Family Meals Matter: Easy weeknight meals


Healthy eating on hectic weeknights might seem like a hassle, but it doesn’t have to be. By planning ahead and having a few key ingredients on hand, you can prepare healthy meals, even dessert in less than 30 minutes.

This week’s featured family meal comes together in a flash. Prepare Ham and Swiss Rosti with Asparagus and Mushroom Salad and Chocolate Ricotta for a healthy meal with plenty of fruits, vegetables and nearly half your daily value of calcium from dairy foods.

For other fast and flavorful weeknight meals, try recipes like Creamy Citrus Pasta, Italian Meatball Soup Apple Yogurt Coleslaw and Apples and Cream Shake. Register for free at to add these and other healthy recipes to your own personalized meal plan and shopping list and be sure to follow @MealsMatter on Twitter.

“Family Meals Matter” features recipes selected by registered dietitians from the thousands of user-contributed recipes available at the free family nutrition and meal-planning website, Meals Matter (, operated by registered dietitians and moms with Dairy Council of California.

SHOPPING LIST (Includes ingredients to make at least four servings of each Featured Family Meal recipe)


1 large egg

1 cup diced ham (about 5 ounces)

1 cup shredded part-skim Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese, divided

1 shallot, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or one-quarter teaspoon dried

One-half teaspoon freshly ground pepper

One-quarter teaspoon salt

4 cups rrozen hash brown potatoes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided


5 ounces asparagus

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

2 teaspoons lemon juice

One-quarter cup honey

2 cloves garlic, crushed

13 ounces mushrooms

5 ounces arugula

One-half cup red bell pepper, chopped


1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

4 tablespoons mild honey

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Ham and Swiss Rosti

1 large egg

1 cup diced ham (about 5 ounces)

1 cup shredded part-skim Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese, divided

1 shallot, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or teaspoon dried

{ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

teaspoon salt

4 cups frozen hash brown potatoes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Beat egg in a large bowl. Stir in ham, { cup cheese, shallot, rosemary, pepper and salt. Add frozen potatoes and stir to combine.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pat the potato mixture into an even round in the pan. Cover and cook until browned and crispy on the bottom, 4 to 6 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Place a rimless baking sheet on top. Wearing oven mitts, grasp the pan and baking sheet together and carefully invert, unmolding the rosti onto the baking sheet. Wipe out any browned bits from the pan. Return it to the heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Slide the rosti back into the pan. Top with the remaining { cup cheese, cover and cook the second side until crispy and browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Slide onto a platter, cut into wedges and serve.

Asparagus and Mushroom Salad

5 oz. asparagus

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

2 teaspoon lemon juice

cup honey

2 cloves garlic, crushed

To taste pepper

13 oz. mushrooms

5 oz. arugula

{ cup red bell pepper, chopped

1. Snap the woody ends form the asparagus spears and cut in half on the diagonal. Cook in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, then plunge into cold water and set aside.

2. Place the mustard, lemon juice, honey, and garlic in a large saucepan and season with pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and add the mushrooms, tossing for 2 minutes. Cool.

3. Remove the mushrooms from the sauce with a slotted spoon. Return the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until reduced and syrupy. Cool slightly.

4. Toss the mushrooms, arugula, and chopped bell pepper together. Put on a plate and drizzle with the sauce.

Chocolate Ricotta

{ cup lowfat ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons mild honey

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

{ teaspoon vanilla

{ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

2. Scoop into small dessert dishes and serve with delicate chocolate curls for an elegant touch.

Other Featured Recipes

Creamy Citrus Pasta

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1 cup evaporated skim milk

1 tablespoons lemon juice

teaspoons orange extract

teaspoons lemon peel

teaspoons orange peel

2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

2-} cups penne pasta, cooked

In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, mix all ingredients except the cheese, pepper, salt and pasta. Stir constantly until heated through. Add the cheese, pepper and salt and heat a few more minutes. Add the sauce to the cooked pasta and serve.

Italian Meatball Soup

1 (18 oz.) package frozen fully cooked Italian-seasoned beef meatballs (about 35 meatballs)

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1 can diced tomatoes

1 (14 oz.) can ready-to-serve beef broth (approximate size)

1 cup water

1/3 cup uncooked ditalini OR small shell pasta

Shredded parmesan cheese

1. Combine meatballs, vegetables, broth, tomatoes, water and pasta in large saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 8-10 minutes or until pasta is tender.

2. Serve with cheese, as desired.

Apple Yogurt Coleslaw

8 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1 } pounds)

4 cups chopped unpeeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 medium)

1 cup coarsely shredded carrot

1/3 cup reduced-calorie mayonnaise

1 (8-ounce) carton plain low-fat yogurt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon celery seeds

{ teaspoon salt

teaspoon pepper

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; toss well and set aside.

Combine next 7 ingredients in a bowl; stir well. Pour over cabbage mixture; toss gently. Cover and chill 8 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 16 ({ cup) servings or 8 one cup servings

Apples and Cream Shake

2 cup vanilla low-fat ice cream

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

teaspoon ground cinnamon or apple pie spice

1 cup fat-free skim or 1 percent low-fat milk

Ground cinnamon (optional)


In a blender container combine low-fat ice cream, applesauce, and the teaspoon cinnamon or apple pie spice. Cover and blend until smooth. Add fat-free skim or 1 percent low-fat milk. Cover and blend until just mixed. Pour into glasses. If desired, sprinkle each serving with additional cinnamon. Serve immediately. Makes 4 (8-ounce) servings.