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A recent conversation with a friend was focussed on meals for the kids when the adults are going out to eat.
I don’t want to cook a full dinner before I go out to dine –  I usually don’t have the time and chances are I will snack (extensively) on what I am making, so I have tended to choose the quick, easy and often more expensive option of picking up fast food.
However, my friend and I discussed some healthy, reasonable (time and money) options – putting a pre-seasoned pork loin in the crock pot, freezing extra portions from previous dinners to have on hand for busy nights, my husband just last week, picked up a fully cooked rotisserie chicken for the kids when I was out with a friend one night, and what I tend to do when I really don’t want to make a trip for fast food – prepare a vegetable side dish to accompany a quick and easy protein – pan fried chicken breast, or ham steak, the aforementioned pork loin, even a poached egg, deli turkey or grilled cheese sandwich.


1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Heat oven to 375F.
Spread the cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for about 40 minutes, until tender, adding the raisins in the last 5 to 6 minutes of cooking.
Transfer cauliflower and raisins to a bowl, sprinkle with the cheese and the parsley before serving.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, February 2011


1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds of carrots, sliced diagonally into 1 inch chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk 1 cup water with honey, rice vinegar and salt until well combined, set aside.
Add butter to medium saucepan and heat over medium high. Add carrots and saute for 5 minutes or until just slightly tender. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds more. Add honey mixture to saucepan and bring to a boil. Then cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes or until carrots are tender. Remove lid, increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is almost gone. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from Shape Magazine, November 2013


1/3 cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 mini bell peppers

Heat oven to 350F.
Combine cream cheese, cilantro, sour cream, green onions, shallots and lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Halve bell peppers lengthwise, discard seeds. Divide cheese mixture evenly among pepper halves. Place peppers on baking sheet, bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Grill under high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until peppers and cheese are lightly browned.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, May 2012


3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced on the diagonal 1/2 inch thick
6 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 1/2 cups sliced pitted Medjool dates
5 rosemary sprigs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground sumac

Heat oven to 350F.
In a large skillet, heat 3/4 cup olive oil. Add half the parsnips to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until golden and barely tender, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the parsnips to a roasting pan. Repeat with the remaining parsnips, adding the garlic.
Scrape the parsnips and any oil into the roasting pan. Add the dates and rosemary sprigs, season with salt and pepper and roast for about 8 to 10 minutes, just until the parsnips are tender and the dates are slightly caramelized. Transfer the parsnips and dates to a platter.
In a bowl, whisk the yogurt with the lemon juice, sumac and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt. Serve the roasted parsnips and dates, passing the spiced yogurt at the table.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, December 2011


1/8 cup olive oil
12 ounces of thinly sliced red cabbage
3 minced garlic cloves
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup mirin
1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds
1 green onion, chopped

Heat oil in a skillet. Add cabbage, garlic, pepper and onion and stir fry for 5 minutes.
Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and mirin, and cook for a couple more minutes.
Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion.

Recipe adapted from Food.com


Cook 2 pounds of broccolini in a large pot of boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Add 8 ounces of swiss chard and a cup of peas.
Simmer for 4 minutes, drain. Cook 1 thinly sliced lemon in butter in a skillet utnil browned.
Add the vegetables, 1/4 cup chicken broth, and a heavy sprinkle of crushed red pepper to the pan and toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.