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Menu planner: Sauteed tilapia with cilantro chimichurri will satisfy every time

Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes and sides to try.

Sauteed tilapia with cilantro chimichurri
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Sauteed tilapia with cilantro chimichurri

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For tilapia:

4 (6- to 8-ounce) skinless tilapia fillets, split lengthwise down natural seam

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 lemon, quartered into wedges

For chimichurri:

2 tablespoons hot water

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Sprinkle tilapia with salt and let sit at room temperature 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare chimichurri. Combine in a bowl: water, vinegar and oregano; let stand 5 minutes. Add parsley, cilantro, garlic, salt and red pepper; stir to combine. Whisk in olive oil. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Pat tilapia dry with paper towels. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet on high until just smoking. Add thick halves of fillets to skillet and cook, tilting skillet occasionally to distribute oil, 2 or 3 minutes or until golden brown. Using 2 spatulas, flip fillets and cook 2 or 3 minutes or until second sides are golden brown. Transfer to serving platter. Return skillet to high heat. When oil is just smoking, add thin halves of fillets and cook 1 minute or until golden. Flip and cook 1 minute or until second sides are brown. Serve with lemon wedges and chimichurri

Per serving (tilapia only): 252 calories, 40 grams protein, 10 grams fat (37 percent calories from fat), 1.7 grams saturated fat, no carbohydrate, 99 milligrams cholesterol, 343 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Carb count: 0.

Per serving (chimichurri only): 123 calories, no protein, 14 grams fat (97 percent calories from fat), 1.9 grams saturated fat, 1 gram carbohydrate, no cholesterol, no sodium, no fiber.

Carb count: 0.

Smoky mountain chicken and rice casserole

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat cream of chicken soup

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 cups cooked rice

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together sour cream, soup, chipotles, salt and black pepper until well-blended. Stir in rice, chicken and cheese. Spoon into baking dish. Bake uncovered 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly, then broil 2 to 3 minutes to lightly brown top.

Per serving: 291 calories, 18 grams protein, 11 grams fat (34% calories from fat), 4.9 grams saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, 60 milligrams cholesterol, 621 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 2.

Cajun pecan pork chops

Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes; chilling time: 1 hour

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted (see note)

1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup buttermilk

6 (4-ounce) lean boneless pork loin chops

Process pecans, breadcrumbs, salt, paprika, oregano and cayenne pepper in a blender until pecans are finely chopped. Place flour, buttermilk and pecan mixture into three separate shallow containers. Coat pork chops in flour, dip in buttermilk and coat in pecan mixture. Chill 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange pork on a rack coated with cooking spray. Place rack in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Coat pork evenly with cooking spray. Bake 15 minutes. Turn; coat pork with cooking spray. Bake 5 more minutes or until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Remove from oven and serve.

NOTE: Spread pecans evenly on a flat baking sheet; toast in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden.

Per serving: 266 calories, 25 grams protein, 13 grams fat (46% calories from fat), 3.4 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 195 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 0.5.

Baked chicken

Prepare a large (4 to 6 pounds) baked chicken and serve with roasted fanned potatoes. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel 4 medium baking potatoes and halve lengthwise. Lay cut sides down on cutting board and cut thin slices in a row crosswise (do not cut through). Carefully bend to separate each section, not to break, but to form a fan. In a shallow dish, mix together 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Drizzle the potatoes with 2 more tablespoons olive oil, roll tops of each potato in crumb mixture and sprinkle with paprika. Arrange in baking dish lined with nonstick foil; bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; continue baking 15 minutes or until crumbs are browned and potatoes are tender. Add fresh broccoli florets, a lettuce wedge and dinner rolls.

Meatball tacos

Cook frozen meatballs according to directions. Dice and heat them in canned taco sauce. Spoon into heated taco shells. Top with reduced-fat sour cream and 50% reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Serve with no-yolk buttered-noodles and green beans.