When You Only Have 6 Minutes to Make Dinner

food salad restaurant person

Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

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

Advertisements

This is Breakfast – Video!

Getting kids fed, hydrated, clothed, and teeth brushed in the mornings before school can feel like a quadrathlon — each event harder than the last, and the gold medal is awarded when you’re successfully waving to your kids as the school bus drives away (with them on it). Well, here’s a little glimpse into what that morning looks like when you’re racing in a quintathlon adding blood sugar testing, carb counting, and insulin dosing to the event lineup. It’s also one of the reasons we often wave goodbye to the school bus with our kids still in the minivan. Cheers from Team Reilly! – xo Jen

Annie’s Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins: Low-Carb, High-Love

Hi Bakers! Team Reilly has been koo-koo lately to say the least. Our youngest child Annie (age 2 3/4) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in February, joining the ranks with our son Jake. Just like Jake, she was diagnosed at home when I got worried about the fact that she peed her pants twice in a row and was developing a yeast rash in her diaper area (she still wears a diaper at night). Her fingerprick blood sugar after eating a bowl of dried cranberries was 418. Luckily, her A1C was 7.8% and according to our doc, we caught the diabetes earlier than any other patient (Yay? Not necessarily a claim to fame that I was striving for!). And since she had only trace ketones, we put her to sleep and headed to the hospital the next day. Once we saw Annie’s high blood sugar, Jake (age 7 now) immediately took Annie to “Diabetes Camp” in the basement and secretly whispered to me that he’s glad he’s no longer the only kid in the family with type 1. On the bright side, these 2 kids will have each other for the long haul and that gives us amazing comfort.

While I dreaded the possibility of another type 1 diagnosis in our family, Annie has been unphased and was immediately put on a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor and the Omnipod insulin pump making our lives incredibly easier and making it so that she basically doesn’t even know she has diabetes. In fact, check out my blog on type 1 diabetes on KrisCarr.com – it was written before Annie’s diagnosis, but talks about the tricks and tips that have helped us with Jake’s diabetes management. And apparently the universe congratulated us in February for our mad skills in managing diabetes! Yikes.

So! Inspired by Annie and her minuscule needs for insulin right now, I created these mini muffins that she (and we!) could snack on all day long without needing insulin. They are full of healthy ingredients, taste amazing, are gluten-free, and go down really easily. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Annie’s Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Makes 30

2 bananas, mashed (can be fresh or thawed frozen)
1/3 cup Smart Balance or Earth Balance margarine, melted
1/4 cup almond butter
2 Tbsp ground flax seed meal
1/3 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
1 cup almond flour
1/3 cup Swerve sweetener (Erythritol, found cheapest at Vitacost)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup Lily’s mini chocolate chips (Stevia-sweetened, but regular dark choc chips work too)

Mix all ingredients together except chocolate chips. Once mixed, stir in the chips and pour into lightly sprayed mini muffin tins 2/3 of the way, or regular muffin tins half way.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool before removing from tins (if you can!).

Per muffin: 70 calories, 6 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g carbs, 2.4 g fiber (2.6 g net carbs), 1 g sugar, 2 g protein. 

Now I want to hear from you! Post your favorite low-carb snacks and recipes — Annie and her blood sugars will thank you!

xo, Jen

One Pot Quinoa Black Bean Bowl

img_2101

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! 🙂

Almond Flour: Where Have You Been All My Life?

img_5088
I love baking. LOVE it. I love changing recipes, adding veggies and beans to cakes and brownies, tricking my family with nutrient-rich chocolate chip cookies, making the house smell a bakery, and I get giddy when I’m declared the best mom ever for feeding my tribe secretly healthy desserts.

Now, as some of you know, my son Jake has type 1 diabetes. He’s nearly 7 years old and also happens to be one of my pickiest eaters. This stinks (in a non-bakery nice smelling way) because I’ll make or bake something that has lots of healthy protein from hemp seeds or chia seeds, is low in white carbs, and will be perfect for preventing roller coaster blood sugars, and everyone will love it but him. Makes me CRAZY!!!

Until finally…. the stars aligned and I was clued into Simple Mills gluten-free, handful-of-natural-ingredient baking mixes based on almond flour. Not the crunchy, coarse almond meal that was in my fridge, but a fine, delicate, rare gem-quality flour made from blanched almonds. The Simple Mills mixes are pricey, so after I tried making one of each of their offerings, I decided that all I really needed to do was replace regular flour with almond flour in my favorite (and Jake’s favorite) recipes. This is why:

almond-flour-table

Almost 1/4 the carbs, 6 times the fiber (so 1/7th the net carbs) and twice as much protein. I knew right away that if this simple substitution worked, I would have discovered the Holy Grail of diabetic baking.

So. I learned that Jake doesn’t care for pumpkin anything (no son of mine). But, if chocolate chips are involved, he’s all in (definitely my child!). I’ve redone my famous marriage-inducing and TJ’s-published Chocolate Things recipe, with Jake, health, and flatline blood sugars in mind. Now presenting!:

_mg_4591
Chocolate Things: Almond Flour Version

Makes 9 large squares

This is a lower carb, lower sugar, higher protein version of my classic “Chocolate Things.” It may look like there’s a bizarre combo of sweeteners. There is! While I tried to make these 100% sugar-free, too much erythritol or stevia gave them a not-so-funky funk. Feel free to replace the erythritol, sugar, and maple syrup with 1/2 cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon maple extract (optional).

2 cups fine almond flour (like Bob’s on Amazon here)
1/2 cup white, wheat, or oat flour (blend gluten-free rolled oats to make oat flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp iodized salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed meal
2 Tbsp Swerve (erythritol)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp lite maple syrup (like Wholesome! brand with 33 g carbs per 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup melted Smart Balance, Earth Balance, or other non-hydrogenated margarine
3 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk or other nondairy milk
1/2 cup (100 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour and spread into a lightly greased 9 x 9-inch baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Per square: 21 g total carbs, 4 grams fiber (17 g net carbs), 7 grams protein

And here is Jake’s blood sugar graph after eating one of these sweet little thangs at 10am. No spike! And no crash! We did it!

Let me know how almond flour works for you. It’s been a baking lifesaver for us.

xo

Jen

Homemade Dark Chocolate in 3 Minutes

So I’m sitting here with a napping toddler writing some recipe substitution tips when it hits me: I could really use a bite of dark chocolate, and I don’t have any, I don’t have any chocolate chips, and I can’t run to the store. Serious Emergency!

But I have cocoa… and coconut oil… and maple syrup… and another wackadoodle recipe is born chez Reilly:

Emergency Dark Chocolate
Serves 10

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 tbsp liquid sweetener (maple syrup, agave…)
1/4 cup flax seeds, hemp seeds, or other seeds/ chopped nuts (optional)

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat oil, cocoa, and sweetener. Remove from heat and stir in seeds or chopped nuts if using. Pour into dish and spread thin. Chill in fridge for 1 hour. 

What do YOU do in this kind of emergency situation? xo

Making Raw Hemp Milk Couldn’t Be Easier – Video!

Raw Hemp Milk
Makes 4 cups

1 cup hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds)
4 cups filtered water

Blend, and store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Add to smoothies, pudding, desserts, soups, or cereal. High in protein, fiber, and Omega-3’s. Yum!

 

What’s in My Pantry? Video!

Hi friends! Hope all you East coast Americans survived the blizzard with enough beans and rice to keep you going. Check out what’s in our pantry in the video below, and look forward to weekly videos this year from me. Put in the comments things you’d like me to video about — I love me some new ideas! Happy nonperishable fooding!

The Brady Brunch

brunch

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.

Secret Sprinkle Cookies

image

Well I made and perfected these back on National Homemade Cookies Day (October 1st, don’t you celebrate?), and am finally out of my nutrient-rich cookie coma and getting a chance to share them. They are adorable, colorful, and protein-packed for growing kids. Sprinkles in them, on them, and around them (and on the floor them). Enjoy with a hot cup of something and a smile. Oh, and send an extra or two in your kids’ lunch boxes for their friends.

Secret Sprinkle Cookies
Makes 24

1/2 cup softened butter-type ingredient (I used Earth Balance)
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp chia seeds soaked in 3 Tbsp water for 5 minutes
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/3 cup sprinkles plus 3 Tbsp for sprinkling on top
2 Tbsp soymilk or water if batter is too dry

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine buttery spread, sugar, vanilla, and chia/water combo in a bowl until mixed through. Add dry ingredients and stir to combine, adding 2 Tbsp water or non-dairy milk if batter is crumbly.

Form dough into 1-inch size balls and place 1 inch apart on a nonstick cookie sheet, topping with a few extra sprinkles — I use a funnel for less mess. Bake 10-15 minutes until dough spreads out and very slightly golden brown on the edges.

Per cookie: 102 calories, 4.5 g fat, 14 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 7.5 g sugar, 2 g protein.