Credit to Piping Pot Curry for the beautiful picture and mjadarra recipe (recipe link below)

What's on the menu this week?

Roasted Veggies and Mjadara (vegan, gluten-free)

Vietnamese Bowl (vegan, gluten-free)

Taco Salad (vegan, gluten-free)

Instant Pot Salmon, Potatoes and Greens (gluten-free)

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers (vegan)

Spaghetti Squash with Marinara (vegetarian, gluten-free)

Day one- Roasted Veggies and Mjadara
Recipe link for mjadarra

Rice and lentils is as standard as it gets, and it can get boring.  The cinnamon and carmelized onions in this middle-eastern dish give it a unique flavor that’s lovely, but subtle enough to be a good staple.

We made roasted vegetables a few weeks back and liked it so much we did it again.  We steamed them in advance, not cooking them fully, but softening them.  From there, we put them in the oven on broil, after seasoning with salt and a bit of oil

Advance Prep-  There’s no need to advance prep, but chopping onions on a prep day is always a great time saver.  You can chop and steam your other veggies in advance too.

Day two- Vietnamese Bowl
Recipe link.

Let’s give credit where it’s due; this recipe is a favorite of mine from Kure, a vegan restaurant here in Portland.  The link is to their menu and the item is the Vietnum bowl.  You don’t really need anything more than an ingredient list and recipe for the chipotle mayo to put it together.  The dish is fantastic and the sauce is easy to make.

Kids probably aren’t going to go for the chipotle sauce, so you might use (or make) an easy teriyaki sauce.

Advance Prep–  Making the sauce in advance and starting your rice on a time delay before work will make mealtime a breeze.

Day three- Taco Salad
This one is about throwing the kids a bone, while getting some veggies into them.  Making it is simple.

1) Make a bed of blue tortilla chips.

2) Top with thinly chopped purple cabbage and mixed salad greens

3) Drizzle with vegan ranch sauce

4) Make another layer of chips

5) Top with black beans, vegan cheese sauce (add some tabasco, chipotle, sriracha or chalula for kick), salsa and black olives

6) Enjoy!

Advance prep–  You’ll want to make your sauces in advance, especially the cheese sauce (which is time-consuming)

Day four- Instant Pot Salmon, Garlic Potatoes and Greens
Recipe Link

This recipe came from a client.  If you’re sitting on a great recipe like this, let me know!  This one is fairly quick, easy and delicious.  There’s a lot of butter in the potatoes, but the overall dish is still healthy.

Advance Prep- none needed

Day five- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers
Recipe Link

Having a dish like this in your fridge is great.  You can use it as a planned meal, but it’s right there if you need a quick emergency meal too.  Regardless of whether you eat meat, these are a great way to get more veggies in your system.

Advance prep  Make your veggie burger mix in advance.  It will be easy to shape it and cook it on meal day.

Day Six- Spaghetti Squash with Marinara and Parmesan
Recipe link

Super-simple and whole food.  The squash feels like noodles and has a nice, neutral flavor.  Add marinara sauce and parmesan, or whatever pasta sauce you prefer and enjoy.

Advance Prep  You’ll want to know what sauce/topping you’ll be using in advance.  If it needs advance prepping, you may want to do that on a prep day.

Day seven- Wildcard
It’s your thing!  Do what you want to do!

If you have kids, you might do what we do: give them a chance to choose a meal.

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

Roasted Veggies and Mjadarra- Nope, not having it.  He ate a few of the potatoes and brussel sprouts, but the mjadarra wasn’t happening.  Thumbs down

Vietnum-  There’s a simple equation at work here:  teriyaki sauce topping + anything edible = a cleanish plate  Thumbs up.

Taco Salad–  Pretty solid showing here, though he did his best to eat the chips and avoid the cabbage.  Thumbs up.

Salmon, Potatoes, Greens–  Pretty strong showing here.  Any reservations about the greens in the potatoes was drowned in butter.  Thumbs up.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers– It took some cheese melted on top, but Lee loved this.  Thumbs up. 

Spaghetti Squash With MarinaraI don’t know how many days of siege we’d need before Lee would consider eating squash.  I’d put the over/under at 3 1/2.  Thumbs down.

Raleigh's verdict

Let’s keep this simple.  Raleigh has declared a war on dinner, unless it’s served 7pm or later.  This war will be fought alongside his war on quiet, war on shoes, and war on screen-time limitation, but with no less enthusiasm.  He’ll eat the ingredients in the kitchen while prepping dinner, and woe to the person who tries to stop him.  But dinner itself?  That’s where he climbs, badgers and generally lowers my will to live.  At least we figured out that feeding him after 7:00 works.  We’ll put that to work next week.

As a side note, Raleigh loves the mjadarra and garlic potatoes.