It’s been a busy week getting back into the swing of things. (Note the Friday blog instead of an early in the week one.) With the kids back in school, I’m trying to reclaim my house, get on a work schedule and basically get organized. I am sure many of you are in the same boat. For me, the key to feeling under control is being well prepared in the family meal department — breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner!
So, to kick off the first week of 2011, I had quite a hefty plan which included using up what little was left in my freezer from 2010, shopping and planning a cooking schedule with various friends.
With healthy meals in mind, Liz and I started the week with a big joint shop at Costco, splitting the cost for some great bulk foods — fingerling potatoes, ground turkey, edamame, milk, grape tomatoes, lettuce and quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). If you’ve never had quinoa before, it’s a gluten-free and protein rich super grain that has a soft seedy texture and a nutty flavor. It can be used instead of rice and kids love it!
We then met later in the week and made two vegetable soups (one lentil and one hearty veggie) and a delicious quinoa salad with peppers, tomatoes, feta and herbs. Liz and I try to stay focused on healthy vegetarian dishes which we eat ourselves for lunch and serve as sides to the family during the week. And, since I had tossed all the old holiday cookies and had depleted my freezer supply of muffins and breads, I also had to bake something sweet. I knew my sweet-loving friend Suzy would be game and together, we made cinnamon biscotti and cinnamon muffins. The muffins, along with fresh blueberries from Costco made a perfect breakfast for my three kids each morning.
Next week, I’m looking forward to making some dumplings and shumai with a few neighbors at my friend Christina’s house. I’ll come home with several freezer bags full, which will make satisfying thermos lunches for the kids! I’m also hoping to make a big batch of turkey meatballs to go with the farm fresh tomato sauce that’s still in the freezer from summer and some more breakfast breads and muffins. (Anyone care to join me?)
Here’s Liz and my simple and healthy quinoa salad recipe. (FYI – Liz’s 3-year old devoured several portions for lunch, so I think that’s a good sign. You can vary the flavors by adding whatever veggies you have on hand. Kalamata olives would be delicious too!)
Makes 8 cups
4 cups quinoa (2 cups cooked in vegetable broth and 2 cups cooked in water)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
1 cup feta cheese
1 orange pepper, diced
4 scallions (or ¼ cup red onion diced)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine quinoa, tomatoes, feta cheese, peppers, onions, mint and basil. In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the quinoa mixture.