Leslie Turek's Home Page

Easy Healthy Recipes

I hate to cook, but I'm trying to eat healthy. So this is my personal collection of simple recipes, along with suggestions for items to keep on hand to make assembling healthy meals quick and easy.

Pantry items Chicken stock
Canned black beans
Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce
Low-fat mayonnaise
Soy sauce
Chile-garlic sauce
Oyster sauce
Peanut butter
Walnuts, pistachio nuts, etc.
Low-fat salad dressings
Cannola oil
Sesame oil
Olive oil
Balsamaic vinegar
Raspberry vinegar
Curry powder
Breads and starches Whole wheat bread
Boboli pizza crusts
Whole wheat tortillas
Whole wheat pitas
Whole wheat spaghetti and noodles
Meat Pre-cooked chicken strips
Chicken breast
Sliced turkey
Canned white meat tuna (in water)
Fruits Apples

Dried cranberries
Dried apricots
Canned pineapple
Vegetables Salad greens
Baby spinach
Red peppers
Carrots (pre-shredded)
Canned beets
Fresh parsley
Dairy Crumbled feta cheese
Parmesan cheese
Low-fat or non-fat milk
Low-fat or non-fat sour cream
Low-fat or non-fat yogurt

Low-fat shredded cheese (Chedddar, mozzarella, etc.)
Eggs or low fat instant eggs

In praise of Trader Joe's

I recently discovered that Trader Joe's is an excellent food source for people trying to eat healthy but who don't like to cook. Their prices are very reasonable, too. So if you live anywhere in the vicinity of one (see here for a map of locations - mostly California and the northeast U.S.), I recommend that you check them out. (My nutritionist likes them, too.)

Some of the things I've found at TJ's:

One of my favorite cookbooks for soups is Saved by Soup by Judith Barrett. All her recipes are quick and easy, low calorie, and very tasty. Here's a sample.

Summer Salsa Soup with Tomatoes, Black Beans, and Corn. You can use frozen corn and canned black beans, but 
his soup really needs fresh tomatoes. Combine in a blender: 2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks, 1 medium yellow onion, quartered, 1 serrano or jalapeno chile, seeded, and 1/2 cup fresh cilatro leaves. Process until very finely chopped and not quite smooth. Season with salt to taste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in 1 cup drained black beans and 1 cup cooked corn kernels. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. Add more salt if necessary. Optional: Garnish with tortilla chips. Makes 6 servings, 126 calories and 1.2 grams of fat/serving.

Basic salad. Salad greens with your favorite assortment of veggies and low-fat dressing. I like to add some of the following: dried cranberries, orange segments, crumbled feta cheese, chopped nuts.

Greens with strawberries and oranges. Another salad combo using a lot of fruit: 4 cups mixed salad greens, 1/2 up strawberries, sliced, 1 orange, peeled and sliced, 1 apple or pear, cored and chopped, 1/2 cup fresh fennel, diced. Dressing: 3/4 cup orange juice, 2 TBS white wine vinegar, 1 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp black pepper, pinch of salt.

Carrot salad. Combine shredded carrots with low-fat mayo and dried cranberries (or raisins).

Tuna, Asparagus and Feta Salad. Mix 2 cups romaine lettuce, 1 cut up Roma tomato, and 1/2 cup steamed asparagus pieces. Add 1/2 can (3 ounces) white albacore tuna, drained, and 1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled. Sprinkle with 1/2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil and toss to coat. Add 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar and toss again. (307 calories,16 g total fat (6 g sat), 62 mg cholesterol,16 g carbohydrate, 32 g protein, 4 g fiber, 807 mg sodium)

Asian Slaw. Combine 3/4 cup finely chopped celery, 1/2 cup chopped sugar snap peas, 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, 1 10-oz. package angel hair slaw, 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts. Whisk together 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 2 TBS sugar, 1 TS salt, 2 ts soy sauce, 1/4 ts garlic power, 1/4 ts black pepper. Pour over salad and toss. Optional additions: 2 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 lb), 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted, 1 ts sesame seeds, toasted. Makes 6 1-1/2 cup servings. 152 calories, 3.7 g fat, 4.5 g fiber.


Turkey/apple. Sliced turkey, sliced apples, baby spinach, low-fat mayo on whole wheat bread

Tuna salad. Mix 3 oz canned tuna with low-fat mayonnaise, season with black pepper.

Curried chicken salad. Mix 6 TBS mayo, 1/2 ts grated orange rind, 1 2/2 ts orange juice, 1 ts curry powder, 1/2 ts grated fresh ginger, 2 1/2 cups diced chicken, 3/4 cup green grapes, 1/4 cup dried apricots, 1/4 cup scallions, 2 TBS chopped cashews or other nuts, 1 TBS chopped parsley.

Pineapple chicken salad. Mix 2 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast (about 1 lb), 1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots, 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted, 1/3 cup light mayonnaise, 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions, 1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt, 1 TBS Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 ts garlic powder, 1/4 ts salt, 1/4 ts black pepper, 8 oz can crushed pineapple in juice, drained. Serve in whole wheat pitas with Romaine lettuce.


Chicken/avocado wrap. Chicken strips, red pepper strips, avocado strips, seasoned with cumin, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

Burrito. Wrap chicken strips, black beans, brown rice, and corn salsa (see below) in a whole wheat tortilla.

Corn salsa. Combine 1 cup corn, 1/2 red pepper and 1/2 green pepper, diced, 2 TBS diced red onion, 2 TBS chopped fresh chives. Season with salt, pepper, and tabasco sauce. (From The Best Life Diet)

Turkey taco filling. Cook 1 lb ground turkey and 1/2 cup chopped onion in 1 TBS olive oil until no longer pink, about 4 min. Drain. Add 10 oz can tomatoes with green chiles, 1 ts ground cumin, and 1 ts chili powder and cook 5-7 more minutes. Serve in warm taco shells with chopped tomatoes and low-fat cheddar cheese.


Pizza. Use a Boboli shell or flatbread topped with tomato sauce, mushrooms, baby spinach, chopped cooked chicken, red peppers, and/or red onions with shredded low fat mozzarella. Bake at 350 until cheese is melted.

Other options: fresh basil, grated parmesan, cooked broccoli.


Peanut Noodles. Make sauce with 1/2 peanut butter, 2 TBS soy sauce, 2 tsp. minced garlic, 1 1/2 tsp. chile-garlic sauce, and 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger. Mix with 8 ounces cooked whole-wheat spaghetti, 1 pound cooked chicken, and 12 ounces cooked mixed vegetables (carrots, broccoli, snow peas).

Stir-fries and One-dish meals

Chicken with Asparagus and Pistachios. Cook 1 1/2 pounds asparagus pieces in 1 TBS toasted sesame oil for 2 min. Add 1 pound chicken cut in bite-size pieces, cook stirring for 4 minutes. Stir in 4 cut-up scallions, 2 TBS minced fresh ginger, 1 TBS oyster sauce, and 1 tsp chile-garlic sauce, and cook 1-2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup shelled chopped pistachios.

Chicken and Asparagus in White Wine Sauce. Pound 1 lb chicken tenders to 1/2-inch thickness. (Use plastic wrap to keep from sticking to mallet.) Salt, pepper, and dredge in flour, then cook in 1 TBS butter over medium-high heat about 3 minutes on each side. (Note: you'll probablyt have to do this in two batches.) Set aside. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth and 2 minced garlic cloves to the pan.Cook 2 minutes, stirring up brown bits. Add 1 lb asparagus (or you could substitute green beans), cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in 2 TBS chopped fresh parsley and 1 TBS fresh lemon juice. Return chicken to pan until warm and serve. Makes about 3 servings.

Beef Stroganoff. Cut 1 pound boneless sirlion steak into thin strips. Coat pan with cooking spray and saute beef 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside. Saute 3 cups sliced mushrooms (cremini recommended for flavor - about 8 ounces) and 1/2 cup chopped onions for 4 minutes. Set aside with beef. Melt 1 TBS butter in pan and stir in 2 TBS flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Gradually add 1 cut beef broth, stirring constantly. Add beef and mushrums, 1/4 cup dry sherry, 1/2 ts salt, and 1/8 ts black pepper. Simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup reduced fat sour cream. Serve over noodles (preferably whole wheat), sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Peanut Noodles with Shredded Chicken & Vegetables. This makes a large quantity, and can be eaten hot or cold, so is useful for a pot luck supper. There are three main ingredients that need to be cooked separately and then combined with a sauce. 1. 1 lb shredded chicken breast. You can either buy cooked chicken, or buy raw chicken and poach it in a saucepan of water for about 10-12 minutes, 2. 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti, 3. 12-ounces mixed vegetables. You can use bagged veggie medley with broccoli, carrots, and snow peas, or any combination of veggies you'd like to use. The receipe suggests cooking the veggies in the same water as the pasta, adding them about a minute before the pasta is finished. I found it easier to cook the veggies first in a basket and then reuse the same water to cook the pasta. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Next, make a sauce using 1/2 cup smooth low-fat peanut butter, 2 TBS soy sauce, 2 tsp. minced garlic, 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger. Mix well and stir in the reserved 1 cup of cooking water. Combine sauce, chicken, veggies, and pasta and toss well to coat. Makes 6 servings, 1 1/2 cups each. 360 calories, 13 g fat (using regular peanut butter).

Chicken Vegetable Noodles. (Exact vegetables and quantities used in this recipe are flexible.) Cook 5 ounces noodles (could be rice noodles, Japanese noodles, or whole wheat pasta). Drain and set aside. Heat 1 ts canola oil and saute 1 cup chopped onions, 2 minced cloves of garlic, and 8 ounces sliced mushrooms, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add 10 ounces diced precooked chicken, 1 1/2 cups matchstick-cut carrots, 1 cup frozen peas, and 1 package frozen French-cut green beans, thawed and drained. Cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in 1 TBS sesame seeds, 2 TBS soy sauce, 1 TBS sesame oil, 1/4 ts ground fresh pepper, and noodles. Serve immediately.

Hamburger Buddy. Use a food processer to finely mince 3 cloves garlic, 2 medium carrots, and 10 oz white mushrooms. Add 1 large onion and pulse to roughly chop. Cook 1 lb 90%-lean ground beef for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the chopped vegetables, plus 2 ts dried thyme, 3/4 ts salt, 1/4 ts pepper and cook 5-7 more minutes. Add 2 cups water, 1 1/2 cups beef broth (reserved 1/4 cup from 14 oz can), 8oz (2 cups) whole wheat elbows, and 2TBS Worcestershire sauce. Cover, cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, 8 to 10 min. Whisk 2 TBS flour with remaining beef broth until smooth. Stir in with 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream. Stimmer, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add parsley or chives if desired. (Makes 6 servings, 1 1/3 cups each. 326 cal, 10g fat)


Scrambled with spinach and feta. Saute 1/2 cup chopped baby spinach with a sliver of butter. Stir into 2 scrambled eggs, along with 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese.

Frittata. Find a small non-stick pan that can go under the broiler and preheat broiler. Assemble various chopped vegetables, which could include onion or scallion, red peppers, cooked asparagus, snap peas, baby spinach, mushrooms, etc. Start by cooking onions and red peppers in a small amount of olive oil, add spinach until wilted, then stir in remaining vegetables with 2 whole eggs plus 2 egg whites plus salt and pepper and any herbs you'd like to add.  You could also add some feta or low-fat shredded cheese, and bits of ham or Candian bacon. Cook until partially set on stovetop, then sprinkle with some grated parmesan and slip under the broiler for a few minutes until browed.

Strata. Cut up 2 slices whole wheat bread and place in 1 1/2 quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Saute 1/2 cup chopped onion until tender, add 2 cups chopped baby spinach and 1 clove minced garlic, stir until spinach wilted. In a bowl combine 1/2 chopped fresh thyme, 1/4 ts salt, 1/8 tx pepper, 2 eggs, 1 egg white, 1 cup chopped seeded plum tomato, and the spinach mixture. Pour over bread. Sprinkled with 2 TBS grated parmesan. Bake 375 degrees for 20 minutes; let stand 5 minute. Makes 2 servings. Variation: add sliced mushrooms along with spinach.

Simple grilled or steamed meat or fish

Baked cod with crunchy lemon-herb topping. 2 lbs cod filets, salt and pepper, brush with mayonnaise mixture and press with cracker crumbs. Bake at 450 about 15 minutes. Mayo mixture: 3 TBS mayonnaise, 2 TBS minced fresh parsley, 2 small garlic cloves, minced, 1 ts grated lemon zest, 1 TBS lemon juice. Crumb mixture: 24 Ritz crackers, crushed, about 1 cup.

Barbecue-Rubbed Pork Chops. Mix together 1 TBS light brown sugar, 1 ts salt, 1 ts paprika, 1 ts chili powder, 3/4 ts garlic powder, 3/4 ts ground cumin, 1/4 ts dry mustard, 1/8 ts ground allspice, and 1/8 ts red pepper. Rub over 4 pork chops. Coat a grill pan with cooking spray, cook pork over medium-high heat for 2 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 8 minutes more, turning occasionally.

Sate Marinade. Blend the following and marinate 10 minutes. (Originally for pork.)
2     Tbl peanut butter
½     cup onion, minced
1     clove garlic, minced
2     Tbl lemon juice
2     Tbl soy sauce
1     Tbl brown sugar
1     dash hot pepper sauce
1     Tbl vegetable oil

Turkey Burgers. 1 pound extra-lean ground turkey, 1/3 cup tomato ketchup, 1/2 cup minced onion
1 slice bread made into breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, 2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander.

Scallops with Sesame Sauce. Make sauce by mixing the white part of 1 chopped scallion, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 Tbs soy sauce 1 Tbs rice vinegar, 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp cornstarch, 1 Tbs sesame oil, and 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper. Heat 1 tsp of canola oil in a skillet. Add 1 3/4 lb large sea scallops and sprinkle with 1/8 ts black pepper. Cook about 3 minutes on one side, and 2-3 more minutes on the other side. Remove scallops to a plate. Add sauce and cook about 45 seconds, then pour over scallops. Sprinkle with the green part of the scallion, chopped. (Makes 4 servings, each 246 cal, 7g fat)

Chinese-Style Cod. Combine 2 TBS soy sauce, 2 ts rice vinegar, and 1 ts grated peeled fresh ginger. Sprinkle the white parts of two scallions, sliced, on the bottom of a baking dish. Cut 1 pound skinless cod fillet, 1-inch thick, into 4 pieces and place in the dish. Spoon the soy sauce mixture over the fish. Cover with plastic wrap; then prick a few holes in the plastic. Microwave on high until the cod is just opaque in the center. (Recipe says 5-7 minutes, but I found 3 1/2 minutes was fine, so be sure to check it.) Sprinkle with the green parts of the scallions, sliced. (Makes 4 servings, each 112 cal., 1g fat, 0g sat fat, 1g carb, 0g fiber, 22g protein.)

Walnut-Crusted Chicken. (This has some added fat, but it's from healthy sources like nuts and olive oil.) Heat oven to 400 degrees. Using a mini-blender, grind 1/2 cup walnuts into fine crumbs. Stir in 1/2 cup flavored breadcrumbs and place in a shallow bowl. Rub 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts with 2 Tbs Dijon mustard, then coat with walnut-breadcrumb misture. Coat baking sheet with 1 Tbs olive oil and place in hot oven for five minutes. Place chicken on hot baking sheet; bake at 400 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes on each side. (Makes 4 servings, each 284 calories, 30 grams protein, 8 grams carb, 15 grams fat, 2 grams fiber.)

Easy Chicken Dijon. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Brush 8 skinless chicken drumsticks (about 2lb) with 3 TBsp whole-grain Dijon mustard. Mix 2/3 c. panko bread crumbs with 1 1/2 ts dried herbs, 1/2 ts salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper in a large zip-lock plastic bag; add the drumsticks and shake to coat. Place on baking sheet and spray with nonstick spray. Bake until browned and cooked through, 35-40 minutes, spraying again halfway through. Let stand 5 min before serving. (Makes 4 servings, 195 cal, 5 g. fat, 1 g sat fat, 8 g carb, 1 g fiber, 27 g protein)

Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak. Preheat broiler. Combine 1 TBS brown sugar, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp ground giner, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp black pepper; rub evenly over 12-oz flank steak. Place on broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 6 minutes on each side or until done as desired. Let stand 3 minutes; cut diagonally across grain into thin slices. (Makes 4 3-oz servings, each 229 calories, 11.9 g fat, 25.6 g protein)

Balsamic Chicken and Mushrooms. Cook 1 slice of bacon over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels, leaving the drippings in the pan. Cut bacon into small pieces.
Brush 3/4 pounds chicken cutlets with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with  1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Cook chicken in drippings about 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan and keep warm.
Add an 8 oz package of sliced baby portobello mushrooms, 1/2 cup sliced green onions, and 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in 1 tbsp water, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Cook 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally. (I had to add a bit more water.) Stir in bacon. Serve over chicken.
Yield: 4 servings. 150 calories, 4 g fat per serving.


Slow-Roasted Asparagus. Best with the early thick spears. Snap off the tough ends and cut diagonally. Marinate in a plastic bag with 1 TBS olive oil, 1 TBS balsamic vinegar, salt and peper. Roast in a single layer at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

With Fresh Basil

White bean spread. Blend 2 cans white beans, rinsed and drained, with 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, 2 garlic cloves, 3 TBS olive oil, 3 TBS lemon juice, salt and pepper. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve on a sandwich with greens and tomatoes.


Mixed fruit parfait. Combine cut-up fruit like pineapple, berries, chopped apples, grapes, etc., with a large dollop of low-fat unflavored yogurt and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Vanilla ricotta Crème (I got this from "South Beach Diet" via Biggest Loser) 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 package sugar substitute "I put mine in the freezer because it takes me a little longer to eat and that is always a good thing."

Mocha ricotta Crème (Again a South Beach thing)  1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 package sugar substitute Dash of espresso powder 5 mini chocolate chips

Guilty Pleasures

Everybody has some type of food that leads them into temptation. One of mine is creamy pasta. Here are a few creamy rice and pasta dishes that aren't too bad for you.

It's important in this recipe to use real arborio rice and good-quality parmesan cheese. Heat 2 cups chicken stock to a simmer. In a separate saucepan, cook 1/2 onion, chopped, (and optionally an equal amount of chopped mushrooms) in a small amount of butter until soft. Stir in 1/2 cup arborio rice. Add a splurg of white wine and stire until absorbed by the rice. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the simmering stock and set burner to a high simmer. Don't cover it. When you see "holes" forming in the rice, it's time to add another 1/2 cup of stock. You can stir the rice with each addition, but you don't have to stir it constantly. When all the stock is absorbed (in about 20 minutes) taste a bit of the rice to be sure it's soft enough. If not add a bit more water (or stock if you have it) and continue cooking. At the end, optionally stire in a bit more butter (about 1 tsp) and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and some chopped fresh parsley. Depending on the stock, you usually don't have to add salt.

That's the basic risotto. To this, you can add all sorts of other things, like bits of cooked chicken or shrimp, and vegetables like asparagus. Or you can serve it plain.

Pasta Carbonara. In a small bowl, scramble one egg and stir in 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese. Set aside. In a small pan, cook about 2 oz lean bacon or prosciutto, cut in thin strips, and 1 chopped garlic clove in a small amount of olive oil. When browned, add a large splurg of white wine and cook down until reduced by half. Meanwhile, boil about 6 oz pasta until al dente. Drain and return to the pot, but do not return to the heat. Quickly stir in the wine and bacon mixture, and then add the egg mixture and cheese, stirring constantly until it gets thick and creamy.

Parmesan-Chive Sauce. (For mushroom ravioi or meat tortellini) Combine 1/2 cup low-fat milk and 1 TBS flour over low heat. Cook and whisk for 4 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 2 TBS grated parmesan, 1 TBS chopped fresh chives, 1/8 ts salt, dash of pepper.

Creamy Cheese Pasta (This one is from Weight Watchers with a points value of 6). Cook 1/2 lb whole-wheat pasta. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking liquid. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 3 diced plum tomatoes (or 9 diced cherry tomatoes) and 2 crushed garlic cloves and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes are softened, about 2 minutes. Add 6 oz baby spinach in batches, stirring just until each batch is wilted. Add cooked pasta, reserved cooking liquid, 1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese, 1 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook, stirring, until the cheeses are melted. Serve at once. (Makes 4 servings, each 338 cal, 4 g. fat, 1 g sat fat, 53 g carb, 6 g fiber, 26 g protein)


From the New York Times: Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. Note that these are not all low-calorie, so use some judgement here.