It’s 5 o’clock summer-where: Dinner Dishes

It’s five o’clock somewhere and that means it’s dinner time!

Who’s with me? You get home from work and it’s still light out, so you want to walk the dog, putz around in your yard, or maybe sit on the patio with a magazine and a glass of some chilled Pinot Noir? All of that sounds like the perfect after work evening at home during the summer, but if you’re also with me—you don’t want to be eating your dinner at 8:30 at night either. (Hello trying not to eat after 7pm!!)

So, I’m sharing my easy-to-prep, “who follows a recipe?” summer dishes that you can whip up in about 20 minutes. I don’t have a grill (I’d love one but I’d also love if my husband wanted to grill… and he doesn’t, sorry Cory!) so all of these recipes you can make on the stove top with a single skillet. #Legit

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1- Thin-sliced chicken breasts, zucchini and avocado: I used to always see thin-sliced chicken breasts at the market and thought it was dumb. Now, I buy them all the time! This chicken is usually priced a little less per pound and takes a few minutes to cook through.

Start with some olive oil and garlic in your skillet, let it warm up. Season your chicken with some salt, pepper, basil, oregano, lemon pepper and whatever other type of spice you feel like using, lay down and let each side cook for about 5 minutes. Take out of the pan and set aside, and next, slice your zucchinis and sauté them in the same skillet without wiping it out. This allows you to use the existing oil and chicken fat to add that savory-ness without any extra calories from oil!

After the zucchini is softened and a tad browned, your meal is ready! Last step is to smash some avocado, add some lime or other toppers and voila! With this you’re getting around 30g of protein from the chicken; fiber, vitamins and minerals from the zuc and avocado. Then bonus—the omega3 healthy fats in the avocado are helping you to stay full and satisfy sugar cravings! All this for about 400 calories leaves some room in your caloric budget for a wine or Reese’s…just sayin’.

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2- Hot Sausage and peppers:  I love hot Italian sausage (so does hubby) and it’s actually a lot less calorie dense than you would expect. Again, get a skillet out, you can skip the olive oil this time and just throw the links in the pan! Sauté until brown, I actually like to cut a little slit in my sausages to let some of the oily fats escape and to help it cook through quicker. When they’re just about finished, I cut some rainbow peppers into chunks and throw them in to the same skillet and using the existing oil, cook until they are tender and fragrant! Use some salt & pepper and you’ve got dinner for another 400 calories or less.

3- Mediterranean Salad: Tabbouleh (whole foods has the best), hummus and naan bread. Enough. Said. Whole Foods has a delicious container of fresh Mediterranean tabbouleh salad for about $6 and it lasts for a couple of weeks. This is one of my go-to chilled dinners because it’s quick, cheap and bursting with flavor.

You can throw together some lettuce, spring mix, spinach, kale, whichever you have in the fridge, add a scoop of tabbouleh, dice up some tomatoes or any other remaining veggies and toss with some olive oil and lemon juice.

It is so flavorful and the couscous and chopped herbs in the tabbouleh gives your salad texture and crunch… This is so not rabbit food people! Spoon some fresh hummus on the side and serve with a hunk of warm naan bread. You’ll be full all afternoon for around 300 calories.

4- Pork Fried Rice: Again, another bargain buy at most grocery stores.

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I buy plain pork chops and stick them in a baggie with some soy sauce, garlic and Sriracha before I go to work to tenderize the chop a bit. When I get home, I make some quick Minute rice and then turn my attention to those chops! After many hours of marinating in my homemade sauce, I simply fry the pork in a skillet (with no oil because the marinade serves that purpose) until they’re just a tad pink on the inside, slice and set aside.

Return to the skillet, add in some frozen mixed vegetables. (I like a corn, peas, green beans and carrots medley) and heat for a few minutes. By then the rice should be finished and you can dump that into the skillet with the veggies and let things burn a bit to get crispy. You do need to use a quick drizzle of sesame seed oil and red pepper oil to add that Asian flavor to the dish. Add more soy sauce and Sriracha until it’s the level of salt and spice you’re after and mix the pork in to the rice. Serve while it’s still steamy! This skillet special gives you all that Chinese food joy with out the guilt! About 425 calories per serving. If you really want to up the protein, you can also include a jammy egg.

5- Turkey Tacos: We love tacos at my house and if you think about it, you can really put anything in a taco and have it taste good. Our favorite is some ground turkey tacos on a soft flour shell with all the fixin’s! Yeehaw!

Get a pound of ground turkey, 80% or leaner and brown in a skillet. I make my own taco seasoning to cut down on the salt that’s in the packaged seasonings. Equal parts cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and some oregano and crushed red pepper flakes is usually the basics, then some sea salt to taste and you’re set. I usually do about ¼ teaspoon of each spice, but we don’t measure sh*t here remember!?

Once the turkey is browned, add the spices to the skillet and a little bit of water, combine and bring to a simmer until it looks like a dark chili consistency.

For toppers, try anything! Get creative! We love the sweetness of pineapple “el pastor” on our tacos. Avocado, lettuce, pico, Cholula hot sauce, tomatoes, maybe some cheese if we’re feeling frisky. I’ve even made seasoned zucchini to add more mass to the tacos without adding the calories.

Stuff your shells or tortillas to your hearts delight and fiesta!. For two soft tacos, it’s about 500 calories.

Also, PSA I am not a nutritionist or a Michelin star chef, just like to play in my kitchen.

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