A go-to meal that’s hearty, healthy, and easy to make with basic ingredients. Perfect for busy weeknights yet worthy of casual entertaining, too.
We’re all looking for an arsenal of easy meals on those all-too-frequent busy nights, right?
In the spirit of helping its volunteers, Girls on the Run recently asked its coaches to share a healthy recipe they whip up after returning from work or practice. It’s dinnertime. The kids are starving. Sound familiar? Why not help each other by sharing easy, wholesome menu options that make everyone happy? That’s right up my alley!
Compliments of a longtime Girls on the Run volunteer, this satisfying dish provides a delicious combination of lean proteins and complex carbs in one easy-to-assemble bowl. Easily modified based on individual preference, I have also made a variation of this meal including about two cups of roughly chopped spinach and a rounded half cup of feta cheese.
When ramping up the veggie content, I drizzle with Favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette for added moisture and flavor. As an option when adding extra ingredients, you could instead use a little extra of the oil and vinegar called for in the recipe, adjusting the seasoning as desired. Either way, whether you are looking to fuel a run, recover from a workout, or simply feed a hungry family, this easy weeknight meal covers all the bases.
For the backstory on Girls on the Run, click over to my post for Peanut Butter Energy Bars. If you live in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area and would like to run the 5K on Saturday, May 17, you can click HERE to register.
- 6 ounces (about 2 ¼ cups) uncooked whole wheat penne pasta (or pasta of choice)
- 1 ½ cups halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup pitted and chopped Kalamata or green olives
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (I use about ½ teaspoon and ¼ teaspoon, respectively)
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans
- 8 ounces (2 cups) grilled or broiled chicken, chopped into 1” pieces (leftover or rotisserie chicken in a great option)
- Optional: spinach or greens of choice, feta cheese, and/or additional balsamic vinaigrette for serving
Cook pasta according to the package directions, reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid.
Combine the tomatoes, olives, and basil in a large serving bowl. Toss with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Place the beans in a colander. When the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain it over the beans, remembering to reserve some of the water if you haven’t already.
Add beans, pasta, and reserved water to tomato mixture. Add the chicken and any optional ingredients and toss well. Serve immediately.
Nutritional profile: 4 servings. Calories Per serving: 380, Total fat 9 gm, Saturated fat 1 gm, Cholesterol 35 mg, Sodium 975 mg, Total Carbohydrate 54 gm, Dietary Fiber 12 gm, Protein 25 gm
Nutrition Tips: Beans are a good source of protein, fiber, manganese, and folate, and also boast a number of health benefits, including their ability to reduce cholesterol, decrease blood sugar levels and increase healthy gut bacteria. Tomatoes are packed with fiber, vitamin C and K, potassium, folate, and iron. Tomatoes are also a major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
On a low-sodium diet? Try using ¼ tsp kosher salt－and consider sprinkling it over the plated servings so you taste it more readily－and use no-salt beans. These changes will reduce the sodium to 450 mg per serving.
Peanut Butter Energy Bars…another Girls on the Run favorite