Caitlin Olgetree is a registered dietician, fellow Katy mama of two, and co-founder of the healthy lifestyle blog for families, Healthy Bites Houston.
She’s likely to be a regular on our blog, as she’s a wealth of knowledge on how to sneak in all the healthy goodness without your kiddos noticing!
If your house is anything like ours, dinner time is a bit stressful and chaotic. Add on afternoons spent in the pool leading to exhausted hungry little humans who need food fast! Caitlin has a few tips for making it possible to get a healthy meal on the table without losing your mind and five summer recipes your kiddos will love!
1. Plan your meals. Take some time over the weekend or one evening to jot down what you plan to make each night. This not only makes grocery shopping easier, but it takes away the stress of having to think of what to make- which for most people is half the battle of getting a meal on the table!
2. Plan easy meals. So this should go without saying, but planning to make an elaborate meal during the week is probably not the best idea. Save the gourmet meals for the weekend when you have some extra time and help with your spouse being home to help with the kids!
3. Prep ahead. For mammas of littles who still nap- take a few minutes during nap time to cut/chop veggies, season meat, pre-cook pasta or rice etc. Anything you can do to save time later on! If your kids don’t nap anymore, chances are they could be left to play independently for a few minutes at some point during the day while you do some prep! If you’re a working mamma who is gone during the day, take the time on the weekends/night before/morning to do some of the prep ahead of time. Since I work part time, I do a little of both of these- on the days ill be at work, I make sure to plan something easy that doesn’t require a lot of prep. On the days I’m home, I usually go for things that are slightly more involved, but do the prep work during nap time.
4. Take advantage of prepared foods. Frozen veggies-YES PLEASE. Rotisserie chicken- YES MA’AM. Frozen chopped onions- YOU BET. Im always looking for ways to save time, so buying precut, pre-washed, precooked items are a must. Now I’m not saying you should go for frozen prepared foods (Frozen Pizza and Taquitos I’m talking about you!) but frozen items can be just as healthy as fresh in some cases. Specifically fruits and veggies- they’re frozen at their peak of freshness so they’re just as healthy too!
Now! Onto some healthy kid-approved meals!
Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets
- 2.5# Chicken tenders
- 2 cups Corn flakes
- ¾ cup almond meal
- 2 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Trim chicken tenders into small pieces- about 2 inches long
- Whip eggs in pie pan (or other dish that is easy to dip)
- Place corn flakes, almond meal, salt and pepper in a large ziplock bag. Crush using your hands or a mallet
- Place crushed mixture into another pie pan (or dish that you can dip in)
- Dip each piece of chicken in egg, followed by breading mixture and then place on baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes- flipping nuggets half way through baking time
Southwestern Loaded Baked Potatoes
- 4 Potatoes- Russet or Sweet potato would work best
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 avocado
- ¾ cup salsa +more for topping
- shredded cheddar cheese for topping
- sour cream for topping
- Preheat oven to 375
- Cook chicken in crockpot with chicken broth until fully cooked- about 2 hours on high. Remove from crockpot and shred with two forks. Combine with salsa and set aside.
- Bake potatoes for 1 hour or until fully cooked.
- Cut potatoes lengthwise. Top with chicken, beans, avocado, cheese, sour cream and salsa as desired
Better for you Blueberry Pancakes
- 2 cups dry oatmeal
- 2 bananas- very ripe bananas work best
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp cinnamon- could be reduced or increased depending on your taste
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
- ½ cup milk (any variety of cows milk, also almond, soy or rice will work)
- ½ cup ground flaxseed
- 2 pints fresh blueberries
- Place all ingredients except the blueberries in a blender or food processor. Blend until all ingredients are fully incorporated, this will be a liquid batter. Transfer batter to a bowl and fold in fresh blueberries. Place by spoonful onto hot griddle.
- I make large pancakes (4-5 inch diameter)
Baked Chicken Parmesan with Zoodles
- 2 zucchini- spiraled
- ½ package of pasta- I used linguine
- 1 pound chicken thighs
- 4 oz Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- 1-2 cups marinara sauce- for topping
- Parmesan cheese- for topping
- 4 oz monterrey jack cheese- for topping
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees
- Spiralize zucchini and place onto baking sheet that is lined with a paper towel. Bake at 200 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees
- Beat egg in baking dish
- Place breadcrumbs in another separate baking dish
- Dip chicken into egg and then into breadcrumbs and place on lined, greased baking sheet.
- Bake chicken for 35 minutes or until fully cooked
- Add sliced cheese for topping 2-3 minutes before chicken is done.
- While chicken is baking, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, rinse and set aside.
- Heat marinara sauce. Set aside.
- Combine zucchini noodles and pasta noodles in pan.
- Serve chicken atop bed of pasta/zoodles and top with parmesan to taste
Veggie and Sausage Hash
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 4-6 small potatoes, chopped (I used a variety pack from Trader Joes with yellow, red and purple)
- 2 zucchini, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 4 chicken sausage links- precooked (I used Aidells Habanero pepper jack)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Spray frying pan with nonstick spray and add chopped garlic. Cook for 2 minutes
- Next add potatoes, cook for 5-7 minutes or until they start to soften
- Add zucchini and bell pepper- cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the sausage and mushrooms- cook for additional 3-5 minutes or until mushrooms are softened and sausage is warmed.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste