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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Pesto Chiken

Five Ingredient Fix


If you're an enthusiastic cook, you probably don't even think twice when preparing a recipe that has twenty different ingredients and numerous steps. However, if you're not as comfortable in the kitchen, a large recipe like that may be very intimidating. Recipes with shorter lists of ingredients do have their advantages. Generally, the fewer the ingredients, the fewer the dollar bills you shell out at the grocery store. Plus, you commonly save time preparing and cooking the food, and in some cases you have less dishes to wash!

If you're new to cooking, or you're just short on time and energy, consider looking for recipes with about five ingredients or less. Generally, these include easy cooking techniques, such as skillet cooking or baking. Of course, a simplified recipe does come with a few challenges. Some recipes may rely on convenience, packaged foods that can increase calories, added sugar, sodium, and saturated and trans fats. When using these foods, read and compare food labels between brands to pick the one with the best nutritional value.

As a part of the National Money Smart Week program, I'll be teaching "Cutting Meal Time Prep and Costs with Five Ingredients or Less" on Monday, April 25 from 3-4 p.m. at the Towanda Library, 301 S. Taylor St. in Towanda. You'll watch a cooking demonstration and receive a recipe booklet to take home. To register for this free program, email me at jesmith6@illinois.edu or call 309-663-8306.

Baked Pesto Chicken Printable PDF

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

½ cup prepared pesto

1 large tomato, sliced

½ cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking dish. Cut each chicken breast in half. Place in a bowl and toss with pesto. Place chicken into baking dish and cover with foil. Bake 20-25 minutes or until chicken reaches a minimum temperature of 165°F. Remove foil. Top chicken evenly with tomato slices and cheese. Bake uncovered 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted. May serve over whole wheat pasta or between a whole wheat bun.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 320 calories, 16 grams fat, 144 milligrams sodium, 5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber



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