Mixed Bean and Barley Vegetable Stew

This is a simple vegan recipe that makes a nice stew allowing for versatility of its use. It can be consumed on its own, on top of rice or quinoa, on top of a salad, in lettuce wraps, or pureed with a bit more liquid and eaten as a soup. So whether you were hoping to find a recipe for meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday, Fast Friday, Soup Saturday, or Stay-at-home-Sunday…this recipe could fit them all! My favourite way to enjoy it is on top of a spinach salad with a dollup of tzatziki on top and a sprinkling of The Chicago Spice House Moroccan Seasoning.

Bean Barley Stew

Ingredients

1 cup lentils

2 cups mixed beans

1 cup barley

2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 zucchinis, diced

1 red onion, diced

1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup water

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 tsp. truffle or sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Wash, drain, and then soak the lentils and beans in warm water for 2 hours.
  2. When read rinse them again and place in a pot. Add barley, fresh water, broth, and wine (or additional broth).
  3. Heat on medium and add in the remainder of the ingredients. Keep at a rolling boil for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for about an hour or until liquid has boiled off. Additional spices or herbs can be added during this time or at time of serving is a variety of flavours is desired.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

Advertisements

School Lunch and Snack Rotation

Wow! Where did summer go??? It sounds so cliché, but I truly believe that the months go faster with children around. There were moments this summer that I just wanted time to freeze so I could soak it in even more. Alas though time moves on and to be honest, there is something quite refreshing about a season change and a move back into more routine.

This is my first year with “school aged” children. Some moments I feel okay and others I have uncontrolled tears running down my face. There is so much emotional attachment to the move into this next phase of life for them and mom-hood for me.

One of the practical things that has been on my mind all summer is making snacks and lunches. My boys are fairly big eaters and I want to make sure that they have enough food, but also that it is balanced and fairly easy to eat as I know that they will not have a lot of time. I made a 10 day lunch cycle to help me in the day-to-day rush so that I do not have to think too hard about what to make. I will be using the Planet Box lunch boxes for most lunches and the Contigo Thermoses for any portions that I want to keep exceptionally warm or cold. Within the meal plan there is room for choice on some days and I also know that I may send leftovers at times. In addition, if my children as for a particular fruit or vegetable, I plan to just add that in to what I am already making so that they know I value their contribution, but I am also keeping up with offering variety and not just favourite foods….this is a hard balance with young children I am finding.

So, without delay, here is the meal plan that I will be using. It is nut free and for us, will be dairy free as well; however, I have included options with dairy as you may wish to send that instead. Please feel free to add other ideas for meals that have worked for your children in the comments section here or on my IG feed (@mealsformeandmyminis). We are all in this together mamas and I want to learn from you too!!!

Monday

Lunch: Whole grain wrap or ½ bagel with nitrate free turkey or chicken and cheese of choice (Daiya, feta, goat, Swiss, Havarti, Cheddar, etc.) with Cucumber slices and hummus or guacamole, and Grapes

Snack 1: Aussie bite

Snack 2: Applesauce pouch

Tuesday

Lunch: Manicotti with Peas and Diced cantaloupe

Snack 1: Almonds and raisins

Snack 2: Apple slices

Wednesday

Lunch: Sweet potato and Beet crackers with Roasted chickpeas, soy nuts, raisins, and dried blueberries mixed together, and Peppers and hummus or guacamole

Snack 1: Yogurt in a pouch

Snack 2: Pomegranate seeds

Thursday

Lunch: Homemade mac and cheese with Roasted sweet potato cubes and Watermelon chunks

Snack 1: Homemade smoothie pouch

Snack 2: Whole grain fig bar

Friday

Lunch: Homemade muffin with Yogurt, Apple slices, and Baby carrots and hummus

Snack 1: Homemade nut free trail mix

Snack 2: Mango chunks

Monday

Lunch: Whole grain wrap or ½ bagel with nitrate free turkey or chicken and cheese of choice (Daiya, feta, goat, Swiss, Havarti, Cheddar, etc.) with Cucumber slices and hummus or guacamole and Strawberries

Snack 1: Flavoured roasted soy nuts

Snack 2: Pretzel and popcorn mix

Tuesday

Lunch: Tuna salad with whole grain pita triangles or crackers and Peppers with hummus or guacamole

Snack 1: Banana

Snack 2: Sliced peppers

Wednesday

Lunch: Meatballs, rice, and corn with Pomegranate seeds

Snack 1: Grapes

Snack 2: Einstein bite

Thursday

Lunch: Whole grain crackers, Hard-boiled egg and/or rolled nitrate free lunch meat and/or cheese chunks with Carrots and hummus, and Blueberries

Snack 1: Whole grain fig bar

Snack 2: Roasted chickpeas

Friday

Lunch: Breakfast pita cut into quarters with Yogurt, Mandarin oranges (already peeled and sectioned), and Snap peas with hummus

Snack 1: Watermelon chunks

Snack 2: Quinoa cookie (recipe coming soon!)

I also plan to send water to drink. I hope that you find this helpful.

Until next time….stay healthy!

 

 

Soups on!

Soup is such a fantastic way to fill up on high nutrient and low caloric dense foods. I love having soups for lunch these days. I recently made a big batch of vegetable, bean, and tofu soup and portioned it out for lunches. I thought I would share my recipe in case it provides you with  inspiration to make a pot of your own.

Ingredients

4 Zucchinis, sliced (I used two green and two yellow)

3 peppers, diced (I used one yellow, one orange, and one red)

1 red onion, diced

2 cups snap peas

2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 cans No Salt Added tomatoes (or you could use 2 cans of tomato paste and dice up 5 or 6 large tomatoes)

1 Tbsp. dried basil

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

2 tsp. red curry powder

1 can No Salt added black beans, rinsed well

1 can No Salt Added white beans, rinsed well

2 cups diced medium or firm tofu

Instructions

  1. Prepare all vegetables, place them into a pot.
  2. Stir in the canned tomatoes, garlic, and seasonings.
  3. Simmer on medium low for about an hour or until vegetables are soft.
  4. Add in beans and tofu.
  5. If you are eating the soup right away, then simmer until beans and tofu are heated through. If you are portioning the soup for lunches, then you can let it cool and portion it out.
  6. When eating the soup, you may also wish to stir in some baby spinach and/or top with diced avocado.

This soup can be eaten on its own or with a whole grain side such as whole grain crackers or bread or wrap.

Here are a few photos of the soup I made. The first is the veggies at the start, the second is the final product, and the third was my lunch today.

Until next time….stay healthy!

Healthy Valentine’s Options

Are you hoping to enjoy a few valentine’s themed treats this weekend, but do not want to overload on sugar? I am with you!!! Here are a few things that I will be adding to our family’s plates over the weekend to celebrate without sacrificing on our health.

  1. Strawberries – Fresh strawberries, whole or sliced, make an amazing red pop on any plate. Add them to cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, yogurt, quinoa, spinach salad, mixed with other fruit, or just on their own. Strawberries are packed with vitamin C which is a great antioxidant. Antioxidants help to slow down the course of aging, and help prevent heart disease and cancer.
  2. Raspberries – Fresh or frozen, raspberries have a rich red colour. Fresh, they add a warm feel to a plate of food and when added from frozen into oatmeal or yogurt, they make a fun swirl as they melt. They are also a wonderful addition to a smoothie to make it a rich red colour.
  3. Pomegranate Seeds – These super foods add a delicious crunch to salads, cereal, and yogurt. They are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and they look amazing!
  4. Tomatoes – I like to add baby tomatoes to salads or slices of tomato to a supper plate to add to the festive feel. They are also a fun red addition to eggs or egg whites. Tomatoes, like strawberries, are full of vitamin C, and they also are en excellent source of lycopene. Lycopene is a caretenoid that specifically helps to reduce cancer risk. For the best source of lycopene, try to cook your tomatoes slightly or consume them with a source of fat such as avocado or olive oil.
  5. Watermelon – This sweet fruit is consumed more in the summer, but is a great valentines choice. You can cut out heart shapes and serve it to kids or adults for a nutritious snack or desert. Pair it with other red fruits or vanilla Greek yogurt to dip it in. It is sure to be a hit. And life tomatoes, watermelon is a great source of lycopene.
  6. Red Peppers – Again, these can be served fresh on salad or main supper place or cooked stove top in a stir fry or with onions in the oven. They can also be used for stuffed peppers. Try to use healthy stuffing options such as ground chicken, quinoa, and lots of diced veggies. No matter how they are prepared, they offer an awesome red “pop” to a meal, along with lots of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
  7. Salmon – Salmon has a lovely pink hue to it, which makes it a common choice for a romantic valentines supper. Serve this on top of quinoa and add roasted beets (described below), steamed cauliflower, and fresh cut tomatoes and red peppers to the plate and you have a heart healthy, nutrition packed, festive plate that everyone will enjoy. (This is my main course meal for a valentines dinner we are hosting with friends this weekend.)
  8. Heart Shaped Pancakes– This one is a must! You can shape them on your own use a cookie cutter for the shape 🙂 Then add lots of red fruit on top!IMG_4330
  9. Beets – Roasted beets are super easy and SO packed with nutrition. They are also a common hit with kids as they are nice and sweet. I like to peel, dice and roast mine with mushrooms, red onions, peppers, parsnips and/or leeks. I drizzle grapeseed oil on top and bake at 375 for about 35 minutes. They come out melt-in-your-mouth. IMG_8208
  10. Lasagna or Manicotti – This is a great choice for a family valentines supper. Kids tend to love lasanga and it is red…so these factors make it a hit for “love day” at home. You can make your lasagna even healthier by using ground chicken and black beans in place of meat, whole grain or rice noodles, low fat cottage cheese, and lots of veggies in the sauce.

I hope this leaves you craving healthy foods for Valentine’s weekend. Wishing you all a weekend full of love, cuddles, and laughs with those you adore most.

Until next time….stay healthy!

Healthy Dips for Mamas and Your Minis

Lets face it kids LOVE to dip!!! My children will eat just about any food as long as there is dip available. When my twins entered the “dipping” phase or toddler-hood, I was really uneasy about the increased sugar, sodium, and preservatives that they would be exposed to in things like ketchup and store bought salad dressings. So I decided to get creative and think of how I could offer them healthier choices than ketchup and Ranch dressing. If your children like dips OR if you have picky eaters and want to try the strategy of offering dips, here are some ideas. The other great thing is that you join in with them eating these dips with lots of veggies and fruit.

1) Hummus. You can use store bought or make your own. If you are using store bought, choose ones with as low sodium content as possible. Not only is hummus a yummy (and low mess) dip, it is jam packed with nutrients such as healthy fats, protein, fibre, iron, and magnesium. I like the ones by Summer Fresh, Fontaine Saute, and Sabra.

2) Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt is great for SO MANY THINGS. You will see me post about this amazing food a lot for various reasons. As a dip, it can be used for fruits, veggies, chicken, fish, etc! You can use plain or flavoured depending on what you are dipping. You can also add it to other dips to make them healthier and/or creamier (see below). I personally like the Liberte brand, but there are other great ones out there too. For a thick and creamy dip use either the 5% fat or the 9% fat choices. The lower fat products are great for eating but do not work well for dips.

3) Guacamole. If your kids are like mine and love avocado, why not turn it into a dip?! You can easily make your own! Mash up 1-2 avocados and stir in a squeeze or two of lime juice until you get the consistency you desire. For a creamier option, add a bit of 5% or 9% fat vanilla Greek yogurt.

4) Greek Ketchup. If you have children that like ketchup on anything and everything, try using 1/2 the amount of ketchup and mixing it with plain or vanilla Greek yogurt. This will still be a red dip but will have half of the preservatives and way more nutrition. For even more nutrient boost, try adding pureed butternut squash or sweet potato in too. I am not a big fan of “hiding” food as it is important that our children are exposed to the actual flavour of whole foods, but this nutrient boost is just too hard to resist.

5) Salad dressings. Most store bought salad dressings are full of preservatives and sodium so making your own is great.  I will be doing a future post on my favourite homemade salad dressings. Until then, and/or if you don’t have time to make your own, try purchasing the freshest ones possible. You will find these in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.  My favourite of these is the Renees line.

Until next time…happy dipping!

Healthy Treats for Outdoor Fun!

Summer is here and its time for park visits, zoo days, beach days, and spontaneous trips to your friend’s pool! Along with these amazing outdoor activities comes irregular schedules and increased appetites. This can lead to poor choices in food and/or missing meals. Planning ahead will help you and your children stayed nourished, hydrated, and healthy this summer! Here are some tips to get you started.

1) Don’t get caught filling up on high salt and high sugary snacks and beverages OR skipping eating for so long that you overeat. Pack easy to eat fruits and veggies for you and your kids to snack on. Grapes, blueberries, apple slices, melon cubes, cucumber slices, baby carrots, and pepper slivers are some of our favourites. Maybe take along some Greek yogurt or hummus for your kids to use as a dip. Kids love to dip and having healthy options available encourages them to eat more of the things you want them to.

2) For longer days when you need more complete meals, add more filling foods to your fruit and veggie snacks. Focus on things that are easy to pack and easy to eat. Your kids may not be willing to stop very long to eat. Try wraps or sandwich wedges; muffin with cheese; whole grain crackers and almond butter; Greek yogurt with granola; or hard boiled eggs and pita wedges.

3) Stay hydrated! Always take lots of water with you for you and your children. .  You can take plain water or for a more exciting option add strawberries or limes or orange slices to your water. For mamas, you can also try making your own iced tea to take along. Some of my favourites right now are “Just Peachy” and “Strawberry Colada” from Davids Tea. I use this amazing iced tea carafe that can even sit on its side in a cooler without leaking! These provide a way to stay hydrated and feel like you are having a sweet treat without any calories or caffeine.

4) Don’t forget to take an ice pack. Put any sandwiches, cheese, yogurts, eggs, etc. next to an ice pack so they stay cold and safe to eat.

5) Last but not least, involve your children in the planning.  Kids are more likely to eat foods that they have helped to choose and you will be teaching them the valuable lesson of planning ahead so they are set for life making healthy choices.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy summer!!!

photo (3)

Watch the blog later this week for fun dip ideas your kids will love and tips on getting more fruits and veggies into yourselves and your little ones. Until then stay well!

Summer time treats for all

Popsicles are a great way to cool off in the summer but most are packed full of simple sugar that our kids don’t need. Every food and drink that we offer our children should be as nutrition packed as possible. This summer, try making popsicles with your kids that will be fun and nourishing for them! The kid in you might want to try some too! Just pop fruit, veggies, yogurt, etc. in the blender, then pour into a popsicle mold, and freeze! Pull them out on any occasion for a good cool off!
Here are a few combinations to get you started…

1) Berry Bonanza
Strawberries
Blueberries
Raspberries
Plain Greek yogurt
Drizzle of honey
Squeeze of lemon juice

2) Banana Colada
Banana
Pineapple
Coconut Milk
Drizzle of honey

3) Watermelon Refresher
Watermelon
Strawberries
Mint leaves or Basil leaves
Drizzle of honey

4) Veggie fanatic
Banana
Roasted Sweet potato
Roasted Beets
Plain Greek yogurt
Drizzle of honey

Happy Freezing!

photo (4)