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Michelle Warner

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A Few of My Go-To Quick, Healthy Meals

Posted on March 7th, 2014

Last month I decided to make a stir-fry for dinner to use up some of our vegetables. Before Olivia, this would have been no problem. Now with a one-year-old who melts down around 6:00pm due to hunger and exhaustion, preparing any sort of meal is quite a task. Imagine the scene: I throw the veggies in the skillet, pull out the spices, and begin cutting more vegetables–all the while, I have a cutie pulling on my legs saying “ba, ba” (her version of “up.”). When I tell her I can’t pick her up right now, she throws her head back on the floor and starts crying loudly. I decide to turn on some toddler tunes to distract her (and let’s be honest, me!), but really the music just adds to the loudness of the kitchen. This goes on for another twenty minutes while I make the quinoa and stir the veggies. Thankfully right as I finish, Jared walks in the door. His face says it all as he spans the messy counters, the toys all over the kitchen floor, and Olivia hanging on my legs. I plate the food and then sink into my chair vowing to never make stir fry again until the kids are in high school.

It really was about as dramatic as I am making it to sound! After that dinner preparation nightmare, I was reminded all over again why right now in this season of my life I need quick meals I can prepare. However, it seems a lot of the easy dinners are not very healthy. I am on a quest to find easy but healthy meals. I thought I would share a few I have found but would love for you to pass along any you have found as well!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers 

These were really delicious and did not take too much preparation time before sticking them in the oven. Be prepared that you need to start them at least an hour and a half before dinner time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • [2 ribs celery, finely chopped (½ cup) - I omitted]
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
  • 1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (I added fresh because that is what I had on hand.)
  • 2 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • [3 large carrots, grated (1½ cups) - I omitted.]
  • 1½ cups grated reduced-fat pepper Jack cheese, divided
  • 4 large red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, ribs removed

Instructions:

1.Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and celery, and cook 5 minutes, or until soft. Add cumin and garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes, or until most of liquid has evaporated.

2. Stir in black beans, quinoa, carrots, and 2 cups water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender. Stir in 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour liquid from tomatoes in bottom of baking dish.

4. Fill each bell pepper half with heaping ¾-cup quinoa mixture, and place in baking dish. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour. Uncover, and sprinkle each pepper with 1 Tbs. remaining cheese. Bake 15 minutes more, or until tops of stuffed peppers are browned. Let stand 5 minutes. Transfer stuffed peppers to serving plates, and drizzle each with pan juices before serving.

Mexican Lasagna

A good friend of mine gave me this recipe when I was newly married. I have since adapted it to add more fillings but it is always a crowd pleaser and one of my go-to recipes for new moms (although check with them about the spice and onions first!).

Ingredients:

  • 1lb. Ground Turkey (I use the organic beef from Costco.)
  • 1-2 Tbsp Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1-2 red peppers, diced
  • 1 C. Tomato Sauce (15 oz.)
  • 16 oz. salsa
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can black beans
  •  3 Eggs (beaten)
  •  1 C. low fat cottage cheese
  •  8 Corn tortillas- cut in half (I usually just rip them to the size I need when I am putting them on the lasagna.)
  •  4 ½ oz. shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  •  3 oz. Mozzarella Cheese (to sprinkle on top)

Instructions:

  1. Simmer the meat, seasoning, pepper, onion, tomato sauce and salsa for 10minutes.
  2. Mix the eggs and cottage cheese together in a bowl.
  3. In a 9×13 pan, layer meat sauce on bottom; then tortillas, egg mixture, Monterey jack cheese and then repeat topping off with the mozzarella.
  4. Cook at 350 for 30-45 minutes.

 

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

I stumbled upon this crock pot meal yesterday when I was searching for a crock pot meal that did not contain lots of cream or cheese. If you have any healthy crock pot meals, I would love to know about them!

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (just over a pound)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning
  • 10-16 oz of salsa
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 red pepper, chopped  (Add to the pot 1 hour before the meal is finished cooking.)

Optional

  • Burrito size or taco size tortillas
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Lettuce
  • Rice

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken into large pieces and put into the crock pot.
  2. Sprinkle with taco seasoning, top with salsa & frozen corn.
  3. Cover & let cook for 4-5 hours on high.  (Warning – it only took the chicken 3 hours to be tender and ready.)
  4. Add the red peppers to the pot 1 hour before the meal is finished cooking.
  5. Stir it up then shred with a fork.
  6. Assemble any way you want.

Happy eating and please comment below if you have any go-to simple but healthy meals you enjoy. :)

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(Note’: It seems my email hasn’t been working if you reply to the blog post you receive in your inbox. I think it is fixed now but do let me know in the comment section if an email is returned to you. Thanks!)

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