Anything that helps make a task easier is always welcome. One of the best modern wonders in the kitchen is the Instant Pot. It is a small kitchen appliance that is purported to be able to do any kind of cooking: slow cooking, steaming, and stewing, just to name a few.
You can create perfectly cooked food using its different functions and have a convenient gadget that, theoretically, replaces others. The all-in-one cooker saves you the hassle of pulling out all the appliances from the hard-to-teach cupboards. While the Instant Pot has had glowing reviews over the years and works perfectly with all sorts of food, what else can you put in it?
How about a scientifically backed superfood that everyone should try? Matcha is a finely ground powder made from special green tea leaves. It has a ton of antioxidants and other nutritional benefits and has blown up the internet as one of the most popular flavors enjoyed today. Authentic matcha powder comes only from Japan, and if you want to get your fix, you need to buy from legit sellers only.
If you already enjoy matcha but want to know recipes that use an instapot, refer to the list below.
Instapot Recipes for Matcha
Matcha Cheesecake with Blackberry Compote
Who doesn’t love cheesecake? This recipe is easily doable, and with the Instant Pot, you have the advantage of making this in the comfort of your own home. The handy little gadget, which is a hybrid between pressure cookers and slow cookers, can make a rich and moist cheesecake.
Another benefit is that the cheesecake doesn’t need a water bath when you use the Instant Pot. Water baths can be clunky and messy and take up quite some time. You’ll be surprised that, once you’ve made this cheesecake, it will taste just like the usual oven-baked version does.
Matcha Crème Brûlée
This is another dessert that you can make using the oven or stovetop. However, you can make this finicky dessert easier and with less room for error, using the pressure-cooker setting in the Instant Pot. Crème brûlée is a smooth, creamy, fancy custard that is characterized by its torched caramelized top.
This recipe has the same ingredients but has matcha powder as a delicious variant. The secret to making green tea matcha brûlée smooth is to sieve the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to ensure that there are no lumps. You can also substitute dairy for an alternative like coconut milk.
Mango Matcha Oats
Who doesn’t want oats in the morning or, if you love it enough, any time of the day? This quick and simple recipe yields two servings. Using the pressure-cooker option of the Instant Pot guarantees that the steel-cut oats are cooked to perfection.
Mango is good on its own, but the addition of other nutritious ingredients like matcha, banana, and coconut milk will take the oats to the next level. You can also add toppings such as cinnamon, brown sugar, toasted coconuts, and nuts.
Rice-Cooker Matcha Pancakes
The Instant Pot is versatile, and one of its most important features is the rice cooker. If you don’t regularly make rice in your home, you can easily use the Instant Pot to make rice-cooker matcha pancakes. Those who are not familiar with Japanese cuisine and its ingenuity will think it’s impossible, but a lot of people who have tried rice-cooker pancakes enjoy them.
All you need are the usual pancake ingredients and some matcha. You can dust the finished product with powdered sugar or garnish with toppings of your choice.
Slow-Cooked Matcha Coco Curry
One of the most wholesome variants of curry is made with full-fat coconut milk and vegetable broth base. This recipe uses the slow-cooker feature of the Instant Pot to make this delicious meal. You can eat this curry on its own or serve it with rice.
What other Instant Pot matcha recipes can you think of?
Kitchen cures for colds and the like are a dime a dozen, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work! With sickness season upon us and will soon ramp up into the absolute worst that tiny microbes can throw at us. If you have kids in school – literally any school, even home-school somehow – they’re going to turn into walking, talking petri dishes. You can load them up on medicine, give them three scarves and an overcoat, but they’re going to be sneezing regardless.
If you’re like me, you love science – I think medicine, vaccines, and pizza bagels are all wonderful advances for humankind. Sometimes, however, you might not want to give your kids (or self) 3 different medicines, all filled with items you can’t pronounce. Luckily there are some simple-to-use, cheap and easy home remedies that absolutely work to fight off colds and other nasties.
Some of these you will buy at the store, some you’ll make yourself, but all of them are things I personally do and I very, very rarely get sick. Even when my kids are little germ tornadoes, I weather the storm with these witchy kitchen hacks, and you can, too!
Kitchen Cures for Colds
When I know I’m going to get sick, I feel it at the back of my throat. It starts not as a sore throat but as a tickle, usually, maybe scratchiness, but I still know. That’s when I start taking raw, whole garlic.
Garlic has anti-microbial properties, but it’s especially good for when you’re getting sick in the sinuses. For most people, eating a whole clove at once might be…difficult. Dicing it up, however, makes it easier to take, and has the bonus of being incredibly spicy, which often clears out sinuses.
For colds or influenza, I will mix 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic with a tablespoon of raw honey and take that. It helps with sore throats, coughing, and it shortens the duration of my colds. If I get ahead of getting sick by taking this mixture, I can often completely avoid a full-blown cold entirely.
Kombucha is another thing I’ll start chugging at the first sign of a cold. The probiotics in kombucha bolster the gut microbiome, which in turn makes your immune system more robust. Opt for kombucha with less sugar, however – sugar itself can damage your gut biome and we want to avoid that.
Chicken soup is good for more than a light meal when you feel bad. Actual scientific research shows that hot drinks like soup or tea help thin out mucus, which makes it less gummy in your lungs and easier to get rid of. Chicken soup in particular (when made with bone broth) has anti-inflammatory effects which can reduce nasal swelling, helping you breathe. The collagen in chicken bone broth also boosts the health of your gut lining, which again makes your immune system stronger.
Get a whole chicken from the store and toss it in the crock pot on high for 3-4 hours with some veggies. Strip the meat off the bones and use it in whatever you’d like – we’re here for the skeleton (I told you this was witchy). Drop the crock to low, add 6 cups of water, some salt, 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and let it cook for about 10 hours. This will draw out the collagen and give you a lovely bone broth. Just make sure you strain it before enjoying this kitchen cure.
Spice Kitchen Cures
Ginger is great for soothing a sore throat and it can suppress a cough as well. You take a few thin slices of fresh ginger and steep it like tea in hot water, adding actual tea bags if you like. The spicy ginger is soothing on your sore throat, and if you add some honey it can be a one-two punch against coughs. It definitely my go-to kitchen cure.
Echinacea root, taken as a tea (around 1-2 grams) a few times a day can help prevent the cold from getting a hold in your body. This is best done when I see my kids or husband’s eyes get that glassy, “I’m getting a cold” look. It’s like those over-the-counter cold preventatives but this actually works.
Turmeric mixed into your morning coffee – about a 1.5 tsps – has a potent anti-inflammatory effect. If coffee isn’t your thing, try turmeric tea instead, which you can make the same way as turmeric coffee with black tea bags, or you can buy turmeric tea bags already pre-made.
Especially in fall as mold grows in the damp weather and fields are harvested, allergies are rampant. If not treated, allergies quickly turn into upper respiratory infections and we don’t want that.
Honey has been proven to be as useful if not better than dextromethorphan (cough syrup) at treating, well, coughs. This study showed that 2.5ml of honey at bed time was better at suppressing coughs than over-the-counter cough syrups, and that’s great because cough syrup has a taste that is staggeringly awful. Do remember that you cannot give honey to kids under 1 year old, due to the chances of botulism spores being present.
Black licorice – whether you love it or hate it – can be a powerful medicine. Now, it’s not the candy that people who don’t love you give you as a treat – this is flavored with anise and has no medicinal properties. You want actual licorice root which contains glycyrrhizin, which reduces inflammation in the lungs. With all that said, you should avoid the root in excess of 1 gram a day (you can make a tea with it), as it really is potent and can cause problems in high doses. Best to stick with a lozenge that has licorice root as an active ingredient and stick strictly to the usage limits.
Eucalyptus oil and vaporubs are the smell we might have grown up with, but for a very good reason. These vaporubs can improve cold symptoms in just a few hours of application, opening airways, fighting inflammation and improving coughs. While I like essential oils, I don’t rely on them to fix my family’s sickness BUT eucalyptus oil in a humidifier is great when your family is coughing their lungs out at nighttime.
Nobody wants this but it’s there so let’s talk about it. Woof.
Ginger again, steeped in hot water with peppermint tea will do wonders for nausea. We often break up peppermints into hot water with a slice of ginger and give it to our kids, as sucking on a peppermint is great for tummy troubles but the choking risk of hard candy is a no-no.
While not a remedy exactly, if you’re nauseated, closing your fist around your thumb can suppress the urge to vomit. Massaging point where your thumb is anchored to your hand is another way to ease nausea.
Don’t believe me? Try closing your fist around your thumb (same hand, basically make a fist with your thumb tucked inside) and then test your gag reflex; pretty wild, eh?
Mint is an herb we grow quite a lot of around our house, especially since it’s perfect for gardening on a budget. Since it’s somewhat invasive, make sure you tend to it regularly or it will take over whatever bed it’s growing in. That said, a tea made with 4-5 bruised mint leaves helps reduce nausea and stomach pain when you’ve got gastroenteritis or food poisoning.
Chamomile is another herb we love, as it’s similar to turmeric with its anti-inflammatory benefits. If you don’t grow chamomile, you can buy dried flowers online (or if you have a holistic/health food store nearby, you can probably get them there). Steep 3 dried flowers in hot water for about 10 minutes and then add some honey. This mixture is good for cramping, diarrhea and nausea.
Home remedies for colds are legit
Again, I don’t want to suggest you be afraid of science, but there are traditional medicines that have real, absolute uses in the 21st century. Sometimes letting a fever run its course is better than taking ibuprofen unless it’s keeping you from sleeping. Inflammation is the cause of a lot of the nastiness with almost all illness, and dealing with that using medicine can sometimes hurt just as much as it helps.
For instance, if you’re dealing with stomach pain and cramps, taking aspirin or ibuprofen might make the pain much worse. Soothing herbal teas have scientific validity and real-world applications. Plus, you can grow the necessary herbs yourself!
Do you have any kitchen hacks for colds that you think are worth sharing?
We’d love to read about them in the comments – building up a repertoire of useful home remedies for sickness is essential for any kitchen witch (and even non-witchy moms or dads)!
We bought what I would consider to be a first generation air fryer a few years ago. It was fine, in that it cooked food crispy and but not particularly quickly, AND it was tiny. You could seriously only fit a couple of chicken tenders in it at a time, and it took 20 minutes to cook them, so it wasn’t efficient, either.
For Christmas this year, we tried again, only with a much bigger 5.7 quart fryer and it is a game changer. On busy nights it pairs perfectly with some frozen, not-the-healthiest-but-mama-doesn’t-have-time-for-kale food (lookin’ at you, Lean Cuisine pizza!)
On relaxing days, I spend hours experimenting with it, frying up all manner of things I wouldn’t have even considered frying.
Why Buy an Air Fryer
What is an air fryer?
At its core, an air fryer is a convection oven, using hot, circulating air to cook your food. The differences are nuanced but important, however.
An air fryer is typically shaped in more of a cone or dome, making the hot air circulate faster. This allows the outside of the food to crisp up while still cooking the inside quickly, preserving the juiciness while adding a perfect crunch. It also cooks faster than a countertop convection oven.
Most of the countertop ovens I looked at cost about twenty percent more than a similarly sized air fryer as well, and I’m not quite sure why. Convection ovens can typically go over the seemingly upper limit of 400 degrees that an air fryer has, but “frying” temperatures are usually between 350 and 400 degrees, so this isn’t surprising.
The best air fryers on the market have broad bottoms, allowing for a maximum amount of food cooked at once while still retaining the “frying” properties they boast. Because of this somewhat conical shape, they tend to take up less space than countertop ovens.
Benefits of Cooking with an Air Fryer
An air fryer cooks food faster than an oven would typically, and because it doesn’t require oil as a cooking medium, the food is lighter calorically and healthier in general.
As I mentioned earlier, you can toss in a layer of frozen chicken tenders, or fries, or whatever else you have on hand and dinner is ready in like 10 minutes.
On the model we have (Magic Chef), the timer is also effectively the “on” switch, so if you set it for 10 minutes, it shuts itself off in 10 minutes. There’s no “oh no I forgot the food” moments where you find that your salmon is blackened a bit more than you’d like; once the timer is up, it shuts off.
Fresh burgers come out juicy on the inside without flipping and splashing grease, and it reheats food more evenly (and pleasantly) than a microwave, though it takes longer.
Consider how microwave-reheated leftovers from a restaurant never taste as good, and you don’t typically want to preheat your oven just to heat up some chicken tenders. An air fryer is like your oven and your microwave had a baby and it was born being better than both of them (in certain applications). Reheating food is one of those applications!
Things to look for in an air fryer
Hands-down the most important attribute – and I cannot overstate this – is the size of the available cooking space. You can really only get the crispy benefits of the air fryer if your food isn’t stacked up on top of itself, so a single layer at a time is what you’re shooting for. This requires a decent sized basket so you’re able to cook quick, large batches. Ours is 5.7 quarts and it’s great for our family of 4, but if you have a bigger family or a party, something even larger might be ideal for you.
Ours is also manual, but there are digital ones out there as well that offer a wide range of preset cooking times and other fun add-ons.
Make sure you get a removable basket as well. Our first one didn’t have a removable basket, just this weird black insert that kinda held the food over the bottom of the fryer but not very well. The one we have now is a removable metal basked that clicks into the base and allows for total air circulation and for drippings to fall completely away from your food.
Finally, consider price when buying one. This isn’t a brand-new technology where higher price commands respect or the latest advancement. At its core, this is a very focused convection oven that fits on your countertop. Our Magic Chef was about $80, and it’s great. The only thing that you really need to pay extra for is a bigger model.
Why does every parent need an air fryer?
You’re still not convinced? Well, let’s recap then:
Cooks food quickly and crispy while retaining juiciness
Economical, especially if you’re considering buying a countertop oven
Heats faster, cooks quicker, and crisps up food better than an oven
Healthier than deep frying by a significant amount
Doesn’t require oil to cook most foods
Obviously consider your needs before picking one up, but if you’re on the fence about buying an air fryer, I hope this helps you see that they’re not a fad kitchen gadget. It saves us time, calories, effort, and money and it will for you, too!
Do you already have an air fryer?
Comment below, I’d love to know YOUR favorite thing to cook in it!
Looking for meal ideas that don’t require an oven? I certainly was this summer when my oven stopped working not once, not twice, but THREE times (seriously don’tever buy Frigidaire products!!)
Luckily my misfortune can be to your benefit as I’ve since compiled some of the best oven-free recipes I used when we had to cook without an oven.
Now maybe you’re thinking “Hello, why not just use your slow cooker all week?” Heh well I kid you not – both our slow cooker and our grill bit the dust during this same week. Needless to say our meal plan did NOT work out accordingly.
Fortunately we did still have an air fryer, our stove top, and our garden fire pit to work with. So without further ado, here are some of our favorite recipes from the “no oven” week.
Oven-Free Recipe Ideas
Of course salads and the like are always an option when it’s too hot to cook in the oven or you just can’t/don’t want to. That said, after a few days, you’ll have to get creative with your salads or you’ll end up burnt out right quick.
Here are a few ideas as to how to freshen up your salads so you can eat healthy without feeling like a goat:
Taco Salads are always a good option! Make it a fun dinner and serve it taco bar style so everyone can pick and choose their own toppings.
Macaroni salad is delicious and if you throw in some ham, it’s a full meal in one bowl!
Chicken or tuna salad are always easy and you can make ’em extra healthy by using lettuce leaves instead of bread.
BLT salads are a staple in our family. We make an easy dressing of mayo + hot sauce and toss that with some bacon, tomatoes, spinach, and avocado. Yum!!
Spiralized Greek Salad with Rosemary Chicken
This salad is not only good for you, it’s super easy to make. You’re basically chopping veggies and grilling chicken. If you don’t have rosemary essential oil, you can always substitute the oil with 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary.
You could also consider cooking up breakfast for dinner. While you can certainly go the sweet route of pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal jars, there are simple ways to mix it up and have a savory breakfast for dinner.
Cornbread Waffle Tacos
This breakfast-for-dinner recipe can be done in a number of different ways, but I especially loved this recipe from Lexis Rose. Such an easy dinner, the whole family can have fun with it!
If cooking outdoors is an option, use this as an opportunity to cook up a bunch of meat for the week so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your week!
This is a throwback to my days in the Girl Scouts, but foil packs make for a great meal! This is a fun one that again you can tweak to suit your family’s needs – again make it fun and let everyone choose their own ingredients! Personally I love to put about 1/2lb of hamburger, 1/2 can of sweet corn, a few potatoes, and season to taste. It takes about 15 minutes to cook and it’s absolutely one of my most favorite dinners!
Kielbasa and Cabbage
If you have a dutch oven, this is a great one to cook either on your stovetop or on the grill! Chop up a head of cabbage, one onion, a couple gloves of garlic, and add to the dutch oven with two packs of Polish sausage. Let simmer for about an hour or until the veggies are soft. Add in a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, a tablespoon of spicy mustard, and salt to taste. So good!!
Of course you also always put your trusty slow cooker to use!
Chicken Tikki Masala
We’re huge fans of Indian food at our house, but I love this recipe because it’s not only done in a slow cooker, but it’s a “lighter” version of traditional Tikki Masala in that it uses greek yogurt instead of heavy cream.
Fry something and I’ll almost certainly eat it (except celery, celery is the devil). One of my favorites, though, is veggie tenpura. There’s certainly an art to it, but when done right, tenpura is absolute heaven – clouds and all!
Recipe: Available on Thanks for the Meal – Tenpura
Do you have any ideas on oven-free meal recipes?
I’d love for you to comment and/or link them below!
Overnight french toast bake is truly such an easy breakfast or brunch ideas, especially for the holidays!
As I covered in my Valentine’s Day post, I think holidays like this should serve as an opportunity to do nothing but enjoy the day as a family. That’s not to say I wouldn’t love a crafty present from my babies, but beyond that, all I want is time…oh and maybe some French Toast Bake…
Yeah, it looks as unhealthy as it is. But it’s such an inexpensive breakfast and is by far the most decadent, mouthwatering dish I’ve ever had.
I don’t normally share recipes (or at least ones that aren’t somewhat healthy) but if ever you were to break your diet over a dish, this one should be it! The best part is that this dish will cost you little money and even less time, especially since you prepare it the night before.
Chances are you already have all of the ingredients necessary to make this succulent dish and it’s sure to make for a great start to your Mother’s Day or Father’s Day celebrations.
Overnight French Toast Bake
1 1/2 cup milk
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar + 3T + additional for sprinkling
Melt the butter and mix in the brown sugar then pour into a 9×13 pan.
Mix the eggs, milk, 3t vanilla, 2t cinnamon, 3T brown sugar together.
Place a layer of bread down evenly into the 9×13 pan then pour half the custard onto the bread.
Sprinkle some cinnamon and brown.sugar on top of the bread then another layer of bread then the rest of the custard, then more cinnamon and sugar.
Put in fridge overnight.
Pull out in the morning as your oven is preheating to 350 degrees (trust me – don’t skip this step!)
Cook for approximately 1 hour or until the top is golden brown.
If you prefer it to be a bit more like custard, you can stop there. I prefer to pull it out, slice it up so that caramel bottom runs golden sugar rivers between the slices, then put back in for 5 more minutes.
When you dish the bread, use a spatula to serve it and flip it so that the sugary bottom is now the top. You’ll want to dish it while it’s still hot and you’ll want to do so quickly, before the sugar hardens.
I’m not normally a fan of French toast but this…oh this is so different.
The cooked sugar creates this crisp shell that serves as a perfect complement to the fluffy, rich bread underneath. No syrup is needed, though a warm cup of coffee or a bowl of fresh strawberries would certainly round out what is sure to be one of the best breakfasts you’ve ever had.
Believe me, the whole family will thank you.
What is YOUR favorite breakfast? Comment below, I’d love to know!
How many times have you tried to get your kids to eat healthy……only to have them refuse to eat the meal you worked so hard to prepare?
Getting your kids to eat healthy while staying within your budget is not easy. Getting your kids to LIKE the healthy and budget friendly food is an entirely different subject!
Kid Friendly Meal Ideas
Fear not, we’ve got healthier versions of popular comfort food recipes that children love! You can adapt the recipes by using tofu or chicken, and we have provided non-dairy alternatives as well. Even if you end up using tofu, chances are, your kids may love it so much, it may end up being their new favorite!
You might even find yourself stealing food off you children’s plate! Don’t worry, these low cost high-protein recipes are healthy, budget friendly, and perfect for the whole family!
A word about the recipes and measurements:
While recipes revolve around measurements, don’t worry if you use a little bit more or less of one ingredient. These recipes are adaptable, and you have plenty of options to make it an awesome meal. Substitute the ingredients to your preferences (dairy free and vegetarian options are included below).
In the excitement of cooking, sometimes we overlook abbreviations (this has happened to everyone at some point), so this is worth mentioning, even though you know this – a tablespoon often gets mistaken for a teaspoon, and vice versa. Remember, a tablespoon is abbreviated as “tbsp.” and a teaspoon is abbreviated as “tsp”. Check out the recipes, and pick the ones that work for your family, and you’re good to go!
Before you dismiss tofu, consider this- it is healthy, easy to prepare, and it can conform to any of your favorite recipes, from savory meals to dessert! Tofu chocolate mousse has been a favorite at dinner parties AND with kids. When my nephew had the tofu enchilada casserole for the first time, he loved it! Whether you are trying to use it as a meat substitute, disguise, or healthy alternative, tofu is worth adding to your next meal.
Tofu is less than $2 for a block, and one block can serve 2-3 people. Not only that, tofu is versatile, healthy, and easy to store.
You can use it in your appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. With only 60 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 5 grams of protein per 3 ounce serving, tofu may end up being a staple at your house!
The key to making tofu taste good is to properly season the tofu, use the right accompanying seasonings, and make sure the ingredients complement each other. Because tofu itself does not have much flavor or smell, you have to make sure the other ingredients are flavorful for a balanced meal.
Take a look below, pick out a few recipes your kids will like, and soon, you will be adding these meals, sides, and desserts to your meal planning rotation!
Tofu “Chicken” Fingers And Sweet Potato Fries
Tofu (or Chicken) Enchilada Casserole
Butternut Squash Whole Grain Mac and Cheese
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Tofu Chocolate Mousse
No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
Tofu Tenders And Sweet Potato Fries
Remember, you can make this recipe with chicken or tofu. If you’re not feeling adventurous enough to find out whether your kids will eat tofu, stick with chicken. Sweet potato fries add a fun and unexpected twist to the usual chicken tenders and fries meal!
Serves 4 people
1/4 cup Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour OR ¼ cup almond flour
1C plain or Italian style panko breadcrumbs
(1/2 cup parmesan cheese OR ¾ cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped)
1 lb uncooked chicken breast cut into strips OR two 14 oz. packets of firm tofu
3 sweet potatoes, cut into vertical strips
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Cut the uncooked chicken breast into lengthwise strips. If you are using tofu, cut the
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then spray it with cooking spray, and set aside.
Pour the flour into a shallow dish, such as a plate or shallow bowl.
In another shallow dish, beat the egg and water.
In a third shallow dish, mix the breadcrumbs (or almond flour or peanuts) and cheese.
Place the tenders on a cookie sheet.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once. While the tenders are baking, get started on the sweet potato fries (step 9). If you are using tofu, be careful when turning. If you are using chicken, cook until chicken is no longer pink in center and coating is golden brown. Once the strips are done, don’t turn the oven off- keep it at 425°F for the sweet potato fries!
If you haven’t already done so, wash the sweet potatoes and cut them into vertical ½ inch strips.
On a separate baking sheet lined with foil, place the sweet potato strips on a separate baking sheet lined with foil. Add 1 tbsp olive oil on top, making sure all sweet potato strips are properly coated.
Arrange the sweet potato fries on the baking sheet in a single layer, avoiding any overlap.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and kosher salt, if desired, or just season with salt, pepper, and your choice of seasoning.
Place the sweet potato fries in the over and bake for 25 so that they have enough space (avoid overlapping).
Bake until crispy. If the edges start to burn, take the fries out of the oven immediately.
Serve the tenders and fries with your favorite dipping sauce.
Cheesy Enchilada Casserole
Most kids love burritos, tacos, and enchiladas- you can’t go wrong with cheesy enchilada casserole.
Serves 4 people
3 cups cooked chicken, diced OR 3 cups diced firm tofu (be sure to press it with a paper towel before dicing)
18- 6 inch corn tortillas
2 cups red enchilada sauce (you can also substitute your favorite red salsa)
4 Tablespoons canned, mild green chiles, diced ( use ½ cup of mild green salsa if you prefer)
¼ cup onion, finely diced
3 cups Mexican blend cheese (you can use a blend of cheddar, jack, and colby- a blend of white and cheddar cheese- as long as you have this ratio, it is flexible)
1 cup black beans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place 6 tortillas in the bottom of the baking dish sprayed with cooking spray, slightly overlapping the tortillas.
Top with ½ cup of enchilada sauce, spreading evenly over tortillas.
Top with 1 ½ cups of your chicken or tofu, 2 Tablespoons of onion, 2 Tablespoons of green chiles / green salsa, ½ cup black beans (if you use them) and 1 cup of cheese.
Repeat layer with six more tortillas, sauce, the remaining chicken or tofu, onion, green chiles, corn and another cup of cheese.
Complete the casserole with another layer of tortillas, 1 cup of enchilada sauce, and 1-1.5 cups of cheese. Bake in the oven for 30-40 min. Let stand 5- 10 mins before serving.
This is a healthy and tasty spin on a classic Italian dish- smiling faces and happy tummies!
2 blocks of firm tofu, pressed with a paper towel (two 14 oz. packets)
2/3 cup liquid egg whites or 3 eggs and 2 tbsp water
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs or almond flour
3 teaspoons dried parsley
1 jar marinara or meat sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
(optional: chopped basil as a garnish)
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Cut the tofu into chunks of your desired size. The larger the piece, the more careful you have to be to ensure it does not break.
Pat it dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
Whisk the egg whites or eggs and water in a bowl.
Combine the dry ingredients (panko, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper) in another bowl.
Add one pieces of tofu to the egg white mixture, coating both sides.
Next, dredge the coated tofu piece on both sides in the dry ingredient mixture.
Repeat this process until all pieces are fully coated.
Helpful tip: Use one had for the wet ingredients, and another for the dry ingredients.
Once coated, use the dry hand to arrange the tofu pieces on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Continue to repeat the process until each piece of tofu is breaded.
Place the baking sheet with tofu in the oven for 20 minutes. Flip each piece of tofu over and bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown.
Serve with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese. Garnish with chopped basil, if your kids like it!
For a side dish, chop up some veggies or serve with spaghetti pasta.
Butternut Squash Whole Grain Mac and Cheese
3 cups seeded and peeled butternut squash (cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 cup canned chicken or vegetable stock (preferably low sodium)
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
1 package whole grain elbow macaroni
1 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
4 tablespoons sprinkle parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons panko or breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary)
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 F.
In a medium sized sauce pan, sauté squash with olive oil for 6 minutes. Add the stock and milk, and bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to medium heat- simmer for 20 minutes (squash will be tender when pierced with a fork).
Remove from heat, add seasoning, and mash the contents in the pan. Once the mixture has cooled, use an electric mixer or put it in the blender.
Next, bring large pot of water to boil, and cook the macaroni according to instructions (usually about 8 minutes). Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add squash mixture, cheddar, parmesan to the bowl and combine, be careful not to break the macaroni.
In a medium sized baking dish coated with cooking spray, add the macaroni mixture. Layer parmesan and breadcrumbs on top of the macaroni.
Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
1 head cauliflower, stem and leaves removed, cut into small florets OR 2 8 oz. bags of cauliflower florets
1C (8 oz.) greek yogurt
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
1 tbsp Italian seasoning (basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary)
¼ cup bacon bits (optional)
¼ cup almond meal
¾ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
parsley, for garnish
Pre-heat your oven to 425 F.
Cut the cauliflower into florets and remove the stems (if you have the bag of cauliflower florets, skip this step).
Steam the cauliflower or put it in a 2 large zip lock bags or a microwave safe glass dish and microwave for 6 minutes.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, mix the sour cream, greek yogurt, cheese, and spices.
Add the cauliflower and continue mixing until well combined. The cauliflower should be completely blended. (You can also use a blender in small batches, but it will be harder to blend because of the thickness. Also, if you use a blender, you will have to wait for the cauliflower to cool).
Place the cauliflower in a 9 x 13 casserole pan.
Dust the top of the cauliflower with the almond meal and parmesan cheese.
Bake in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is nice and toasty brown.
You can serve this as a side with a protein dish, or as a main dish if you serve it with a side salad or chopped vegetables (carrot sticks and celery sticks). Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.
Tofu Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate mousse is a delicious decadent dessert, usually made with eggs, and filled with calories- forget about eggs, complicated folding and the long prep time by making this indulgent yet healthy chocolate mousse that will help your kids be happy and healthy!
Serves 4 people
1C semi sweet chocolate chips (or ¾ cup unsweetened chocolate sweetened with the sweetener of your choice OR ¾ cup of your favorite chocolate bar chopped up)
1/2 cup warmed milk (you can also use coconut milk- the goal is to melt the chocolate, don’t overheat the milk)
1oz finely grated chocolate, or 2 tbsp chocolate chips, crushed in a bag
Microwave chocolate chips in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until melted.
In a food processor, puree the chocolate chips with warmed milk until smooth. Add the tofu, continuing to blend until smooth. The mixture will have a texture slightly thinner than pudding.
Pour the mixture into four serving dishes, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. Garnish desserts with finely chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, if desired.
No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake
Cheesecake is a family favorite for dessert! You have to try this version-easy to make, no eggs, no baking, and less dishes.
Serves 4 people
1 12 oz. package strawberries, stems removed, roughly chopped *
12 ounces softened cream cheese, 1 1/2 (8-ounce) bricks * (see below for dairy-free option)
2/3 cup sour cream (see below for dairy-free option)
**Dairy Free Option**
If you want to go dairy free, omit the cream cheese and sour cream, and use 2 cans of coconut cream, with the water portion removed, and ½ a can of coconut milk- only add as much milk as needed to give the mixture a pudding like texture- be careful, otherwise, it will be watery. You can also use 1 8 oz. container of soft tofu mixed with ½ a small packet of Jello Cheesecake pudding mix
¼ cup sugar OR 6 packets Splenda OR ¼ cup honey (if you have another sweetener you prefer, look up the equivalent of ¼ cup of sugar online
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 sheets of graham crackers crumbled with vanilla, sugar, and salt OR ( low carb option: 1 cup almond meal, 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp coconut oil OR ¼ stick of butter, and 1 tsp vanilla extract)
In a food processor, process the graham crackers until it has the texture of fine crumbs. If you are using almond meal, you can skip this step.
In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs or almond flour, vanilla, sugar, and salt.
Pour the crust mixture into small ramekins, cupcake tins, cake pan, or a pie pan.
Pat the mixture into the container of your choice until firmly packed.
Roughly chop the strawberries and place in food processor.
Add cream cheese, sour cream, sweetener, and vanilla extract, and process until smooth.
Using a rubber spatula, fill ramekins or pie pan. Garnish cheesecakes with slices of remaining berries. Refrigerate for 15-25 minutes, but even if you don’t, it will still be ready to serve!
Meal Planning for Kids
Once you find a few recipes that your kids like (and your whole family likes), start working them into your meal plan. If you decide to go the tofu route, don’t draw attention to this “new ingredient” until your child gets a chance to try it. Just like us, kids have their preconceived notions of what is “yucky”! Depending on your child, you can be brave and just tell them its tofu up front, or tell them this is a new yummy dish, and watch for their reaction.
What is YOUR child’s favorite meal? Tell us about it in the comments below!