If you enjoy cooking and wish to prepare a three-course meal for your family or friends, you may be wondering if there are ways to keep that many courses healthy. If you consider which ingredients and preparation methods you use when cooking, you can present a nutritious and tasty three-course meal that does not cause your guests to consume too much fat or too many calories.
Vegetable Soup, Grilled Chicken, Berries with Sweet "Cream"
A starter of vegetable soup packs plenty of nutrition into the first course. Combine chopped vegetables -- like carrots, celery, corn and potatoes -- with canned tomatoes and low-sodium beef broth. Simmer with your favorite herbs until vegetables are soft. Grilled white meat chicken is packed with protein and iron and can be served with grilled potatoes. Brush chicken and tiny new potatoes with olive oil and grill until they are cooked through. Sprinkle with rosemary and serve warm. Finish the meal with a bowl of fresh blackberries, blueberries and strawberries drizzled with plain yogurt mixed with honey. Yogurt is a nutritious version of cream that also supplies calcium and protein.
Crudites with Salsa, Tacos, Tropical Fruit Bowls
Salsa is a low-calorie starter that supplies vitamin C and fiber. Serve the salsa with chopped crudites, rather than fried tortilla chips, to keep this first course more nutritious. Carrots, celery and bell peppers pair well with the spicy taste of salsa. Tacos are a healthy second course because the meat will supply protein, the cheese is filled with calcium and the vegetable toppings supply fiber and other nutrients. Combine extra-lean ground beef with chopped onions and minced garlic and brown them. Serve the mixture inside warm whole-wheat tortillas topped with tomatoes, lettuce, avocado and low-fat cheddar cheese. A bowl of mango, kiwi and banana sprinkled with cinnamon is a healthy dessert that provides vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium.
Green Salad, Broiled Salmon, Warmed Pears
A green salad is a common first course that can supply fiber and vitamin C. Base your first course on leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce or spinach, which each supply some iron to your meal. Add your favorite vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, cucumber or carrots. Top with lemon juice, salt and pepper, rather than high-fat salad dressing. For the second course, broil a salmon fillet in a baking dish with broccoli florets until it is cooked through. Finish your meal with warmed pears. Slice a pear in half, remove the core and seeds and sprinkle with cinnamon, then broil until warm and soft. A pear will add fiber to your meal.
Bruschetta, Spaghetti, Poached Peaches
Bruschetta is a nutritious first course that can include fiber and vitamin C. Brush whole-wheat bread with olive oil and top with chopped tomatoes and fresh basil. Broil for one or two minutes until warm. Make spaghetti sauce while the pasta is cooking. Combine low-sodium canned tomatoes with chopped green pepper, mushrooms, onions and garlic in a large pot. Add fresh rosemary and basil and simmer until hot and fragrant. Serve over the cooked pasta and sprinkle with a tablespoon of fresh Parmesan cheese. Peaches are as a common finish to traditional Italian meals. Combine white wine with cinnamon in a saucepan. Add unpeeled firm peaches and simmer until they are soft, then slice and serve warm.
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- "Fast, Healthy Food: Tasty, Nutritious Recipes for Every Meal--in 30 Minutes or Less"; Reader's Digest; 2003
- "Every Night Italian"; Giuliano Hazan and Marcella Hazan; 2000
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.