By Anna Dantoni –
A cookbook/self help manual called Clean Eating for Busy Families (Fair Winds Press, $19.95) is not destined to occupy the most eye-catching spot on a book store shelf. A sexy title it is not. But the title and the text are the earnest, no-nonsense culinary manifesto of author Michelle Dudash, who is a registered dietitian, Cordon Bleu-certified chef and columnist for The Arizona Republic. She’s also a mother determined to nurture her young daughter with healthy ingredients tucked into tasty meals. Her book is about shopping, stocking a pantry, cooking and serving meals that are healthy, but not time consuming to prepare. Most of the recipes in this paperback book take only about 30 minutes to make. Additionally, there are tempting color photos to encourage you to get going.
In the shopping part of the book are tips about what items to banish from your cart (partially hydrogenated oil, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners are high on the list), as well as what ingredients to look for, which are mostly the ones that are local and seasonal. Many (but not all) of the recipes in the book are dinner ones, since Dudash believes that dinner is the meal that gives healthy-oriented cooks the most challenges. Her ideal dinner has to look good, taste good, be full of healthy ingredients and appeal to both the adults and the children at the table. Months of turning her own home into a test kitchen have resulted in the recipes in this book. Dudash says they work and given her credentials and her persistence, I believe her.
Following the advice and using the recipes in Clean Eating for Busy Families, probably works best if your marriage is young and your children are toddlers. You can get everyone off to a good start. If you’re a family home cook in a later stage in life, getting everyone on board and changing lifestyle patterns may be more difficult. But, it’s definitely worth a try and the national mood in restaurants, the medical community, food stores and the popular press is generally trending to pro-healthy eating. So, you’ve got support. Here are a few recipes from Michelle Dudash’s book to get you started after you’ve thrown out the Cheetos and severed all ties with frozen chicken nuggets and boxed mac ‘n cheese.
1 cup dry quinoa
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, diced small
½ onion, diced small
1 celery stalk, diced small
1 ¾ cups organic or reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ freshly ground black pepper
In a medium saucepan, cover quinoa in water and all it of soak for 5 minutes. Stir quinoa and pour into a strainer, rinse with cook water. Dry the sauce, then heat it over medium heat and add oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add carrot, onion and celery and cook until tender about6 4 minutes. Add quinoa and sauté until the mixture emits a nutty aroma, about 1 minute. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil on high. Reduce heat to low, addItalian seasoning, cover and cook for 20 minutes until quinoa is tender and liquid is completely absorbed. Allow to sit covered for 5 minutes and then stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper.
Roasted Citrus Asparagus
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 450-degrees. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on the pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange and lime zests, lime juice, salt, pepper and then drizzle in the oil while whisking. Pour evenly over the asparagus. Toss the asparagus gently with your hands to coat completely. Bake 14 minutes until fork-tender. No not overcook.
Oatmeal-Cherry Breakfast Cookies
3 cups dry old-fashioned or thick-cut oats
1 cup white or regular whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1/3 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 cup packed light brown brown sugar
¼ cup low-fat milk
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
½ cup dried tart cherries
½ cup sliced almonds, divided
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line two large sheet pans with parchment paper. Stir oats, flour, cinnamon and baking soda in a medium bowl. In a large bow, beat egg and whisk in the oil, sugar, milk and extract. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until moistened, adding the cherries and half of the almonds toward the end of mixing. Drop scant ¼ cup scoops of dough onto the pans at least 2-inches apart. Sprinkle remaining almonds on top and pat gently with wax paper to slightly flatten. Bake until golden around the edges, about 16 minutes. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to one week or freeze for up to one month.