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Fighting Childhood Obesity With Turkey Breast, Jambalaya and Quesadillas..i.e…HOMEMADE MEALS!

22 Feb

So, I was listening to my favorite radio program, NPR’S “Tell Me More” with Michel Martin. On this particular day they were discussing a study that showed that there was a link between working moms and overweight children. You can read the interview here: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/15/133777158/Study-Finds-Link-Between-Working-Moms-Overweight-Kids

My first thought was Ouch! Another shot at the working mom who, like most moms, is just trying to do what she feels necessary for her family. However, I could not help but also think about the children. Being the closeted nerd that I am, I have read articles and listened to countless radio and tv programs discussing study after study showing that our children are having higher rates of juvenile diabetes, cholesterol, and other obesity related diseases. So while I felt the sting of the working mom guilt, I knew that the most important thing is the well-being of our children. 

While I was thinking about this study I thought to myself that this just further proves that we (mothers and fathers) need to try hard at staying away from the fast food and cooking more at home. Now, I must say that I enjoy cooking and when I can really get into it, it is a source of relaxation for me. However, at 5:30pm after a long day of work, when I have just walked into the house and I have a 4.5 year old begging for a snack and a 1.5 year old clutched to my leg like a koala bear, I am as stressed as any mother out there. My husband doesn’t usually get home until a little after 6pm and it is my goal to have dinner on the table no later than 6:45pm. I must also admit that while I do prefer cooking, there are times when I decide to stop at Chick-fil-A.  As the saying goes, it is what it is and we do what we have to do.

However, there is also another saying that I love “Failure To Plan Is A Plan To Fail”. It is with this quote in mind that I try to plan out my meals. I think by taking the time to plan meals for our families, we can help prevent some of the potentials discussed in that study.

Now, I’m not saying that I have a calendar with all 5 days planned out. However, I do try to note in my head or on paper at least 3 meals that I will make during the week. I also try to pick meals that can be made in a larger quantity so we can leftovers the next day.  Finally, one of my secret weapons in the fight against the fast food drive in window is to make dishes (like meats or stews) the night before.  Meats taste better and are more tender if they are allowed to rest and the ingredients in stews (such as my jambalaya below) can better blend together and deliver a tastier dish.

So here are a few ideas for all you busy moms, dads and caregivers, that can help you during the busy work week.

Turkey, Turkey, Turkey!  Roasted turkey breast is one of the easiest items to make.  The recipe is to simply season it and put it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 – 170 degrees.  I like to also use broth to baste the turkey as it keeps it moist.  There, that’s it!  One of my secrets is to make this the night before.  Now you have a turkey breast that you can carve for sandwiches, cube for salads or just eat with your favorite side dish.

 

Above is a shot of the turkey breast after it has been carved.  I also made a very light gravy using 2 cups of broth, a tablespoon of the turkey drippings (don’t tell my husband I use drippings, he despises the idea of drippings used in food.  But what does he know this is my kitchen, haha) and one tablespoon of cornstarch.  In a saucepan just whisk the cornstarch into the hot liquid and viola.  You can adjust the thickness and taste of the gravy by adding more drippings and cornstarch. 

Above is the same turkey, now it is cubed.  Along with some fresh veggies and we turn that into…(see below)

A Yummy Turkey Cobb Salad in a tostada bowl.  The recipe is simply all of the items (cubed turkey, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, cheese) shown in the above picture and lettuce inside of a tostada bowl.  The dressing I used is a mixture of equal parks guacamole (or you could just mash some avocado) and parmesan ranch dressing. 

Now to the left is a shot of my famous Quesadillas.  Well, they are not really famous but they are a staple in my home.  Now the trick with good quesadillas is to find great tortilla wraps.  You want some that are pliable and not dry.  I find that Trader Joes has the best tortilla wraps.  Their handmade tortilla wraps are never dry and they fold easily.  Now for this recipe it is simply the tortillas and cheese on a hot pan.  Actually, I have stuffed the two closed quesadillas with tomatoes.  You can stuff it with veggies, meat or anything you desire.  I like to spray the pan with Pam and once it is hot put the tortilla on it.  Then I add cheese to half of it and once it starts to melt I fold it.  I then flip it so it is golden brown on both sides.

My final exhibit is below.  It is actually a version on Jambalaya.  It is simply shrimp, chicken & turkey sausage in a tomato & chicken broth sauce.  I also added onions and served it with rice and a few quesadilla wedges.  You can also add corn, peppers or any number of veggies.  Here is a link to a more detailed recipe for jambalaya  http://www.gottarubit.com/2010/12/gottarubit-jambalaya/ .  This freezes well and taste even better the next day. This is another great dish to make the night before.

So I hope these dishes will inspire people to cook more at home and fight the urge to visit the place where you hear “May I take your order please”.  LOL, Bon Appetit!

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