Five real food recipes, all weeknight friendly + gluten- and dairy-free.
Our Elle is turning three next week! I can't believe we're going to have a three-year-old. While the infant days were precious, I actually love having a kid. She can express her thoughts, opinions, and preferences. And I so enjoy talking to her and having (what is very close to) an actual conversation.
Elle and I have been cooking together her entire life. When she was an infant I wore her in the baby carrier while I cooked. When she got a little older she'd play in her jumpy-toy next to me in the kitchen. When she was old enough to sit unassisted I'd have her on the counter helping to put pieces of veggies in the soup pot. And when she could stand we got her a Learning Tower so she could reach the counter on her own.
These days she just needs a small stool to reach the counter (she is a giant child) and we cook together most nights. Her favorite things to make are chocolate "cookies" (barre3 Dark Chocolate Donut Holes), hummus, and soup. When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday dinner she responded: "Pasta! With meatballs. And lettuce. And beans and rice. And chocolate cupcakes. And chocolate ice cream." Okay then. So for her third birthday we'll be having meatballs with pasta and zoodles, a big salad, homemade chocolate cupcakes from the Against All Grain cookbook, and organic chocolate ice cream. We'll do beans and rice another night.
There are also a few special meals for Elle on this week's Real Food Meal Plan, too. She'll love helping to make (and eat) the Butternut Squash soup. And the Shortcut Veggie Ragout is a no-brainer Elle favorite. I hope you'll enjoy this week's meal plan with some special people in your life. Cheers!
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup from Two Peas & Their Pod
- An immersion blender makes this dinner super simple.
- Roast a double or triple batch of the maple roasted chickpeas. They are so tasty and are the perfect afternoon salty-sweet snack.
- I'll be skipping the brown sugar, adding a bit more maple syrup, and swapping avocado oil for the canola oil to make the maple roasted chickpeas.
Shortcut Veggie Ragout from Iowa Girl Eats
- Double the veggies and omit the ground beef for a meat-free option.
- Look for a marinara sauce free of refined sugar and preservatives.
- This recipe can please everyone. Serve over whole wheat pasta, spaghetti squash, or zoodles.
Asian Chicken Slaw from What’s Gabby Cooking
- Substitute almond butter or tahini for the peanut butter if you prefer.
- Substitute gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos for soy sauce for a gluten-free option.
- For a kid-friendly version, serve the chopped veggies and cooked chicken separately along with the sauce on the side for dipping.
Baked Chicken with Spinach and Artichokes from Diethood
- Frozen artichoke hearts are a good alternative to canned if you can find them.
- Since this recipe requires searing on the stove-top and then transferring to the oven, make sure to use an oven-proof skillet (no plastic handles!).
- Cut chicken breasts into thirds for faster cooking.
Sweet Potato Chana Masala from Dishing up the Dirt
- This dish is filling, delicious, and not too spicy.
- It also makes great leftovers and is perfect for lunch the next day.
- Be sure to use full-fat coconut for this recipe, not light.