I play a game with myself called “how many vegetables can I pack into each meal”. Sounds fun, right? …. right? Well, call me crazy, but I love a good challenge and this helps me think of creative ways to add more nutrition into our day. So, in the spirit of a month full of tricks and treats, I thought I would give you some easy ways to trick and treat your family.
First I wanted to share a smoothie recipe I have talked about this week. I am constructing a more detailed post about kids and nutrition for the future, so for now I will just say that smoothies are one of my favorite ways to get some extra nutrition into my kids diet.
The Pumpkin Pie smoothie is perfect for the fall. It served as a decadent after school snack but would be great in the morning as well. Pumpkin is full of Vitamins, fiber and minerals. This recipe is sugar-free and also has the added benefit of oats which beef up the fiber and mineral content of this smoothie. I prefer to use almond milk, but you could use the non-dairy milk of your choice. I use agave and pure maple syrup as sweetener’s in moderation. We stay away from white sugar aside from the occasional treat and although agave is processed, it is low on the glycemic index so it’s not going to spike blood sugar as white sugars or substitutes do.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
1 can of pumpkin
1 frozen banana,
1/2 cup oats or oat flour
2 tbsp agave or maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
a pinch of salt
I may bake one of my oat pie crusts next time I make this and stir it into the smoothie for a milkshake type treat:)
I get nostalgic in the fall and think back to trips to apple orchards that always had fresh apple cider and doughnuts. I love warm apple cider and while I don’t, as a rule, purchase or drink fruit juice because of its high sugar content, I couldn’t resist some 100% apple cider on my last grocery trip. I wanted to think of a creative way to use it in a fall recipe so I came up with apple cider oatmeal. No recipe required. Simply cook your oats in apple cider instead of water. I topped ours with chopped organic apples, sliced banana’s, almond milk and cinnamon. My kids both scarfed down two bowls! Because the cider is so sweet there is no need to add additional sweetener to the oatmeal, score!!! This is another great way to add some extra nutrition into your kids day.
One of my absolute favorite fall meals is Pasta Fagioli or Pasta and Beans. I can’t say enough about the ease, comfort and beauty of this simple one pot powerhouse. Not to mention it is cheap!!! My add in to this years first batch was kale and it is a keeper! I say if you can add a green to a recipe, do it! Pasta dishes beg for spinach or broccoli rabe, nothing wrong with turnip greens in chili and there is not a sandwich around that couldn’t use some mixed greens or romaine. Look for ways to add greens into your current recipes. But, I digress…On to the recipe… You can see from the picture above that there is some chopping required here but, it is well worth it. If you are pressed for time and can afford the extra expense, most grocery stores sell pre-chopped onions and celery but, it really only adds a few minutes to your prep.
Pasta Fagioli Recipe
1 Medium Onion chopped
2 Medium carrots chopped
2 rips celery sliced
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 1/2 tsp dry Thyme
1 1/2 tsp rosemary
2 dry bay leaves
2 (15 ounce) cans of red beans (you can also use white or kidney)
1 (15 ounce) can diced or stewed tomatoes
2 Cups Water
1 quart Vegetable broth ( you can also use veg bouillon cubes and water, I use not chikn’)
1 1/2 to 2 Cups dry pasta ( I used a small tube gluten-free pasta, ditalini or whole grain macaroni would also work)
1 bunch of Kale (washed and finely chopped, make sure to remove the tough middle rib)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Heat a large stock pot over medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray or add some veg broth and saute the onion, garlic and celery. Add the herbs, bay leaves and season the veggies with salt and pepper.
Add Beans, tomatoes, broth and water and bring to a rapid boil.
If you are using regular pasta add it now to your soup.
If you are making the gluten-free option, I suggest cooking your pasta in a separate pot until it is still quite al dente then drain, rinse and add to soup to finish cooking. I find that gluten-free pasta’s tend to overly thicken soup if it is added too early in the cooking process.
Add the Kale and some additional salt if needed just before you serve the soup to lightly steam.
Serve when the kale is bright green. (remove your bay leaves before serving)
We loved this meal. It is all in one, nothing except maybe some bread for dipping is needed to complete it. It is remarkably filling and loaded with fiber and protein, but most of all flavor.
I hope you will try at least one of these recipes on your families. Look for ways to add more vegetables to your recipes this week. Those small changes can make a big impact in you and your family’s health.
Your Vegan Friend