Serve up healthy meals in no time

Little time is no excuse to head out for fast food. A healthy and flavorful meal can be prepared in 30 minutes or less with the help of Food Network's Rachel Ray and her new cookbook, "Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Get Real Meals: Eat Healthy Without Going to Extremes." In her world, carbs and other goodies that are lately out of fashion are still allowed in moderation. She was invited on "Today" to share her recipes.

There are many flavors of sharp Cheddar out in today’s markets to choose from, so go plain or go wild! Among the choices out there in sharp Cheddars: five-peppercorn, smoked, dill, garlic and herb, roasted garlic, horseradish, chipotle, habanero, jalapeño — on and on!

Haricots Frites
Servings:

4 regular servings or 2 super-sized servings

Ingredients

    • Salt
    • 1-1⁄4 pounds (4 large handfuls) haricots verts (thin green beans), trimmed
    • 2 tablespoons light-colored oil, such as vegetable oil or peanut oil
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Bring 2 inches water to a boil in a large skillet. Salt the water once it comes to a boil. Blanch the haricots verts in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and run under cold water to cool. Pat the beans dry on paper towels.Dry the skillet as well and return it to the heat over high flame. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the beans to the hot oil and stir-fry, using tongs to move and toss the beans until they are charred and very hot, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle the beans with the sesame seeds and cook for 30 seconds more, to both toast the seeds and distribute them. Pile the fried beans onto a serving plate and sprinkle with salt to taste.

Smoked Gouda Fondue With Bacon and Almonds
Servings:

4 servings

Ingredients

    • 6 slices thick-cut bacon
    • 8 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded
    • 1⁄3 pound (about 6 ounces) smoked Gouda, shredded
    • 1 rounded tablespoon flour
    • 1 large garlic clove, smashed out of its skin
    • 3⁄4 cup dry white wine
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1⁄2 cup smoked almonds (I like Diamond brand), coarsely chopped
    • Serve with:
    • Blanched bite-size pieces of cauliflower, white asparagus, parsnip
    • Seared cubes of kielbasa
    • Cornichon pickles
    • Red pears, slightly underripe

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Broil or fry the bacon until crisp. Drain, cool, and chop. Combine the cheeses in a bowl with the flour. Rub the inside of a small pot with the smashed garlic, then discard the garlic. Add the wine and lemon juice to the pot and bring up to a bubble over medium heat. Reduce the heat to simmer and add the cheese mixture in handfuls. Stir constantly in a figure-eight pattern with a wooden spoon, melting the cheese in batches. Transfer the fondue to a fondue pot and top with chopped bacon and smoked nuts.

Stuffed Roasted Strawberries
Servings:

4 servings

Ingredients

    • 12 extra-large strawberries (the bigger the better!)
    • 1 to 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
    • Spray whipping cream (the real kind in the can in the dairy section)
    • Cocoa powder, for garnish

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the tops of the berries off just below the stem. Cut the tips off (about 1⁄4 inch), so that the berries will sit upright. Next, use a small spoon or a melon-ball scoop to hollow out the strawberries, working from their tops, to create a cavity in each one. Stuff some chocolate into the cavity of each strawberry and place them upright in a baking dish. Lightly sprinkle the berries with sugar, if using. Roast the berries until soft and the chocolate is melted, 10 to 12 minutes.

Serving Directions:

To serve, place 3 strawberries on a dessert plate in a triangle. If the berries have given off liquid in the baking dish, spoon it over them. Spray a small mound of cream in the center of the berries, and top each berry with a rosette of cream. Sift a little cocoa powder over the plate, and serve!

Excerpted from “Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Get Real Meals: Eat Healthy Without Going to Extremes,” by Rachael Ray. Copyright © 2005 by Rachael Ray. Published by Crown Publishing Group. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.

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