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If your kids will eat soup, it can be a great way to get almost anything into them.  With a blender, food processor, or stick blender, you can puree veggies, fruits, proteins, or beans, and they’ll literally disappear into the broth.  Even if your kids will eat their dinner without disguise (as mine will), soup is still a fun way to help the vegetables go down, no spoonful of sugar necessary.  If your kids tend to be picky, get creative and rename the soup something fun.  Transformer soup, martian soup, princess and the pea soup, or whatever will get them smiling.  Provide an interesting garnish– shredded cheese, tortilla strips, whole grain goldfish– and the fun will go even further.

Green soup

Broccoli is one vegetable that gets a bad rap.  My kids love it, but I know many children (and grown-ups!) who do not.  Soup is a great way to serve broccoli, as no one will ever see past the “fun” green color.  I found this recipe a while back in Parents magazine.  Its base is stock, not milk or cream, which is healthier, and dairy-free; both of which are important to many families.  I made it as a first course on Easter, and it was the perfect elegant, simple, tasty soup that “looked like Spring.”  Even my 92 year old Grandpa (who does not like broccoli, as it turns out) scraped the bowl clean. Later it occurred to me that I could’ve also tossed in a handful of steamed spinach before pureeing, so I’ll try that next time.

To make, heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large stockpot.  Sauté ½ an onion (chopped) over medium heat.  Add one medium potato (peeled and chopped), three cups broccoli (chopped), and three cups vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer, covered, 12-15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.  Stir occasionally.  Allow to cool slightly, puree in small batches or using a stick blender.  Stir in one cup of shredded cheese, if desired.  Serves four.

To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy (gluten-free) cooking!

In planning family dinners, it is easy to feel that meal is not a “real meal” if it isn’t, a) hot and b) involve lots of raw ingredients, measuring spoons, and at least a few pots and pans.  I’m the first to admit that I don’t always make my life easier, and often ignore the shortcuts out there.  With the unusually hectic life we’ve been leading around here lately, I challenged myself to plan a dinner that was still nutritious and desirable, yet quicker, and resulting in less mess than usual.  Especially with the warmer weather approaching, it’s nice to have a few meals in your repertoire that won’t heat up the kitchen or cause you to spend lots of time there, and instead allow you to get out and enjoy those gorgeous blue skies.

A recent “No-cook dinner”

This dinner was extremely quick to prepare and one of my favorites of the last few weeks.  Starting with a whole-grain sandwich thin roll (any roll will do), I added sliced deli turkey, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach, and fresh mozzarella cheese.  I like my sandwiches toasted, so I popped this into the toaster oven, but it could easily have been eaten cold, or even put in a microwave or conventional oven if desired.  While the sandwich was toasting, I cut up an apple, pear, and grapes, and tossed them together.  I was about to steam some vegetables when I remembered I wasn’t “cooking,” so I decided to slice some red peppers, pair it with baby carrots, and call it a day.  In less than ten minutes, dinner was made, I had only a cutting board and knife to wash, my kitchen was cool and clean, and the food was ready to eat.  A simple meal, yes, but less expensive than take-out, quicker than a frozen pizza, and healthier than many pre-packaged alternatives.  Most importantly, everyone liked it, and I had more time to relax with my family.  I’m looking forward to my next no-cook night!  Knowing what your crew likes, feel free to try this one using leftover chicken, deli ham, skip the tomatoes (as I did for my children), or add a more exciting cheese.

To find out what’s for dinner at our house, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  I’d love to hear your “no-cook” ideas.  Happy cooking!

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