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We have been trying to eat both healthier and cheaper in our house and besides beans one of the ways I have been trying to do that is to add more squash into our diet. I love squash. I am really excited about our zucchini and spaghetti squash plants. The rest of my family is more than a little apprehensive. The little kids are hit and miss when it comes to squash and my oldest daughter is strongly positioned in the squash is disgusting camp. My husband is not a huge fan but he will eat it…sometimes. Costco has organic butternut squash for a reasonable price that has been cured so it will store well in our pantry. I highly recommend buying and storing a couple of butternut and spaghetti squash in your pantry as part of an emergency kit/last minute dinner idea. As long as they have no blemishes they should be good for months in a cool dry place. We usually have at least one type on hand and when we are stuck in a vegetable rut or having a lean grocery week I pull out the squash. Usually one squash is good for a few meals since they are pretty large but it depends on how excited the family is about eating it that particular week.
This week I had a craving for my vegetarian butternut squash burritos. They are super easy to make and can be adapted to make rice bowls so they are gluten free. Sometimes I add a garlic sauce or some of my husband’s white barbecue sauce but if you are trying to eat healthier they should be eaten without the sauce. We always have rice and tortillas on hand so this recipe doesn’t require and extra trip to the grocery store for us if we have avocados on hand.
First thing to do is slice your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. I usually put the rice in the rice cooker at this point as well. You can make as much as you need but I usually make 3 cups of rice since we eat it with other things as leftovers.
Next your squash needs to be peeled. They can get slippery so be careful how you hold it while you peel.
While I was assembling everything the kids played with Play-doh. Luckily they didn’t make too much of a mess!
After peeling dice the squash and put it in a steamer. We have an old Revere Ware one that we inherited from my mother-in-law that is the true workhorse of our kitchen. You can find similar ones here.
Tonight I also made some roasted sweet potatoes in case the kids wouldn’t eat their squash. Good thing I did because the kids were apparently craving them and ate most of the three large potatoes I baked on their own.
After the squash and rice were cooked I set up our assembly station. I sliced avocados to order and it was an excellent meal. My son actually ate some avocados and my daughter ate a ton of squash so overall it was a success! We had oranges for dessert which is another way to keep the meal healthy. The kids had a post-dinner snack of most of the sweet potatoes which was hilarious because our son used them to get the dachshund to chase him around the house. He found it hilarious and she got a few pieces so it worked out for her as well.
Our avocados were not as ripe as they promised to be but they still tasted delicious with the squash and rice. I am hoping next year to grow our own butternut squash but for now, the ones I find at Costco are by far the most delicious. They have a smooth texture and a not too sweet taste that I love. For some reason this combination of rice, avocados and butternut squash is really appealing to me. The three ingredients really balance each other out and it makes a quick and easy meal that the whole family enjoys!
How are you incorporating squash into your meals?
Easy Vegetarian Squash Burritos
- 1/2 Butternut Squash
- 3 Cups Cooked Rice
- Large Flour Tortillas
- 2 Ripe Avocados
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Step 1 Cut your butternut squash in half and remove the seeds. The extra half can be stored in the fridge covered in plastic wrap for a few days or you can do the next step and put it in the freezer for later use.
- Step 2 Using a vegetable peeler carefully peel the skin off of the squash.
- Step 3 Once peeled dice the squash into bite size pieces and put in a steamer pot.
- Step 4 Cook for 20 min or until tender.
- Step 5 Slice your avocados just prior to serving.
- Step 6 Assemble your burritos! Start with a tortilla and add rice, avocados, squash, salt and pepper to taste. If you have some creamy sauce around you can add that as well but it will not be as healthy. You can also skip the tortilla and make a rice bowl if you want to cut out the wheat to make it gluten free.
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My oldest daughter and I love these sweet potato fries. I make them every couple of weeks and they are usually gone by the end of the night. The younger two kids either really love sweet potatoes or they can’t stand them so I usually make them as an extra dish. They are so easy to make it doesn’t make it seem like I am doing extra work for dinner. Some nights I start them when the younger kids are eating and then eat them as an after dinner snack instead of dessert. It was yummy and way healthier than ice cream or cookies.
Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly with a vegetable scrubber.
I used three lovely sweet potatoes today. We buy a gigantic bag from Costco every month or two and store them in a cool dry place.
Cut the ends off and then cut the sweet potatoes in half. Stand each half upright on the wider end and cut it in half again. Then slice each quarter into roughly the same thickness.
Spread your sweet potatoes on a standard cookie sheet. I used a Silpat under mine but you can also use parchment paper. The sweet potatoes don’t have to be evenly spread and they can be touching since they will shrink as they cook.
Lightly coat your sweet potatoes with olive oil. Ha ha! There is no actual olive oil on my brush because I didn’t want it to glop on there unevenly while I took a picture but you get the idea. I love our silicone brush because I can just toss it in the dishwasher afterwards. Don’t ask me where we got it. My husband bought it many years ago and I have no idea where but they have similar ones on Amazon.
Sprinkle your salt and pepper. I don’t use a lot of salt in my cooking and if I add a bunch of pepper to these it is guaranteed that the little kids won’t eat them so I do a very light coat. They do taste wonderful though if you add lots of pepper and a decent amount of salt so sometimes if I am feeling extra inspired I will make another tray for the grownups with more seasoning. Turn your sweet potatoes over and repeat the olive oil, salt and pepper. I may forget to repeat the second side if my kids are extra distracting so you can skip this step but they taste way better with coating on both sides. Put them in the oven for about 20 min, flip them with a fork to check tenderness and put them back into the oven for another 15-20 min. Check them a second time. There should be a little carmelization on them but if you are feeding them to little ones it is better to leave them soft.
I made these for kids to eat tomorrow so I pulled them a little early to keep them soft You can see some carmelization on the smaller pieces.
Yummy sweet potato juice coating the cooked fries. Let the fries cool for a few minutes and enjoy! You could also add a pre-mixed seasoning salt to the fries or just do salt and have them be more like french fries.
I hope your family enjoys these as much as we do! Happy cooking!
Easy Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Baked sweet potatoes make a great snack or side to any dinner.
- 3-4 Sweet Potatoes
- 1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Step 1 Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees and wash your sweet potatoes thoroughly.
- Step 2 Cut off the ends of the sweet potatoes and slice them in half twice. Cut them into roughly the same width (usually 1/4″ or so) to make them fry size. The actual width doesn’t matter, just remember the thicker they are the longer they will need to cook and the softer the fries will be. I usually cut each 1/4 of a sweet potato into 4-5 slices depending on how big it is.
- Step 3 Spread your fries evenly over a standard cookie sheet. I use a Silpat under them so they do not stick.
- Step 4 Lightly coat fries with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
- Step 5 Flip your fries and repeat olive oil, salt and pepper on the other side.
- Step 6 Bake sweet potatoes for 20 minutes.
- Step 7 Flip the fries with a fork and put them back into the oven for another 20-30 minutes depending on how done they are. If they are already soft put them in for 15 minutes and check them again. If some of them are still a little firm it will probably be closer to 25 or 30 minutes but check every few minutes to make sure.
- Step 8 Fries should be soft on the inside and have a little bit of carmelization on the outside. When I make them for the baby I leave them softer on the outside so he can chew them. Enjoy!
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My family has been pretty sick this winter and we have been eating a lot of soup. We prefer to make our own chicken broth and use that to create our own soup but sometimes I just don’t have the time. The solution I found is to use Lipton Soup Secrets Extra Noodles when I am in a time crunch. I can cook these babies in under ten minutes and I make lunch healthier by using leftovers in addition to the soup. My little kids love this soup and will slurp it down super fast but it has a lot of salt so it isn’t the best choice health wise. To get around that I water it down a bit and make sure not to serve it more than once a week.
I can usually find Lipton Soup Secrets Extra Noodles for under $2.00 so I will buy ten and stock up when I see them. I have also ordered cases off of Amazon which is super convenient when I can’t get to the store. Some stores charge over $3.00 for these so watch your prices and try to stock up if you see it for less than $2.00, sometimes I can even find it for $1.39 which with two soup packet servings in a box is a screaming deal!
They are super easy to make. Just boil water, add soup mix, wait 5 min (stirring occasionally) and it is done! Since my kids are impatient I decrease the amount of water I add to the pot from 3 cups to 2.5 cups and add ice at the end.
While the soup is cooking I scrounge for leftover veggies and meat to make lunch a complete meal. Today I used leftover peas and corn from dinner and Ritz crackers for the kids. Neither kid wanted meat but the three year old did eat some pineapple as well.
For myself I made a sandwich roll. We always have tortillas and lunch meat on hand. We buy in bulk at Costco and use them throughout the week. Today there was leftover pork loin my husband sous vied for dinner and princess salad. Princess salad is mainly composed of shaved Brussels sprouts and was named princess salad so the three year old would try a bite. It worked and she loves it! Today’s princess salad included apples and was delicious in my sandwich with mayo, mustard and pork.
When the soup is done it is way to hot to eat so I add ice until it has cooled down enough for children to eat and lunch is served!
Some other ideas you could use are to add the veggies and or meat to the soup in the last minute of cooking, make a grilled cheese sandwich or even to make a salad for the classic soup and salad combo.