Cooking doesn’t have to be time-consuming, challenging, or expensive, according to

The trick is stocking up on some simple yet versatile staples:

1. whole-wheat pasta

2.  beans

3. frozen mixed vegetables (especially broccoli)

4.  boneless and skinless chicken breasts

5. frozen fruit

6. canola oil

7. brown rice

8. oatmeal

9. low-fat cheese

10.  egg substitute.

These basic ingredients are easy to store and Beth Thayer, MS, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, any cook can make healthy recipes like the following:

Whole-Wheat Pasta With Steamed Vegetables – steam vegetables (try an assortment of broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, and snow peas) while preparing the pasta according to package directions. If the vegetables are large, chop them up. Toss together and add some marinara sauce - the veggies will add texture to the sauce.

Vegetable Chicken Bake - cut vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and yellow or green squash, into bite-size chunks and bake with boneless and skinless chicken breasts seasoned with Italian herbs. If you don’t have fresh vegetables on hand, use mixed vegetables from the freezer. If you must add canola oil sparingly.

Hearty Vegetable Soup - filling, nutritious, and comforting on a cold night. Add a can of black or white beans from the  pantry and vegetables from the freezer to canned soup. Serve with whole-wheat bread and low-fat cheese.

Veggie Wrap With Whole-Wheat Tortilla - roast vegetables, such as green and red peppers, onions, and zucchini, in the oven with a dash of canola oil. Canola oil is one of the 10 essential recipe ingredients because it doesn’t have olive oil’s strong flavor, so it won’t distract from the taste of any other ingredients. Roll veggies and low-fat cheese up in tortilla.

Brown Rice With Veggies and Beans – fold steamed vegetables and red beans into brown rice and sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs. Fox extra protein sauté strips or cubes of skinless and boneless chicken breasts in a small amount of canola oil and serve on top of the rice and beans.

Chicken Frittata - egg substitute can be used in any recipe that calls for eggs. Sauté 1 cup broccoli florets, 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken breast, 1/4 cup chopped tomato, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, and a dash of salt. Add 1 cup of egg substitute and cook until set, then brown under the broiler.

Oatmeal-Crusted Chicken - mix ground oatmeal with breadcrumbs to coat boneless chicken breasts. Sauté in canola oil. Top breasts with low-fat mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce and bake until the cheese melts. Also reach for oatmeal when  thickening soups and casseroles. Another idea: Swap one-third of the flour in healthy recipes for baked goods with quick or old-fashioned oats.

Chicken Stroganoff - for low-fat stroganoff sauce, mix 16 ounces fat-free sour cream, 1 package of dry onion soup mix, and a 10.5-ounce can of low-fat or 98 percent fat-free cream of chicken soup. Pour over 5 chicken breasts cut into bite-size pieces. Cook in a crock pot for about 5 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice or whole-wheat noodles, cooked according to package directions. Serves six. With a salad, you have a healthy meal that tastes rich and delicious.