Straightforward frozen vegetables without added sauces can cut meal prep time (think frozen spinach instead of washing, chopping and cooking freshly bought greens) and bring variety to a meal without excess waste. If you don’t routinely use leftovers, everyone in your family likes different veggies, or you want to provide more than one per meal, it doesn’t get easier than cooking frozen vegetables.
To prepare, take a bowl of veggies, add a small amount of water and microwave for 30 seconds to two minutes depending on the amount you have, and before your 5 minute couscous is done your veggies are on the plate. For a child size portion your can pour steaming hot water on them to defrost them, steam them or boil them.
Two benefits to frozen veggies – they keep longer than fresh ones and may be even more nutritious as they’re frozen soon after harvest. Plus, they don’t have any added salt or calories from a sauce and are a blank slate for the flavors of your meal.
If you’re looking for a fast, all-age friendly way to cook vegetables and proteins, look no further than the funny pot with all of the holes on the bottom that fits in your go-to sauce pan. Until I had kids I rarely steamed foods, but it’s now my default for making soft veggies for young eaters.
The beauty of steaming is that vegetables can be cooked to varying degrees of tenderness in under 10 minutes, which is just enough time to prepare the rest of your meal (especially when you have hungry mouths to feed). Steaming is also a quick way to cook greens such as spinach, kale or Swiss chard. I typically bake my chicken or fish, but both can be steamed, as can shrimp, which means you’re only a few minutes away from making pasta, salad, or your veggies and grains a bit more fancy.
Looking for more ways to eat healthy? Check out the Healthy Cooking category, complete with techniques and recipes.
Whether you’re going out or staying in this Labor Day, these summer bruschetta will help make the vibrant tastes of summer last a little bit longer.
Corn and Peach Bruschetta
Corn (2 ears cooked)
White Peaches (1-2 chopped)
Cilantro (1 Tbs chopped)
Salt, Pepper and Cayenne Pepper
Toasted baguette or your favorite bread
Mix corn, peaches and cilantro and season to taste with the salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and lemon juice. Use a small amount of olive oil to help hold everything together, place a generous amount on top of toasted baguette and top with ricotta cheese.
Traditional Tomato Bruschetta
Plum, cherry or heirloom tomatoes (or all 3!)
Minced Garlic (1 tsp)
Salt and Pepper
Toasted baguette or your favorite bread
Mix the tomatoes with your preferred amount of basil, the garlic and a touch of olive oil. Season to taste, spoon on top of toasted baguette and let the rich tomato and basil flavors shine through in the simplicity of the mix.
This simple salad is perfect for a weeknight dinner! if you have more time, grilling the shrimp and peppers will add depth of flavor and give it that extra hint of summer.
Mediterranean Shrimp Salad (serves 2)
1/2 lb Shrimp
1/2 Bell Pepper
1/8 cup Red Onion
Simple Lemon Vinaigrette – I omitted the lemon zest and used whole grain mustard as I had it on hand
1. Mix all salad ingredients except for shrimp in proportion to your taste
2. Grill the shrimp or season with salt and pepper and cook in olive oil for ~ 2 minutes per side until they are pink and opaque
3. Top the salad with shrimp and lemon vinaigrette
Pair with hummus or tzatziki and toasted pita and a cold glass of white or rose wine for a lovely summer dinner!
This simple salad features farro, a nutty-flavored grain commonly used in place of rice. Farro is also a good source of fiber, magnesium, and B vitamins. Feel free to substitute quinoa or your favorite grain for the farro, or substitute salmon for chicken to increase heart healthy omega-3 fats.
Grilled or roasted chicken
Spinach (or your favorite greens)
Lemon-Dill Dressing (recipe makes ¼ cup, enough for two salads)
Farro – place desired amount of farro in a pot of boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and refrigerate extra for up to 1 week. 1 cup uncooked will equal ~2 1/2 cups cooked.Lemon-Dill Dressing- Mix 1 Tbs lemon juice, 1 1/2 tsp of dijon mustard and 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Whisk in 1/4 cup of olive oil and then mix in desired amount of chopped dill.
Combine all ingredients in desired amounts and enjoy!