5 no-fuss healthy dinners in 20 minutes

Black Bean-Smothered Sweet PotatoesBlack Bean-Smothered Sweet PotatoesI'm trying to regain control of my life (or more specifically, my time). I really don't have time to make complicated dinners, especially since I have a two-hour commute each day. But, being a food-lover, I want a dinner that tastes delicious-without all the time and prep.

This rushed weeknight dinner dilemma, or some variation of it, probably sounds familiar to you too. So to make things a little simpler I've vowed to plan ahead and make weeknight dinners that are ready in 20 minutes or less.

I can feel next week getting lighter already. Here's what's on the menu starting Monday:

MONDAY: If you have a microwave, Black Bean-Smothered Sweet Potatoes are ready in a mere 20 minutes and boast a whopping 450% daily value of vitamin A, plus vitamin C and fiber. Oh, and did I mention they're utterly delicious? Here's the recipe:

Black Bean-Smothered Sweet Potatoes

For a quick and satisfying last-minute supper, it's hard to beat a sweet potato zapped in the microwave. The fragrant filling of beans and tomato adds protein, making it a nutritionally complete entree. Be sure to eat the potato skin; it's full of fiber.

Makes 2 servings

ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes

EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 medium tomato, diced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Microwave on High until tender all the way to the center, 12 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place in a baking dish and bake at 425ºF until tender all the way to the center, about 1 hour.)
2. Meanwhile, combine beans, tomato, oil, cumin, coriander and salt in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave on High until just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. (Alternatively, heat in a small saucepan over medium heat.)
3. When just cool enough to handle, slash each sweet potato lengthwise, press open to make a well in the center and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Top each with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 351 calories; 7 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 6 mg cholesterol; 61 g carbohydrate; 11 g protein; 12 g fiber; 468 mg sodium; 541 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (450% daily value), Vitamin C (45% dv), Iron (15% dv).

TUESDAY: Chicken & Spiced Apples is a perfect fall meal showcasing all the great apples around right now. The chicken is pounded into cutlets that cook up in a snap. I'll just put on some whole-wheat couscous, ready in a mere 5 minutes, to serve it over.

WEDNESDAY: Tuna & Artichoke Salad is perfect on those nights when you want to dirty as few dishes as possible. I'll serve it on my favorite local whole-grain bread with some mixed salad greens. And leftovers will go with us for lunch.

THURSDAY: We eat pasta at least once a week and tonight I'll make Quick Spinach & Tomato Pasta, which uses a can of tomatoes and convenient frozen chopped spinach along with my favorite cheese-feta.

FRIDAY: Tender pork tenderloin medallions are topped with a sweet-and-spicy sauce in Maple-Chili Glazed Pork Medallions. I'll prepare some quick-cooking barley and steam a vegetable to serve on the side.

By Carolyn Malcoun

When associate editor Carolyn Malcoun came to Vermont to attend New England Culinary Institute, she knew she didn't want to work in a restaurant but knew that she wanted to do something in the food industry. Luckily she discovered EatingWell, where she's able to combine her love of food and writing.



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