October 7, 2013

Healthy Meal Ideas for the Entire Family

Now that school is back in session, I’ve been feeling a little more pressure as time isn’t as plentiful as it was a month ago. From the minute my son gets off the school bus the time begins ticking away. We have to do homework, shower, prepare/eat dinner, brush teeth, pick up and get in bed all before 7:30-8:00 p.m.. It may not seem like a lot, but considering I have a 1 year old in the mix, it can be overwhelming if I don’t have a plan.
 
Aside from homework, the most time-consuming job is preparing dinner. I love to cook, but when I’m short on time it’s hard to prepare a good, solid meal for the family…at least that’s how it feels sometimes. Sure, it would be easy to pop in a pizza (and sometimes I do) and call it good, but that really isn’t feasible for every night of the week nor is it good for my family to eat that much processed food in a week.
I’m sure many of you are in agreement that meal preparation is a time-consuming job, but one that is important. I know I’m not the only one who wants to prepare healthy, well-rounded meals for my family. Therefore, I thought I would share a couple of the meals I prepare during the school week because they are quick, easy and healthy.
Zucchini Lasagna:
Ingredients:
Sliced Zucchini (1/4” thick – about 2 ½ cups)
1 lb. ground turkey
½ c. onion
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 cans tomato paste
¾ t. dried oregano
¾ t. dried basil
¾ t. dried thyme
½ c. water
1 egg
1 c. low-fat ricotta
¾ c. mozzarella cheese
1.5 t. flour

Directions:

1.      Boil zucchini for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.
2.      Fry turkey and onion until the meat is done. Drain if necessary.
3.      Add the next 8 ingredients and bring to a boil.
4.      Meanwhile, beat egg in a small bowl. Add the flour, ricotta cheese and half of the mozzarella.
5.      Place half of the turkey mixture in the bottom of an 8x8 casserole dish. Top with one layer of zucchini and half of cheese mixture. Repeat one time.
6.      Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes at 375°F.
7.      Remove from oven, sprinkle remaining mozzarella and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
8.      Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Spinach-Herb Linguine

Ingredients

 4 ounces fresh baby spinach
 1/4 C. slivered almonds
 1/4 C. fresh basil leaves
 2 t. fresh oregano, chopped
 1 t. fresh thyme, chopped
 1/4 t. black pepper
  2 T. vegetable broth
  2 t. lemon juice
 1/4 t. salt
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated and divided (about 1/4 cup)
 8 ounces uncooked linguine

Directions:
  1. Microwave spinach in a covered, microwave-safe bowl on high for 2 minutes or until wilted. Uncover, cool slightly.
  2. Place spinach, almonds, and next 4 ingredients in a food processor and process until chopped.
  3. Add broth, juice, and salt. Pulse 4-5 times. Slowly pour oil through food chute and process until blended well. Scrape into a bowl and add half of cheese. Stir well and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions, leaving out the salt and fat. Drain. Toss pasta with 1/2 cup of spinach mixture (pesto). Arrange about 1 1/2 cups of pasta mixture in each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 2-3 tablespoons of the remaining pesto and approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons of the remaining cheese.
Both of the recipes above are healthy and packed full of the nutrients my family needs to help them make it through the week. However, while they are healthy meals, I’m most excited about how easy they are to prepare. If you’re looking for a couple new healthy recipes to add to your family’s menu this week – try the two above!