Easy options for healthy meals

Farm Forum

Many of us are looking for easy ways to simplify our lives and sustain our healthy habits. Why not start by taking a look at your pantry and refrigerator and literally begin by putting to work the old saying, “Out with the old and in with the new?”

Take a quick inventory of items on-hand. Make sure all the products are still in the recommended use-by-date timeframe. Then re-stock the pantry and refrigerator with healthy great-tasting ingredients to help make dinnertime a snap! Healthy meal options can be easily created with a little preplanning and preparation. Beef is one of those easy go- to, yet nutritious, family-pleasing proteins that freezes well and pairs with many other meal components. When planning meals, keep in mind a healthy plate includes: lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat or nonfat dairy products.

Here are a few simple ways to pair beef with other ingredients and create nutritious meals for your family.

Frozen vegetables are a freezer staple and help enhance any beef meal. Choose your favorite types and stock-up when there’s a sale. When mealtime approaches, you can grab what you’ve got and add it to any soup, casserole or have it simply as a side to any delicious beef entrŽe.

· Savory spices like chipotle chili powder, cumin and curry will provide lots of flavor in your healthy dishes, while keeping salt and fat to a minimum.

· Fresh or dried herbs, garlic and ginger can be used in so many ways to boost flavor in a healthy recipe. Fresh herbs have a way of making an everyday meal extra special.

· Frozen fruits are a wonderful option to have on hand for sweet endings to any meal. You can either thaw them

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or simply eat them partially frozen for a tasty treat.

Slow cookers can offer a solution to busy days when you don’t have much time to create a meal. I suggest trying this Chilly Day Beef Chili recipe. This recipe would be great for any day of the week, but it would also make a wonderful addition at a party. For more information contact Holly Swee, RD, LN, Director of Nutrition and Consumer Information for the South Dakota Beef Industry Council, 605-224-4722, http://www.sdbeef.org or visit http://www.BeefitsWhatsForDinner.com.

Chilly Beef Day Chili

Total recipe time: On High Setting: 6-1/2 hours; On Low Setting 9-1/2 hours

Makes 6 to 8 servings


2-1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck or round, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cans (15-1/2 ounces each) black beans, rinsed, drained

1 can (15-1/2 ounces) chili-style tomato sauce with diced tomatoes

1 medium onion, chopped

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup prepared thick-and-chunky salsa


Shredded Cheddar cheese, diced red onion, diced green onion, diced avocado and dairy sour cream


1. Combine all ingredients except salsa and toppings in 4-1/2 to 5-1/2-quart slow cooker; mix well. Cover and cook on HIGH 5-1/2 to 6 hours, or on LOW 8 to 9 hours, or until beef is tender. (No stirring is necessary during cooking.)

2. Just before serving, stir in salsa; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through. Serve with toppings, as desired.