How to cook sassy meals in a snap

The main secret is to load up on staples in your pantry. Some items are cheap, like canned tuna, beans and boxed pasta, while other pricier items, like artichoke hearts and tapenade, which are used sparingly to keep the costs down.

Breakfast, for example, could be a chocolate raspberry smoothie. Blend 2 cups of frozen raspberries, a small banana with ice and chocolate soy milk. It's a nice way to start the day before heading out the door in a flash. The recipe makes at least two servings.

Make lunch in a snap with a small whole wheat baguette or half of a larger loaf. Spread the bread with soft goat cheese, fresh tomato slices, marinated artichoke hearts and top it off with arugula or spinach leaves. This lunch offers plenty of veggies, yet plenty of flavor.

Dinner can be a fresh and flavorful salad. Take 3 ounces of dethawed, precooked shrimp, half a can of rinsed white beans and five or six pickled peppers and place them over spicy arugula greens. Toss the salad with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

A big, beautiful tomato hollowed out can be a delicious dish. Stuff the tomato with drained, canned tuna, 1/4 teaspoon of capers, 2 teaspoons of pine nuts and a sprig of snipped, fresh basil. Hold everything together with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. The biggest challenge on this meal is opening and draining a can.

Here are three more fun feasts that are fast and flavorful:

Take half of a whole wheat baguette, toast it and spread 1 tablespoon of hummus on the bread. Slice one hard-boiled egg over the bread and hummus. Top everything with chopped Kalamata olives or prepared tapenade.

Slice an avocado in half and top it with mixed chunks of rotisserie chicken. Then, simply add a squeeze of lemon, light mayonnaise, salt and pepper.

Other ways to use rotisserie chicken: Combine chunks of chicken with pre-cut coleslaw mix with chopped herbs, such as cilantro and mint. Make a dressing of 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, with a pinch of sugar and red pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar. Add salt and pepper to season.

The modified recipes were from Fitness Magazine, July 2008.


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