Last night, I convinced my 4 and 6 year old to take a walk after dinner by calling it a pajama walk. They were allowed to wear their PJs and bathrobes, making the walk too enticing to resist. Occasionally we have costume walks too, but that’s another topic. So, we’re out walking and we bump into a family from our neighborhood that we like a lot. Next thing I know, we’ve invited them over for dinner. What is a busy mom to do about serving a healthy dinner for seven on a Tuesday night when her husband has a dinner meeting and won’t be home to help? Here’s the plan…
For starters, I know that these parents feel as we do about raising healthy kids. The children all have ample opportunity for junk food and don’t need me to provide more of it, so I’m going to try to make the meal somewhat nutritious. That said, I don’t want to be the mom in the neighborhood who makes boring dinners that people want to avoid, so it has to taste good.
The plan starts with an appetizer plate that is kid friendly and colorful. While my kids have an hour of “quiet time” to read to themselves this afternoon (I’m using the term “read” loosely), I’m going to chop baby carrots, celery, broccoli, and red & yellow peppers. I’ll put it on a big platter with some hummus and just leave it on the coffee table for everyone to nibble on while the adults have a glass of wine and chat. The kids will graze on the crudites and won’t think to object since they’ll be distracted by the fun of playing with their friends.
For the adults, I’m making a big spinach and arugula salad with crumbled goat cheese, dried cranberries and sliced red onions. The mixed salad comes from a bag, so do the cranberries, making it fast to throw together. The vinaigrette is store bought. I’d offer homemade, but that’s my husband’s specialty in the kitchen and he’s not home. We’ll survive with store bought dressing, but I will just drizzle on enough to barely cover the leaves, reducing the calories. Also on the side is a wonderful recipe I picked up from Bon Appetit this month. Here’s the link: http://bonapp.it/10agLfw. I highly recommend this black rice and veggie dish. I’ve made it a few times already, always to rave reviews. I’d like to say dinner will be all about veggies, but I did actually buy cheese pizza too. The good news is that we’ll all fill up partially on vegetables before even coming to the table, so we’ll indulge less than we would have otherwise. I plan to fill half my plate with salad, one quarter with the black rice & veggie dish and only one quarter with cheese pizza.
My kids are dying to have dessert since it is a “party”, so we’ll made bowls of berries topped with a little small scoop of sorbet or ice cream. Making it about the berries first and the ice cream as a topper will reduce their junk food intake.
Do I think it will be a perfectly healthy dinner? Nope. But it sounds pretty darn good for a working mom to throw together a dinner for seven with a lot of veggies, some berries filled with anti-oxidants, an interesting veggie & rice side dish and the crowd pleasing pizza, served as a side rather than a main dish.
Not too bad for a Tuesday night.
Thanks for listening. I wish you the very best of health!
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