I've been extra busy today and needed a really quick lunch for me and my 2-yr-old. I didn't have time to cook or prep any fresh produce. We also didn't have any leftovers to reheat. Thankfully, I keep a variety of healthy canned ingredients in my cupboard for days like today.
I was inspired to make something with marinated artichokes because they came in their own "dressing". From there I looked to see what else would taste good with Italian flavors and would be visually appealing. I love when a really good recipe comes from having to scrounge the cupboards or fridge for scraps!
Here is what I found:
Canned, sliced, black olives
Marinated artichokes (missing from photo)
Beets, in water, no salt added
I almost always buy organic canned beans because they are usually lower, sometimes more than half as much, in sodium. Organic canned beans usually don't have unnecessary additives either and as a bonus, they're organic too.
National Nutrition Month® is coming to an end but that doesn't mean we should stop celebrating with delicious, nutritious foods. I hope this recipe has proved to you that good nutrition can come from a can. You don't have to slave over a hot stove for hours to come up with something you feel really good about feeding your family!
1 small can sliced black olives, rinsed and drained
1 jar marinated artichokes, chopped
1 can beets, in water, no salt added, drained and chopped
1 can chickpeas or garbanzo beans, preferably organic, drained
Combine all ingredients and serve immediately or refrigerate and let flavors mingle a little longer before serving.
Disclaimer: No toddlers were harmed in the feeding of this recipe. I promise he enjoyed every bit of it and even served himself a second helping.
P.S. I don't write about the foods my toddler eats to brag, but to show that, when offered (never forced) a variety of foods on a regular basis, kids enjoy eating all sorts of foods typically thought of as not being "kid friendly".
Taste Matters! I don't know anyone who enjoys or is willing to eat food they dislike on a regular basis. However, I know that many foods that people think they don't like may become more accessible to their taste buds if the offensive foods are paired with highly flavorful foods that are more enjoyable. March is National Nutrition Month® and the slogan is "Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right". This fits right along with my everyday mission which is teaching people to eat healthfully by eating the foods they enjoy and avoiding foods with the flavor palate and texture of cardboard at all costs!
Tonight for dinner I concocted some sort of skillet meal or casserole style dish that was mighty good. My fridge is getting bare and I had a limited variety of items to work with. I had some chorizo in my fridge which I had planned to use for a different recipe but then changed my mind and didn't make it. So, I needed a way to make a healthy meal around my chorizo.
The chorizo by the way was from Polly's Country Market in Chelsea, MI. I'm so happy to have access to freshly ground sausage which happens to be made right in the store. Thanks Polly's CM!
My husband "doesn't like" onion or kale or spaghetti squash but these happened to be the other items that needed using up this week. Plus, they are all highly nutritious and he needs to eat his veggies anyway! Even though my husband isn't a fan of these foods, I know if I mix them with strong flavors he really likes that he'll eat them anyway without complaint. Our meal tonight was rich in vegetables of different colors, quinoa which is very nutritious and high in fiber and some protein from the chorizo. I don't mind that chorizo tends to be relatively high in saturated fat because the rest of our foods have virtually no fat in them. I also believe meat should be more of a side dish as it is in this recipe than a main dish.
There wasn't much leftover and my 2 year old asked for seconds. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!
Chorizo veggie skillet/casserole
Yield: approx. 8 servings
1 spaghetti squash
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 whole bunch of kale, chopped, remove and discard stems
1 onion, diced
1 lb chorizo (bulk sausage, remove from casing if in links)
Salsa (I highly recommend this recipe: http://www.mountainmamacooks.com/2012/01/quick-and-easy-blender-salsa/)
1. Cut spaghetti squash in half and roast cut side down in 350 degree oven until soft, approx. 30 minutes.
2. Cook quinoa according to directions, 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water.
3. Brown the chorizo over medium-high heat. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
4. Add diced onion and chopped kale (a little olive oil if needed) to skillet and saute over medium heat until cooked (onions will appear translucent).
5. Add cooked squash (use spoon to scrape out of shell), quinoa, and sausage back to the pan with onion and kale. Mix together to create casserole and serve with your favorite salsa!
Add a side of your favorite fresh fruit and you've got one heck of a meal!
This is a great Meatless Monday recipe! It's super filling, full of awesome nutrition, warm flavors, and it's really good comfort food too. This is my go-to recipe on cold nights when cuddling up with a bowl of soup for a dinner + movie + fireplace dinner is mandatory.
Spicy Vegetarian Quinoa and Peanut Stew
1-3 tbsp. Canola or olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. cumin
4 cups chicken or veggie broth
1-2 cups cooked quinoa (you can use cooked brown rice instead if you'd like)
2 14-oz cans Mexican style diced, crushed or stewed tomatoes
1 14-oz cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 medium zucchini, cut into ¼ inch pieces
½ cup of chunky or creamy peanut butter
I hope I didn't forget any ingredients or steps in the recipe. It's a bad habit of mine. Please let me know how you like it. Also let me know if I missed a step.
While thinking about what to cook for dinner tonight a thought came into my head. Why are so many people afraid of cooking. Is it fear that your special creation won't turn out right? Is it that you just don't like cooking? Are you afraid to really mess up the recipe you're following? What is it that makes so many people reach for pre-made foods or packaged dinners?
Since I've been an adult cooking for myself I find that the more I cook, the more I know about food and the more I enjoy it. The discovery of new food combinations is very exciting to me. There is also something very therapeutic about chopping fruits and vegetables and baking bread or other goodies.
Consider mastering these 3 basic skills to make cooking easier, faster and more fun:
After mastering these 3 basic skills I hope you will find some joy in cooking. I can assure you that your homemade pasta dish will taste better than a package of lipton noodles and your fruit salad will taste better than any canned fruit cocktail.
Happy Cooking! What are your hurdles to cooking a good, healthy meal from scratch?