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Tuesday, February 05 2008

If you're anything like us, family meals can take too much time. Whether you're working full time, taking care of the kids or simply running errands and enjoying life, finding time to whip up a fresh dinner every night is hard. But if you've been replacing home-cooked meals with too much takeout, you might be putting your health at risk - and your waistline!

Celebrate 2008 by making a resolution to eat well. With homemade dinners that are healthy, easy and never dull, you'll feel better - and look better, too. To get you started, check out these six no-fail tips from our own kitchens: 


  1. Scratch cooking from scratch. Sunday afternoon may be a great time to pore through the cookbook, but for most of us, Tuesday night is not. Instead, try supplementing homemade items with simple, flavorful pre-made sauces and seasonings, so all you have to cook are the basics.



  2. Make your meal plan manageable. If you love to eat gourmet, it's easy to get carried away at the grocery store. Planning out your meals for the week - or at least a couple of days - will help you stay on track when shopping. Otherwise, you could come home with grand plans, expensive ingredients and no time to actually cook!



  3. Shop for versatility. Foods and ingredients with multiple purposes can help streamline your cooking process and make evenings easy. Chicken marinade that serves double-duty as a dipping sauce, bread dipping oils that can just as easily dress a salad and savory sauces that work wonders with both pasta and sandwiches are all ideal additions to your pantry.



  4. Read the labels. All Made In Napa Valley products are all natural, so there's no mile-long ingredient list to sift through. But other products aren't always as simple. When you buy pre-made gourmet items like ravioli and risotto, take a look at the label before you buy. This will let you know which items offer natural, healthy ingredients and which are packed with preservatives, sodium and fat.



  5. Prep in the morning. After a long day, it's hard to come home to a fridge full of unwashed vegetables and packaged meat. To cut down cooking time, try prepping your ingredients in the morning - fill a freezer bag with some easy chicken marinade and some chicken breast, wash and trim vegetables, or simply ensure the kitchen is spic and span. Just 15 minutes in the morning can prevent getting started in the evening from feeling like a chore.



  6. Have a snack! If you come home starving and unable to think, take a moment to have a simple little snack, such as a piece of fresh fruit or some fresh tomatoes drizzled with one of our balsamic vinegar recipes. Not only will you feel better while you cook, but you'll be less likely to overeat at dinner - or worse yet, scratch cooking altogether and head for the nearest drive-thru window.


With these six simple tips, you can make weeknight dinners fun and easy. Chicken marinades, dipping oils, simmer sauces and more from Made In Napa Valley taste great - and are good for you, too. This year, make your New Year's resolution to eat well - the wine country way!

Catherine Bergen is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Catherine was named Woman of the Year in the Specialty Food Business by the North Bay Business Journal in 2007. She also is actively involved in the community and regularly contributes to numerous local charities through time, talents and in-kind donations.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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