Coming home from vacation is always hard, but it’s even harder when that vacation is centered around delicious food, as Alaskan cruises almost always are. This past week I’ve been missing my daily breakfast buffet, the mid-day tea and cupcake social, and the calorie laden 3-course meals that I became accustomed to on the ship. My waistline, on the other hand, is not. After a couple depressing attempts to fit into my summer clothes, I decided that it was time to undo all those lovely inches that I brought back with me from my trip. But how do you go from stuffing your face morning, noon, and night to eating like a rabbit and being happy about it? The trick is it to load up on lean protein and fiber-packed foods that will help fill you up quicker, and keep you fuller longer. Which is why I’ve been living off of my homemade chopped salad for the last few days. Continue reading
Stuff My Kid Eats
“Lettuce tacos” is what my toddler calls this fun but healthy meal. She loves it when I set up all the serving dishes in the middle of the table, let her pick her own ingredients (with assistance), roll her own wrap (also with assistance), and eat with her hands (no assistance required – except for the sweeping I get to do after she lets everything spill from the open end of her wrap).
This is probably the healthiest thing I’ve ever made (EVER), yet you’d never know it because it’s packed with tons of flavor, texture, and hands-on fun. I mean who doesn’t love building their own “lettuce taco?” Nobody, that’s who. Another excellent thing about this dish is that it can be served warm or cold. (For cold, prepare all the ingredients, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.)
- 8 outer leaves from about 2 heads of Boston lettuce, separated and washed (reserve small inside leaves for another use)
- 4 cups prepackaged broccoli slaw
- 5 Tbsp. coconut oil, divided
- 4 Tbsp. pineapple juice
- 4 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1¾ cups coconut water
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice
- 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce (vegetarians use soy sauce)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Kosher salt to taste
- Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Choose one (or a couple) of the following proteins:
- 1 lb. ground turkey or chicken
- 1 lb. uncooked shrimp, (peeled, deveined, and tails removed) coarsely chopped
- 2 – 14oz. packages of extra firm tofu, cut into very small cubes
Arrange lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Set aside.
Place broccoli slaw in a serving bowl, then whisk together coconut oil, juice, vinegar, and green onions until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over slaw and let sit for at least 10 minutes.
Bring coconut water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan. Add rice and continue to boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmer for 35-45 minutes, or until water has absorbed and rice is tender. Once rice has finished cooking, add mustard and stir to combine. Season with pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, garlic, and protein of your choice and sauté until cooked through. Add oyster sauce and black pepper, and stir until combined. Transfer to a bowl for serving. (Note: if you’ve chosen to use more than one protein, cook separately, wiping out the skillet between batches.)
Place all serving bowls on the table and let everyone assemble their own wraps.
Fill lettuce leaves with a spoonful of rice, then a spoonful of protein, and top with broccoli slaw. Pick up leaves and eat like you would a taco.
Sidekick: Pair with a glass of Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Rosé.
Stuff My Kid Eats
“Ew, that’s so yucky!” is my toddler’s new favorite phrase. This has been her mantra of late and she uses it in response to pretty much anything she’s offered, be it food, clothes, or a new activity. She turned 2½ a couple weeks ago and has developed an opinion about everything. EVERYTHING! So it was no surprise to me that she turned up her nose at this dinner. “But it’s made with peanut butter,” I told her. She looked at me sideways, calculating her next move. “Peanut butter? Hmm…” She ate a bite, and then another, and another. “It’s very yucky, Mommy,” she said quietly and with much less conviction, then she slurped the last piece of meat out of her bowl and reached across the table to snag more off my husband’s plate.
Broccoli and Basil Panang Curry
This delicious, easy-to-make Thai dish can be adapted to fit any eater and is sure to become a new family favorite! I usually prepare it with beef (pictured above) and serve it over rice noodles, but it can also be made with chicken, shrimp, or tofu and spooned over long-grain white rice or brown rice.
Broccoli and Basil Panang Curry
For the Panang
- 1 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk (do not stir)
- 2 Tbsp. Panang or red curry paste
- 2 Tbsp. almond butter or extra-crunchy peanut butter
- 5 tsp. fish sauce
- 4 tsp. dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise very thinly
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced lengthwise very thinly
- 1 bunch broccolini, cut into 2-inch long pieces, stems included (regular broccoli would work, too, just cut each floret into quarters)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade (*see How To)
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (from about 1 medium lime)
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Optional: 1 tsp. hot chili paste, such as sambal or oelek (omit if you don’t like heat)
Choose one of the following proteins:
- 1 lb. ribeye steak (*see Note)
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (*see Note)
- 1 lb. uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- 2 14-oz. packages firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes
*Note: Place the steak or chicken in the freezer for 15 minutes to make it easier to cut. With a very sharp knife, slice meat against the grain, no thicker than ⅛-inch.
Choose one of the following for serving:
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain white (such as Basmati or Jasmine), cooked per package instructions
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice, cooked per package instructions
- 8 oz. dry rice noodles, cooked per package instructions
Cook rice/rice noodles per package instructions.
While rice/rice noodles are cooking, heat a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat. Spoon the thick coconut cream from the top of the can into the skillet. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring until fragrant and beginning to dry, about 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the remaining coconut milk, almond/peanut butter, fish sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and water and bring to a simmer. Stir in the red pepper, onion, garlic, and broccolini, cover and cook until the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
Add the protein of your choice and half of the basil, cook uncovered, stirring often until the protein is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
Divide cooked rice/rice noodles among 4 separate plates. Spoon Panang over rice/rice noodles, dividing evenly, and sprinkle with remaining basil chiffonade.
Stack 4-5 leaves on top of each other.
Tightly roll the stack lengthwise (another selfie of my thumb).
With a sharp knife, cut the roll perpendicularly into very thin ribbons.
Repeat with remaining basil leaves.
- If you choose to add heat (hot chili paste) to this dish, then you’ll want a nice cold beer, either an Ale, Pilsner, Singha, or Weiss; or a glass of Riesling, either an off-dry or Spätlese.
- If you prefer the safer, less spicy version of this dish, add a non-oaky Chardonnay to the beverage list above.