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!


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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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Grilled Thai Chicken with Sweet Chili Garlic Sauce

This is a guest post from Jeanette at Jeanette’s Healthy Living:

Although hot dogs and hamburgers continue to be America’s most popular grilled fare in the summertime, I’m always looking for ways to lighten things up for my family and friends. Cooking leaner cuts of meat and fish on the grill is fast and easy – just a few tricks can make all the difference.

Infusing foods with flavor by using a marinade or spice rub before grilling is a great way to add or retain moisture in leaner cuts of meat and fish. It can also trick your senses into thinking you’re eating something richer and fattier than you really are.

Another fun trick is to serve a punchy sauce alongside your grilled chicken or fish. Whether it’s a fruit salsa, chimichurri sauce, or Sweet Chili Garlic Sauce, the idea is to add a burst of fresh flavor to compliment the grilled dish.

Remember…eating healthy doesn’t mean sacrificing on flavor.

This Grilled Thai Chicken with Sweet Chili Garlic Sauce is a terrific example of how a piece of chicken can be transformed into something exotic, yet close to home. Boneless, skinless chicken is marinated in a garlicky cilantro pesto before grilling, and served with a Sweet Chili Garlic Sauce.

Sweet, salty, sour, and spicy, this dish embodies the fundamental elements that represent Thai cuisine and will tantalize your taste buds.
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