It’s 5:00 PM and you’re having a dinnertime dilemma. After a long day, you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, but you don’t like to rely on take-out or highly processed convenience foods, either. Good news: it takes just minutes to make nutritious and delicious dinners.

Minimize Cooking, Maximize Nutrition
They’re not gourmet by a long shot, but these 10 dinners go a long way in providing the nutrients your heart, brain, and eyes need, and they can help use up leftovers, too.  Unless noted, most recipes serve one.

Stuffed Sweet Potato

Stuffed Sweet Potato:
Microwave a medium sweet potato on HIGH until soft, about 5 minutes, or use a warmed leftover cooked sweet potato. Slice lengthwise. Mash the potato inside in the shell.  Layer with ¼ cup cooked 95% lean ground beef or 100% ground turkey breast mixed with canned, drained black beans. Top with 2 tablespoons of salsa and ¼ cup reduced-fat grated cheddar cheese. Pair with a green salad. 

Tuna Noodle Salad.
Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1⁄4 teaspoon dried basil, and ½ clove garlic, minced.  In a medium bowl, toss 1 cup cooked and cooled whole wheat spiral pasta, 3 tablespoons sliced black olives, a 6 ½-ounce can drained, water-packed tuna, and the dressing. Serve over 1 cup mixed greens. Enjoy with fruit.

Quick Quesadilla

Quick Quesadilla.
Place a 7-inch whole wheat sandwich wrap in a medium skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Layer with 2-3 ounces sliced cooked chicken and 1-2 ounces sliced or shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese. Cover with another 7-inch whole wheat sandwich wrap and toast until the cheese is melted. Serve with steamed frozen broccoli and fruit.

Chili.
In a large skillet, brown 1 pound 95% lean ground beef, breaking it up into very small pieces as it cooks. Drain. Remove from pan and reserve. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to pan. Sauté 1 chopped medium onion and 4 cloves minced garlic for 3-5 minutes.  Add the meat back to the pan along with 1 can each drained and rinsed black beans and red kidney beans, and an undrained 28-ounce can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes. Season with ½ teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon dried oregano.  Heat until boiling then simmer for 5 to10 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Portobello mushroom burger

Portobello mushroom burger.
Brush a large, washed Portobello mushroom cap with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired. Grill or broil until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.  Place cooked mushroom in a whole grain burger bun. Top with sliced cheese, lettuce, and tomato, if desired. Serve with a green salad or fruit.

Mixed Up Soup.
Mix 1 cup canned reduced-sodium lentil soup mixed with 1 cup small cooked pasta, such as orzo. Heat until warm.  Pair with cooked frozen green beans and fruit.

Egg and Spinach Pocket

Egg and Spinach Pocket.
Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to a small nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 lightly beaten eggs and 1 cup raw baby spinach to the pan, and scramble until eggs are cooked.  Place cooked egg mixture in ½ of a 7-inch whole wheat pita pocket.  Top with ¼ cup reduced-fat grated cheddar cheese. Enjoy with a green salad and fruit.

Sautéed Shrimp and White Beans.
Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, 6 ounces uncooked, cleaned shrimp and 1 cup canned white beans (drain) in a medium skillet. Sauté until shrimp are pink. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and fresh ground black pepper. Top with chopped fresh parsley, if desired. Serve with a whole grain roll and fruit.

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup.
Make a grilled cheese sandwich on whole grain bread.  Keep warm. Prepare a can of reduced-sodium tomato soup with low-fat milk instead of water.  Place soup in a large soup bowl. Cut grilled cheese into 1-inch cubes and sprinkle on top of soup like croutons. Have with fruit.

Smoked Salmon Pizza.
Heat oven to 450?F. Spread ¼ cup low-fat ricotta cheese on a warm piece of whole wheat Naan bread, whole wheat tortilla or whole wheat pita bread . Arrange 1 teaspoon drained capers, 6 ounces of smoked salmon, and 1/8 of a red onion, thinly sliced. Bake for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped dill, if desired.  Makes 1 to 2 servings.