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Need Help With Healthy Dinners

Hi guys. I'm new to the board and have a dilemma that I'm sure many of you also have been through. We have a six month old daughter and prior to her arrival we both were very much into exercising and diet. We don't seem to have time to get back into the gym right now as with our jobs and staying up late with baby we barely have energy to move. We need recipes for healthy meals that we can either make ahead and freeze or make quickly when we get home. I'm not opposed to healthy slow cooker recipes either. Any help would be appreciated as we need to get back on track and get back in shape. Thanks.

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  1. Soups are great. This is a favourite of ours and freezes well. It's low calorie and fairly inexpensive.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/din...

    I also like Italian bean based soups. They normally use broth not cream and the beans make them filling enough to not need bread alongside. I've also frozen and defrosted those.

    I've got a two year old and do understand your situation. The soups were what got us back into shape after too many takeaways because we didn't have the energy to cook.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Frizzle

      Lentil soup is a great idea. Thank you for the fast reply.

      1. re: Frizzle

        That lentil soup does look good, enough to make me stray from my usual favorite red lentil soup, which has ginger and chutney.
        One question, though: In the article, author mentioned dried mint, but I don't see it in the recipe. Do you add mint?

        1. re: almond tree

          I don't add mint to mine.
          I would love to hear your recipe too.

          1. re: Frizzle

            Gladly.
            http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/cur...
            I use veg stock or water instead of chicken stock, and find that this soup is plenty flavorful as is. I also add a peach or 1/2 mango, chopped, instead of the chutney, because fresh fruit is much easier to find and cheaper where I live.
            It freezes well.

      2. What is "healthy" to you? Low calorie? Low carb? Low fat? Paleo?

        1 Reply
        1. re: weezieduzzit

          Basically anything that isn't loaded with sodium or fat. A good alternative to a frozen pizza or another night of tacos.

        2. I make a lot of kale salads, my stores have mixes already made up with a packet of dressing. All you need to do is have some protein with it. Nice thing about kale salads is they hold up to being dressed for a day. Or two. And you can stir fry them, when you are sick of eating them cold.

          Another good strategy is to buy pre cut veggies or pick up some at the salad bar of your store, and use those for a stir fry. Many stores also sell the meat already cut in strips for this purpose. We also do a lot of fajitas with the same veggies and meats. All you need is some rice for the stir fries, if you like. And some tortillas and beans for the fajitas. Best of luck with the new baby!

          5 Replies
          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

            2nd the kale salads. I make a batch of farro (boil and drain just like pasta, takes no time and all) and store the farro in an airtight container in the fridge. When I'm ready to eat, I just combine chopped kale with a few tablespoons of farro and toss with a dash of olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Sometimes a dash of Braggs. And you can add whatever you have on hand-I like shaved parmesan and sausage, but you could go with avocado, diced chicken, veggies, whatever. Kale also lasts a while in the fridge, so as long as you have a bag of that and the cooked farro in your fridge, half the work is done!

            1. re: schrutefarms

              Great idea to add farro, I'm going to try that, thanks!

              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                Adds a nice density on what would be too light of a dinner to satisfy me normally!

              2. re: schrutefarms

                I add quinoa. Love, love, love Kale salads. Toss in some chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, pecans) and some chopped egg whites and a little bit of currants and then I mix with a lemon honey vinaigrette. So good.

                Here is my favorite recipe that keeps well in the fridge. Especially if you don't toss in the salad until ready to eat:

                Kale Salad with Currants, Parmesan and Almonds

                Juice of 1/2 lemon or more to taste
                1/2 shallot, chopped
                11/2 teaspoons honey
                1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
                1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
                1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves finely chopped
                8-10 ounces brussel sprouts, remove & discard ends, finely chop
                2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                1/3 cup slivered almonds, or chopped raw almonds
                ΒΌ cup currants, or to taste
                2 1/2 ounces Parmesan, shaved with a peeler

                In a bowl, whisk juice, shallot, honey, salt and pepper flakes. Add kale & brussel sprouts; toss well. Let sit 20 minutes. Mix in oil. Refrigerate for up to 1 day, or serve immediately. Add almonds, currants and Parmesan to kale; serve.

                1. re: lynnlato

                  Wow, that sounds great! I will definitely be making that this summer!!

            2. How about frittatas? I like this one, though it requires the extra step of cooking the wild rice: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/mus...

              But there are a million out there: http://www.epicurious.com/tools/searc...

              Roast a chicken or two on the weekend. Shred some in 1-2 cup increments for the freezer. This one is foolproof--I don't even bother with trussing or the herbs or mustard: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

              We eat a lot of chili, too. This http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/el...

              or this: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/el...

              I like this in the crock pot for 10 hours to use for tacos, burritos etc. I make the rub in big batches ahead of time. I never bother making the sauce. I just use commercial BBQ sauce: http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/201...

              Welcome to parenthood. I'm about a year or two ahead of you on this wild ride. I'd like to say it gets easier, but I think you just get better at adapting. Sleeping does get better, thank goodness!

              ~TDQ

              6 Replies
              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I hope that your chili is Texas style...NO BEANS. Beans do not belong IN chili. Beans are to be served as a side dish.

                That being said, I have beans every morning for breakfast. Yes, BREAKFAST. My breakfast consists of something I concocted several years ago to lower my total cholesterol level, and it works. The total cholesterol dropped from over 250 to 111 in 3 months. My cardiologist could only say in a whisper "I'm amazed."

                Breakfast is called 'arrabbiato minestrone denso' (thick spicy soup) and consists of beans, lentils, split peas, aromatic vegetables, cabbage, barley, and of course, garlic and diced chiles (hot peppers).

                For some odd reason the Italians use the word 'arrabbiato' which means 'angry' to describe a very spicy comestible.

                Buon appetito!

                1. re: ChiliDude

                  Also, appliances can make your life a little easier. You can cook grains in the rice cooker. (Except that I haven't been happy with wild rice in the rice cooker, alas...)

                  And even beans in the slow cooker.

                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pa...

                  And of course, a coffee pot on timer.

                  I'm pretty sure my chili isn't Texas style. But, I doubt the sleep-deprived new daddy OP will notice or care. :)

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I forgot to mention that I too like 'le frittate' (plural in Italian). They are great for using leftovers as well as fresh ingredients.

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      The new daddy appreciates any tips whatsoever. Even though I live on Texas I also add BEANS to my chili and its great. Don't let them tell you any different. Thank you for all of the help. Everyone has been overwhelmingly helpful with ideas and I've started some already.

                    2. re: ChiliDude

                      Could you please give recipe or approximate proportions for the soup?

                    3. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Here's a bunch of recipes for using leftover pork:

                      http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/simpl...

                      http://www.finecooking.com/articles/r...

                      http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/me... (click on the thumbnails of the photos).

                      And if you google on "leftover chicken recipes" you'll get a million hits, here are a couple:

                      http://www.thekitchn.com/time-saver-w...

                      http://www.chow.com/food-news/93362/1...

                      ~TDQ

                    4. I happen to really like the minestrone recipe from Aida Mollenkamp right here on chow.com: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11482-min... I use canned beans, and at least one more can of tomatoes than the recipe calls for. When family members came home from the hospital with their first-born, this was their favorite dish, and they've already requested it for when their second child arrives in late June/early July.

                      It's not the fastest recipe, but it freezes really well. Going that route, I'd cook the pasta separately and add it to the thawed soup, otherwise the pasta might get overdone.