What's on the menu this week?

BBQ Soy Curl Sandwiches and Steamed Broccoli (vegan)

Potato Leek Soup (vegan, gluten-free)

Pad Thai (easily made vegan and/or gluten-free)

Channa Daal with Brown Rice (vegan, gluten-free)

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Butternut Squash Enchiladas (vegetarian)

Sunday- BBQ Soy Curl Sandwiches
This one was by request from my wife.  Here and there we just want to cook something that we know the kids will eat.  Sadly, we get surprised by them not eating something we know they like almost as much as we get surprised when they eat something teeming with vegetables.  This was the case here.  We made steamed broccoli to go with the soy curls, and the broccoli went over better than the curls.  To be fair, we did have Raleigh pretend he was a monster eating trees.  Maybe that’s all it takes?

Here’s the recipe link, and here’s a link for soy curls, since they’re sometimes hard to find.  We served them over Dave’s Killer Bread rolls, but any whole grain bread will do.  I swapped date syrup out for coconut sugar and left the brown sugar out.  The end product was still plenty sweet.

Advance Prep There’s no need, this one is quick.  The sauce will come together while the soy curls are soaking.

Monday- Potato Leek Soup
This one is simple to make, with a simple but pleasant taste.  It always goes over well with the kids and is almost entirely vegetables.  The only thing keeping me from making it more often is how quickly the kids burn out on healthy dishes.

Advance Prep–  Chopping your leeks in advance will save you some time at meal time, but nothing else here needs to be done ahead of time.

Tuesday- Instant Pot Pad Thai

Once upon a time, I was a master at making Pad Thai.  I took a class in Thailand and had it down pat, enough to hand off my recipe book to a friend and lose track of it.  Now, my memory banks have failed and my skills have been lost.  So, I turn again to the internet.

All in all, this recipe turned out pretty well.  The consistency of the noodles was great, and the sauce was close to correct.  I didn’t use store-bought pad thai sauce, opting to make it myself.  I’m guessing you’ll have an easier time finding pad thai sauce than you will tamarind juice.  If so, using a store bought sauce is the best way to go.  If you can do it yourself with tamarind and fish sauce, it will better.

We made this vegetarian by leaving out the chicken and replacing it with tofu sauteed in Bragg’s sauce.  Tasty.  We also used brown rice noodles, which in the future will bump up the cook time by a minute.

Advance prep–  If you’re making your own sauce, you might want to prep it in advance.

Wednesday- Channa Daal and Brown Rice

Lentils are such a great staple.  They’re healthy, cheap and easy to cook.  They’re ubiquitous enough to take on a wide variety of flavors.  Both of my kids have liked them for as long as they’ve been eating food.  This particular dish has both lentils and spinach, and it tastes great.  The brown rice completes the meal and the nutritional profile.  If you’re looking for a vegetarian/vegan staple, this one is great!

Now to the apology.  I found this online and printed it out.  Even with the printed recipe, I can’t find the site where I found it, so there’s no link to pass on.  This one is close and it looks great.  You can skip the hing and mango powder, since you probably don’t know where to find them.  It will still taste great.

Advance Prep

Orange lentils cook quickly, so there’s no real need to prep in advance on this one.  You’ll need two pots to make it (one for the rice and one for the lentils).  If grains or legumes give you problems, try soaking them for at least six hours and rinse before cooking.

Thursday- Cabbage Rolls

Thursday is the night my mom brings us dinner, then watches the kids so Rosalie and I can have a mini date night.  She made an old family recipe for stuffed cabbage rolls.  Rosalie and I enjoyed them, but the kids were having none of it.  As this recipe exists in her head, I have to pass on something that looks similar.

This recipe is close to what we had.    We subbed out faux meat for the ground beef.  I’m not a huge fan of faux meats nutritionally, but on occasion they’re fine.  We used a faux sausage, which got soggy.  Next time I’d go with a faux ground beef or meatball instead.

Advance prep  Chopping onions at the start of the week is always a great time saver.

Friday- Butternut Squash Enchiladas

This one takes some time, but is pretty fantastic.  With butternut squash being in season, we swapped that for the spinach.  If you want to go that route, you’ll want to cut your squash in half, de-seed it and bake it until the skin is brown and the flesh soft (350 for around an hour should do it).

Advance Prep  If you’re doing the butternut squash, make that on your prep day.  If meal time is hectic for you, put the whole thing together on meal day, store it uncooked in the fridge and bake it on meal day.

Saturday- Kid's Choice

There’s no recipe to share here, just a concept.  If you’re got kids, it’s a good idea to let them choose the meal here and there.  We give Lee one every week.  He mostly chooses sushi, but sometimes he mixes it up.

This week we stopped at a noodle restaurant after a birthday party and trip to the laser tag arena.  Lee didn’t eat more than a few bites, but it’s hard to eat when you’re sleeping sitting up in the booth.

Using a Prep Day

You don’t need to use a prep day, but if you find yourself struggling to find time to cook, it’s worth trying.  To do it, set aside 60-90 minutes on an off day.  Put on some music, a Netflix comedy show or documentary, or whatever else calls out to you.

1) Soak your beans the night before.  Drain, rinse and cook.  If you don’t have an instant pot, this is a good reason to get one: soaked beans cook very quickly.

2) Cut and roast any ingredients that will need more than 20 minutes to cook on meal day (sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, etc.).  Bake at 400 for 30ish minutes, until fork soft.

3) While these are cooking, go through your recipes and chop all the veggies in advance.  Bag them up and put them in the fridge.  The exception here is white potatoes; they will not keep well, even for a few hours.

4) If you’re making your lunches in advance, cook any grains and whatever veggies are going to be a part of this.  When everything is ready, box them up so they’re ready to go.

5) Make your sauces and store them.

6)  Prep whatever non-meal items you’ll be eating this week.

7) Pat yourself on the back for making it easy to eat healthy all week.

Lee's verdict

Dinner is usually a hard sell for Lee.  He’ll try things, but with a table full of family members to entertain, he’s usually not interested in eating.  When it’s time to wind down and stop entertaining/playing (i.e. bedtime), he suddenly remembers his need for food.

BBQ Soy Curls–  Broccoli, thumbs up.  Soy curls, meh. Mixed Reaction.

Potato Leek Soup–   Lee was clearly in the mood to have his way at dinner, not just eat what was given.  Still, this one wore him down by bedtime. Thumbs up.

Pad Thai-  Sushi is still his favorite, but Pad Thai is making a run.  Thumbs up

Channa Daal-  He was dubious about the greenish mook, but realized it was pretty good.  Not excited, but he ate it. Thumbs up.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls–  Too wet and weird looking.  This battle was lost before it started.  Thumbs down.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas–  I had high hopes for these, but no dice.  Thumbs down.

Raleigh's verdict

The concept of moderation is unfamiliar to Raleigh.  He either stuffs fistfuls into his mouth until no more fits, or spends his time climbing the chairs and testing the acoustics of the dining room.  Dinner is also not his best time.  He averages around 2.3 breakfasts and usually annihilates lunch, but eating dinner is a rare event.

Soy Curls and Steamed Broccoli–  Ever mysterious (but strongly opinionated), Raleigh went for seconds on the broccoli and didn’t like the curls.  Mixed Reaction.

Potato Leek Soup- Bravely battling the possibility of suffocation, Raleigh didn’t come up for air until his bowl was clean.  Thumbs up (way up).

Pad Thai–  Raleigh didn’t mistake this for restaurant Pad Thai, but he ate a fair amount.  Thumbs up.

Channa Daal–  Nope.  After looking this over, Raleigh demanded blueberries.  Thumbs down.

Cabbage Rolls–  Raleigh shares many traits with bears, including his willingness to eat only berries.  The cabbage rolls did nothing to curb that desire. Thumbs down.

Enchiladas  With a few exceptions, Raleigh doesn’t like eating things where he can’t clearly see what’s in there.  Not a bite was taken.  Thumbs down.