Fall back. Gah. If you are not aware, we fall back into the land of 5pm blackout come November 6. Yup. Set those clocks back an hour the night before to ensure you enjoy one more hour of peaceful sleep (I just choked on my sparking water), while anticipating a soon to be earlier sunrise. It all sounds okay for one day, and then reality hits. It’s dark. Like, nighttime dark. That kind of dark that says “hey, don’t go to the gym at 530pm, put on your pjs and sip your tea, because it is really midnight.” Um. No. Maybe you love this time of year. But for me, darkness before dinner, on top of the fall and winter chill, is just not my unicorn.
Insert the purpose behind this post. I love to cook. Like, looveeee. If I could ‘redo’ my career path, I would be a Chef-Midwife. I have no clue what that would look like, and while I doubt I would be performing both career-callings simultaneously, I would be a happy mama. Today though, I am here to share with you some of my favorite quick and easy meals, that I have lovingly referred to as “fall back fuss free feasts.” Why? They are quick, they require minimal and/or flexible ingredients (but are yet full of fresh foods vs multiple processed foods), and if you are lucky, you can prepare them prior to sunset (aka before you decide to pick up the phone and dial your local pizza joint). I have a passion for kids and moms and healthy eating, and sharing some of my go to recipes and ideas is just a perk.
We tend to avoid processed foods, as well as refined sugars and excessive gluten, in our home, so you will see many of the recipes are simple ingredients. I do understand, however, that cooking and creativity (combined) are not everyone’s forte, so please attend to my suggestions, tips, and vegetarian options to each recipe below! May at least one of these ideas smack you in the face, and allow you to feed your family in record breaking time, all while racing with Mr. Moon.
In no particular order…here are a few of my favorites.
- 5 Ingredient Chicken Pesto soup – this is the definition of stupidly easy. Five ingredients, throw them in a pot, simmer, stir, and done (like, in 15 minutes I kid you not). I use homemade pesto that I have in the freezer from my summer harvest (but you can purchase at any store), and I actually use any white bean (this is on the stove now, the irony,and i am using garbanzo beans). I also sometimes add a smidge of sea salt or extra garlic. You could also add more veggies. VEGETARIANS – add more beans, omit chicken. Use vegetable stock vs chicken stock.
- Slow Cooker Honey Garlic and Veggies – you had me at slow cooker. I make at least one crockpot meal a week (at minimum), for both sanity and convenience sake. There are a bajillion crockpot recipes out there, start searching! This one I particularly love because a little goes a long way. I have made this both for my husband, for an entire week of lunches (I love to meal prep!), and I have also made for dinner for my family. You can use chicken breasts vs thighs (I used 10 boneless thighs for my husbands work week), and I personally use coconut aminos vs soy sauce. Get creative with your veggies. We threw in brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes, and I halved the honey. Delish! VEGETARIANS – just omit the chicken! This would be delish as a massive pot of sweet and sour veggies! Serve over quinoa for some extra protein.
- One Pan Healthy Sausage (or Chicken) and Veggies – another go to, at least once a week or once every couple weeks. I play around with this recipe pending our palate for that week, but the fun of it is you literally just do whatever you want! I tend to incorporate baby carrots, broccoli, red peppers, red onions, and sweet potatoes. Whether I am using a hearty italian sausage, or chicken breasts, I simply cut them up, throw everything on the pan together, and roast away! If you are craving a Latin flare, mix up some cumin, chili powder, garlic and sea salt, and sprinkle this over the pan of goodness versus the spices mentioned in the recipe. Wrap in tortillas, throw on a salad, eat over rice or quinoa, or enjoy just as they are. A one pan dish is my favorite quick meal. VEGETARIANS – omit all meat. Throw on some tofu that has been marinated, or stirfry some tofu while the veggies are cooking.
- Hearty Vegetable Soup – Fall is soup season in our house. I came across this recipe a few months ago, and it has become a favorite. The secret ingredient? Balsamic vinegar! Amazing what that added tartness can do. Chopping veggies and opening a can of plain old tomato sauce is the most work you will do in this recipe. No time to chop? You can find pre-chopped veggies at many grocerers these days. Just ask if you don’t see! I have also used ground turkey or chicken for a leaner meat.Serve this as is, or with grilled cheese or salads. VEGETARIANS – omit the ground beef and/or add a can of white beans.
- Brinner served with Clean Eating Blender Muffins – Every Wednesday is brinner night in our house. We have a packed Wednesday, and are gone until nearly 830pm, so brinner it is! If you are not familiar with brinner, it is simply ‘breakfast for dinner.’ Literally, NO RULES HERE! In our home, brinner usually consists of scrambled egg omelets with veggies and cheese, Ezekial bread with peanut butter, and a spinach/plant based protein smoothee. We will stray away from habit though, and these blender muffins are a quick and delicious accompaniment to any brinner menu! Oats, bananas, yogurt, honey, and you have the main base of these muffins. Oh, and a blender or blender-type device. Once you mix the base, then you can add your family’s favorites to the blender recipe, whether it be fruit, nuts or chocolate chips. Explore and enjoy. Great to freeze as snacks for the kiddos as well.
- Chicken Avocado Burgers – why didn’t I invent this recipe. Ground chicken (or turkey), 1 ripe avocado, salt, pepper, garlic powder, egg. That’s my version (you will see the recipe calls for Panko, I found I didn’t need). My little ladies devour these, as do my husband and myself, and when I made them for a cookout this summer, these babies were gone before the regular ole burgers were. Score! They are delicioius on the skillet or grill. Throw them on a salad or bun and they are exceptional. VEGETARIANS – Obviously I don’t have an easy substitute for this recipe, but if you eat eggs, then please try this simple Avocado Egg salad. Actually, anyone try this salad recipe. Mayo free and exceptionally wonderful on crackers, salad, bread or just simply as is. This was part of my ‘first foods for my kids’ repertoire when they were little tots (gahh! sniff sniff). I tend to follow a 1 avocado to 2 hard boiled eggs ratio, so play around.
I could go on and on, but then Pinterest would want to start charging me for never logging off. Here’s to wishing you all at least one flavorful-fall-back-fuss-free-feast night this week. Until then, just say no to pjs at 530pm, and eat well mamas!