When You Only Have 6 Minutes to Make Dinner

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Been there, right? Dinner should’ve been on the table 30 minutes ago. Kids are asking for snacks because, well, dinner should be over by now, and you’re basically starving them (or at least they’re acting like it). You’re fine because you’re snacking on carrots and hummus, listening to a podcast and trying to decide on which new amazing dinner you want to make. Maybe it’s that veggie pot pie bake thing or a new roasted veggie and tofu sheet pan dinner. Oh the kids will just LOVE both of those (you obviously have short-term memory loss because the peanut noodles you made last night were a complete bomb and everyone begged for Cheerios instead).

But shoot, if you don’t get dinner on the table in less than 6 minutes, they’ll be going to bed late and taking time away from your precious ME time that must start at 9:00 sharp. SO. You need to switch gears, figure out something fast. It’s an emergency. Dinner 911.

Chez Reilly–the Healthy-ish Headquarters–where all meals are dietitian-approved while at the same time sometimes include Wonderbread (have you seen the Whole Grain White? I mean it’s calcium-fortified and has fiber…), we have 3 Emergency Dinners. Not only are they fast to make, but they’re fast to clean up. And the ONLY reason we don’t make these on a 3-day rotation is the fear that they’ll one day become tiresome and then what the heck will you serve when you walk in from lacrosse practice at 7:45 and literally have ZERO options. Presenting, in order of most loved to even more loved….

  • NACHOS. Boom. FIVE STARS. This is like a 3-minute one. Chips go on a plate (in our house 2 of those plates of chips get weighed so we can count carbs). Next goes shredded cheese of choice (we love thin strips of Chao brand, but just use what you’ve got). Next up is either a handful of black beans (rinsed) out of a can, or a hunk of refried beans tossed on top. Now you warm the plate in the microwave for 1 minute or in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes (bonus with the oven option that you can fit several plates in at once… just don’t forget to let them cool before dropping them on the table). Top with salsa or chopped tomatoes, guacamole (obviously store-bought if we’re in Emergency Dinner territory) or chopped avocado and a dash of salt. Repeat for remaining plates in the microwave, or put them all in the oven at once after building the chips-cheese-bean nacho miracle mass, then topping with salsa and avocado once they’re out. You’re welcome.
  • QUESADILLAS, CHERRY TOMATOES, APPLE SLICES. Finger food, people. Finger food. All you need is tortillas, cheese or hummus, cherry tomatoes or another finger-food veggie like those mini peppers, baby carrots, or snap peas, and apple slices or another easy fruit like blueberries, grapes, or cantaloupe cubes. You don’t even need individual plates for this dinner. Just land a pile of quesadilla wedges, a bowl of veggies, and another bowl of fruit in the middle of the table and let them go at it. In fact, I’ve found that if you have picky eaters, this “survival of the fittest” dinner service style is the best thing to get your child to eat. Or cry and scream. But hopefully not that.
  • VEGGIE BURGER, FROZEN VEGGIES, CHIPS. You probably have veggie burgers in the freezer or maybe even those “chick” patties. If you’re like me during one of my supermom phases, you have homemade, well-labeled with cutesy penmanship bean and rice burgers that you mass produced on a Sunday afternoon. These can be heated in the microwave or in a skillet and served as is. No need for a bun, but add condiments for dipping. For the veggie, just boil frozen green beans, mixed veggies, carrots, or peas and then drain and toss with salt and some butter-like deliciousness (we like Smart Balance). Then make it fun with a side of chips, pretzels, or crackers. It feels like you’re cheating, but this is a well-balanced, fast, and very kid-friendly combination of foodstuffs.

Have anything to add to this list of Emergency Meals? Share in the Comments below!

xo – Jen

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One Pot Quinoa Black Bean Bowl

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Inspired by my passion for one-dish meals and Mind Over Munch‘s One-Pot Taco Quinoa, I present to you an easy Bitchin’ one pot of power. I subtracted ingredients from Mind Over Munch’s version that I didn’t have on hand and the result is a kids-pulling-on-my-legs-and-blood-sugars-are-dropping super simple One Pot Quinoa Black Bean Bowl. It got 6 out of 6 flavor stars at my house, and 6 out of 6 clean-up stars for the kid who was on dish duty that night!

One Pot Quinoa Black Bean Bowl
Serves 6

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 red (or other color) bell pepper, chopped
1 green (or other color) bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
3 cups water
2 (15-oz) cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 ripe avocado, cut into chunks or slices, for topping
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped, for topping

In a medium pot over medium heat, sauté onions, garlic and bell peppers in olive oil. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer and cover to cook through, about 20 minutes.

Serve with avocado and cilantro.

Nutrition info for 1/6th recipe (about 1 heaping cup): 395 calories, 10 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 5 g monounsaturated fat, 62 g carbohydrates, 16 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 17 g protein, 6% calcium, 34% iron.

Share in the comments below your favorite one-dish meals. We need more! 🙂

The Brady Brunch

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School day breakfasts are speedy and a bit of a blur… 4 young kids downing cereal, instant oatmeal (yes, it happens!), raisin toast, or other freezer fare. But breakfasts on the weekends chez Reilly are an adventure, an experience, a complete kitchen tornado, and downright sticky fun. Here is our latest experiment. Chocolate chip Belgian waffles with raspberries and maple syrup, sloshed down with a tall glass of vanilla soymilk. But the best part? the foods you don’t see!: Pumpkin, ground chia seeds, and beets! I should be arrested for this!

Beet these Waffles
Makes 6 large waffles
Equipment needed: waffle maker (if you don’t have one, just make pancakes with this same recipe), blender, and an electric mixer or a really strong arm

2 cups waffle or pancake mix (I like Trader Joe’s multigrain pancake mix, but sometimes it’s Krusteaz from Costco)
1 cup unsweetened soymilk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
1/2 cup blended beets (I buy them already cooked and peeled from Trader Joe’s, and then blend them. Canned works too though!)
1/4 cup ground chia seeds (purchase these already ground here, or grind them yourself in a coffee bean grinder)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/4-1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, but CRUCIAL in my opinion)

Spray waffle maker with nonstick spray and plug in. Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with electric mixer while waffle maker heats up. Add more soymilk or water 2 tablespoons at a time if batter is too thick. Pour 1/2-3/4 cup batter into waffle maker, drop 10 or so chocolate chips on top, and close.

Keep cooked waffles warm in the oven while the kids finish up their Minecraft game and you hide the pumpkin and beet remnants. Serve with pure maple syrup or all alone. Once the kids have eaten, enroll them in kitchen clean-up.

Nutrition info per waffle: 281 calories, 11 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 43 g carbohydrates, 9 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 7 g protein, 65% daily requirement of vitamin A, 330 mg calcium, 12% daily requirement for iron.

Zucchini Overpopulation Solution Project

Is your garden giving you more zucchini (zucchinis?) than you can handle? Take this hummus out for a spin! The tahini gives it a whopping punch of a bunch of different nutrients. Filmed by my 9 year-old daughter, a movie-maker in the making.

Zucchini Hummus
Makes about 2 cups

2 medium zucchini, diced
¼ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup tahini
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor, puree all ingredients until creamy. Perfect for a sandwich spread, dip for veggies or crackers, or for just eating with spork on a rainy Tuesday. Reduce the fat content by 5 grams per serving by eliminating the olive oil.

Nutrition info for 1/4 of recipe: 193 calories, 17 g fat, 9 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 4 g protein, 30% daily vitamin A, 10% daily vitamin C, 20% daily copper, 26% daily manganese, 12% daily iron, 12% daily magnesium

Mason Jar Salads: Lunchin’ Munchin’ for Smart People

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So I’m a little late to the party, but figured maybe some of you haven’t even gotten on the subway yet!? BuzzFeed posted these 18 great mason jar salads back in December, and not only are they pure genius, but they’re nice to look at, easy to make, store, and transport, and they are all about Operation: Fit Into Last Summer’s Clothes.

But what I love more than any of those things is that you can make your week’s worth of lunches in about TWENTY minutes! What’s 20 minutes? That’s about how long I spend trying to figure out why I just walked into the dining room. I could be making salads!

So, what you do:

It’s Sunday. Line up five 24-ounce mason jars, grab a bunch of ingredients, a cutting board and a knife, and get all assembly line-up in the kitchen. Everybody clear OUT! The salad belt has been turned on. Stuff your jars in this order:

Start with Dressing: Either something bottled (like TJ’s Light Champagne Vinaigrette) or 2 T rice vinegar plus 1 T olive oil plus 1/2 tsp salt.

Next, fill with Protein: Tofu cubes, beans, tempeh cubes, hemp hearts, chia seeds, and shelled edamame beans are some of my favorites. They’ll marinate in the dressing. Genius again!

Next up, Chunky Veggies and/or Grains: These are ones that can afford to get a little juicy with dressing: Cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, mushrooms, jicama (is that a veggie?), corn… and quinoa, wild rice, pasta, roasted potatoes…

And Finally: Greens and herbs. Spinach, kale, mesclun, basil, dill, cilantro…

Optional Salad Toppers: Croutons, cranberries, sunflower seeds, those Asian noodle thingies. Not necessary, but oh so good.

Stick those 5 pieces of gloriousness in the fridge and take one each day for lunch (or have for dinner if that’s where healthy food prep time is at a minimum). Either shake it while IN the jar, or if it’s too jam-packed, empty the contents into a bowl and toss to coat dressing. No more excuses people!

What’s YOUR favorite salad stack?

Eggless Eggs Still on the Menu

Even with news of chicken eggs back on the cool list, Eggless Eggs are still a family favorite, a hometown staple, and a great way to enter into tofu addiction — no matter if they’re stuffed into a burrito, alongside toast, or eaten solo by the Paleos. Make a big batch on the weekend and choose your method of delivery on the day of. To breakfast! (Or dinner!)

Eggless Eggs with Whole Grain Toast, Orange Wedges, and Fruit Juice

Eggless Eggs with Whole Grain Toast, Orange Wedges, and Fruit Juice

Eggless Eggs
Makes 4 servings
Prep and cooking time 20 minutes

Searching for scrambled eggs without all the fat and cholesterol? Take this creation out for a spin, and you’ll find yourself singing its praises from the hilltops. Serve with fresh fruit and toasted 100% Whole Grain Fiber Bread. Compared to a 2-egg omelet, a serving of Eggless Eggs has 150 fewer calories, 11 fewer grams of fat, 450 fewer milligrams of cholesterol, and 2 more grams of fiber. Eggs never tasted so good.

1 (15-oz) block extra firm tofu
2 tsp olive oil
1 green onion, or 1 Tbsp diced onion
½ red bell pepper, diced (preferably organic)
½ green bell pepper, diced (preferably organic)
1 medium carrot, diced
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp turmeric (optional, makes the “eggs” yellow)
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper (optional)
Hot sauce to taste (optional)

1 Press Tofu: Place 6 paper towels on the counter. Drain tofu from package. Place block of tofu on the paper towels. Place a cutting board or baking sheet on top of tofu. Place 2 or 3 cans of beans or similar weight on top of the cutting board, and let sit for at least 15 minutes. This process gets excess water out of the tofu, allowing it space to soak in other incredible flavors.

2 Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté veggies, spices, and salt until tender, about 5 minutes.

3 Crumble tofu into the skillet; continue to cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

4 Serve warm topped with black pepper and hot sauce if desired.

5 Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

NUTRITION SNAPSHOT
Per serving: 161 calories, 8.5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 298 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 15.5 g protein, 3% vitamin A, 54% vitamin C, 19.5% calcium, 13.5% iron

Breakfast Detox Soup

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Day 6! That happened fast, right?

I confess that I just could NOT drink a cold smoothie today. I went for a 15-degree walk this morning and the last thing I wanted when I came back inside was a freezing cold green smoothie to further numbify my feet and hands. Ice statue just wasn’t on my morning agenda.

So, I pulled some ingredients out of the fridge and made this Detox Soup instead. Dare I say it was better than a hot cup of coffee? Clearly the Detox is morphing my mentals!

Detox Soup
Serves 4

2 cups filtered water
1 cube vegetable bouillon
5 basil leaves, torn
2 cups chopped kale
5 carrots, scrubbed, unpeeled, chopped
1 cup garbanzo beans
1 cup crushed tomatoes (from a can)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash pepper

Bring all ingredients to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Good morning, warm sunshine!

Where’s that blender?!? 7-Day Detox Starts Monday!

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Are you ready to tell 2015 who’s boss? Ready to get green fuel from your head down to your to-ee-oes? Join the masses on Monday, January 5th in a 7-day race to declutter your intestinal closet and refuel your engine.  Check out my 7-Day Detox Page for detox prep info and the detox guidelines, along with a day-by-day meal plan (yes, you can veer off the plan as long as you stay within the guidelines).

Spend the next couple days chowing down on veggie meals as you phase out caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gluten, dairy, eggs, and meat, and stock up on detox essentials:

Plantfusion Protein Powder
Kale (Organic)
Cucumbers (Organic)
Celery (Organic)
Carrots
Spinach (Organic)
Onions
Garlic
Bell Peppers (Organic)
Lemons
Apples (Organic)
Frozen Berries (Organic)
Bananas
Beans/Lentils
Quinoa
Corn tortillas (Organic)
Hummus
Tempeh
Raw nuts/seeds
Nut/seed butters
Rice crackers/rice cakes

See you on Monday! Chowder!

XO Jen

Clean Bean Casserole

Clean Bean Casserole

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? Well. Grandma’s classic isn’t exactly broken, it just needs a little modern-day health booster. This version is just as easy, even tastier (if you can believe it), dairy-free, gluten-free, uses all plant powered, clean, whole foods, and even has a touch screen. Welcome to the millennium, green beans! Give them a spin anytime you’re feeling thankful.


Clean Bean Casserole

Serves 8

Creamy Mushroom Gravy:
1 cup raw cashews, submerged in water and soaked overnight (or at least 4 hours)
1 Tbsp olive oil
20 oz sliced white mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 vegetable bouillon cube

“Fried” Onions:
1 large onion, sliced into crescents
¼ cup almond meal
1 Tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil

Green Beans:
2 lbs green beans, ends removed

Preheat oven to 350°

Mushroom gravy: Blend cashews with soaking water. Set aside. Heat oil in sauté pan and sauté mushrooms and garlic until cooked through. Add cashew “cream” and bouillon cube and continue to cook over medium heat until bouillon cube dissolves. Set aside.

Onions: In a medium-sized bowl, combine almond meal, cornstarch, black pepper, and salt. Stir sliced onions until well-coated. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and “fry” coated onions. Set aside.

Green beans: Place green beans into a 13 X 9-inch baking dish (pre-steam them for softer beans). Pour creamy mushroom mixture over top and stir to coat green beans. Top with onions and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 211 calories, 13 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 19 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 8.5 g protein, 16% vitamin A, 37% vitamin C, 6.5% calcium, 15% iron, 11% zinc.
Cheers and thanks!

xo

Jen

High & Mighty Brownie Cookies

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Ever thought to put veggies and beans into brownie mix and then turn them into cookies? Wait, that’s not what you think about as you lie in bed at night? Oh. Well, I’ve taken on the age-old question and attempted an answer: How do we make brownies a complete meal? Announcing the High & Mighty Brownie Cookie. High in nutrients, mighty in taste and energy. And while I still serve them for dessert, they can certainly pass for a side dish or maybe even a main squeeze…

High & Mighty Brownie Cookies
Makes 48

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained & rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)
Large handful kale, about 2 cups chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (the canned type)
1 box brownie mix
1/2 cup coconut flour, almond meal, or cashew meal

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Blend or food process beans, kale, and pumpkin into a smooth, olive green glop (probably not wise to taste-test this…).

Stir glop together with brownie mix and coconut flour (or almond or cashew meal).

With slightly wet hands, form into 1 1/2-inch round balls (slightly smaller than golf balls) and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart.

Press down gently with a fork in a criss-cross fashion.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and chow down!

Nutrition Information Per Cookie: 74 calories, 1 g fat, 36 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 11 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 1 g protein, 21% vitamin A, 3% iron.

Now you (or at least I) can rest soundly. Cheers to chocolate! xo