Having the kids home from school for the past few months has had its ups and downs. While it’s nice to take a mid-afternoon walk to the local beach, it’s also really hard to keep up with work. Schedules are made and shuffled around as we find out what works best for our family. The rooms of our house have also been reorganized to squeeze in extra office furniture while minimizing claustrophobia.
Life has never been busier, as families struggle to keep up with homeschooling, stop bored children from screaming at each other and pick up the never ending mess of toys. To help you find some breathing space in the chaos of your home, here are three simple, healthy and delicious meals that take less than 20 minutes to prepare! Hopefully a quick-and-simple dinner will give you a few minutes to relax and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
Bean, Vegetable & Cheese Quesadillas
(Time: 15 minutes)
Quesadillas are incredibly easy to make. In fact they are so easy that most kids over the age of 10 can probably make their own. Younger kids can help with chopping and grating. So get those bored kids off the couch and into the kitchen!
8 large flour tortillas or 16 small corn tortillas
1 can refried beans
1 large red bell pepper
6 spring onions
4 roma tomatoes
1⁄4 cup cilantro
1 cup grated cheese
Salsa, sour cream and hot sauce for serving
1. Start by preparing all the ingredients. Chop the red pepper, spring onions and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Slice the avocado. Wash and chop the cilantro. Grate the cheese. Many hands make light work, so get your kids in the kitchen and you’ll be done in no time.
2. Place a frying pan over medium heat.
3. Each quesadilla is prepared individually, allowing everyone to pick their favourite ingredients. Start by spreading a layer of refried beans over one tortilla. Top with your choice of vegetables. Add a layer of grated cheese then put a second tortilla on top.
4. Place the quesadilla in the frying pan and cook for 3–5 minutes. Then flip it and cook the other side for another 3–5 minutes. The quesadilla is finished when both sides of the tortilla have started to brown and the cheese is melted.
5. Slice quesadilla into quarters and serve with salsa and sour cream.
Big Salad Bowl
(Time: 15 to 20 minutes)
A big salad bowl is one of my go-to meals in the summer. It is super quick, incredibly healthy and delicious! They can be made with pretty much anything you have in the house. The only secret is to include a bunch of different flavourful ingredients and a really amazing salad dressing. Feel free to use any salad dressing you want, however, I’ve included a recipe for my favourite Green Goddess dressing.
1⁄2 cup olive oil 3 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp cider vinegar 1⁄2 Tbsp soy sauce
1⁄2 Tbsp lemon juice 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped chives 1 pinch of salt
1 head of lettuce or bag of mixed salad greens
Vegetables: chopped tomato, cucumber, coloured pepper, grated carrots or beets.
Protein: chickpeas, toasted sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, canned fish, smoked salmon, hard boiled eggs, cubes of cheddar cheese or crumbled goat cheese.
Fun toppings: croutons, crunchy vegetable chips, olives or fresh berries.
1. Combine all the salad dressing ingredients in a jar and stir until well mixed.
2. The salad can be created around whatever you have in your fridge. Start by preparing all the ingredients. Use a variety of vegetables, and aim to eat from all colours of the rainbow. Choose one or two of the protein options. Including one fun topping isn’t necessary, but I do recommend choosing at least one crunchy topping. It just gives the salad something to bite into.
3. Salad bowls are also individually prepared. Start with a large layer of lettuce, then decorate it with your choice of toppings. Then finish it by drizzling salad dressing over top. If your kids are young, you might want to toss the lettuce with the salad dressing ahead of time, because it might be hard for them to mix the salad themselves.
Quick Pasta & Vegetables
(Total Time: 20 minutes)
The key to making a quick pasta is to start by putting the water on to boil first. The rest of the ingredients will be done by the time the pasta has finished cooking.
1 package of pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
4 cloves of garlic
A mix of fresh vegetables. Most anything that you have on hand will work: broccoli, kale, chard, spinach, asparagus tomatoes, peppers, carrots, peas or green beans.
1 tsp salt, to taste
1⁄2 tsp black pepper, to taste
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Start by putting the pasta water on to boil. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.
2. Prepare the vegetables while the pasta cooks. I like using a mix of two or three fresh and seasonal vegetables. It’s even tastier if the vegetables come from the farmers’ market!
3. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and finely mince the garlic.
4. Heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add in the firm vegetables (everything but tomatoes and greens) and the garlic. Sauté until soft. Then add in the soft vegetables toss for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
5. When the pasta has finished cooking, drain, then add directly to the vegetables.
6. Toss everything together and serve immediately with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.