Once you’re over the…well, hump…of Hump Day, it’s often downhill in the dinner department. We’ve all experienced that struggle of keeping things semi-creative in the kitchen when all we really want is to order take-out and pretend it’s Friday.
However, there’s no reason for a midweek meal to suffer just because schedules are tight or “foodie” inspiration is lacking. The following recipes are super simple to make, have “proven crowd pleaser” written all over them, and take up less than 20 minutes of your precious time. Plus, they feature wholesome ingredients for a guiltless chorus of “I’ll have seconds!”
A couple caveats: These are single serving recipes, so if you’re cooking for more than just yourself, double (or triple or…quadruple?) the ingredients. Also, some recipes call for cheese, so if you prefer vegan or dairy-free diets, you’ll need to either find a suitable substitution or omit the cheese altogether.
Now, without further ado, I present your solution to that infamous “Is it the weekend yet???” din-din dilemma…
For a Mexican Fiesta:
Mango & Avocado Quesadillas
- 1/2 mango
- 1 hass avocado
- 2 whole wheat tortillas
- 1 block low-fat Gouda
- Peel and dice the mango into bite-sized chunks, then do the same with the avocado.
- Grate the Gouda cheese and measure out 1/2 cup of the resulting shreds.
- Grease a small skillet with cooking spray, then heat it on a medium stove-top setting.
- Place 1 tortilla in the pre-heated skillet, then spread the shredded cheese evenly on top.
- Layer the avocado and mango chunks over the cheese and top with the other tortilla.
- Cook the bottom tortilla for approximately 3 minutes, or until the cheese starts sizzling.
- Flip the quesadilla over and cook the other tortilla for the same amount of time.
- Allow the quesadilla to cool slightly before cutting it into triangular slices.
* Side Suggestion: serve this dish alongside a black bean and corn chutney
For an Asian Chow Down:
Vegetarian Thai Red Curry
- 1 cauliflower head
- 1 red potato
- 1/2 red onion
- 6 mint leaves
- 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
- 2 cups light organic coconut milk
- Chop the cauliflower into small florets, then wash the florets in a strainer.
- Peel the potato and chop it into bite-sized chunks, then do the same with the onion.
- Grease a large skillet with cooking spray, then heat it on a medium stove-top setting.
- Add the cauliflower, potatoes, and onions to the pre-heated skillet, then sautee for 10 minutes.
- Pour in the coconut milk and Thai red curry paste, then turn the heat up to a boil.
- Stir this mixture vigorously until the coconut milk starts to bubble, then reduce the heat to medium.
- Continue sauteing this mixture, while stirring constantly, until the coconut milk has thickened.
- Allow the curry to cool slightly before mincing the mint leaves and sprinkling them on top.
* Side Suggestion: serve this dish alongside honey-infused jasmine rice (brown variety)
For a Mediterranean Spread:
Garlic Couscous Greek Salad
- 2 cups couscous
- 1 block low-fat feta
- 1 cup spinach
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- Fill a medium-sized pot with 3/4 cup of water, then heat on a high stove-top setting.
- Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the couscous, garlic, and olive oil.
- Stir this mixture vigorously for approximately 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat to low.
- Cover the pot and allow this mixture to simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
- Grate the feta cheese and measure out 1/2 cup of the resulting shreds.
- Finely slice the cherry tomatoes, red onion, spinach, and kalamata olives.
- Once the couscous has absorbed all the water, add the feta and vegetables to the pot.
- Stir this mixture thoroughly until all the ingredients are combined evenly.
- Allow the couscous salad to cool slightly before pouring in the lemon juice.
* Side Suggestion: serve this dish with a grilled whole wheat pita toast point
For an Italian Trattoria:
Margherita Flatbread Paninis
- 3 basil leaves
- 1 Roma tomato
- 1 piece whole wheat Naan
- 1/2 part-skim mozzarella ball
- 1 tbsp organic basil pesto
- Spread the basil pesto evenly over the smooth side of the Naan flatbread.
- Thinly slice the tomato and mozzarella, then place each slice on 1 half of the Naan.
- Layer the basil leaves side-by-side on top of the tomato and mozzarella slices.
- Fold the other half of the Naan over the layers of tomato, mozzarella, and basil.
- Transfer the Naan onto an open panini press or George Foreman grill.
- Close the lid of the panini press or grill and cook for approximately 3 minutes.
- Once grill marks appear on both sides, remove the panini from the heat.
- Allow the panini to cool slightly before slicing it in half, diagonally.
* Side Suggestion: serve this dish alongside balsamic vinegar-drizzled tomato wedges