Tag Archive for salads

Back to School Healthy–Dinner

Oh, Dinner. It’s dinner that’s the most difficult.

Picture this: you pick your kid up from school, and drive him to his after-school activity. You’ve been smart enough to pack him a snack he can eat in the backseat as you drive there and talk about your day. Or maybe you have enough of a gap that you get the chance to stop at a coffee shop for a treat. He does his activity, you work on your laptop. He finishes, you drive home, and walk in the door. It’s already pushing 6 pm, and you have to make dinner, feed the kid, finish homework, get him a bath, prep for tomorrow…

It’s enough to make you want to curl up in a ball, no?


back to school healthy

I’m a single parent, so I don’t have anyone at home starting dinner for me. I’m sure many of you, partnered or not, are in the same situation. I don’t want to fall into desperate drive-through mode, or processed freezer meals. I want fast, but I also want homemade and healthy.

Here are some tips and tricks to get you through the most dangerous meal of the day.

SavingDinner.com: this is a subscription service that makes making dinner a snap. Every week, you get a downloadable file with a full grocery list, a list of the dinners for that week, and all the recipes. It’s a great way to try new things, and all the recipes are healthy. You can choose Paleo or Vegetarian streams, as well. The thing I like best about this subscription, though, is the daily blog posts. They are really useful and informative. Check it out!

Slow Cooker: I love, love, love my slow cooker. You put the ingredients in it in the morning before you leave, and you come home to dinner. Here are some back to school, kid-friendly slow cooker recipes.

Pizza night! Like many 11-year-olds, the sprout loves pizza. We have it once a week, usually Thursdays, which are our craziest nights. I set my oven timer so that the oven is already pre-heated when we walk in the door. I either buy frozen spinach pizzas, or plain cheese, and we put our own veggies and toppings on there. You can also make your own homemade frozen pizzas.

Stir-frys: You can prep your veg on the weekend, or buy a stir-fry mix. We add in a little smoked tofu, but you could do chicken or beef. I pre-cook my grains (rice, quinoa or barley) on the weekend, and freeze them in ziplocs. All you have to do is cook up your protein and veg, add a sauce, and dinner!

Pasta: The sprout is a big fan. Pasta is fast, easy, and is one of those dishes you won’t miss the meat in (or you can add it in easily). I make my own pasta sauce in the slow cooker and freeze it, I also make trays of mac ‘n’ cheese and freeze them. Add a salad, and you’re done!

Protein + Salad: M is a big fan of the Caesar Salad. I make my own croutons, and I prep the lettuce on the weekend (store it in mason jars in the fridge–similar to salad in a jar). You can simply fry up some fish (we like salmon), chicken or a simple steak, and serve it alongside a salad, which takes moments to make.

So there you have it! Hope these tips and tricks and recipes will help you to be more organized, and more healthy for back to school. I finally have a fridge again (or I will by tomorrow), so I can go back to recipe posts next week! 


Asian-Inspired Soba Noodle Salad

It’s hot. Who wants to cook? Not me.

I’m craving fresh, cool, crunchy vegetables, instead. Minced green herbs that pack a punch. And a dressing that has a fiery afterglow.

asian inspired soba noodle salad.jpg

This is one of my go-to salads in the summer. I make a batch of it, and leave it in the fridge, and then pull some out for lunches. You could also serve this alongside BBQ-grilled (look, Ma, no oven!) chicken or skewers of prawns.

I made this with Japanese Soba Noodles, which are a buckwheat-based noodle (sadly, they also have regular wheat, so they are not gluten-free), but if you could also easily substitute ramen.

The dressing is inspired by a Satay Sauce. If you’ve ever had delicious grilled skewers of meat at the Richmond Night Market, or a Thai restaurant, you’ll get the direction I’m headed in. It’s a peanut-based sauce with the sharpness of vinegar, the saltiness of soy, the heat of chilies and fresh ginger, and the sweetness of a little brown sugar.

You can put whatever vegetables you like with this–I like sweet red bell peppers, scallions, shredded carrots and snow peas. They all add sweetness and crunch.

Asian-Inspired Soba Noodle Salad

For the salad:

  • 1/2 package soba noodles, cooked in gently boiling water for about 5-6 minutes, then drained and held under cold, running water
  • 1/2-1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 scallions, green parts only, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 package of sugar snap peas, sliced into 1/2″ sections on the diagonal
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 cup finely diced cilantro (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced (or shredded on the smallest setting of your grater)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp hot chili flakes (optional)

In a small saucepan, place all the ingredients, and heat gently until everything comes together. If the dressing is too thick, you can add water, vegetable oil, or more sesame oil to thin it. Toss dressing with the noodles and all the salad ingredients. Refrigerate until cold. Garnish with sesame seeds or chopped peanuts, and freshly-chopped scallions or cilantro.