Bob Pennell illustration - Bob Pennell illustration

30-minute healthy meals

Running low on time is no reason to reach for packaged foods high in fat and calories, says cooking instructor Barbara Paulson.

Low-fat meals with heart-healthy ingredients can fit within a 30-minute window for preparation, says Paulson. A free class in Grants Pass will show participants how.

Beans, salmon, garlic, cinnamon and whole-grain products are among the foods Paulson plans to incorporate into four dishes Monday, April 7, at Oregon Health Management Services' Community Health Education Center. OHMS hosts four free cooking classes per month with sponsorship from Grocery Outlet.

"We're really conscious of the budget," says Paulson, a retired home-economics teacher.

Equally conscious of health, Paulson has presented classes for weight management and diabetes. Vegetarian cooking is a focus several times per year, along with 30-minute meals

"I taught a class just on kale — using kale," she says.

Kale for this class will be wrapped up with avocado and drizzled with a whipped garlic sauce prepared in a food processor. Paulson says it's a lower-fat alternative to mayonnaise, adding that each of the evening's entrees contains just 5 grams of saturated fat.

Flavor comes from spices, such as cinnamon, touted for supporting a healthy cardiovascular system. A few of the recipes get a kick from jalapenos and salsa, in this case a commercially prepared version to keep kitchen time to a minimum.

Healthy meals in a hurry also are the stuff of a new book by registered dietitian and television personality Ellie Krieger. In "Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less," Krieger recommends that cooks maximize efficiency by reading a recipe all the way through before starting. Then they can develop a good mental picture of the process and gather all the necessary ingredients and tools.

Other ways to speed up cooking time include choosing ground meats and a few carefully selected canned items, such as beans, says Paulson, explaining that she generally wants to provide "an alternative to opening a bunch of cans" for dinner.

Beans are one way to add fiber to the diet, another strategy for safeguarding the heart, says Paulson. Fiber also comes with adding carrots and celery to sauce for whole-wheat spaghetti and heaping cabbage onto a tostada with salmon and black beans.

Paulson's health tips aren't limited to food, either. The 68-year-old Grants Pass resident who does yoga and lifts weights says she also tries to impart the importance of staying active.

Try these recipes from Krieger's "Weeknight Wonders."

Reach freelance writer Sarah Lemon at

Share This Story