Entrees

Healthy Pre “Trick or Treat” Meals

Healthy Halloween

If you’ve got school-aged children, Halloween can be a very hectic (and sugar-filled) day. Make sure that your kids have bellies filled with a good and healthy meal before they head out for an evening of trick-or-treating. We’ve pulled together a nice collection of easy, healthy meals that you’ll be happy to serve them. From slow cooker recipes, to casseroles to make earlier in the day, to  skillet meals, you’re sure to find something new and delicious to try!

Chicken

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Almond-Curry Noodles

There’s something eternally comforting about a plate of pasta. Just looking at it sitting in front of you, don’t you immediately feel all warm and fuzzy inside? I know I do, which is precisely why I wish that pasta was the healthiest food on earth so that I could eat it every single day with no regret. Unfortunately, it’s loaded with carbs and it’s not an eat-it-everyday food.

The good news? Some brands of gluten-free pasta are actually better for you than the traditional varieties. Take quinoa pasta for example. Made exclusively with quinoa flour, it’s got more protein and more nutrients. Makes you feel a little better, right?

Not to fear, I’ve got a few more tricks up my sleeve to make the ultimate pasta dish healthy.
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Slow Cooker Pulled Italian Chicken and Kale

I love using my slow cooker all year long. However, when the cool weather of fall and winter arrive, you can find slow cooker meals on my menu a couple times a week. There is nothing like coming home to the warm smells of dinner when cold winds are blowing outside. With busy school and sport schedules, I can serve a delicious, healthy, warming meal to my family with minimal work on my part when I use my slow cooker. Slow-cooked meals also help keep my grocery budget in check. Bean and lentil dishes cook up wonderfully in a crock pot giving time for seasoning to work their way through the dish. Cuts of meat that are more economical can be used as the slow braising renders those cuts tender and juicy.

Slow Cooker Pulled Italian Chicken and Kale is one of my family’s favorite meals. I use boneless skinless chicken thighs as they hold up better in a slow cooker than chicken breasts. Chicken thighs also have  more iron and zinc than chicken breasts, a bonus for your health during cold season! Stirring in kale near the end of cooking time keeps the hearty green from over-cooking and gives the dish a pop of color. This meal is a great introduction for family members who may not like to eat greens. The herbs, garlic, and chicken help balance the flavor of the kale to win over the pickiest of eaters.

Serve Slow Cooker Pulled Italian Chicken and Kale in gluten-free buns for shredded chicken sandwiches, over baked sweet potatoes, cauliflower puree or “riced” cauliflower, or use as a topping on gluten free pizza. My kids even like it warmed and put into a thermos bowl with a side of broccoli in their lunch box. This recipe freezes wonderfully. After allowing the chicken to cool, package the leftovers in a freezer safe container, removing as much air as possible before labeling and freezing.
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Thai Chicken Curry

chicken curry

source: Alta Mantsch

The weather is cooling, and it’s time for more comfort foods. My favorites are those that cook low and slow, coaxing delicious, cozy flavors and allowing ingredients to mingle with one another. This Thai Chicken Curry is a great bridge between summer and autumn, as it uses some of the summer’s bounty, such as basil and bell peppers, in a comforting dish that warms your belly with creamy coconut milk and spices.

One of the added benefits of a dish such as this is that it doesn’t require an exact timetable. If you’re serving dinner guests, for example, and they’re a few minutes late; no worries, this will hold just fine on warm until you’re ready. And with a simple side of steamed rice (Jasmine rice is my favorite) and a steamed vegetable, such as broccoli or green beans, it makes the perfect meal. Another bonus: the leftovers taste delicious, too!
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