By Fredrica Syren:
Between 3 kids and their activities and a very busy schedule, putting lunch or dinner on the table can be a challenge … and I mean a HUGE challenge. I am starting to understand why parents who work long hours may end up serving takeout food or settling for heavily processed foods from the grocery store. They just simply feel they have no time and their kids are hungry. I know, believe me. I have my moments as well, and end up buying a pizza kit or bringing home Thai food from our local restaurant. But I hate doing this because I know my kids need “real” food that is filling, healthy and nutrient dense. Plus, takeout and processed foods can get quite expensive in the long run. I also have learned through the years that kids really are easy going and like things simple, so there is no need to pull off a masterpiece. A homey, warm and yummy meal will do just fine.
With this is mind, I have created some very simple meals that I have pulled out on these crazy and busy days. They will satisfy appetites. They are simple, fast, healthy and cheap. And they can be made even by my husband, who does not cook a whole lot☺ All the soups can be made in a crockpot.
Broccoli Soup, serves 4 — This is a recipe I have used for years, and all my kids like it. It’s a great way to serve broccoli to anyone who does not like broccoli so much. For a full nutritional meal, I often serve my soups with whole grain bread, hummus, raw cut up veggies such as peppers and cucumbers, and milk.
- 1 small head of fresh broccoli or 2 cups frozen broccoli, cut into small pieces
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
- 1 Tbsp. cashew butter
- Salt & pepper to taste
Bring broccoli, onion and broth to a boil in a covered pot. Reduce to a simmer until broccoli is soft. Place in a blender with chickpeas and cashew butter. Puree on high speed until creamy. Return to pot, and add salt and pepper.
Curried Carrot and Lentil Soup, serves 6 — This is a delicious soup. The amount of spice can be increased or decreased, depending on your kids’ liking. It’s packed full of iron and is low fat, to boot. It’s ready in under half an hour.
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 7 carrots, peeled, chopped (medium sized carrots)
- 1 cup spinach, Swiss chard or kale
- 2 cups red lentils, rinsed until water runs clear
- 2 Tbsp. madras curry powder
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine vegetable broth, carrots, curry powder, spinach and lentils, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Using a blender, blend soup until creamy.
Spinach Pasta Sauce, serves 4 — This is a pasta sauce my kids’ daycare would serve and the kids fell in love with it … as did I when I learned how easy it is to make. I serve it with pasta, of course, but also with cooked beans on the side, or beans as well as roasted sunflower seeds on top.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped (or use frozen)
- 1 small yellow sweet onion, minced
- 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 2 cups of milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
- A small dash of fresh ground nutmeg
- Salt to taste
Heat oil on medium heat and sauté onion for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Sprinkle flour over and mix quickly. Add milk and use a whisk to mix until all flour has been dissolved. Bring to a simmer while stirring constantly. Add nutmeg and salt. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Toss with favorite pasta.