Friday, April 4, 2014

Show Us Your Life: Healthy Dinners

I have never been a great cook, or even a good cook, but once we had kids it seemed like an important part of my job as mama. I saw healthy meals as a way to keep our kids healthy and my reasons for cooking have evolved as they've gotten older. Cooking at home is definitely much cheaper than restaurants, very important for our family of six. I also want our kids to be adventurous eaters, to enjoy home-cooked meals, and to cozy up around the table for family dinners and conversations.

There have been many flops and many times I've gotten 3/4 of the way through a recipe when I realize I'm missing a main ingredient like the time I made tacos and we had no tortillas or stir fry and we had no rice or cheesecake and we had no sugar. Wow, lots of flops, now that I think about it. All of these mistakes give us a lesson in flexibility, right? At least that's what I tell myself.

We make a menu each week and do a pretty good job of sticking to it or throwing something together from the pantry and freezer if we're in a jam. Each kid also helps cook a meal about once a week. They get to pick what we eat and then they're the sous chef.

On this particular night, Elliot picked Indian Dhal, a recipe from my very talented chef friend, Melanie. Somehow I use her exact recipes and it never tastes as good as when she makes it, but it is still yummy, we all love it, and I keep trying to replicate her level of deliciousness.  As a bonus, this can also be made in the crockpot. I ran out of time so had to do it on the stove, but it is a great dish to throw together and forget about until dinner time. Elliot was a great helper and a five-year-old in the kitchen is lots of fun and even more mess. That will be obvious in the pictures. Although I can't only blame him because I am a terribly messy cook. As in the kitchen looks like it got hit by a tornado by the time I have dinner made. It is a problem.

At any rate, I present to you. . . .
Indian Dhal:
I chopped the onion, garlic, and ginger and then Elliot and I got to work.
Here he is waiting for the pot to get hot enough and fiddling around with the red curry paste.
After sauteeing the onion, garlic, and ginger he added the red curry paste.
 We added the cumin, coriander, and salt and he gave it a nice stir to mix the spices around.
 In goes one can of coconut milk.
 And one can of tomato sauce. Apparently he thought that was cool.
 Now it's time to rinse the lentils. I prefer red lentils for this dish, but we had regular lentils handy.
 Into the pot go the lentils.
 And, of course, we discovered coconut milk on the floor. It happens. Often.
 Time to add water.
 And here's where I asked him to rinse the cans and put them in the recycle bin. Thank goodness I checked on him as he was about to put the can still full of water into the recycle bin. He thought he was doing his job. YIKES!
 Time to let it simmer until the lentils are tender.
 Serve over brown rice. We had it with salad that night. We like to serve it with naan (Indian bread) but we didn't have any. Then again, I would eat naan with almost everything. So good!
The finished product. A healthy, flavorful, inexpensive, simple, hearty meal that our whole family loves. Enjoy!

1 onion, chopped                            3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 TBSP ginger, minced                    1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander                                 2 tsp salt
1-2 TBSP red curry paste                1 can regular or light coconut milk
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce              2 c. red lentils
2 c. water (add more if it's too dry)

Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger until the onion is soft and translucent. Stir in curry paste. Add cumin, coriander, and salt and stir to evenly distribute. Pour in coconut milk, tomato sauce, lentils, and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for approximately 1 hour or until lentils are very soft. Serve over your favorite rice. We double it every time to have leftovers.

If using crockpot, throw everything in and cook 6-10 hours on low or 4-8 on high. As my poetic kids say, "Easy peasy lemon squeezy."

Thanks to Kelly at Kelly's Korner for the chance to link up.

Do you have a favorite go-to meal on a busy night? Or is there something you like to cook with your kids?

1 comment:

  1. My favorite go to meal after a busy day at work is pasta. The thing I love about pasta is that you can throw anything into it. I also love it because my hubby likes chicken with almost any meal and I can bake a chicken breast for him and slice it over his veggie pasta. I simply take any veggies I have in the house - broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, asparagus - it really doesn't matter what the veggies are. I saute the veggies with garlic in olive oil as I boil my pasta. I toss everything together and add some fresh parmesan and basil and BAM - a delicious veggie pasta.