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3 Quick Dinners Without the Fuss

The average American household spends an average of $3,008 a year on dining out. Save some money (and time!) with these quick, nutrient-rich meals from Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital Registered Dietitian Katisha S. Nielsen, RD, LDN, MPH.

Are you among the 90 percent of Americans who don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables? Pair each meal with steamed vegetables like broccoli or leafy greens, and finish with a sweet treat, like a handful of berries or other in-season produce.

Get more healthy recipes at our community cooking programs or by visiting Healthy Eating Roundup.

Lentil Tacos


  • 1 cup dry lentils (can substitute 2 cans of cooked lentils)
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 cup finely minced onion
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • ½ cup salsa
  • Tortillas


1 bag shredded cheese, 1 head romaine lettuce, 1 small container of plain Greek yogurt


  1. Put dry lentils in a saucepan, add enough water to cover the lentils, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes until lentils are tender. Remove lentils from pot, drain and rinse. Set aside. If you use canned lentils, you do not need to cook them. Just drain, rinse and proceed to the next step.
  2. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until soft and translucent.
  3. Add in the reserved lentils, vegetable broth, taco seasoning and salsa.
  4. Mix well, slightly mashing with a potato masher, wooden spoon or fork.
  5. Serve on tortillas with chosen toppings.

Pan-Seared Chicken


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts, sliced in half and pounded thin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • ½ cup chicken broth


  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and brown on both sides in the skillet. Cover, and continue cooking 10 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear. Set aside, and keep warm.
  2. Mix shallots and garlic into skillet over medium heat, and cook until tender. Stir in broth, and continue cooking 5 minutes, or until reduced and slightly thickened. Mix in the remaining butter until melted. Serve the sauce over the chicken.

Heart-healthy Pasta


  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 16-ounce package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
  • 1 16-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced; slices halved
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the package directions.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to fully release into the oil.
  4. Add the broccoli, beans, pepper, 3 tablespoons water, and salt.
  5. Cover and adjust heat to medium. Steam, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, or until the broccoli is hot and the pepper is crisp tender.
  6. Toss the pasta with the vegetables. Top with the Parmesan cheese and fresh pepper. For a spicier flavor, add more garlic and/or pepper.