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Posted: 4:14 p.m. Thursday, July 11, 2013


Seven-Day Menu Planner

By Susan Nicholson

Special to the AJC

7/ 21 -- Family Sunday

It’s a good day for GRILLED ASIAN STEAK AND SUMMER SQUASH. Place 1 (1 1/2-pound) flank steak and 1/2 cup Asian barbecue sauce (such as San-J or another brand, or make your own) in a resealable plastic bag; turn steak to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 6 hours or more, turning occasionally. Heat grill to medium. Remove steak and discard marinade. Brush 3 medium zucchini (halved and sliced lengthwise) with 1 teaspoon canola oil; season with coarse salt and pepper. Grill steak 11 to 21 minutes for medium-rare to medium; turn occasionally. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Grill squash 15 minutes; turn occasionally. Heat another 1/4 cup barbecue sauce. Carve meat across grain, pour sauce over steak and serve with squash.

Accompany the steak with BROWN RICE SALAD. Mix together 3 cups cooked brown rice, 1 1/2 cups cucumber slices (quartered and seeded), 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives, 1 large chopped tomato, 1 small chopped onion, 1/4 cup chopped parsley and 1/2 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing.

Serve with WHOLE-GRAIN BREAD. Surprise everyone with your COOKIES AND CREAM ANGEL CAKE (see recipe). You could add fat-free CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM alongside for a show-stopping dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: To save time on Sunday, marinate steak a day ahead. Also, cook brown rice for Sunday and Tuesday. Save enough steak and cake for Monday. Save some ice cream for Wednesday.

TIP: Grilling time varies according to type of grill (charcoal or gas); gas grills generally take longer to cook.

7/ 22 -- Heat-and-Eat Monday

Make a BEEF SALAD for dinner. Toss together 6 cups cold, coarsely chopped iceberg lettuce, 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed reduced-sodium black beans, 1 (11-ounce) can rinsed Mexican-style corn. Place thinly sliced cooked (leftover) steak over top. Drizzle 1/4 cup ranch dressing and 1/3 cup salsa separately over beef. Sprinkle with 1 cup broken baked tortilla chips. Leftover CAKE is dessert tonight.

7/ 23 -- Meatless Tuesday

VEGETABLE CURRY (see recipe) takes advantage of the summer garden’s bounty. Serve the vegetable blend over leftover BROWN RICE. Add a GREEN SALAD and whole-grain PITA BREAD. For dessert, fresh PINEAPPLE CHUNKS are sweet and juicy.

7/ 24 -- Kids Wednesday

Help the kids make their own CHICKEN AND SOUR CREAM ENCHILADAS tonight. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine 1 cup each reduced-fat sour cream, shredded Monterey Jack cheese and salsa and 1 (9- or 10-ounce) package cooked, carved chicken. Divide and spoon down center of 6 (6- or 8-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas. Fold tortillas in thirds and place seam-side down in a shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with 1/2 cup salsa; cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with 1/4 cup additional cheese; bake 5 more minutes or until cheese melts. Top with chopped tomatoes and lettuce.

Serve with canned vegetarian REFRIED BEANS. Leftover ICE CREAM is a cool dessert.

7/ 25 -- Express Thursday

Make it quick tonight with a B.T. PIZZA. Top a ready-to-bake whole-grain thin pizza crust with 4 slices crumbled bacon, plenty of diced tomatoes, sliced fresh basil and shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Bake as directed on package or until cheese melts and pizza is hot. Serve with a packaged GREEN SALAD. Slurp on WATERMELON for dessert.

7/ 26 -- Budget Friday

Tighten your purse strings with TURKEY APRICOT SALAD SANDWICHES. Combine 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey, 1/4 cup thinly sliced celery, 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons each unsalted cashews, chopped dried apricots, chopped green onions, plain low-fat yogurt, and coarse salt and pepper to taste. Spread on 4 slices pumpernickel bread; top with a lettuce leaf and a second slice of bread. Cut in half and serve with CORN-ON-THE-COB and SLICED TOMATOES. FRESH PEACHES are dessert.

7/ 27 -- Easy Entertaining Saturday

Your lucky guests will dine on TUNA STEAKS WITH AVOCADO SALSA (see recipe) tonight.

Try this SPICY POTATO SALAD for a perfect side dish. Cook 2 pounds unpeeled large red potatoes in boiling water 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Whisk together 3 tablespoons each canola oil and white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce; pour over potatoes; toss. Cover and chill 1 hour. Stir in 1 (8 3/4-ounce) can rinsed corn, 1 small shredded carrot, 1/4 cup sliced black olives and 4 sliced green onions; toss to mix.

Add WHOLE-GRAIN ROLLS. For dessert, spoon fat-free vanilla pudding into wine goblets. Top each with a teaspoon or so of raspberry jam and stir. Garnish with fresh raspberries and you have RASPBERRY SWIRL.


Makes 12 slices

Preparation time: 20 minutes for cake and frosting

Cooking time: 37 to 47 minutes; cooling time: about 2 hours

1 (16-ounce) package white angel food cake mix

1 1/4 cups cold water

3 reduced-fat chocolate sandwich cookies, finely crushed

1 package fluffy white frosting mix

1/2 cup boiling water

6 reduced-fat chocolate sandwich cookies, halved

Move oven rack to lowest position, removing other racks. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In an extra-large mixing bowl, beat cake mix and cold water with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium 1 minute. Carefully fold crushed cookies into batter. Pour into ungreased 10-inch angel food cake pan (tube pan). Do not use fluted tube cake pan or 9-inch angel cake pan, or batter will be on the oven floor instead of in the pan. Bake 37 to 47 minutes or until top is dark golden-brown and cracks feel very dry and are not sticky. Do not under-bake. Immediately turn pan upside down over a heatproof bottle or funnel until cake is completely cool, about 2 hours. Run knife around edge of cake; remove from pan. Place on serving plate.

In a small bowl, beat frosting mix and boiling water on low 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high 5 to 7 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally until stiff peaks form. Frost cake; garnish with sandwich cookie halves just before serving. (Adapted from “Betty Crocker: The Big Book of Cakes,” Grace Wells, editor; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.)

Per slice: 243 calories, 4 grams protein, 1 gram fat (5 percent calories from fat), 0.3 gram saturated fat, 55 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 273 milligrams sodium, no fiber.


Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 20 minutes

3 cups broccoli florets

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 (14-ounce) can vegetable broth

1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 small yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

3 carrots, thinly sliced

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 pound small fresh green beans

Roasted peanuts for garnish

Combine broccoli and water in a medium bowl and cover; microwave on high (100 percent power) 1 1/2 minutes; drain; set aside. Melt butter on medium in a Dutch oven; add onion and cook 4 minutes or until softened. Stir in flour, curry powder, salt and cayenne. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, 8 minutes or until thickened. Stir in reserved broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, half-and-half and green beans; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly, or until vegetables are softened. Garnish and serve immediately.

Per serving: 171 calories, 6 grams protein, 7 grams fat (35 percent calories from fat), 4.1 grams saturated fat, 25 grams carbohydrate, 19 milligrams cholesterol, 741 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber.


Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon firmly packed light brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 cup orange sections, halved

1/3 cup tomato, chopped

1/3 cup avocado, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tuna steaks (about 1 1/2 pounds total)

Cook onion and garlic in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high 4 minutes or until onion is softened. Stir in vinegar, sugar and red pepper. Cook and stir 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; stir in oranges, tomato, avocado and lime juice.

Meanwhile, coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high. Add tuna steaks and cook 4 minutes per side. Halve each steak and serve immediately with salsa.

Per serving: 237 calories, 42 grams protein, 3 grams fat (11 percent calories from fat), 0.6 gram saturated fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 66 milligrams cholesterol, 81 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietician. She can be reached by email at menuplanner@mindspring.com. Look for Susan's new book, "The 7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies," in bookstores. The Menu Planner is also accessible at www.7daymenuplanner.com. Read Susan's blog at www.makingthemenu.com.

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