Roasted veggies with pasta

My kids, just like yours, I am sure, love pasta.  However, white pasta is not the healthiest of choices for active growing bodies, even with all of the enriching that goes into making it (read the label, enriched with this, enriched with that).  Choose whole grain pastas, whenever possible for making the meal the healthiest.  We use whole wheat pasta along with Kamut pasta, and occasionally brown rice pasta.

Something we started doing a number of years ago, was topping whole wheat pasta with roasted veggies as a great side dish.  Roasting the vegetables gives them a sweetness children (and adults) enjoy, without losing the nutrition in them.

If you have all the ingredients in your fridge, this a quick healthy meal.  Add baked chicken to round out the meal.

A quick tip: make double the recipe, add two cups of marinara sauce, and use with cooked short pasta for “Baked Pasta with Roasted veggies”.  Cover and bake for 25 minutes at 400F, sprinkle with low fat mozzarella, and broil for 5 minutes (watched).  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Veggies with Pasta

Preheat oven to 425F.  In a large bowl, combine:

1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced

1 medium Japanese eggplant, halved and sliced

3 medium bell peppers, seeded, and cut into 1-2 inch chunks

1 large red onion, sliced thickly

6-8 large button mushrooms, quartered

8-12 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or shredded.

Add 2 TBSP Olive oil,

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 salt

chili flakes to taste.

Toss the veggies with the olive oil and seasoning.  Spread out on two rimmed baking sheets.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Stirring veggies halfway through baking.

Meanwhile, heat a pot of water to boiling on the stove.  After the veggies are halfway through baking, cook pasta following directions on package.

Return baked veggies to your large bowl, add 2 TBSP of Balsamic vinegar and 1 TBSP of Olive oil and half a cup of fresh basil leaves, shredded.  Toss to ensure the flavours are spread evenly.

Toss veggies with finished pasta and serve with grated parmesan.



Clean Lunch Menu for February Week #1 – Wraps

Hello!  I am sorry that this is a bit late this weekend!  We have been so busy since Friday, for now we are 6!  Our newest student has arrived to join our family until the end of June.  So, with that and all the other activities that normally fill the weekend, unfortunately, this got bumped.  However, here it is and hopefully, not too late for most of you!

I had some helpers this week.  It is always great to get the eaters involved in pulling together the menu for the week.  When I asked for suggestions, I got “Wraps, wraps and more wraps.”  “Unless there are leftovers!” piped my 11 year old.

Wraps became very popular in our house around the time my daughter went to grade 1 (she is now in grade 4).  She doesn’t really like standard bread (well, she would I suppose if her mother bought white bread), but loves flatbreads.  To prep your pantry for wraps, you want to think of a few things: flatbreads, first of all, or tortillas: choose whole grain ones.  You can usually find them in two places in the grocery store: the bread aisle, and also in the refrigerator case.  I used to think they only kept the corn ones in the cold area, but then I took a closer look and realised that the organic, no additive ones are also kept there.  Hmmm.  By the way, if you pick up these ones, keep them in the fridge once you bring them home as well.

Next, your fillings: you want lean protein and some sort of veggies.  My hubby’s favourite wrap is made with leftover curry chicken and rice.  I always find it a bit odd that carbs are wrapped around carbs, but it is his lunch!  Filling wraps is a great way to use up leftover salad.  My favourite is leftover chicken breast, with Greek salad and a little bit of tzatziki.

Last thing: how do you pack it?  If the wraps are not too messy (unlike the ones I have just described above), you can roll, cut in half and put both halves side by side in a standard sandwich box.  Sometimes I tuck some veggie sticks in beside to keep them from rolling around.  Messier wraps require a bit more planning: use wax paper or parchment paper, large enough to cover the wrap (I estimate about 6 inches longer than the flatbread, and I always have lots).  Then using a slightly smaller piece of aluminum foil.  Put the parchment on top of the aluminum, place the wrap in the middle of the parchment, diagonally.  Bring one corner over the wrap and tuck it under.  Then continue rolling until the parchment is fully around the wrap (being careful as some of the filling will fall out the top).  Twist the bottom of the parchment.  Fold over the other end.  Repeat with the foil, only do not twist the foil, fold it up at the bottom and at the top.  By the way, this is a great way to pack wraps for the freezer.  But I only do that with ones that have cooked veggies in them, never fresh ones.

Happy Packing!


Monday: Roasted veggie and hummus wraps, cottage cheese, apple, cranberry oat bran muffin

Tuesday: Tuna salad wraps (put the tuna into a lettuce leaf first, to keep the wrap from getting too wet), 3 bean salad, cheddar cheese blocks, orange slices, ginger cookie

Wednesday: BLT wraps with chicken, mini blueberry muffins, veggie sticks, kiwi

Thursday: Santa Fe salad wraps with Salmon, frozen berries, vanilla yogurt, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, apple

Friday: Spinach salad wraps with lentil soup, rice cakes, fruit salad (frozen strawberries, peach and pineapple), apple


Shepherd’s pie

Tuna wraps (lettuce cut up small, so it is easier for little teeth)

Turkey sausage, with peas and brown rice

Lentil soup and cheese sandwich

Peanut butter and banana roll-ups with vegetable soup




Turkey Chili for the Slow cooker

Chili was one of the first things I  mastered when I moved out on my own.  I had made it a few times at home, from a recipe (usually a Canadian Living one).  But when I moved out, I started to experiment with different beans, meats and other additions. I sometimes put chickpeas or Romano or pinto beans in in place of the black beans, depending on what is in the cupboard.
Once we had kids, that was when the pumpkin addition came along.  When the kids were little, I put pumpkin or pureed squash in just about anything that had a red sauce.  It adds a little bit of sweetness, fibre and vegetable and they don’t even notice it!
The green chilies had some southwestern flavour without adding heat (note, don’t buy chopped jalapenos by mistake, the cans are usually side by side on the grocery store shelf.
You can make this easy chili with ground turkey or ground beef.  If you are using beef, you could add some garlic to this as well, adding it when you cook the onions and peppers.  Using turkey gives the chili a sweeter flavour, and I have found that the garlic doesn’t really belong there.
To save time in the morning, prepare the ground turkey and vegetables the day before and refrigerate until morning, when you are ready to load the slow cooker for the day.
*Note: I used the leftovers today, mixed with grated cheese to make Quesadillas.  Wow!  Were they ever good!  I had 1, 3 and 4 year olds eating beans, zucchini, and peppers, and loving it!  “Best lunch you ever made” (to quote a 3 year old) Try it sometime!
Turkey chili for the Slow cooker

1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion

2 sweet peppers, diced

4 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 zucchini quartered and sliced

1 large can (28 oz) no salt diced tomatoes, with juice

1 can unsalted tomato paste

1 small can diced green chilies

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1TBSP Maple syrup

Gentle splash of hot sauce
1 can (14 ounces) kidney beans, drained, rinsed

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup frozen corn, rinsed and drained

Garnish or sides: plain Greek yogurt, sliced avocado, sliced jalapeno, grated cheese (Montery jack or cheddar

In a large skillet, brown turkey, add onions and peppers and cook until soft.  Transfer turkey and vegetables to the slow cooker and add green chiles, zucchini, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, beans and corn, pumpkin, hot sauce and maple syrup. Stir gently to blend ingredients. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 5 to 6 hours. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with plain yogurt and a little shredded cheese.
Serves 8.



Cranberry Oatbran Muffins

Well, after all the protein bar making last weekend, my family has since informed me that they do not like coconut.  Oh well.  I like them.  My son is always happy  with everything as long as he has his peanut butter protein balls .  My daughter suggested that we try and come up with a recipe for vanilla protein bars, maybe with chocolate chips!  I said, “Maybe.” They have both been going around all week asking me to make muffins.  “Blueberry ones.”  However, our stash of frozen ones from the summer has been depleted (into the world of smoothies!), and I am waiting for someone to have frozen ones on sale again.  Then, we will have blueberry muffins, and smoothies, again.  In the meantime, I suggested that we eat up some of the frozen fruit we do have!  So, this morning, I threw together this muffin recipe, after looking through the Joy of Cooking for inspiration.  After turning their noses up at them with the mention of cranberries, before school, after school, the kids decided they were so good, they were each going to have 2!  And I caught my daughter eating a third on her way out the door to soccer practice!

And my daycare charges gave them a thumbs up, with the comment, “Did you know that cranberries are really sour?”

S is for ...SpaceGood kitchen help is hard to find!

Cranberry Oatbran muffins ~ Take note: these muffins are quite dense and hearty, and best eaten the day they are made.

Makes 12 standard size muffins.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray or line 12 cup standard muffin tin.

1 cup whole spelt flour

1 cup rolled oats (I used large flake, but you could use the regular ones as well)

2 cups oat bran (or wheat bran)

1/2 cup Vanilla Isapro or other protein powder

2 tsp Baking powder

1/2 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sweetener, I used natural sugar cane crystals.

1 1/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1 Tbsp molasses

2 tsp orange zest

2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries  (you could use blueberries in these as well, and then I would use lemon zest instead of orange zest or omit the zest all together.)

In a large bowl, mix eggs with sweetener.  Add buttermilk and applesauce. Mix well, add coconut oil and molasses and orange zest, and mix until well blended.  In a smaller bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  Whisk until well combined.  Scoop out 1/4 cup dry mix and sprinkle over berries (this will keep them from sinking to the bottoms of the muffins while baking).  Poor dry mix into wet, and mix just until combined.  Fold in cranberries.

Scoop into prepared muffin tin, bake for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool 5 minutes before turning out onto cooling rack.  Serve warm as part of breakfast.  Or these would make a great snack for your kiddos who need that protein boost in between meals to keep their engines running smoothly.


Happy Packing!