When preparing food at home, chef Jeff Tunks finds that his biggest challenge is avoiding routine menus: "It's hard to cook for yourself at home in a way that is not monotonous," he says.
Tunks tries to eat simply and to avoid most processed foods. His family's menus rely heavily on fish and chicken, so he often uses marinades or relishes on the side to add flavor without fat. Tunks marinates chicken in low-fat Italian dressing, then turns it into shish kebabs served alongside steamed rice and a salad. He makes a number of quick relishes, or salsas, from pineapple, mango or black beans, and serves them with grilled fish or chicken and jasmine rice.
Here are other recipes that Tunks relies on for weeknight meals:
Pasta With Marinara, Sausage
To top a modest portion of pasta, Tunks sautés some crumbled or sliced chicken sausage with broccolini or broccoli florets until cooked through, then adds some homemade or high-quality jarred marinara sauce.
Steamed Fish With Vegetables
This is a basic approach that Tunks uses for Asian-style steamed fish with vegetables. It can be adapted easily to use with other vegetables, whether they're julienned snow peas, carrots, scallions or whatever you prefer.
Place some julienned blanched fennel and thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps in a skillet or sauté pan. Top with some fish fillets (such as rockfish, striped bass or salmon) and sprinkle with some peeled, julienned ginger root and, if desired, edamame (fresh soybeans). Add equal parts white wine and low-sodium soy sauce to barely cover the vegetables. Cover pan and either reduce the heat to low and simmer, or transfer the pan to a hot oven until the fish is opaque throughout. Using a spatula, transfer the vegetables and fish to a plate or large soup bowl, return the pan to medium heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced slightly.
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
4 to 6 servings
To lend this light, low-calorie soup more staying power, Tunks adds diced smoked chicken to each bowl just before serving.
1 large (or 2 small) butternut squash
1/4 cup olive oil