In the March Blog Eating Healthy and Keeping Costs Down, we identified the raw ingredients that are healthy, tasty, and affordable. Now, we have combined some of these ingredients together to create mouth-watering sensations loved by every age. The right ingredients, together, create complex flavors and robust meals. Here are some suggestions for recipes and how to combine some of those flavors.
Oatmeal with bananas and cinnamon
Oatmeal can easily be overcooked and then becomes gooey. Whether you use quick oats or old-fashioned, use less water and cook it on low heat on the stove, cooking it within one minute. It grows quickly in the pan and is filling, so start with a small amount first, then if you or your child wants more, it’s easy to make! If you use apples for added flavor and texture, add them at the time the water is cooking to soften them.
½ cup oatmeal (quick oats or old-fashioned oats)
¾ cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp butter
⅓ mashed banana or 1/3 finely chopped apple
1 tsp.100% pure Maple syrup (It’s very sweet. A little goes a long way!) Can also top with a tsp of chopped nuts of your choice.
Mexican Rice and Beans topped with Avocado and Tomatoes
2 cups of rice
1 cup of water
Dash of salt
2 tsp butter
2 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
Dash of garlic salt
Add water, butter, salt, and spices in a 2 qt. saucepan, bring to boil, turn to low, and add rice. Stir well and cover with a lid. Identify which burner setting will allow the rice to a soft boil, but if foam bubbles, it’s too high. Try 2 and see if that keeps the water moving. If it doesn’t foam up, it should cook steadily for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it and if it looks like the water is fully absorbed, then take the lid off and stir it. When done it should be firm, yet soft, and not sticking to the bottom.
A variation of this is to add one can of stewed tomatoes, blended in the blender first, to replace the water. This will mean the rice is denser, with a tomato flavor, but can burn more easily when cooking, so lower your temperature a little, and make sure it’s not sticking, halfway through cooking
1 cup Pinto Beans
2 Cubes or 2 tsp of Veggie or Beef Stock
½ cup onion, chopped fine
½ cup carrot chopped fine
½ cup celery chopped fine
3 cups water
Pinch of salt
Beans take a bit longer to cook, so you will want to prepare in advance. You will want to soak these overnight if you can, or, if you are in a hurry, boil the beans for 10 minutes, then discard the water. Then add fresh water, add remaining ingredients, cover, and cook on steady but low-medium heat. These can take at least 2-3 hours. You will want to check the water every hour to make sure there’s enough as it will evaporate from steam.
Once the beans and rice are ready, place a scoop of rice in the bottom of a bowl, then a spoon of beans with a little juice.
Add these for toppers for extra flavor, but some kids may not like tomatoes or cilantro. It’s good to experiment though. You can also cook the tomato into the beans as another way to add extra flavor and punch.
1 Roma tomato – Chop into small cubes
1 small avocado – Chop into small cubes
Add chopped cilantro for added flavor
Note: if you buy fresh herbs or spices, you can always dry what you don’t use by hanging them upside down with string for a few days so the flavor remains in the leaves. Then, discard the stalks and place them in a sealed container for use later.
While some kids like scrambled eggs, most will not turn down a good deviled egg. Many variations on this recipe exist, and you should modify it to your own taste. But, here are a few options that are popular in our household:
1 tbsp Mayonaise or Miracle Whip
1 shake of Garlic powder or Garlic salt
Paprika or chili powder – lightly sprinkle on top
Place eggs in a saucepan and fill up the pan with the water until it just covers the eggs. Turn the burner to medium heat so you have a gentle boil. If there’s a rapid boil it could break the eggs. If you cover them, you can use much lower heat and find the right temperature so the cooking is even and consistent. Set a time on the stove for 20 minutes. Then turn the heat off, drain the water and add cold water to the pan. Let them sit in the water and cool. Crack them by tapping them on a counter or with a spoon. Breakaway the shell and cut them lengthwise in half. Pop-out the yolk into a bowl and do the same for the remaining eggs. Add mayo or Miracle Whip and mash with a fork until smooth. Spoon into the white shells and sprinkle the Paprika or Chili Powder on top.
Five Yukon Gold or Red Potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp butter per potato
Garnish – Kids like shredded cheese. Adults enjoy green onions. You can also make bouillon and pour a little over the top for savory. A beef or veggie broth is quite good.
Potatoes are very easy to cook – steamed, boiled, broiled, fried, or microwaved – you have options. Steaming is one way to cook the potato while preserving its consistency, and the meat remains tender. You do have to turn them once in the steamer.
Here, we are recommending baked, microwaved, or steamed.
Baking takes a while at 450 degrees in the oven, on a lower rack (not the lowest!) Place in the oven with or without foil wrapping them. Do you like dry and textured skin? Or, soft and tender skin? Experiment with which texture your family likes best.
The microwave is fast, but may not cook quite as evenly. If you do it this way, polk holes in the potatoes with a fork first. Cook them for three minutes, let sit for a minute, then test for softness. You may have to do this a few times.
Broiling on 425, on an upper (not top!) rack for 20 minutes works well if you cut the potatoes into wedges, place them in a bowl and toss them with a little bit of oil, and add salt. put them on a cookie sheet to bake. Parchment paper on the cookie sheet will aid in them getting brown. Kids enjoy these with ketchup!
Boiling is good if you are going to make mashed potatoes because the water will permeate the potato meat and make it soft. But, usually, with mashed potatoes, you have to add dairy, like milk, cream, sour cream, butter, or cheese.
Onion Dip for fresh veggies
Want to get kids to eat vegetables? A homemade onion dip with freshly cut carrots, celery and cucumber is one sure way! This dip tastes just like the Lipton’s Onion Soup mix often used for potato chips, but it doesn’t have all the chemicals or the calories of sour cream for the base. Plus, it’s pretty easy to make.
2 cubes of beef bouillon
2 tbsp of boiling water
2 tbsp of dried onions (bulk food stores have these!)
1 cup of Greek Yogurt
Veggies: Carrots, Celery, English cucumbers, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Olives, Cherry tomatoes, and more.
Place the beef cubes in a 2 qt. Bowl, and pour the hot water on top. Mash and mix until the bouillon is dissolved. You may need a little more water depending on the bouillon. Add the onions and mix around well until the onions are coated. Then add the yogurt, stir well, and let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or more. Then, mix it well and all the flavors should meld.
Slice your veggies in smaller, thin wedges, or strips, for easy eating. Kids like other things too, like black olives, placing on your fingers for a fun display, or using a fun decoration on a plate, used for eyes if you want to make a face. Get creative, and kids can be a part of setting up the plate with veggie placement. You might find a new artist in the family! And one that will be healthy too!