Paulette Lambert, director of nutrition for the California Health & Longevity Institute (CHLI) in Westlake Village, says that anybody can master the dinnertime blues and create delicious, family-pleasing meals with a repertoire of 10 simple, healthy recipes.

A Week with the Wellness Kitchen

Five healthy meals you can prepare in under 30 minutes directly from the California Health & Longevity Institute.

Photos by Michael Coons

Chicken Parmesan Marinara Over Pesto Pasta with Roasted Broccoli

Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 1¼ lb. chicken cutlets
3 pieces of whole grain bread (or ½ cup  packaged Italian breadcrumbs)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped, or 1 tsp. dried
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 egg or 2 egg whites, beaten well
Organic olive oil cooking spray
Roasted broccoli  (Recipe to follow)
8 oz. high-protein or whole-grain spaghetti or penne
2 cups marinara sauce, homemade (see below) or a  good-quality jarred sauce
4 slices low-fat provolone cheese or mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp. pesto (homemade or store-bought lite)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

If using whole chicken breasts, pound chicken very thin (⅛-inch) between two pieces of plastic wrap. Add bread to food processor or to blender and process into breadcrumbs. Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, basil, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl. Mix well. In medium bowl, whisk egg with fork. Dip each chicken breast in the beaten egg and transfer to the breadcrumb mixture, patting breadcrumbs on lightly to coat. Transfer breaded chicken to 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Arrange breasts in a single layer. Spray breaded chicken with organic olive oil spray.

Bake chicken 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Prepare roasted broccoli and place in oven with chicken.

While chicken and broccoli are baking, boil water for pasta and cook pasta 7-8 minutes, just until al dente. Drain and toss with 2 Tbsp. lite pesto. Set aside.

When chicken is golden, remove from oven and top each piece with ½ cup marinara sauce and 1 slice of provolone cheese.

Bake 5 more minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve immediately with pesto pasta and roasted broccoli.

Calories per serving: 520 (including chicken, pasta, and broccoli)

Calorie equivalent: 5 oz. protein, 2 carbo­hydrates, 1 fat, 2 vegetable

Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Serves 4

1½ lbs. broccoli florets
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Toss broccoli with olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt on baking sheet. Spread broccoli in single layer. Roast in oven 25-30 minutes until broccoli is slightly browned on edges and tender. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Calories per serving: 80

Calorie equivalent:  2 vegetables, 1 fat

Basic Marinara Sauce

Makes about 6 cups

1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ large onion, diced
½ cup shredded carrots
1 Tbsp. garlic,  minced
½ tsp. dried red pepper flakes
2 28-oz. cans diced plum tomatoes
¼ cup basil leaves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. thyme leaves
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.   Add onion, carrots, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes until sauce has thickened slightly. Add half of the basil and all of the thyme. Carefully blend sauce in blender or food processor in batches. Return to saucepan; season with salt and pepper and garnish with remaining basil.

Calories per serving: 40 per ½ cup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves 4

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. ground chili powder
6 cups reduced-sodium, fat-free organic chicken broth
1½ cups frozen corn kernels
1 15-oz. can Mexican-style chopped tomatoes
2 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
Organic canola or olive oil nonstick spray
4 corn tortillas
2 medium zucchini, ¼-inch diced
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
½ cup low-fat Jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400° F.

To poach chicken, place chicken breast in saucepan, cover with 3 cups of chicken broth and place over medium heat until just boiling.  Turn heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove and place on cutting board to cool.  Slice or shred into bite-size pieces. Reserve poaching liquid.  Meanwhile, in large soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onion, garlic, cumin and chili powder, and sauté until onions are soft (add 1-2 Tbsp. water if necessary). Add the poaching liquid plus the remaining chicken broth, corn, tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, stack tortillas together and slice in ¼-inch strips. Place in a single layer on baking sheet. Lightly coat with canola or olive oil spray. Season lightly with salt. Bake 8-10 minutes or until crisp. Set aside. Add chicken pieces, zucchini and cilantro to soup and simmer for 2 minutes.   Ladle soup into serving bowls, top with tortilla strips and shredded cheese.

Serving size: 2 cups

Calories per serving: 490 

Calorie equivalent: 4 oz. protein, 2 carbo­hydrates, 1 vegetable, 1 fat

Black Bean and Quinoa Bowl with Herbed Harissa

Serves 4

2 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
Juice of ½ lime
4 cups quinoa, cooked
1 cup reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 head of romaine lettuce, shredded
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, chopped
1 avocado, diced Herbed harissa

In a small saucepan heat the black beans, garlic, cumin and lime juice. Keep warm. Add the beans and quinoa to four serving bowls. Top each with ¼ cup cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, avocado and 1 Tbsp. of Herbed Harissa (recipe to follow).

Herbed Harissa

Serves 16

1 cup cilantro, large stems removed
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
2 scallions, roughly chopped
2-3 jalapenos, seeded, roughly chopped
¼ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ cup olive oil, mayonnaise or nonfat Greek yogurt
Sea salt

In a food processor, combine the cilantro, spinach, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, scallions, jalapenos, coriander and cumin. Pulse until combined. Add mayonnaise and process until smooth. If needed, season with salt to taste.

Note: Will keep in refrigerator, covered, up to 3 days.  

Calories per serving: 20

Pasta with Spinach, Egg and Parmesan

Serves 4

8 oz. high-protein or whole-grain spaghetti
1 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 bags baby spinach
2 tsp. garlic, chopped
2 medium vine-ripe tomatoes,
¼-inch diced
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 whole eggs plus
4 egg whites, well beaten
⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil or
1 Tbsp. dried

Cook pasta al dente, drain and keep warm. Add olive oil to sauté pan over medium heat; add crushed red pepper flakes and spinach, sautéing for 2 minutes until spinach is just wilted. Add garlic, diced tomato, salt and pepper, sauté for another minute. Add spaghetti and stir until heated through. Add beaten egg and toss until egg is set. Add parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil, tossing well. Divide pasta among four pasta bowls, top with extra fresh chopped basil if desired.

Calories per serving: 395

Calorie equivalent: 2 oz. lean protein, 2 carbo­hydrates, 1 vegetable 

Lime Glazed Salmon with Wilted Spinach

Serves 4

2 Tbsp. no-trans-fat margarine
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp. garlic, minced
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup lime juice
¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. canola or grape seed oil
4 5-oz. salmon fillets, 1¼ lb.
2 6-oz. bags baby spinach Frozen
Sweet potato fries (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Heat 1 Tbsp. of the margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Add crushed red pepper and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute. Add sugar and whisk until melted and bubbly, about 1 minute. Add lime juice and soy sauce. Increase heat and boil until reduced to about ½ cup. Add dissolved cornstarch; boil until thick, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside. Heat oven-proof sauté pan over high heat for 2-3 minutes until very hot. Add oil and swirl pan to coat. Add salmon fillets (presentation side down) and sear on each side for 3 minutes (do not move around in pan). Spoon 1 Tbsp. sauce on each fillet.  Roast in oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, wipe out any oil left in sauté pan. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. of margarine. When melted, add spinach and toss until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, place wilted spinach on platter and top with roasted salmon. Drizzle with remaining sauce if desired.  Serve with baked sweet potato fries.

Calories per serving: 370 (salmon and spinach)

Calorie equivalent: 4 oz. protein, 1 fat, 1 vegetable

Note:  Salmon fillets can be seared earlier in the day, then covered and refrigerated until ready to roast in oven. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before placing in oven to bring to room temperature.

Sweet Potato Fries

Serves 4 

4 cups frozen sweet potato fries
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½   fresh lime

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Arrange frozen fries in single layer on baking sheet, being careful not to crowd. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned and crisp. Remove from oven. Squeeze lime juice over the top and serve immediately.

Calories per serving: 120

Calorie equivalent: 1 carbohydrate

Pomegranate Iced Tea

Serves 6

A delicious iced tea with the antioxidant power of both the pomegranate and green tea, this is an all-natural thirst-quenching delight and only 25 calories per serving!

6 cups water
5 green tea bags
1 cup Pom juice
Sliced orange and mint leaves (optional)

Heat water in large saucepan to a rolling boil. Turn off heat, add tea bags and steep 10 minutes. Cool tea to room temperature. To serve:  Add ice to large pitcher; pour in green tea and Pom juice. Add sliced orange and mint if desired.

Calories per serving: 25 

Calorie equivalent: ½ fruit

Apple Blueberry Crisp

Serves 8

Organic canola oil cooking spray
6 Granny Smith or Fuji apples, cored and sliced thin
10 oz. frozen blueberries, not thawed
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. orange zest


1 cup rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour (or ¼ cup all-purpose flour plus
¼ cup whole-wheat pastry flour)
⅓ cup no-trans-fat margarine
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Toss apple slices with blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, flour, cinnamon and orange zest in baking dish. Bake 15 minutes.Meanwhile, mix all the topping ingredients in small bowl with fingers until crumbly. Set aside. Remove baking dish from oven and sprinkle topping mixture over hot fruit. Bake 30 minutes or until topping is lightly browned and crisp. Serve warm with lite whipped topping or lite ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Calories per serving: 250

Calorie equivalent: 1 carbohydrate, 1 fruit, 1½ fats

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