WLAA Guest Column: “Healthy Mama, Happy Kids” with Alison Corey

 

By Alison Corey

5 Quick Healthy Kid Friendly Weeknight Meals

When it comes to preparing dinner, nothing can be more challenging than having a family with different likes, dislikes, and dietary needs and restrictions.  It often feels like an elusive puzzle trying to figure out a meal that is quick, healthy, delicious, and serves the needs of every member of your family.

I’m not immune to the dinnertime conundrum. I’m a flexible plant-based vegan. My husband is a junk food loving carnivore. My kids are 3 and 6, and would be happy to eat buttered noodles most every night.  I’m a busy mom like many of you. I teach during the day, write for my health and wellness blog and coach clients in the evenings and weekends, and do my best to keep up with the daily demands of shuttling my kids to their activities, trying to fit a workout in, and getting homework done.

Some weeks I’m an amazing meal planner!  Others, not so much!  When we have a packed weekend with extra activities, I don’t have the time to plan and prepare the way I want to for the coming week.

That’s when I go to my 5 quick and easy, no prep healthy meals. After years of relying on “healthy” organic boxed mac and cheese, frozen pizzas, hot dogs, and grilled cheese, I decided I needed to give these go-to kid friendly meals a healthy makeover.

The caveat, they had to be just as easy and quick as their counterparts. The healthy versions of these go-to meals are rich in fiber, pack a protein punch, and have a healthy dose of veggies. The best part? They can be prepared in under 15 minutes. I think they’re easier and faster than take-out!

Kids Friendly Meal Swaps

Instead of Hot Dogs and French Fries try …
Veggie Pita Pockets and Baked Sweet Potato Chunks

Servings: 4

What You’ll Need:

2 Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

Hummus or Avocado Spread

Sliced Cucumbers

Shredded Carrots

Sliced Tomatoes

Spinach Leaves

1 bag of Diced Frozen Sweet Potatoes

How to Prepare:

Cut whole wheat pita pockets in half.

Smear the inside with hummus or avocado spread.

Stuff with sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, sliced tomatoes, and spinach leaves. You can also stuff the pita pockets with any veggies you have on hand.

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Toss the frozen sweet potatoes in a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt.

Spread sweet potatoes evenly on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Instead of Boxed Mac and Cheese try …
Lentil Pasta with Organic Marinara and Spinach

Servings: 4

What You’ll Need:

*1 box of Lentil or Chickpea Pasta

1 jar of Organic Marinara Sauce

1 bag of organic fresh spinach leaves

*Lentil and chickpea pasta is packed with protein and has none of the refined carbs of regular pasta!

Prepare:

Cook pasta according to directions.

Heat marinara sauce in separate pot.

When ready to serve, throw the spinach leaves in the sauce until wilted.

Drain pasta, and toss with sauce.

Serve with parmesan cheese if desired.

You can also add a few frozen turkey or vegetarian meatballs! (I like the ones from Trader Joe’s).


Instead of Grilled Cheese on White Bread with Chips try…
Veggie Black Bean Quesadillas with a side of Mild Salsa

Servings: 4

 What You’ll Need:

4 Organic Whole wheat or corn tortillas

1 15 oz can of organic black beans

Diced bell peppers

1 bag of Organic Fresh Spinach

Organic Cheddar Cheese (I usually get a block and shred it, but you can also get shredded cheese to save time)

Organic Mild Salsa

Prepared Avocado Spread

Olive oil, avocado oil

Prepare:

Dice bell peppers

Drain and rinse canned black beans

Shred cheddar cheese

Heat pan with 1 tablespoon of avocado or olive oil

Spread cheese, black beans, peppers evenly on one side of the tortillas. Careful not to overstuff.

Fold tortillas in half.

On medium heat, cook each tortilla on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

Cut and serve with a side of mild salsa, avocado spread, or both!


Instead of frozen or takeout pizza try …
Zucchini Pizza Bites with side of Mixed Vegetables

Servings: 4

What You’ll Need:

4 Zucchinis

8 oz. bag of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

*1 jar of Organic Marinara Sauce

*Diced peppers

1 can of black olives (optional)

1 bag of frozen vegetables of choice (my boys love organic broccoli)

2 tablespoons of avocado or olive oil

*I use leftover marinara sauce from pasta night, and leftover peppers from quesadilla night.

Prepare:

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Slice zucchinis in round circles if you have big fat zucchinis, or lengthwise if you have skinny zucchinis.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and olive oil to keep zucchini from sticking.

Spread zucchini evenly over the cooke sheet.

Spread marinara sauce, over each zucchini slice

Top with mozzarella cheese, diced peppers, and olives if you choose.

Bake for 10 minutes of until cheese starts to bubble.

While zucchini bites are baking, steam bag of frozen vegetables.


Instead of Peanut Butter and Jelly or Uncrustables try …
Almond Butter and Banana Roll-Ups with Baby Carrots and Cucumber Sticks

Servings: 4

 What You’ll Need:

4 Whole Wheat Tortillas

Almond Butter

4 Bananas

1 Bag of Organic Baby Carrots

1 Cucumber Sliced in sticks

Prepare:

Spread Almond Butter evenly on each tortilla

Peel bananas and place on one side of the tortilla

*Roll-up tortilla with banana in the center

Serve with side of baby carrots and cucumbers.

*Optional: You can grill the tortillas in a pan for a crisp tortilla.

I hope you and your kids enjoy these alternatives to the typical quick and easy weeknight meals.

Comment below, and let me know your go-to healthy weeknight meal your whole family loves!

Alison Corey, a WLAA health columnist, is a National Board Certified Mayo Clinic health coach, writer, teacher, wife, and mother to two energetic boys. Alison is passionate about plant-based nutrition, yoga, meditation, and self-love. She helps overwhelmed moms heal their bodies naturally from the effects of chronic stress so that they can feel like themselves again. You can learn more about her work at https://www.trimmama.com.

 

 

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