Do you think that quick and healthy are words that don’t normally go together when planning dinner? All parents are busy and need ideas on how to feed the family healthy meals that don’t take hours to prepare. The simplest bit of advice is to keep it simple; use fresh ingredients that don’t need other ingredients and keep cooking methods easy as well. Make sure to serve a variety of all foods. A diet of pasta and hot dogs, even if they are whole grain and organic, isn’t a way to maximize your health.
Think outside the box of what you normally eat. Look through cookbooks, blogs and even Facebook to get inspired (people always post pictures of what they eat!). It’s ok to keep it simple; just keep it healthy, too. Here are some ideas for an easy dinner that can be put together in about 15 minutes. Enjoy!
Quick and Easy BBQ Chicken
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (Bone Suckin’ Sauce is sweet and tangy but not too spicy for kids; it’s also gluten-free and all natural without preservatives)
1. Coat chicken breasts or thighs with sauce. Place in a greased pan. Marinate on the counter for 15-20 minutes while you prepare other dishes.
2. Pre-heat oven to 400F or heat an outdoor gas grill. Bake for 15-20 minutes. If you have a convection oven, use that mode. Chicken might be done sooner so check after 15 minutes.
If you want to cook on the grill, set the grill to medium and cook each side for 4-7 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the pieces.
Insider Chef Tips: Give chicken the touch test to see if it is done. If it’s firm, it’s usually cooked (but don’t overcook the breasts as they will become dry) and if it’s soft, it’s not. Resist the temptation to cut into it as you will lose the juices. You can also use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s at least 165F. The nice thing about thighs is that they are hard to overcook because of the fat. You can add some extra bbq sauce during the last 3 minutes to give it a glaze. Bone-in chicken will take longer for both types of cooking.
Perfect Green Beans
1 teaspoon olive oil, butter or sesame oil
1. The quickest way to trim the beans is to use a kitchen scissor. Hold 4-6 beans at a time and cut the stem end. This way you can prep a pound of green beans in about 5 minutes. If they are long, cut them one more time in the center.
2. Place them into a pot with a steamer basket. There should be enough water to cover the bottom of the pot but not too much that the water is above the steamer basket.
3. Place a cover on top, set the heat to a little over medium and then lower it a bit when you hear the water boiling. In about five minutes, you should have perfect beans. Test with a fork or taste one. Alternatively, you can steam beans in a rice cooker with a steamer insert.
4. To season, try adding olive oil, butter or sesame oil with a little salt but when fresh, they can be eaten plain.
Amy Fothergill, The Family Chef, is a cooking instructor, consultant and blogger in the Bay Area. She teaches classes at upscale markets as well as at private and corporate events, and helps families by providing consultations. Her philosophy is anyone can be “the family chef”. You just need good recipes and techniques! On her blog, she shares her best recipes with you for quick and easy dishes with an emphasis on gluten-free.