Today I succumbed to the cold that my 3 girls have been passing around, and the last thing I want to hear when I’m feeling crummy is complaints about dinner. So I went to the grocery store for some soup for myself and my husband made pancakes for the girls. And it was quick and easy, thanks to the tub of whole-wheat, clean pancake mix I had mixed up a few weeks ago and kept in the pantry! I had taped on a Post-It with the list of “wet” ingredients to add, so no need to look up recipes. As easy as Bisquick, with whole foods instead of additives!
Whole-Wheat Pancake Mix (makes approx. 6 small batches)
- 6 cups white whole-wheat flour
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. salt
- Combine all ingredients in a large, airtight container, making sure to break up any clumps of coconut sugar. Store in your pantry until needed.
To make pancakes: (I usually double this to feed our hungry family)
- 1 cup pancake mix
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk*
- 1 Tbsp. canola oil
- Whisk ingredients together until just combined.
- Heat your griddle on medium and spray lightly with cooking spray.
- Ladle 1/4-cupfuls onto the griddle, wait until bubbles form and edges look set, then flip and cook until done.
- Repeat for remaining batter.
- Serve warm with pure maple syrup and maybe some peanut butter spread on top.
*Make your own buttermilk–you can even do nondairy! Add 1 Tbsp. white vinegar to a measuring cup, then fill the rest of the way to the 1-cup mark with regular milk. Even almond milk curdles this way! Give it a try!
Original recipe here
Dairy-free option | Soy-free | Clean eating
Lesson one: No amount of processing can save a poorly lit photo. (Thanks for nothing, Standard Time.)
Lesson two: However it may look, this stew tastes incredible. And it’s easy. And clean, paleo, low-glycemic, dairy-free, soy-free, and kid-approved!
Browning the beef beforehand sounds like an extra step, but it is SO important to the full flavor of this dish. And it’s a quick way to get your kitchen already smelling delicious before you even turn on the crock pot! Put this one on your list for the cold, busy weeknights ahead. (Please send some of that cold down here to Florida!)
Paleo Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Original recipe here
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 lbs stew beef (cubed)
- 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into large dice
- 8 carrots, peeled and cut into large dice
- 1 onion, cut into large chunks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped)
- optional, to thicken broth: 1/4 cup tapioca starch
- Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the beef chunks, season with a little salt and pepper, and sear on all sides. Dump into your slow cooker and cover with the remaining ingredients, except tapioca starch.
- Cook on high 5-6 hours, or on low 8-9.
- Optional: if you want to thicken the broth, 30 minutes before the end of cooking time, whisk the tapioca starch with 2 Tbsp water. Pour the mixture into the stew, stirring gently, until distributed throughout, and allow it to resume cooking.
- Remove bay leaves and enjoy! In the unlikely event that there are leftovers, they reheat beautifully.
Paleo | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Clean Eating | Gluten-free | Nut-free
Have you read the children’s book Strega Nona, by Tomie de Paola? The main character is a grandmother witch who has a magic pasta pot. She sings a song to it, and it magically fills with fresh, hot pasta:
Bubble, bubble, pasta pot–
Boil me some pasta, nice and hot.
I’m hungry and it’s time to sup;
Boil enough pasta to fill me up.
Her bungling assistant, Big Anthony, thinks he knows her secret, but he forgets one crucial step and soon the whole town is swimming in pasta!
We love that book. And we love pasta! When I first introduced my girls to this recipe, I called it “Strega Nona pasta,” because it’s magic, just like hers! This pasta won’t magically appear in your pot, but it takes so few steps that it might as well. And at least you don’t have to worry about it overflowing and filling your house!
I love that I can dump all these fresh, delicious ingredients into a pot, turn on the burner, and when the timer goes off, I have a magical pot full of fragrant, hot pasta, ready to eat–I don’t even need to drain it!
“Strega Nona” Pasta
Original recipe here
- 12 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti (I throw in a couple handfuls of short pasta, like whole-wheat rotini, for my little ones as well)
- 1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
- 2 cups (1 pint) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 sprigs fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into ribbons)
- up to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I use 1/4 tsp)
- up to 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp good-quality balsamic vinegar
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups chicken (or “no-chicken” or vegetable) broth
- optional: fresh grated parmesan
- Dump all ingredients into a large pot with tall sides. If your pot isn’t wide enough for your spaghetti to lie flat, break the spaghetti in half.
- Bring to a boil over high heat; boil 10-12 minutes or until pasta is cooked and much of the liquid is absorbed.
- Serve immediately, topped with parmesan if desired.
Meatless | Clean | Vegetarian option | Dairy-free | Soy-free | Nut-free
I know all of you moms can relate to this:
When my little one was first born, everything had to be done one-handed &/or at lightning speed, or screaming would ensue. Including dinner. I didn’t think most of my go-to recipes were that time-consuming until I had The Witching Hour to contend with. So I started looking for meals that took literally 5 minutes of prep. They could sit in the oven all they wanted, but hands-on time was at a premium.
Mother-in-law to the rescue!
This easy dinner is adapted from her recipe, and literally takes 5 minutes, especially if you have a bigger kid on hand to crush the crackers for you. The amounts are approximate because I just kind of wing it every time–feel free to do your own improvising! I serve it with seasoned brown rice, which takes longer to cook, so I start it before the chicken. The rice recipe is at the bottom.
- 1 sleeve Ritz crackers
- 1 Tbsp. parmesan
- up to 1 tsp. garlic salt
- about 1/2 cup sour cream
- 4 chicken breasts
- Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Place the crackers in a Ziploc bag & use a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs. Pour into a shallow dish. Add parmesan & garlic salt; stir to combine.
- Place sour cream in another shallow dish.
- If desired (especially if you’re short on baking time), cut chicken breasts in half.
- Coat one piece of chicken in sour cream, then fully coat in crumb mixture. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Bake 15-20 minutes or until done in the middle (this is why I cut mine in half; they get done quick & don’t burn).
- Serve with seasoned brown rice (below) & salad or fruit.
Seasoned brown rice
- Make brown rice according to package directions, to yield 3-4 servings.
- 5 minutes before it’s done, add about 1 Tbsp. butter, up to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, & about 1 Tbsp. dried parsley.
- Serve with chicken.
What are your favorite no-time-flat dinners?
My 4-year-old’s preschool asks parents to pack healthy snacks that feature at least 2 food groups. This being my first year packing anything resembling a school lunch, of course I’m going over the top looking for fun, healthy snack ideas she’ll eat. This has been my first great victory: they’re easy, she loved helping me make them, they travel well, they’re not messy, & even My Husband The Suspicious Of Anything Labeled “Healthy” gave them his stamp of approval.
UPDATE: This is my new go-to to take to new moms. The oats and flax are great for breastmilk supply, and the quick energy is awesome for those early weeks of nursing All. The. Time.
- 2 cups quick oats (use certified gluten-free if needed)
- 1 cup Rice Krispies*
- 1 cup flaxseed meal
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips**
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter (we use Natural Jif or Skippy)*
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbsp. coconut oil
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing gently to not crush the cereal, until well coated.
- Use a tablespoon or soup spoon to scoop out tablespoon-sized portions & roll them into balls between your hands. Place them on a parchment- or waxed-paper-lined cookie sheet.
- Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. You can serve them now, or place them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer to portion out in your kids’ lunches. They’ll keep a week in the fridge or a few months in the freezer.
Dairy-free option | Soy-free | Gluten-free option | Clean-eating option
* If you want to keep it 100% clean, use a less-processed brown rice cereal, or sub 2/3 cup more of quick oats, and use fresh-ground peanut butter (though that will make it much harder to mix) or another brand of jarred peanut butter that doesn’t contain refined sugar.
** For dairy- and soy-free, use Enjoy Life brand chips.
Original recipe here.
Linked up at Mommy Solutions
My good friend posted the link to this recipe months ago & raved about its tastiness. I was intrigued, so I pinned it, but I never mustered the courage to actually make it.
Because it’s vegan.
Vegan is a dirty word in our house of meat-eaters. But it looks just so tasty, right?
So one day I took the plunge. I had a backup plan in place–a jar of pasta sauce hiding at the back of the pantry–that I considered employing even as the mixture was simmering. How could cashews possibly make a sauce creamy?
But it worked. Oh boy, did it work. Rich, tomato-basil-garlic heaven. & it was easy!!! Now I understand why my friend raved about it. Fellow carnivores (or at least omnivores), please don’t make the mistake I did & wait forever: make this immediately.
Note: while the original recipe says this makes enough for 2 servings of pasta, I’ve coated a whole pound of pasta in it & it’s worked great. I also add a little more tomato flavor.
- 2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste (optional)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2-4 cloves garlic (I use 2), minced
- up to 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup fresh basil, or to taste, finely chopped (if you, like me, don’t buy fresh herbs often, the small plastic package of basil that hangs out in the refrigerated part of the produce section is just enough for this recipe)
- up to 1 lb. of pasta of your choice (we use whole-wheat)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes & toss them, seeds & all into your blender. Add the cashews, water, & tomato paste, & puree until smooth.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water & cook as directed. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-low. Add the garlic & saute a couple minutes, taking care not to burn it. Add the contents of the blender. Bring it to a simmer; add the salt.
- Let it simmer 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Remove sauce from heat; stir in pepper & basil.
- When pasta is done cooking, reserve about 1/3 cup pasta water, drain, & return to pot. Slowly add the sauce until it looks coated enough for your taste, adding pasta water if needed. Stir & serve immediately.
- Leftovers refrigerate & reheat well!
Dairy-free | Soy-free | Clean eating | Vegan
Aside from the tastiness, healthiness, & easiness of this recipe, The Toddler Who Won’t Eat Anything ATE THIS!!!