“Lean, Clean, and Green”

IMG_2345 Yesterday was Wednesday (you’ll probably hear me talk about Wednesdays a lot), and as part of my duties on Wednesdays as an au pair, I get the pleasure of cooking lunch for myself and the girls. I love this part of my day for many reasons, but mostly its because I get to be in control (for the most part) of what I eat, when most of the time, eating with the family means I don’t really get to choose. I try to make the Wednesday lunch as healthy as possible, filled with lean protein and vegetables, because I want the girls and I to get all of our proper nutrients. Especially for their sake, I know kids don’t often enjoy eating all the things that they should eat, so feeding them a balanced meal sometimes involves a little creativity. I’m lucky that my girls (there are 3 of them) are good eaters, at least the older ones, and they actually love a lot of vegetables that I would have hated as a kid, so in that sense, its not too difficult to feed them something healthy. I struggle more with the youngest girl (6 years old), obviously, but I’m glad she loves quinoa and chicken and green beans! So thats exactly what we ate yesterday.

My baked chicken breast was really simple, and incredibly juicy and flavorful. I just laid out the chicken breast in aluminum foil (in a baking dish) and spread a little bit of olive oil on both sides, added some salt, pepper, and a few random, unlabeled spices that smelled nice (mostly like italian seasoning, rosemary, etc), and I covered it with chunks of onion and tomato, and cooked it in the oven at around 350 degrees for… a while? I don’t know, I just eyeballed it. To make sure its ready, just cut a little slice in the thickest part of the chicken to see if its still pink inside, and if it looks ready, well, you know what to do.

The quinoa we had was a combination of quinoa and bulgur wheat. Prepare it just like rice, in other words, 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. Bring the water to a boil, pour the quinoa in, and lower the temperature to a slow simmer for about 15-18 minutes (or until all the water has been absorbed). I sometimes add salt to the water before cooking, but not always because occasionally (meaning, I’ve done it once and I always mean to try it again but never do) I might want to use the quinoa for breakfast and I’d rather it not be too salty. Sometimes I’ll add olive oil, maybe I’ll cook it with half water, half chicken broth, or maybe I’ll toss in some diced onions, or some raisins, or whatever, and let it cook all together. Quinoa is super versatile, so just let your imagination run wild, and don’t be afraid of messing up, its pretty impossible with quinoa.

**PS: Quinoa is great for kids because its a complete protein (you know, like chicken or fish), so if they’re fussy and they’re the type of kids who only want to eat plain pasta or rice, try substituting any of those terribly nutritionless grains (white carbohydrates are worthless) for some hearty superfood quinoa and you can easily trick your kiddos into eating protein (8 grams in a 1-cup serving!) and not just refined carbs. Quinoa is also high in fiber, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and its gluten-free (because it’s a seed) so it is all-around a nutritional powerhouse, and your kids have no idea. Sneaky little food. **

The green beans were frozen. Not ideal, but there weren’t any fresh ones available and French people love to say that their frozen food is better than everyone else’s (i.e. Picard), so I just bit my lip and accepted frozen veggies over no veggies. Those are easy to make… just boil them, until they’re ready to eat (10-15 minutes)! I added some salt, pepper, and olive oil for taste.

The girls and I loved our healthy little lunch, and even though the little one didn’t eat green beans, she finally accepted the quinoa after fussing over the “weird little black things in it” that were “stressing her out” (her exact words) and she ate the chicken like a champ. I felt pleased with my meal, and I was even able to sneak a really quick picture of my plate while the girls weren’t looking (I imagined the oldest one would wonder WTF I was doing) so I could post it here on Le Blog.

As the Tone It Up girls say, it was lean, clean, and green. And I feel great about that.

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