Squishy Makeover: Fixing Your Squishies #7
What's Your Favorite Time-Saving Ingredient?
"Popcorn"Use it as a quick and healthy substitute for croutons in salad or soup. Throw it on top of a casserole rather than a layer of buttered bread crumbs. Or use it as a sundae topping in place of nuts or candy. It also stretches foods like trail or party mixes, making them lower in calories. Look for brands that are airpopped or popped in olive or canola oil.
--Judith Hill,Prevention's food director
"Roasted green chile sauce"When I'm in a time crunch, I saute whatever fresh vegetables I have on hand, add slices of chicken or steak, and pour the jarred chile sauce over the whole thing. With rice, it's a quick and flavorful meal.
--Marc Meyer, owner/chef of Cookshop in New York City
"Mezze penne"I love this slender, shorter version of penne that cooks in just 7 minutes, compared with 9 to 12 for the regular version. (Every minute counts when you're trying to get dinner on the table!) Its little ridges capture all kinds of sauces.
--Robin Miller, author ofRobin Rescues Dinner
"Canned black beans"Cooking dried beans takes hours, so I always have a few cans of ready-to-eat beans in my pantry. They're delicious as the main protein in a dish like black beans and rice, or they can add fiber, texture, and color when paired with other ingredients--think tomato and black bean soup; a black bean burger; or a corn, black bean, and mixed green salad.
--Marie-Ann Velasco, chef and instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in St. Louis
"Barbecue rub"Make a large batch of this versatile seasoning ahead of time and keep it handy in an airtight container. It lasts for weeks: Mix together 6 parts salt, 4 parts brown sugar, 2 parts chili powder, 2 parts crab-boil seasoning, 1 part dried thyme, and a pinch or two of onion powder. The next time you want to grill meats or vegetables, just bring out the rub and pack in the flavor.
--Josh Feathers, corporate chef at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee
"Frozen edamame"Save yourself some time and effort and buy already shelled organic soybeans in the frozen foods section of your market. Toss them right into the pot or pan without any prep work. They're a tasty and good-for-you side dish drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper--and perfect with a piece of grilled chicken or fish, or in a salad or soup.
--Gordon Drysdale, partner and executive chef at Pizza antica, Mayfield Bakery & Cafe, and Cafe des amis in California
"Cubed butternut squash"I hesitate to pay more for the convenience of prewashed and prechopped vegetables--but I make an exception for butternut squash. Peeling the tough skin and cutting the hard flesh is difficult and takes forever! The ready-to-cook cubes go straight to the stove top, oven, or microwave, and I get to enjoy all of the sweet goodness without the fuss!
--Katie Kackenmeister,Prevention's associate food editor
"Salsa"It's a great shortcut--just a few spoonfuls can make chilis, soups, and stews burst with flavor. If I'm in a hurry, I'll opt for chunky salsa in all kinds of recipes instead of sauteing and seasoning onions, peppers, and tomatoes. For the ultimate time-saving dinner, saute a pound of shrimp or boneless chicken breast. Then add a jar of chunky salsa, a diced mango, and chopped cilantro. Heat through, squeeze on some lime juice, and serve.
--Aviva Goldfarb, author ofThe Six O'Clock Scramble
"Bacon"Sliced bacon takes only about 8 minutes to cook and gives anything amazing flavor. I sometimes use it in a quick potato salad or in sauteed kale. Dice it and sprinkle it over salads--a little goes a long way.
--Erick Williams, executive chef, MK the Restaurant in Chicago
"Frozen bread dough"I love freshly baked bread (who doesn't?), but to save time, I use frozen dough rather than homemade. After thawing, shape it into dinner rolls or twist it up for easy cinnamon rolls. Or stretch it out for a quick pizza crust that has more authentic pizzeria texture than a prebaked pizza shell or dough from a can.
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