Imagine this scenario: You are back at school, hungry and in need of something besides dry cereal or Pop-Tarts. You head to the grocery store to get some snacks for the week. Once you get there, what are you going to get? Did you forget the list you made when you were pretending to pay attention in chemistry lab? Are you annoyed at your fellow shopper who cannot seem to keep her buggy out of the middle of the aisle? Tempted to just grab a box of Honey Nut Cheerios and go?
Rest assured, we have all been there. Annoyed, hungry, annoyed because we're hungry. That's where I come in! Your grocery godmother. I am here to help you figure out what to eat! I promise you, it's easier than you think to whip up something delicious and healthy for dinner instead of just living on cereal.
Every two weeks, I'll share an easy and healthy meal that you can make yourself - no cooking degree required! First up? Grilled chicken, asparagus, and mango sorbet.
Before You Begin...
Before you start cooking, you need a go-to grocery store where you can find all of your essentials. Depending on where you live, you may have a Target, Wal-Mart, or chain grocery store nearby, and those are usually good bets for inexpensive groceries. If you have the cash, you can go all out at a healthy grocery store like Whole Foods. Also, don't forget to search for local farmers markets in your area - they can be a fabulous place to find amazing produce that's locally grown and relatively inexpensive.
Also, whether you live in a dorm or have an apartment, I highly suggest investing in a George Foreman Grill! (If you live in a dorm, find out if your hall allows them before purchasing!) I use mine at least twice a week! They are easy to use, simple to clean, and are the best way to make a slammin' anything!
Finally, invest in some kitchen staples: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper, Powdered Garlic, and Lemon Pepper. These spices and seasonings are essentials in any kitchen: You will use them for everything! I highly recommend picking them up.
The Shopping Stage: What You'll Need
Note: This particular recipe requires an oven to roast the asparagus, and a freezer for the sorbet. If you don't have an oven, you could always substitute some frozen veggies for the asparagus and cook them in the microwave. If you don't have a freezer, you can skip the sorbet.
If your kitchen is already stocked with the basics (see above), now it's time to go shopping for your ingredients! Here's what you'll need to make this meal:
1. Chicken (or Faux Chicken)
The first thing I tend to do when I am planning my meals for the week is to figure out what type of meat I want. Let's start with chicken! I prefer to use tenders because they are easy to separate and freeze straight from the grocery store. They are more expensive at times, but check the weekly ads for sales.
If you're a vegetarian, Quorn's faux chicken cutlets taste just like the real thing and have the added benefit of being soy-free.
Please allow me to introduce one of my favorite vegetable friends, asparagus! These babies can be baked, grilled, fried, boiled, and what ever else you can think of!
Photo Credit: Flickr
To check for freshness, simply pierce the bottom of the stalk with your fingernail. If it goes in easily, you've struck gold! Check a few of the stalks for freshness just to be sure.
3. 4 Mangoes
For this meal, I chose to make a mango sorbet for my dessert. If you do not like mangoes, use pineapples, strawberries, or any other fruit you like instead!
- TIP: When you pick out your mangoes, make sure they have a little give and aren't rock hard, but remember this rule: if your thumb sinks in, put it back!
4. 1-2 Limes
You'll need lime juice for the mango sorbet - one large lime or two small ones should give you enough juice.
5. For the sorbet: Sugar or Rum or Coconut Milk or Pineapple Juice
The sorbet recipe (see below for details on what you'll need and substitutions) requires simple syrup (which you can make using sugar and water), but I used rum instead for some extra kick. You could also use coconut milk or pineapple juice if you're trying to avoid processed sugar.
Now it's time to cook!
When you get home from the store, it's time to start your cooking! Here's how to make this easy and healthy meal:
Step 1: Roast the Asparagus
Pull out a dark metal pan and pre-heat your oven to 450°. Rinse your asparagus, then, using a knife and cutting board, cut off an inch or so off of the bottom of each stalk -- those are the tough parts. Put the asparagus into the pan, drizzle the stalks with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and garlic. Bake in the oven at 450° for about 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of your stalks.
Step 2: Grill the Chicken
I prefer to tenderize my chicken before I cook it for pretty much anything. Although my neighbors may not love me beating on the counter for a few minutes, I know they are just jealous that they were not invited over for dinner.
Once you've tenderized your meat (or not), follow the directions on the box of your George Foreman to grill your chicken or faux chicken! I always put it at the highest temperature and check it after 5 minutes. To add some flavor to the chicken, sprinkle it with some lemon pepper before you put in on the grill!
Step 3: Make the Sorbet
For the mango sorbet, I used this recipe but skipped the simple syrup and added rum instead. A healthier non-alcoholic alternative could be coconut milk or pineapple juice. Instead of scoops, freeze the blend into a shallow pan and cut it into bars! With a bite of sorbet and mint, it tastes like a mango mojito. So fresh!
The Finished Product
This was my end result:
The next time I make this meal, I plan to add some whole wheat pasta for some grains. Other than that, it was a fresh, clean-tasting meal that didn't leave me feeling the need for a pair of stretchy pants! Score!
What do you think? Did you try this meal? Do you have any suggestions for us for changing this meal around? Do you have any other foods you want us to feature next time? Leave a comment and let us know!