5 quickie dinners

Even though I'm around food all day (literally, I try at least 8 things made in the EatingWell Test Kitchen each day), I still want to have a healthy dinner at home. With our busy schedules (my fiancé is in his last year of law school and I commute 2 hours every day), getting something on the table fast is the only option. So I've put together a collection of my favorite dinner recipes that are ready in 30 minutes or less, which leaves time for other fun things.

These aren't boil-some-pasta-and-toss-with-jarred-marinara kind of dinners, although I do that sometimes too! These dinners incorporate whole grains, fresh vegetables and lean protein into a healthy, delicious meal.

My go-to weeknight dinners:

Refreshing Chicken & Fruit Salad is perfect when you have leftover chicken in the refrigerator. Use whatever fruit you have on hand-even bananas are great!

Active time: 15 minutes | Total: 15 minutes

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
3 tablespoons fruit-flavored vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 cups mixed salad greens
2 cups sliced cooked chicken breast
2 cups chopped melon, such as cantaloupe and/or honeydew
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Whisk sour cream, vinegar, sugar, poppy seeds, salt and pepper in a large bowl until smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup of the dressing in a small bowl. Add the mixed greens to the large bowl and toss to coat. Divide among 4 plates and top with chicken, melon, walnuts and feta. Drizzle each portion with 1 tablespoon of the reserved dressing.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 248 calories; 11 g fat (4 g sat, 2 g mono); 55 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrate; 21 g protein; 4 g fiber; 346 mg sodium; 371 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (140% daily value), Vitamin C (50% dv). 1 Carbohydrate Serving. Exchanges: 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 2 fat.

Chili-Rubbed Steaks & Pan Salsa-Who doesn't love steak for dinner? Any cut of steak will work for this recipe, but we especially like the flavor and texture of rib-eye with these seasonings; look for steak that has been thinly cut. A cold ale, sweet potato fries and vinegary coleslaw can round out the meal.

Mahogany-Glazed Chicken-A fragrant combination of tea, pineapple juice and spices comes together in a delicious sauce for this chicken and vegetable stir-fry. Serve over jasmine rice with wilted spinach.

Shrimp & Cheddar Grits-The South's version of creamy polenta, grits are easy to make on a weeknight-especially when topped with quickly broiled shrimp and scallions. Sometimes I double the grits so I can have some for breakfast the next day. YUM!

Southwestern Tofu Scramble-Cooking crumbled firm tofu in a skillet approximates the fluffy texture of scrambled eggs in this vegetable-studded, vegetarian main dish. Enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Serve with steamed corn tortillas, some extra salsa and black beans.

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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