What's on the menu this week?

Butter Chicken with Rice, and Sauteed Bok Choy and Radishes

BLTs

Taco Tuesday

Potato Leek Soup and Polenta Portobellos

Thanksgiving dinner

Red Lentil Daal  with Brown Rice

Sunday- Butter Chicken (gluten-free) With Rice, Sauteed Radishes and Bok Choy
After 20+ years as a vegetarian, I added clean-sourced animal products back into the diet last year.  I’m especially ambivalent about chicken, but my wife loves this dish, so it’s in the mix.  Despite my distaste for chicken, I have to admit that it’s a pretty tasty recipe.  We make it with coconut milk instead of cream, which works great.  We use butter, but my guess is that coconut oil would work fine too.

The sauteed vegetable dish turned out great.  As much as my wife loves the Butter Chicken, she liked this veggie dish even more.

Advance Prep

Nothing really to do with the butter chicken in advance.

Slicing your bok choy and radishes in advance makes the veggie dish super-quick.

Monday- BLTs
I went full nerd on Monday, going to a friend’s place for game night.  I offered to put something together in the instant pot to leave behind, but neither my wife or I were feeling inspired.  She was feeling like a BLT, so we went with that.  Nutritionally speaking, I can’t get behind this, but occasional indulgences are part of any good health plan.

Advance prep

Nothing to be done in advance on this one.

Tuesday- Tacos
Taco Tuesday!  We kept is simple this week.

Black beans- soaked, cooked in the instant pot in advance.  Mixed in a pan with a sauteed onion, garlic, salt and cumin.

Slaw-  shredded purple cabbage with a splash of sesame oil, garlic, salt and lemon juice

Blue Corn Tortillas- warmed for a few seconds on a pan

Salsa, black olives, cheese, or whatever you choose

Advance Prep

Soak and cook your beans.  Make your slaw.  Now mealtime will take 20 minutes or less.

Wednesday- Potato Leek Soup with Polenta Portobellos
We tried this recipe for Potato Leek Soup a few weeks back.  It was such a hit that it made it back in the rotation this week.

Rosalie and I love the portobello dish, but have no illusions about how giant mushrooms with brussel sprouts and onions on top will be received by the our young food critics.  Overall, it was tasty.  I added a bit of balsamic to the sauteed veggies, which was a nice addition.  I think next time I might marinade the portobellos in advance with bragg’s and sesame oil; we’ll play that by ear.

Advance Prep

Potato Leek Soup-  Slice your leeks and onion in advance and store in the fridge.  Don’t chop the potatoes in advance; they don’t store well when cut.

Portobellos- Shave your brussel sprouts and slice your onion in advance.  Many stores sell already shaved brussel sprouts, which is a great time saver if you don’t have a food processor.

 

Thursday- Thanksgiving
With these plans, I post the meal plans two weeks after we use them.  So, no Thanksgiving plans or reports to pass on to you.  My advice?  Make your favorite dishes and celebrate in whatever way feels best to you.  If you want to eat healthy, do so.  If you want to eat three pieces of pie, today is the day to do it.  Enjoy!

Advance prep

Friday- Red Lentil Daal and Brown Rice
I’ve made daal many, many times.  I usually wing it, but since I’m posting recipes here, I thought I’d try using a proper recipe.  The result was about the same, but easier to pass on to you.  Here’s the link.

The great thing about Indian dishes like this one is that the spices they use are some of the healthiest foods on Earth.  Even with their powerful flavors, dishes like this are ones that the kids like too.

Advance prep

Chop your onion and sweet potato in advance, storing them in the fridge.  The brown rice is the time consuming part of this meal, so start it in the morning if you can.

Saturday- Lee'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 he didn’t get to choose, since we spent the weekend on the Oregon Coast.  We went with the Salmonberry Saloon.  Good stuff!

btw- Lee is my six year old son.

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.  If there is one single thing to do in advance, chop a few onions.  Chopping them is time consuming and will drive your kids out of the kitchen.  You’ll have to wash the knife and cutting board thoroughly afterwards before you use it again.  You might as well do this one time only, with the kids out of the kitchen.  I just run a batch through the food processor every week.  You’ll want to put them in an airtight container inside of a freezer bag, or your whole fridge will smell like onions.

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.

Butter Chicken–  Lee began fighting off a sore throat today.  He didn’t eat much and went to bed at 6:00.  (using my magic 8-ball) Reply hazy, try again.

BLTs–  This was served the night before butter chicken.  I’m told that Lee happily ate it.  Thumbs up.

Tacos–  Still fighting off the sore throat, he didn’t eat much of anything today.  (using my magic 8-ball) Ask again later

Potato Leek Soup-   Lee is back in action!  He ate half the soup at dinner and half before bedtime.  As for the stuffed mushrooms, he tried a whole bite, which I’ll take as a victory, even though it ended with one. Mixed reaction

Thanksgiving-  The menu plan for this week is what we ate two weeks ago (which allows me to report on what worked and what didn’t.  I didn’t think to serve up a Thanksgiving type of recipe, so we’ll keep this one blank.

Red Lentil Daal and Brown Rice– Lee’s been dabbling in hot sauce lately and this was a great dish for that.  As with most successful dinners, he ate half at mealtime and half at bedtime.  I’ll take it.   Thumbs up.

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.

Butter Chicken–  When I placed a piece on his tongue, Raleigh nodded and said “Yeah, more” in about .7 seconds.  That is his highest praise. Still, most of dinner was spent bellowing and trying to crawl across the table to the salt shaker.  Mixed reaction.

BLTs–  I was out and am in denial about this meal happening.  Reaction unknown

Tacos–  Before dinner, Raleigh wouldn’t leave the cheese alone.  Or the beans.  Or the tortillas.  At the table, those things together on his plate provoked only anger.  For most humans I would call this thumbs down. For Raleigh we’ll give it a Mixed reaction.

Potato Leek Soup and Mushrooms–  The soup went over pretty well.  The mushroom?  Why is it that we’re constantly pulling beads, rocks, legos and dirt out of his mouth, but he won’t consider a bit of this.  Maybe next time I’ll serve a steaming bowl of packing peanuts.  Soup- Thumbs up.  Shrooms- thumbs down.

Red Lentil Daal and Brown Rice–  Don’t take it personally daal; dinner wasn’t happening tonight.  I thought you were delicious, even out of Raleigh’s bowl.  Thumbs down.