By: C Howard

Check out these delcious and healthy meals

Risotto Primavera

The ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

3 cups (2 inch) diagonally cut asparagus

2 cups chopped yellow squash

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup water

1 (32-ounce) carton fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

2 cups chopped leek

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme

How to prepare:

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and next 4 ingredients; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Set aside; keep warm.

2. Bring water and broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

3. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leek; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 1/2 cups broth mixture; cook 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Stir in 1/4 cup cheese and thyme.

4. Top risotto with vegetables; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

Pumpkin Dip

Ingredients Needed:

3/4 cup (6 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

How prepare:

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add syrup and cinnamon, and beat until smooth. Cover and chill 30 minutes before serving.

for your toddler: Serve the dip with peeled apple slices, banana slices, or cinnamon pita chips.

Love Your Lima Beans Dip

Ingredients needed:

1 pound frozen baby lima beans

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 garlic clove

How to prepare:

1. Cook beans in boiling water 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

2. Place sesame seeds in a blender; process until finely ground. Add juice and remaining ingredients; process until blended. Add beans and 1/2 cup reserved liquid; process until almost smooth, scraping sides of blender occasionally.

for your toddler: Serve the dip with tender raw vegetables like pea pods and cucumber halves or slightly steamed carrot sticks and broccoli florets.

Asian Peanut Dip

Ingredients needed:

1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup reduced-fat, firm silken tofu

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 garlic clove, crushed

How to prepare:

1. Place all ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

for your toddler: Serve the dip with tender raw vegetables like pea pods and cucumber halves or slightly steamed sugar snap peas, carrot sticks, and broccoli florets.

nutrition note: peanut butter facts

Whether spread on a piece of whole-grain bread or an apple slice, peanut butter makes a satisfying meal or snack in a matter of minutes. Part of the reason it's so satisfying is because each tablespoon of peanut butter contains about 4 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat, most of which is heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. When buying peanut butter, be sure to choose one labeled "natural" to avoid the trans-fatty acids that come from partially hydrogenated oils, which can increase the LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels in your body. Another bonus—natural peanut butter has much less added sugar and salt.

Mediterranean Salmon Salad

Ingredients needed:

1/2 cup uncooked orzo

2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Cooking spray

2 cups torn spinach

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped green onions

4 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

How to prepare:

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

3. Sprinkle salmon evenly with salt, oregano, and black pepper. Place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes; break into bite-sized pieces with 2 forks.

4. Combine pasta, salmon, spinach, and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; toss well.

for your toddler: Omit the black pepper from the fish. Toss a spoonful of hot orzo with a small handful of torn spinach until the spinach wilts and the mixture is cool. Shred a small amount of salmon and add it to the mixture. Add olives and cheese, if desired.

Sweet-and-Sour Chicken

Ingredients needed:

4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided

5 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided

1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 2 x 1/2–inch-thick pieces

1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 tablespoons ketchup

2 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons chile paste

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon canola oil, divided

1 cup (1/2-inch) diced onion

1 cup (1/2-inch) diced green bell pepper

1 cup (1/2-inch) diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup (1-inch) slices green onions

1 cup (1/2-inch) diced fresh pineapple

How to prepare:

1. Combine 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce, and next 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken; stir well to coat. Set aside.

2. Combine broth, remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch, remaining 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, brown sugar, and next 4 ingredients.

3. Heat 1/2 teaspoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and next 3 ingredients to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Transfer to a bowl.

4. Heat remaining 2 1/2 teaspoons canola oil in pan. Add chicken mixture to pan, and spread in an even layer; cook, without stirring, 1 minute. Sauté an additional 3 minutes or until chicken is done.

5. Return vegetable mixture to pan. Add soy sauce mixture and pineapple, stirring well to combine. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly.

for your toddler: Omit the chile paste; adults can sprinkle red pepper flakes over their portions. Cut a piece of chicken and a spoonful of vegetables into small pieces. Serve it over rice in a small bowl or on a rimmed plate.

Chipotle Pork Soft Tacos with Pineapple Salsa

Ingredients needed:

2 cups minced pineapple

1 cup minced apple

1/4 cup minced shallots

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

How to prepare:

1. To prepare salsa, combine first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir until well blended. Cover and chill.

2. To prepare tacos, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 2 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes or until pork is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth and next 7 ingredients. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Uncover; simmer 10 minutes or until liquid is nearly evaporated.

3. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Serve pork mixture with tortillas and salsa.

for your toddler: When making the salsa, cut extra fruit into small bite-sized pieces for baby. Omit the black pepper and chipotle peppers; after removing the baby's pork, parents can add peppers at end of simmering in Step 2. Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces. Serve the pork and fruit pieces as finger foods on a plate with a warmed corn tortilla.

Pork and Squash Stir-Fry

Ingredients needed:

5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 pounds)

2 tablespoons peanut oil

2 tablespoons coarsely grated orange rind

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, broken

1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 2-inch strips

2 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped green onions

How to prepare:

1. Place squash in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add water to a depth of 1 inch. Cover with plastic wrap; vent. Microwave at HIGH 8 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add orange rind, ginger, and cinnamon stick pieces; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove and discard cinnamon stick pieces.

3. Increase heat to medium-high. Add pork to pan, and sauté 4 minutes or until browned. Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Add sugar mixture to pan; cook 2 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Add squash; tossing to coat. Stir in green onions.

for your toddler: Reserve 3 or 4 cubes of squash following Step 1.

Sauté 1 strip of pork in a separate pan until done.

Cut the squash into bite-sized pieces, and shred the pork.

Serve the pork and squash with rice.

Zucchini with Corn and Cilantro

Ingredients needed:

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 pound zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

How to prepare:

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and corn; cook, stirring occasionally, 7 minutes or until zucchini is crisp-tender.

2. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro and remaining ingredients.

Grilled Pesto Sandwiches

Ingredients needed:

1 (6 oz) package sliced Mozzarella cheese, cut into thirds
8 (1-inch thick) slices Italian Bread
1/4 cup Pizza sauce (I use ready-made)
1/4 cup Pesto sauce (again, ready-made)
20 slices Pepperoni
2 tablespoons Butter or Margarine, softened

How to prepare:

1. Arrange one cheese slice on each of four slices of bread; spread evenly with pizza sauce. Top each with another cheese slice, and spread evenly with pesto sauce. Arrange 20 pepperoni slices over pesto sauce; top with remaining cheese slices and remaining bread slices.
2. Spread half of butter on tops of sandwiches. Invert sandwiches onto a hot nonstick skillet or griddle, and cook over medium heat until browned. Spread remaining butter on ungrilled sides of sandwiches; turn and cook until browned. Serve immediately.

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Video on tips for making healthy for your toddler.

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