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May 26th, 2011

5 Healthy, last-minute dinners your kids will actually eat

by Marygrace Tayor

Though they’re often a source of stress, those super-busy, super-structured weekdays that tend to define most of the school year do come with one advantage: Forcing parents to stay organized. Who’s picking up Jackson from trumpet lessons, who’s shuttling Hazel to the basketball game—and of course, what’s for dinner.

School might not be over just yet, but it’s already starting to feel that way.  As summer creeps in, the chaotic schedules start to wind down. Instead of playing chauffer after school, you’re just playing. The only problem is, sometimes you end up having so much fun, you lose track of time completely. Everyone’s having a blast chasing the dog, throwing the softball, and playing tag…Next thing you know, it’s six o’clock, and you’ve got a gaggle of hungry, tired kids who’ll turn anxious and irritable if they don’t get a meal pronto.

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These are the nights when you fry up a platter of grilled cheeses or order in a pizza—at least, they used to be. Just because you need dinner ready in no time flat doesn’t mean fast food-type food is the only option. Whipping up a speedy, nutritionally-balanced meal (that’s one with complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fat, and a hearty serving of veggies or fruit) is easier than you think. In fact, it’s downright simple! Here, five of my favorite well-rounded, quick-cooking, kid-approved dinners ready in twenty minutes or less.

Hummus plate

In a food processor, add one 15-ounce can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), ¼ cup tahini, the juice of half a lemon, one garlic clove, and salt. Puree while drizzling in a few tablespoons of olive oil until a smooth dip forms. Serve with cherry tomatoes, sliced , and whole wheat pita.

Total time: 10 minutes

Quick veggie tacos

In a wide skillet, saute one large, diced onion and 2 to 3 diced bell peppers, adding garlic and cumin to taste. Add a 15-ounce can of black beans (drained and rinsed), and continue cooking until heated through. Serve in whole wheat or corn tortillas with shredded cheddar cheese.

Total time: 15 minutes

Chicken avocado wraps

Cook frozen, all-natural chicken tenders according to package directions, then slice into strips. Meanwhile, mash one large avocado and spread on whole wheat tortillas. Top with the sliced chicken tenders, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, and grated carrot; then wrap and eat.

Total time: 15 minutes

Breakfast for dinner

Add ½ cup canned pumpkin or mashed sweet potato to your favorite whole wheat pancake recipe. Drop a handful of blueberries or banana slices on the uncooked pancake side before flipping. Top cooked pancakes with chopped pecans, a dollop of plain yogurt, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Total time: 20 minutes

Spicy peanut noodles

Cook one pound of whole wheat spaghetti according to package directions, then drain (reserving ½ cup of the pasta water) and rinse under cold water until cool. In a bowl, combine ¾ cup salted peanut butter, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, and 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (or to taste). Add the ½ cup reserved pasta water and mix to combine. To the noodles, add the peanut sauce, half a head of shredded red cabbage, and one sliced cucumber. Toss well before serving.

Total time: 20 minutes

You can find even more of our favorite quick, kid-friendly dinner ideas—plus some KIWI readers have shared—on our blog, KiwiLog. What’s your healthy, go-to meal?

Marygrace Taylor is the staff writer and recipe developer for KIWI Magazine. She lives and cooks in Austin, Texas, with her husband and dog, Charlie.

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