Cookbook focuses on quick and healthy dishes

This week, I took up a reader’s offer to be a taste-tester and put her to work. Heather Winnale of Eaton helped me prepare Mango Chicken Salad out of a cookbook of recipes described as simple, nutritious and flavorful.

The book: “The Ultimate Quick & Healthy Book: More than 400 Low-cal Recipes with 15 Grams of Fat or Less, Ready in 30 Minutes” by Better Homes & Gardens; 480 pages, $19.99. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

What you get: More than 400 recipes cover breakfast to lunch to dinner to snacks to entertaining. The chapters are colored-coded and icons indicate which recipes are super fast, no-cook, vegetarian and heart healthy. There’s also a list of top 10 kitchen tips for healthy cooking as well as a list of pantry staples to keep on hand.

In their own words: “As a busy home cook, we know that you are most concerned with two things — the healthfulness of the food you feed your family and how fast you can get it on the table. … (this book) offers a solution to the hurry-up mealtime dilemma with more than 400 fast, fit and flavorful recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less.

What we made:


3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (12 to 16 ounces total)

2 limes

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 cup flaked unsweetened coconut

2 mangos, seeded, peeled and chopped*

Lettuce leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Squeeze juice from 1 lime, set juice aside. Cut the remaining lime into wedges; set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, stir together the lime juice, the coconut milk, soy sauce and crushed red pepper. Add chicken. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Cook, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, stirring occasionally.

3. Meanwhile, spread coconut in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden, stirring once.

4. Transfer chicken and cooking liquid to a large bowl. Add mangoes; toss to coat. Arrange lettuce leaves on serving plates; top with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and serve with lime wedges.

* Jarred fresh mango can be substituted.

Our assessment:

Winnale is a single mom with 16- and 10-year-old sons. She’s also attending Sinclair Community College, where she’s studying business management and entrepreneurship. “I would like to own a small business some day,” she said.

Her dream is to own a coffee shop that offers live music.

Winnale prefers food that is unprocessed and natural. She grew up on a farm near West Alexandria, milking goats, which is “really good for your forearms,” she chuckled.

She has lots of experience in the kitchen as well as on the farm, and has plenty of cooking tips. Her favorite: for pork chops or round steak, add just a little honey and red wine vinegar, which Winnale says helps tenderize the meat.

As for the Mango Chicken Salad, we had no trouble following the directions, opting for jarred mangos instead of fresh. “This is absolutely delicious in my opinion,” Winnale said. “I really do like this meal with all that tropical flavor.”

We agreed that this recipe is great for lunch or a light dinner, but if you want a more substantial version, Winnale recommends serving the chicken mixture on top of brown or wild rice rather than lettuce. Also, if you don’t like mangos, pineapple would do nicely, she thought. We experimented a bit and added a handful of blueberries to our salads, along with a drizzling of locally produced honey. She’s going to try it at home and serve it to her kids.

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