Joco Diversions

Here’s a healthier take on a one-skillet meal

The idea of a skillet supper is hardly revolutionary.

A staple in many American kitchens since General Mills introduced Hamburger Helper in the 1970s, the classic casserole was a precursor to today’s popular and convenient “meal kits.”

The problem with a meal in a box? From a health standpoint, the veggies are dehydrated specks and the powdered seasoning mixes tend to be high in sodium.

This week The Star’s One-Skillet Italian Meal takes a worthy concept and freshens it up: Add sliced mushrooms (buy them pre-sliced in the produce department), green pepper (buy chopped in the freezer case), fresh zucchini, canned tomatoes and fresh spinach.

Finally, substitute Italian vermicelli for regular noodles. Vermicelli is thinner than spaghetti, and it’s easy to break up the noodles and add them to the pan. They cook through as the meal simmers on the stovetop.

Cooking tips: The ground round used in this recipe was 90 percent lean. We used Healthy Choice reduced-sodium tomato juice.

If the kids aren’t crazy about tomatoes, use kitchen shears to snip the tomatoes (while still in the can) into small pieces that cook down and nearly disappear.