Meatless Monday! Easy Summertime Meals that are Healthy and Light for Busy Families!

Summertime around here has meant a huge flurry of activity.

The hot and steamy weather hasn’t slowed us down much but appetites tend more toward light and flavorful rather than rich and filling.

And the schedules are all over the place! From sport activities to musical gigs, weekend getaways and family gatherings I find that preparing and serving nutritious meals is more challanging than ever.

Especially when I am not there to supervise everything!

Well, I’ve learned to “let go” and create easy, ready to prepare and assemble food for my family; even the picky ones.

I have been in the habit of keeping a big container of cooked brown rice in the fridge.

I also will sautee corn with cilantro and onions and keep that around.

In addition, I’ll chop green onion and fresh cilantro and keep that in the fridge, also.

There are always cans of organic vegetarian beans or refried beans in the panty.

I also make sure to keep stocked up on ripe avocados and limes.

By having these ingredients handy eating on the fly is healthy and quick.

Even the little ones can do it; even the chronically lazy!

We also like to garnish with fresh salsa and a tangy homemade yogurt or sour cream.

This meal and it’s many variations has become a summertime staple that everyone can enjoy and customize to their own preference.

Burrito style for those who are always running late and eating on the way or pizza stlye with a little Manchego cheese for weekend movie night.

So, don’t get frustrated get creative!

These budget friendly meals are flexible. Use what you have around and get fancy when the budget allows.

They are built in to be nutritious so you just can’t go wrong!

With only healthy options even the least culinary inclined among you can’t help but choose something delicious and nutritious while you enjoy a little fun in the sun!

  

Super Food Kaniwa with Corn, Beans, Red Pepper, Green Onion, Avocado and Lime Juice!

Kaniwa from Roland Products, pronounced “Ka-nyi-wa”, is a staple grain of the ancient Aztec and Incan cultures whhich has been cultivated for thousands of years throughout South America.

The crunchy, earthy grain is loaded with protein and makes a complete meal when mixed with vegetables.

Kaniwa Plant

Roland Foods offers a wide variety of specialty foods from around the globe and was kind enough to send me this box of Kaniwa to try at home.

I have cooked with Quinoa in the past and I love it.

Kaniwa is similar to quinoa but seems to feel hardier and denser.

I gathered all the vegetables I could find and chopped them to equal size.

1 package of Grape tomatoes cut in half, 7 green onions, 1/2 of a red onion, 1 can of pinto beans, 2 cups of corn, 1 red pepper, 1/2 of a English cucumber, 1 bunch of cilantro,the juice of 3 limes, 1/4 cup of olive oil and salt to taste.

I garnished with avocado.

I put all of the chopped vegetables in a bowl, cooked the 12 oz. box ( about 2 cups ) of Kaniwa and added to the veggies.

I added it hot to the vegetables to bring them to peak flavor.

I find that adding hot grains to the veggies gives off just enough heat to liven the flavors.

I mixed everything then added the olive oil and the lime juice.

Serve and garnish with half an avocado.

Add salt to taste.

This was fantastic.

Everyone loved this vegan, protein rich meal which could also be great as a side dish with grilled salmon.

  

Lunch at Fred’s at the top of Barney’s in Chicago!

What a gorgeous sunny day in Chicago!

What better to do than lunch and shop on a crispy cool Spring day?!

Where better to go for both than Barney’s and Fred’s?!

A seat next to the window with a glorious view of the Gold Coast was the perfect way to enjoy this beet and goat cheese salad!

Fred’s is a cool upscale spot which features organic and local food as much as possible.

The atmosphere is pure Gold Coast; Comfortable luxury!

The salmon was wild caught, tender and juicy.

The spinach was perfectly cooked and flavorful.

This is a great combination.

I can eat salmon and spinach everyday!

The avocado and tomato salsa made this the absolutely perfect meal for me!

All my favorites on one plate with green onion, too!

Very fresh. Delicious!

My honey had the linguine with clams in a very light tomato sauce.

This dish was garlicky and spicy.

Absolutely fantastic!

We were both jockying between the two plates trying to decide which was better.

It was a tie.

We were so full!

But that did not stop us from completely cleaning our plates!

Of course, we walked around Michigan Avenue for a while.

I shopped, he tried to stop me from shopping, and so it went until we stumbled on Tavern on Rush……..

  

Who Knew? Miso Soup is so Quick and Easy on a Cold Winter Day!

031misoo soup

I have always loved miso soup. The richness of the broth lead me to believe, in my early uninformed years, that there was a meat base to the broth.

I was so happy to learn that this is not the case.

Dashi is the base of many Japanese soups and sauces and can be made from dried sardines, mushrooms, and in my case sea weed.

I used 2 “leaves” of Kombu Sea Vegetable to 12 cups of water. ( I made a big batch; we’ll discuss this later).

The sea vegetable expands greatly in the water so I would suggest breaking it into small peices before boiling.

This saves time cutting it up later.

You can also purchase the kind which is cut or shredded.

Boil until soft.

You can buy Dashi but it is not always easy to find and making it yourself is so easy…why not?!

Now, making this soup in large quantities is not the best idea and I now know why.

You should not boil the miso.

And if you have to warm leftover soup you won’t be able to avoid over cooking.

Also, the scallions which add such a nice delicate flavor would not taste great or retain their texture if submitted to too much heat.

I wish that I would have known this befor I started.

I now know why cooking suggestions were given for one and two cup servings.

I would highly suggest making this soup in small portions for optimum flavor and quality.

011miso soup

Ingredients

3 cups dashi soup stock
1 block tofu
3-4 tbsps miso paste
1/4 cup chopped green onion

Method

Put dashi soup stock in a pan and bring to a boil.

Cut tofu into small cubes and add them to the soup.

Simmer the tofu for a few minutes on low heat.

Scoop out some soup stock from the pan and dissolve miso in it.

Gradually return the miso mixture in the soup.

Stir the soup gently.

Stop the heat and add chopped green onion.

Remember not to boil the soup after you put miso in.

*Makes 4 servings

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Making the Dashi.

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Measuring the Miso.

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Mixing the Dashi with the Miso.

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Disolving the Miso in the Dashi before adding to the Dashi Broth.

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Mixing everything together in the soup pot.

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I always need to add alittle heat!.

  

Brown Rice with Tofu, Scallions, Ginger and Black Bean Sauce!

053brown rice with black bean sauce

After a long Saturday spent writing; cooped up in the house on a snowy afternoon I just needed something fresh, spicy and satisfying.

Brown rice with tofu and black bean sauce was the ticket.

Ginger and scallions added the fresh crunchy spicy thing.

014brown rice with black bean sauce

022brown rice with black bean sauce

027brown rice with black bean sauce

Make sure to sautee the ginger or add it while the rice is boiling.

Too raw and it can be intense!

025brown rice with black bean sauce

029brown rice with black bean sauce

031brown rice with black sauce

045brown rice with black sauce

048brown rice with black bean sauce

I added alot of crushed red pepper.

I love the heat!

052brown rice with black sauce

  

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