Clean Eating for Busy Families (3 Easy Recipes)

This is a guest post by Michelle Dudash, R.D.

Every parent knows what a struggle it can be to get dinner on the table night after night-they want to prepare healthy meals for their families, but picky eaters, busy schedules, and way-too-long cooking times always seem to stand in the way.

That’s why I wrote CLEAN EATING FOR BUSY FAMILIES. This recipe book takes the challenge out of putting delicious food on the table every night by providing readers with a clear plan for dinner success.

My book includes streamlined weekly grocery lists, simple-yet-delicious recipes, and practical tips for healthy family eating. Don’t settle for another uninspired takeout. Opt for  wholesome meals that don’t just put the tummies to ease, but the mind as well.

Here are three recipes the folks at Fooducate asked me to share with you:

1. Super Simple Summer Squash Sauté

This recipe is ridiculously simple, yet delivers a burst of flavor. You can slice the vegetables into half-moons instead of dicing them, if you prefer. Adjust the cooking time as needed.

1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons (2 g) dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon (3 g) minced garlic
2 medium zucchini, diced into ½-inch
(1.3 cm) cubes (about 2½ cups, or 300 g)
2 medium yellow summer squash, diced into ½-inch (1.3 cm) cubes (about 2½ cups, or 300 g)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat and pour in the oil. Sprinkle in the onion flakes and garlic and cook for 15 seconds until aromatic. Add the remaining ingredients and sauté until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Total Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes • Yield: 6 servings, ¾ cup (approx. 100 g) each

Per serving: 45 calories; 2 g total fat; trace saturated fat; 1 g protein; 5 g carbohydrate; 2 g dietary fiber; 0 mg cholesterol.

2. Hearty Pinto & Kidney Bean Tamale Pie

Half chili, half cornbread, this dish is satisfying and delicious. Feel free to use cornbread mix as a shortcut, with enough batter for six muffins being the ideal amount to pour on top.

For Filling:

1 tablespoon (15 ml) expeller-pressed grapeseed or canola oil
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup, or 160 g)
2 teaspoons (6 g) minced garlic
1 (15-ounce, or 425 g) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce, or 425 g) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce, or 390 g) can diced tomatoes with green pepper, celery, and onion
2 teaspoons (5 g) chili powder
2 tablespoons (28 ml) lime juice
2 tablespoons (28 ml) reduced sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For topping:

½ cup (70 g) whole-grain corn flour or fine-ground whole-grain cornmeal
½ cup (60 g) whole-wheat pastry flour (or white whole-wheat flour)
2 teaspoons (9 g) baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (120 ml) low-fat milk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons (45 ml) canola oil
1½ teaspoons (10 g) light agave nectar

Garnishes: salsa, plain Greek yogurt, and avocado slices

Total Prep and Cook Time: 50 minutes • Yield: 6 servings, 1 piece each

Per serving: 320 calories; 11 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 13 g protein; 38 g carbohydrate; 8g dietary fiber; 2 mg cholesterol.

Preheat oven to 425ºF (220ºC, or gas mark 7).

To Make the Filling: Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, chili powder, lime juice, soy sauce, and pepper and stir, cooking until hot. Spread evenly into a 9 x 9-inch (23 x 23 cm) baking dish.

To Make the Topping: Stir together flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine milk, egg, oil, and agave nectar in a small bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Pour batter over filling and spread evenly, manipulating as little as possible to avoid overworking. Bake until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then cut into 6 servings.

Serve with salsa, yogurt, or avocado toppings.

Go Clean

Whole-grain corn flour or cornmeal includes the germ, giving it 4 to 5 grams of fiber per serving, versus just 2 grams in “enriched and degerminated” varieties.

3. Peanut Brittle Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate drizzle

Part candy, part cookie, these bars are so delicious you won’t want to eat just one. You can play around with other nuts in this recipe, such as almonds, pistachios, and pecans.

For crust:

1¼ cups (105 g) fine whole-grain graham cracker crumbs (about 12 squares)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) expeller-pressed grapeseed or canola oil
2 tablespoons (40 g) honey

For Filling:

1/ 3 cup (115 g) honey
¼ cup (60 g) packed light brown sugar
1/ 8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons (42 g) cold butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon (15 ml) coconut milk or heavy whipping cream
2 cups (290 g) unsalted dry roasted peanuts

For chocolate drizzle:

1/ 3 cup (58 g) dark or semisweet chocolate chips

Total Prep and Cook Time: 35 minutes, plus cooling • Yield: 16 bars, 1 each

Per serving: 240 calories; 16 g total fat; 4 g saturated fat; 5 g protein; 22 g carbohydrate; 2 g dietary fiber; 6 mg cholesterol.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC, or gas mark 4) and generously coat a 9 x 9-inch (23 x 23 cm) baking pan with canola oil spray.

To Make the Crust: Whir the graham crackers in a food processor until they are the consistency of fine crumbs and with the motor running, drizzle in the oil and honey. Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan and press it firmly with your hands. Bake for 12 minutes until fragrant and surface appears dry. Cool for at least a few minutes.

To Make the Filling: Increase oven temperature to 375ºF (190ºC, or gas mark 5). Bring honey, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, and then boil for 2 minutes without stirring. Add butter and coconut milk and boil for 1 minute, stirring. Remove from heat and fold in the peanuts, coating them completely. Spread peanuts evenly over the crust and bake until bubbly and golden, about 16 minutes. Cool completely.

To Make the Chocolate Drizzle: Microwave the chocolate chips in a bowl, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Dip a fork into the chocolate and with a flick of your wrist, splatter the chocolate over the peanuts in a diagonal pattern. Cool and cut into 16 rectangular or diamond shaped bars. Secretly Skinny Sweet Treats

Go Clean

The darker the chocolate, the higher the percentage of cocoa, which means more antioxidant-rich polyphenols. Also, dark chocolate usually contains less added sugar.

Michelle Dudash, R.D., is an award-winning registered dietitian, cookbook author, Cordon Bleu-certified chef, healthy recipe columnist for The Arizona Republic and television personality. As a busy career-loving mom, Michelle understands what millions of families face every night as they struggle to put a healthy meal on the table in minutes.

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  • Alix

    I’m not a mother myself, but my boyfriend was raised in a family of 6 kids plus parents, all with some sort of specific dietary need. (Some were hyperglycemic, some were lactose intolerant, some had diabetes, and some had nervous disorders that required a special diet) she was very concerned with feeding 8 people healthy foods on a low budget while she worked part time AND attended school. (talk about super mom) She shopped on Saturdays, usually at fares markets if they were open, then used her Sundays nights to cook the entire weeks worth of food so she wouldn’t have to worry about it each night.

    • ItsMe

      wow! amazing woman!

  • fryingMakesTransfat

    frying is not healthy