Did you know that according to the NPD Group National Eating Trends database, the average American achieves the recommended dietary guidelines for Americans just seven out of 365 days? Despite what most people think, preparing delicious, well-balanced meals is attainable and doesn’t have to cost a small fortune. There are many ways to achieve balanced nutrition throughout the day, even when you’re not cooking for a family of four or spending hours in the kitchen.
One solution comes in the form of a tool created by NestlÈ called Balance Your Plate. The program provides creative meal plans to encourage more healthful eating through the use of frozen entrees. These culinary-inspired, nutritionist-approved meals are convenient, affordable and aimed to help consumers meet dietary guidelines.
To generate new balanced meal ideas, NestlÈ challenged more than 100 culinary and nutrition professionals to develop recipes that incorporate frozen entrees while keeping taste, health and convenience at the forefront.
Winners include these first place Spinach Artichoke Mini Layered Ravioli Cups (incorporating Lean Cuisine Ravioli), which mimics a delicious multi-layered lasagna in a fraction of the time. Another entry earning top recognition is this Pizza-nella Salad, which presents a fresh way to enjoy cheese pizza.
Spinach Artichoke Mini Layered Ravioli Cups
Prep time: 10-12 minutes
Cooking time: 17-19 minutes
Serving size: 2 (2-cup) servings
2 packages Lean Cuisine Spinach Artichoke Ravioli
1 medium zucchini
1/3 cup marinara sauce, plus 1/4 cup for topping
1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
1 large egg
Dash black pepper, dried basil and dried oregano
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves for garnish
Heat oven to 375ºF and prepare ravioli according to package directions. As ravioli cooks, slice zucchini lengthwise in 1/4-inch strips, then into squares that fit in muffin cup; set aside.
In medium bowl, whisk together marinara sauce, cottage cheese, egg and seasonings. Coat muffin tin with cooking spray and begin layering cups with 1 tablespoon marinara mixture, 1 ravioli, 1 tablespoon of the spinach artichoke sauce and veggies from ravioli package, zucchini squares and mozzarella cheese until muffin cup is full. Top off with 1 tablespoon of mozzarella cheese. Repeat for 4 ravioli cups.
Bake cups for 17-19 minutes, until cheese is melted and begins to bubble. Remove from oven to rest for 8-10 minutes. Using spoon, remove cups and place 2 on each plate, topping with remaining marinara sauce and using parsley leaves to garnish.
Prep and cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Serving size: 2 large entree salads
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 slices (1/3 of pie) prepared DiGiorno 4 Cheese Rising Crust Pizza
4 cups bite-size pieces Romaine lettuce
2 tablespoons basil pesto
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Heat oven to 450ºF. On baking sheet, place tomatoes, onion and garlic, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake 5-7 minutes, or until onions are tender, and remove from oven to cool. Once cooled, slice tomatoes into halves.
Cut pizza into bite-size pieces for croutons. In large bowl, toss lettuce, tomatoes, onion, garlic and pizza with pesto vinaigrette made by combining pesto and red wine vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving to allow bread to absorb dressing. Serve on dinner plate.