Hello, friends! I was going to start off by apologizing for taking a brief break from blogging last week, but I'm not going to apologize, because I'm not really sorry about it. The Man, Beautiful Baby A, Bailey the Pup and I went on our very first family vacation since BBA was born, visiting a friend who lives at the beach in Delaware. As the consummate multitasker, I recognize that I need to learn how to monotask and practice being present in the moment, because the weeks with BBA are going by so quickly (it is hard to believe she is 3 1/2 months old!), and I do not want her baby-hood to flash by me in a blur.
Being present in the moment this past week meant spending time with the family on the beach, introducing BBA to the ocean, taking her on her first boat ride, and going on an early morning walk on the boardwalk with friends. It did not mean trying to find time during the vacation to write a blog post. Now I am back home, and since BBA has settled into her crib for the night, it is time for mama to get back to work.
I have had several requests to share some of my favorite healthy recipes, because it seems that most of us struggle with food, and yet - for better or for worse - what we eat has more of an influence on our weight and our overall health than what kind of purposeful movement we engage in or how often or how much we exercise. As a "vegetable-arian" (the word my nephew used to describe me when he was younger, because "you just eat vegetables, Aunt Kathleen"), I strive to make dishes that even meat-eaters love and won't suspect are healthy (after all, The Man is an omnivore). The following 2 recipes have been taste-tested time and time again by friends and family with varied food preferences, and they have been a hit every single time. These dishes are not only healthy and tasty, but they are quick and easy to make!
Lentil Sloppy Joes - Serves 4
Sloppy Joes are an American classic, and since the flavor comes from the seasonings and spices - not from the meat - it is easy to recreate the dish into a healthier veggie version without losing the taste. I developed this recipe after finding several other healthier versions of Sloppy Joes, significantly modifying the recipes to satisfy my tastebuds.
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped (optional, but adds some extra veggie goodness)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14 oz.) tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. chili powder (to taste)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cups pre-cooked brown lentils (I use 1 package of Trader Joe's refrigerated Steamed Lentils to save time - canned lentils would also work, or use dried lentils to make them from scratch, of course!)
4 sandwich/burger rolls
1. Heat the EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bell pepper and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes longer to soften the vegetables.
2. Add the remainder of the ingredients to the skillet (minus the rolls!), and stir gently to mix well. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until hot throughout. Serve on a bun.
Veggie "Tuna" Salad - Serves 4-6
Even when I was a little girl, I didn't like eating meat or fish, with 2 exceptions - chicken and tuna salad sandwiches. I have fond memories of my grandmother making me tuna melts when she babysat, and years after giving up eating animals, I was happy to find a worthy replacement for an old favorite. Veggie "tuna" salad recipes are aplenty in plant-based cookbooks, and I have perfected my own version over time after trying many different versions. Even The Man, a fish-loving Norwegian, gives this dish two thumbs up!
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas (approx. 3 cups), drained and rinsed
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
A handful of shredded carrots (totally optional, but adds a little crunch and some additional veggie goodness - I use pre-shredded that I get at Trader Joe's to save time)
Approximately 1/4 cup onion (I prefer red), finely chopped (add more or less to taste)
Approximately 1/4 cup dill pickle relish or chopped dill pickle (add more or less to taste)
1/2 cup mayo (for a vegan version that is the only non-mayo I have found to be as creamy and tasty as the real thing, I highly recommend using Sir Kensington's Fabanaise, a new brand that gets its creamy texture from aquafaba, which is the "bean" liquid you usually rinse down the drain when you strain a can of chickpeas; it is incredibly healthy and super yummy - a winning combination in my book! I found this at both Whole Foods and a little local health food store.)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Add chickpeas to a food processor or blender (or use a fork or potato masher, which is what I do) to grind/mash them into small, flaky pieces. Then add the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper; mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a bed of lettuce or spinach or in a sandwich (or on an English muffin with a little melted cheese or vegan cheese for an authentic "tuna" melt taste!).
I encourage you to add these recipes to your weekly menu and let me know what you think in the Comments section below. And for more easy, fast, tasty, healthy and family-friendly recipe ideas, stay tuned to future blog posts (shameless plug!).
Until next time, be happy and healthy,
Hello, friends! I’m Kathleen, the Kettlebell Mama. Welcome to bells & peppers – a blog dedicated to all things related to fitness, nutrition and healthy living. As an athlete, trainer, nutritionist, cooking instructor, attorney, senior executive and new mom, I have learned how to balance my personal health and fitness goals with paying the bills, spending quality time with family and friends and pursuing a demanding career – without losing my mind! My goal is to inspire, empower and provide you with simple strategies to help you become your healthiest self in a balanced, realistic and sustainable way. Feel free to read more about my story here. Thanks for visiting bells & peppers!