20 minutes.

Quinoa Tacos
Quinoa is a high-protein seed that cooks up like a grain. It's nutty, delicious and easy to make ahead. Prepare a package all at once, then divide up into freezable portions. Replace the meat in your traditional taco with this fast dinner fix. Heat one can of vegetarian or carne asada chili, adding in the canned equivalent of cooked quinoa, so that you have an equal proportion of chili to seed. Stir. While that's warming, toss pre-made hard taco shells in the toaster oven to crisp. When both are hot, fill the taco shells with the quinoa mix, then add your favorite pre-prepped taco toppings. Quinoa has a meaty texture, so even carnivores should find this to be a savory alternative to longer-cooking, more-prep ground beef. The whole process should take you less than 10 minutes if you use pre-prepped quinoa.

Hearty Minestrone-style Soup
Few things are as welcome as a hot bowl of soup on a cold day - but many can be pretty work intensive. This one isn't. Use it as a minestrone-style base and customize with ingredients you have on hand. Everything goes into the pot: one jar prepared spaghetti sauce, a few tablespoons of pre-minced garlic to preference, one can each of garbanzo and kidney beans (including liquid) and a frozen "vegetable medley" bag, like the "4 Seasons" variety at Trader Joes. Now, use boxed chicken or vegetable stock, or water, to cover ingredients. Season liberally with an all-in-one spice like TJ's "21 Season Salute" and salt and pepper to taste. It's done when everything's hot - unless you added ingredients like chopped potatoes and onions that need to cook through. The whole process should take you less than 20 minutes.
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