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By: Rosemary Collins, RDN

Grown Up Macaroni and Cheese with Butternut Squash (Cabot Creamery)There is nothing nicer than having a neighbor or friend call round with a hot, delicious, ready prepared meal when you are unable to cook!

Having a “friends roster” for meals with each person volunteering to prepare for one night during the week makes for good planning and helps to co- ordinate the week.

Cooking for a friend and then eating together can also be a nice way to keep your friend company, especially if they if they are alone.

There is nothing better than the taste of familiar or comfort foods when feeling out of sorts - so it’s a great idea to chat to you friend to check if they have any particular favorites. Also if they have any special dietary needs which might need a little adjustment to the menu.

I have put together some of my favorite recipes for meals that are easy to prepare. They are also healthy, reheat if needed, travel well and taste good!

Everyone loves a homemade “mac and cheese” this recipe adds the delicious taste of acorn squash….

Grown Up Macaroni and Cheese with Acorn Squash

Serves 6

Ingredients:
4 cups acorn squash, about 1¼ pounds
2 cups macaroni (try using wholegrain for a healthier option)
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon canola oil, divided
2 shallots, chopped
3 cups 2% milk, divided
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
6 ounces white sharp cheddar shredded (about 2 cups) 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs (white or whole-wheat)
½ teaspoon paprika

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Meanwhile steam or microwave squash until tender, about 10 minutes. Mash half the squash in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook macaroni 2 minutes less than package instructions. Drain and set aside.
4. Heat 1-tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often until softened and starting to brown 1-3 minutes. Add 2 cups of milk and bring to a simmer. Whisk the remaining 1-cup milk, mustard, rosemary, white pepper and salt in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk in the flour mixture into the simmering milk until it thickens. Remove from the heat.
5. Whisk the cheese into the thickened milk mixture until it is melted. Add the mashed squash and whisk until combined. Stir in the macaroni and the remaining squash. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish.
6. Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining 1-teaspoon oil. Add the paprika and stir evenly until moist and bright orange. Sprinkle over the macaroni. Transfer to the oven and bake until bubbling and browned on top about 10-15 minutes . Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with green beans, or broccoli.
Can be portioned up into entrée serving dishes if you wish, so there is an extra meal to go in the freezer as well as one for dinner!

Carrot Coriander SoupSoups are always good for light and quick meals – use your favorite recipe, bring out your best chicken noodle or for something a little different try this.

Carrot and Coriander Soup (Sainsbury’s)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1-tablespoon olive oil
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
Pinch of cumin
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 pints vegetable or chicken stock
1 lb. carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped plus a few sprigs to garnish
Vegetable chips to garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until softened.
2. Add the cumin red pepper flakes if desired and cook stirring for a further 1 minute.
3. Add the vegetable stock and carrots and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the carrots are cooked thoroughly.
4. Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the chopped cilantro then ladle into serving container.

Serve hot with warm whole wheat bread.

Pairing a nice fresh salad with a light soup makes a nice combination. Here is one you might like to try which is quick and easy and can also be used as a meal on its own.

YogurtLast but not least everyone likes something sweet to eat!

Fresh Fruit Parfait
This is a parfait that can be eaten any time of day, breakfast or dessert!
It takes just a few minutes to prepare, looks wonderful served in a small glass and is packed full of good nutrition.

Serves one:

Take 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (2% fat or fat free for lower calories)
2 tablespoons of fresh fruits, blueberries, raspberries, peach or drained tinned fruits in natural juice
1 tablespoons of granola

Directions:

Place Greek yogurt in glass or cup
Top with fruits of your choice and sprinkle with granola.
Place in fridge.
Tastes delicious for a dessert or snack!

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