Healthy Dinner’s Your Kids Will Love

 

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One of the more common challenges we hear about when trying to eat well is managing picky eaters. It can be difficult when you’re trying to stick to your healthy foods, but all your kids will eat is warm, buttery pasta.

Instead of trying to either make two meals (salmon and Brussels for you, pasta for the kids) or only eating what your kids will eat (frozen pizza for all), try meeting in the middle. With these healthy, yet kid friendly recipes, you can enjoy dinner as a family.

Here are our top 10 family friendly dinner recipes:

  1. The Ultimate Better-For-You Butternut Squash Mac N’ Cheese: Skip the butter and orange powder in this plant based comfort food dish you kids will love. Pair with a veggie or salad and a protein like roast chicken for a complete meal.
  2. Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup: Top this slow cooker recipe with a dollop of Greek yogurt and avocado and you’ve got  hearty dish you can all enjoy.
  3. Turkey Sloppy Joes Over Zucchini Noodles: A healthier take on spaghetti and meatballs for the pasta lovers in your family.
  4. Breakfast For Dinner: While you can do breakfast for dinner 100 different ways, we love these eggs fried in a bell pepper for a fun shape you kids will adore.
  5. Mini Meatloaves: Mini anything and your young ones will be requesting seconds. We love this recipe with simple, whole food ingredients.
  6. DIY Burrito Bowls: Meals that allow for customization without extra prep work mean everyone can “have it their way”.
  7. Baked Paleo Chicken Tenders: This version of a kid favorite uses almond flour and coconut for a more sophisticated take on chicken fingers. Pair with a veggie and salad and dinner is complete.
  8. Pesto Spaghetti Squash Pasta: You can hide greens and veggies in a pesto sauce and call spaghetti squash “pasta” and no one will complain about a plateful of vegetables.
  9. Sweet Potato Pasta with Almond Butter Sauce:  All the noodle-y goodness of a bowl of pasta without skimping on the vegetables.
  10. Coconut Red Lentil Peanut Soup: Sweet and warming, kids and adults alike will love this recipe.

What are your favorite, healthy family meals? We’d love to hear! Head on over to Facebook and let us know.

Chicken Zoodle Soup

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Comforting and healthy. Makeover your homemade chicken noodle soup recipe with these 3 simple swaps for an upgraded version of this classic, cozy meal.

  1. Swap zucchini noodles (a.k.a zoodles) for traditional pasta noodles. Replacing flour noodles with a vegetables makes a lower calorie, nutrient packed bowl of soup. We suggest this spiralizer to turn everything from zucchini to sweet potato into noodles. You could easily use parsnip or turnip noodles in this recipe too.
  2. Swap homemade bone broth for store bought.  Traditionally, chicken soup is made with bone broth. (Bone broth is made from simmering bones in water for a long period of time until a broth has formed). This broth is higher in protein, beneficial collagen and lower in sodium than any store bought variety. Read more about how bone broth has been shown to inhibit infection, promote strong bones and fight inflammation. If you’re new to making bone broth, try using a crock pot and following these tips from Bon Appetit. The easiest way to make homemade chicken broth is to use the leftovers from a whole roast chicken (that way you don’t have to pre roast the bones).
  3. Add herbs and aromatics. A squeeze of lemon or garnish of fresh basil can turn a simple recipe into a bright and flavorful soup. Most herbs, spices and aromatics are packed with vitamins and minerals. Adding them to your cooking improves both flavor and nutrition.

Ingredients
2 organic chicken breasts (or about 3 cups shredded chicken)
2 tablespoons organic butter (or sub olive oil)
1 tsp herbs de provence
1/2 onion
3 carrots
2 cloves garlic
4 cups homemade chicken bone broth
1 cup frozen peas
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 zucchini

Instructions
  1. Chop onions, carrots and garlic
  2. Heat pan and melt butter in large soup pot or dutch oven.
  3. Saute onions, carrots until onions are clear, then add garlic and herbs and sauté until fragrant (few minutes)
  4. Add broth and chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through. (If using chicken that’s already cooked and shredded, add to pot and skip to step 6)
  5. Remove chicken and shred with a fork.
  6. Add peas. Simmer until soft (5 minutes)
  7. Meanwhile, use a spirlizer to make the zucchini noodles
  8. Add shredded chicken and zucchini noodles
  9. Let simmer for 10 more minutes
  10. Add lemon juice, zest
  11. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh herbs

Recipe and photo: momowellness.com

Mix-N-Match Stuffed Roasted Squash

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Are more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cook?

Us too.

That’s why we love this mix-n-match guide for making stuffed winter squash.

A hearty and healthy meal you can adapt to whatever you have on hand.

Here’s how it works:

Base Ingredients

  • 1 squash (acorn, kabocha, butternut, delicata)
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 cups of filling per squash (depending on size)

Filling

  • 1/2 – 1 cup protein – sausage, chicken, pork, tempeh, tofu or beans
  • 1/2 – 1 cup vegetables – onions, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, greens
  • 1/2 – 1 cup cooked grains – quinoa, rice, farro
  • Herbs and/or spices
  • Optional: nuts/seeds – walnuts, almonds
  • Optional: shredded cheese for topping
  1. Preheat: Oven to 375
  2. Prep the squash: Slice the squash in half and scoop out the seeds
  3. Bake Squash: Place the squash halves cut-side-down in a baking dish and add about 1/4 inch water. Cover the dish with foil and bake until a knife easily slices through (anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes)
  4. Prep filling: While the squash is roasting, prepare any filling ingredients (cook meats or veggies fully) Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season with spices and herbs.
  5. Stuff the squash halves: Rub inside of cooked squash with a little olive oil and pack with stuffing ingredients. Top with shredded cheese if using.
  6. Bake again: Re-cover the pan with the foil and bake the halves for another 15 to 20 minutes until tops are crispy and/or cheese is melted.

Here are some ways you could mix-n-match:

  1. Sausage + mushrooms + onions + kale + farro + sage + walnuts
  2. Chicken + bell peppers + black beans + chili powder + pepper jack cheese
  3. Turkey + onions + thyme + dried cranberries + parmesan cheese
  4. Tofu + mushrooms + spinach + garlic + scallions

Not sold on the mix-n-match idea? Here are 5 recipes to get you inspired:

  1. Sausage Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
  2. Chipotle Chicken Stuffed Acorn Squash
  3. Beef, Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Stuffed Butternut Squash  (paleo)
  4. Stuffed Butternut Squash with Quinoa (vegetarian)
  5. Wild Rice stuffed Butternut squash (vegan / vegetarian) *pictured above

This post was inspired by the Kitchn’s How to Make Stuffed Roasted Squash

Easy Homemade Falafel

Falafel Pita

If you’re looking for something new to add to your weeknight dinner rotation, we have your perfect recipe adapted from the minimalist baker (one of our favorite resources for simple, easy meals)

These homemade falafels are…

Easy and quick to make
Kid friendly
Great for a meatless Monday meal
Full of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates
A great way to add in new flavors and spices
Made from pantry staples (canned chickpeas, onion, garlic, spices and herbs)

This is a fantastic recipe for a quick 20-minute weeknight meal. You might just need to try it tonight…

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup herbs (parsley and/or cilantro)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin
Optional: cardamom and/or coriander to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, optional (if you omit, add in 2 Tbs. Tahini instead to help bind)
Oil to pan fry (we like avocado oil for this!)

Directions
Add onion, garlic, herbs and spices to food processor.
Pulse until chopped
Then add drained chickpeas (and flour and baking powder if using) and pulse until chunky mixture has formed (don’t over blend!)
(OPTIONAL STEP: refrigerating for 1 hour before cooking will help them bind)
Scoop out about 2 Tbs. at a time to form 8-12 small disks about 1/2 inch thick
Heat oil in a large pan on stove over medium heat
When oil is hot drop in patties and cook 4-5 minutes per side
Serve warm (ideas below) or store in fridge for up to 5 days

Serving Ideas
On top of a salad with tomatoes, cucumber, olives and tzatziki (recipe below)
In a whole wheat pita with lettuce, sliced cucumber, onions and tomato and tzatziki

5 Ingredient Tzatziki
(Mix all these ingredients in a small bowl and store in fridge for up to 1 week)
1 cup greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp dill
1/2 cup finely chopped cucumber
Salt and pepper

This falafel recipe was adapted from the Minimalist Baker and The Kitchn
Image from Minimalist Baker

10 One Pot Meals for Easy Dinners

One Pot Meals

The idea of cooking dinner can be daunting.

We get it.

But often it’s not actually COOKING dinner…it’s the clean up.

Enter the one-pot-meal phenomenon.  There have been entire cookbooks, blogs and recipes created to make the clean up process a whole lot quicker.

We’ve gathered up some of our favorite one-pot-meal recipes to share with you. From hearty meats to vegetable stews to light fish meals, there is something for everyone. The one thing these recipes all have in common….quick clean up.

Take some time a bookmark a couple of your favorite and add them to your meal plan. Then, enjoy a healthy homemade dinner…without the clean up.

BCSF’s No-Dish-Fish – Check out our very own recipe for cooking fish in parchment paper. All you do is wrap your veggies and fish in the paper and bake. Not only does this recipe require only ONE pan, but ZERO clean up.

Vegetable Coconut Curry – Use a Dutch oven or large pot to saute then simmer all the ingredients for this vegetable based curry. Serve with pre cooked lentils or brown rice for a low-fuss dinner.

Greek Lemon Chicken + Rice  – This recipe has you use a pan to cook the rice in the oven (brilliant!). Then you turn up the heat, add the chicken and bake. If it sounds weird, don’t worry – the recipe comes with a quick video that will make you want to run into the kitchen to make this ASAP.

Vegan Pasta with Vegetables and Red Sauce – This recipe adds the pasta, tomato sauce, spices and water to the same pot to cook. Trust us, it works! Then, all you do is add some sauteed veggies (okay, so you used two dishes. BUT no need to deal with a strainer!) and you’re ready to eat.

Martha Stewart’s Black Beans and Sausage – Although this recipe takes a little longer to cook, the ingredients and directions couldn’t be more simple: saute and serve. One pot cooking at it’s finest.

Sheet Pan Fajitas –  Toss all ingredients on a sheet pan and bake. Mexican food in under 30 minutes = happiness.

One Pan Mexican Quinoa – Speaking of Mexican food, try this flavorful spin on quinoa by cooking your vegetables, spices and grains in the same pan. While the dish is still warm, mix with hearty greens (like kale) to complete the easy, healthy meal.

Baked Salmon with Cabbage and Kale – To be honest, there are approximately 5 dishes used in this recipe: a knife, cutting board, bowl, whisk and pan. Regardless, we were impressed by the idea of putting greens and salmon on the same sheet pan to bake.

Steak and Balsamic Vegetables – All you need for a fancy steak dinner is one pan, chopped vegetables, quality steak and your broiler. You can toss all ingredients on the pan to make this a true one-dish recipe.

Shakshuka – A traditional dish of baked eggs in tomato sauce, this one skillet recipe is perfect for when the fridge is empty or needs a clean out. Try adding leafy greens or other vegetables to the sauce for an easy breakfast-for-dinner meal.

6 Easy Ways To Boost Your Nutrients

Feel like a diet overhaul is the only way to be more healthy? Wrong. There is more than one way you can give your diet a kick in the pants. Here are some tips to help give the food you’re already eating a healthy makeover.

1. Soak and cook your own beans

Beans are the staple of many diets across the globe and an essential component of any plant based diet. They’re an excellent source of fiber, protein and many minerals.  Legumes are also high in something called phytic acid. This phytic acid is essentially an outer layer allows for the bean to stay intact through the digestive process. (Why? Beans, just like all plants, want to survive. This indigestible layer acts as their protective barrier). Unfortunately for us, this phytic acid also inhibits our breakdown of beans. The result can be digestive discomfort and missing out on absorbing nutrients. The good news is that soaking dry beans can greatly reduce phytic acid. Soaking also reduces some of the indigestible carbohydrates, making the macronutrient profile of any bean lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein.

Why it’s easy: Buy dry beans in bulk at the store (they’re cheaper this way anyway). Rinse and soak overnight in a bowl. In the morning (or even next evening) throw in a crock pot or regular pot, cover with water and cook away. Cool and freeze any extra in individual containers in the fridge for ready to go recipes, using like you would cans.

2. Dress your dark leafy greens with lemon

You’ve probably heard of stomach acid, right? It’s what helps break down food in our stomach. Just like stomach acid, the acid in lemon juice can help start the process of breaking down rough and fibrous leafy greens. Plus the vitamin C in the citrus boosts iron absorption.

Why it’s easy: Add lemon to your salad dressings or squeeze of lemon on sauteed greens for a boost of flavor.

3. Poach your eggs

Eggs were our food of the week a couple weeks ago. (Check out our BCSF Facebook page #bcsffoodoftheweek posts). And for good reason: eggs are quick to prepare, versatile enough to add protein to any meal and a sustainable animal protein source.  However, cooking eggs on high heat can damage the delicate fats and proteins in eggs. Poaching, soft boiling or soft scrambling is the best way to prepare eggs if you eat them regularly. This lower temperature cooking process keeps fats in the yolks from being oxidized. Also, not all eggs are created equal. Check out the guide we shared on how to understand the labels on your egg cartons.

Why it’s easy: If you haven’t ever tried poaching eggs, it’s one of the easiest ways to prepare eggs (no messy pan to clean). Here’s a great how-to.

4. Take care of your oils

Ever notice that olive oil is always stored in dark bottles? Olive oil (and all other liquid-at-room-temperature-oils) are very sensitive to heat, light and air. These oils can become oxidized by exposure to the elements. Olive Oil should be kept in dark glass containers away from the heat and light to preserve the delicate fat molecules. Use higher temperature cooking oils such as  coconut oil or butter to cook with. Use unsaturated oils like olive or any nut oil for dressings.

Why it’s easy: Keep a small dark bottle of olive oil on the counter for day to day use and any excess in the fridge.

5. Slow cook your meats

Just like with eggs and oils, cooking meats with very high heat can affect the nutritional value. Cooking at gentler temperatures will preserve sensitive fat and protein molecules found in meats. Save charring or BBQing for occasional cooking.

Why it’s easy: Try using your crock pot for a slow cooked stew or soup.

6. Chew your food

The only way to get the benefits of our food is by digesting it. And that starts with chewing. Most of us only chew our food enough to not choke on it. However, for best digestion we should be chewing our food 5-10x longer. Better digestion equals better nutrient absorption. 

Why it’s easy: Start now, with your next meal, and practice chewing a little longer. Slow down to eat and taste your food. With practice, this will become second nature.

Bottom line: It’s time we let go of the healthy verses unhealthy food labels. Our belief around food at BCSF is that there is no such a thing as good or bad food. It’s the quality, preparation and how we eat that makes us healthy. Changing some of our food habits can be just as powerful as changing our food choices.

20 Minute Cauliflower Lentil Tacos

Healthy, 20 minute tacos?

Yes, you heard us right.

Lentil Tacos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This taco filling made from lentils and cauliflower makes for a hearty, vegetable meal that satisfies when you’re craving tacos (and who doesn’t crave a good taco dinner every once in a while?).

Served in a fresh corn tortilla and garnished with your favorite taco toppings, you’ll have a tasty, healthy alternative to greasy restaurant tacos.

To make this recipe come together in under 20, you can use either pre-cooked lentils (we love the ones from Trader Joes) or your own cooked lentils. For a spicy finishing touch, try mixing 1 teaspoon of the liquid from chipotle peppers canned in adobo with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt.

Try these tacos for your next meatless Monday meal, busy weeknight dinner or lazy Saturday lunch. Either way, they’re sure to please!

Ingredients
(makes about 3 cups of filling or about 6 servings)
1 head cauliflower
2 cups pre-cooked lentils
1 yellow onion
1 jalapeno
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. Chili powder
1 Tsp. Cumin
1 Tsp. Smoked Paprika
Salt to taste

Organic corn tortillas

Optional Toppings:
Avocado
Cilantro
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Tomato
Salsa
Lime

Directions
1. Prepare the cauliflower by grating with a cheese grater or pulsing in a food processor to break up into small pieces (should be the consistency of like bigger rice)
2. Heat a large skillet and saute diced  onion with a little oil or broth until clear
4. Add cauliflower, garlic and spices and continue to saute until cauliflower is done (about 5 more minutes)
5. Add cooked lentils and saute until all ingredients are warmed and mixed
6. To serve, spoon into corn tortilla and garnish with toppings of choice

*image via cookieandkate, recipe modified from Kate’s Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos

Oh Hi, Slow Cooker!

Do you own a slow cooker aka crock-pot? Chances are that you do. Here’s a hint. It’s probably hidden in the back of a closet or cupboard somewhere, and if you don’t then they’re seriously easy to come by. I’ve even seen them for sale in Walgreens and CVS. You know for all those times when your to-do list reads: pick up some gum, a Mother’s Day card, and a slow cooker.

My most vivid crock-pot memory hails from my grandmother. She used to make a killer crock-pot beef stew that I absolutely loved. Mostly because it was full of potatoes, turnips, carrots and zero peas. My mother made her stew with peas and I was a great big twit and refused to eat them. I have no idea why I thought turnip was awesome and peas were the devil. I certainly don’t feel that way now. However, as part of my dinner time argument, I often pointed out that the family dog would literally eat around peas if any happened to be on a plate set down in front of him. Matlock would have been proud of my evidence gathering skills.

So what are you supposed to do with this big plugged-in pot once you get it home? Well, there are pretty much a million-and-one things you can cook. Some of them are fantastic ideas that will yield great tasting and healthy meals while others encourage you to make macaroni and cheese and (I kid you not) cheesecake in your new kitchen toy. Let’s not focus on those right now though. I’m here to inspire you to give your crockpot another look, not make you gain ten pounds.

Breakfast Ideas
These get-up and get-going dishes will be the perfect thing to wake-up to on mornings when you workout. Plus, imagine how good your home will smell when the alarm goes off and you have a steaming pot of oats, apples, or eggs just waiting for you in the kitchen.

Overnight Oatmeal with Apricots and Buttermilk
Effortless Crockpot Breakfast Burritos
Slow Cooker Baked Apples
Crockpot Whole Grain Breakfast Cereal
Peach and Coconut Quinoa

Dinner Ideas
Here’s where the real fun starts. Who wants to slave over a hot stove after you’ve gotten up early to run around outside with your fellow bootcampers and slogged your way through another day at the office? Even though I love to cook I still answer with a resounding, “Not me!” at least a few times each week. Fortunately, if you own a crock-pot you can toss a few simple ingredients in the bowl, set the controls, and arrive home to a drop-dead-delicious dinner with very minimal additional evening effort.

Pulled Pork with Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce
Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Slow Cooked Boston Baked Beans
Whole Chicken in a Slow Cooker
Homemade Crockpot Marinara Sauce

Of course, after looking at all of these recipes I’m seriously starving! If you’d like some helpful tips on choosing a crock-pot that will work best for you definitely consider checking out this post from SlowCookerFromScratch.com. It features a great round-up of reviews and frequently asked questions. These ladies and gentleman are serious about slow cooking and will have you hooked in no time at all.

Additional Blogs to Gather Recipes From:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
http://www.slowcookerfromscratch.com/
http://www.skinnytaste.com/2007/07/crock-pot-recipes.html [with Weight Watchers Points]
http://www.coconutandlime.com/search/label/slow%20cooker
http://www.theperfectpantry.com/slow-cooker-crockpot/

I also made a new Pinterest Board for you to follow if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s called “I Swear I’ll Use My Slow Cooker Someday.”