3 Fast & Healthy Dinner Recipes to Make With Frozen Vegetables
One of the biggest complaints I hear when speaking with families about trying to implement healthier and more wholesome foods into their life is that healthier food, specifically organic food, is significantly more expensive than "regular" food. I have been on a personal mission behind the scenes over here at Family Health Tips, to make the recipes and tips I share be as accessible as possible to most families regardless of budget or region. Frozen fruits and vegetables are a fantastic option when trying to implement more organic green light foods while not breaking the bank. Not only are they lighter on your wallet, BUT frozen foods last longer - you know because, frozen. This fact is helpful for families who might have erratic schedules or find they waste produce often. Check out three of our kid tested & mom approved fast and healthy dinner recipes to make with frozen vegetables.
1. Veggie Mac'n'Cheese
Yep, I am classifying Veggie Mac'n'Cheese as healthy - and it's the boxed kind, too. It's mostly because I got your back, sister. With 365 days in the year, and three meals a day, ain't nobody got time to be perfect. Not me. Not you. Not even the healthiest of healthy mom goddesses out there. And that's because it's impossible. Let's continue, shall we?
10 Minutes (MAX!)
1 Box Mac'n'Cheese.
*look for a brand that doesn't use artificial colors, dyes, preservatives, or toxic packaging. You can read more about why we want to avoid artificial additives (or excitotoxins as we say in fancy speak) here. Our family's favorite brand is Annie's Homegrown.
3/4-1 Cup of frozen veggies.
*Peas are fantastic and add a little protein as well, but you could also use broccoli, mixed vegetables, or spinach for example.
Optional: canned tuna or chicken (BPA free can, if possible). Or toss in some extra animal protein you might have left from previous meals.
Begin cooking the mac'n'cheese according to the package. Halfway through the pasta cooking, add the frozen vegetables, reducing the heat slightly, and continue to follow directions, on the box.
If you are adding items like chicken, for example, you can add those in at the very end. So long as the items are fully cooked, I don't worry about reheating them before.
We like this for a quick lunch or dinner and will often serve along with a Salad kit to round it out for the adults.
2. Veggie Black Bean Burgers
You guys!! If you have followed my Instagram for the past few months, you might remember that I have tested and tweaked this recipe countless times. I am proud to announce I finally have a version that with which I am happy. One of my biggest pet peeves with veggie burgers is when they are 85% grains. Gah! The recipe below was indeed a labor of love, and I am excited to share it with you after much ado.
*Disclaimer. Part of what makes this meal fast-ish is that I make it with a few prepped ingredients. Not prepping the beans ahead of time will drastically increase the time to prepare the burgers.
2 Cups prepared black beans
*Work smarter, not harder. Plan this meal a day or so after you make a meal with black beans. Then use the remaining black beans from the previous dinner for this one. Similarly, you can use canned beans and prepare according to the package.
1 Cup frozen veggie mix
1 /2 Cup soaked (but not cooked) garbanzo beans
8 med size baby bella mushrooms washed with stems removed.
1/3 prepared brown rice
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp garlic powder
Pepper to taste
A couple of splashes of liquid aminos, Soy Sauce, or Worcestershire Sauce.
1/4 cup or more of Panko bread crumbs *optional
Combine the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl
Drain the black beans and using a food processor pulse until thick and blended but not smooth.
Combine the frozen vegetable mix in a glass microwave safe dish, cover, and heat through - about 1 minute - 1 minute 30 seconds. Remove and drain.
No need to clean the food processor after emptying the black beans, add the mushrooms and gently pulse until they are diced and small.
Repeat with the brown rice.
Lastly, repeat with the garbanzo beans, however, allow to run at full speed for 1-3 minutes until the chickpeas are a powdered consistency.
Add the egg and any additional ingredients - except the bread crumbs.
If using, spread bread crumbs evenly on a dinner plate.
Mix all ingredients using your hands, measuring 1 Cup servings form a ball.
Roll the ball enough to lightly cover the outside with bread crumbs, creating a crust.
Place the ball onto a parchment lined baking sheet and gently press down to form a pattie.
Repeat until all mix is gone.
*We used 1 Cup of patty mix for adults and 1/3 cup for the kid-sized patties.
Pre-heat oven to 450
Bake for 20-25 minutes flipping once halfway, or until golden and crispy on the outside.
*Since it's inevitable for there to be a softer texture on the inside of the "burger," I like to amp up the other compositions of the meal. For example, we serve this with a toasty bun, thick dill pick slices, raw onions, and crunchy lettuce or pre-shredded coleslaw mix. Be strategic! Make this meal the same week you are making the next recipe and you can use the same package of coleslaw mix.
**The patties are easily adapted into black bean dippers (just cut into strips), or rice bowls for the kids. And for adults, they make great salad toppers!
***Lastly, while you're in there doing the work, consider making double, and freezing the extras. Tip: allow them to freeze while evenly distributed on the baking sheet. Then pop them off and store them in the freezer - this makes grabbing individual portions later easy peasy.
3. Better Than Take-Out Fried Rice.
In the spirit of managing expectations, following that title, let's talk about all the ways this fried rice is better than take-out. Let's start with the overall lack of MSG and other junkie additives that wreak havoc on our body. Then let's move directly into the following points, it's less expensive, will be on your table faster than delivery or take-out, and is customizable to ensure it is a crowd favorite in your home. While the recipe below is what works for us, think of it as a template that you can tweak based on your crew's tastes and preferences.
30 Minutes or less
2-3 Cups of brown rice
*Tip: make this meal in the days following another meal you've made brown rice for (double it on the first day). Upcycling, the left-over brown rice saves time, and fried rice cooks better with rice that has been in the refrigerator.
1 1/2 Cups of pre-shredded coleslaw mix.
1 cup of frozen peas
Liquid aminos, or soy sauce to taste.
Oil for cooking
Use enough oil to coat the bottom of a large frying pan and heat over Med-High
In a separate bowl scramble the eggs, then pour into the heated pan and cook through. I like to leave it like an omelet and flip halfway until set.
Remove the eggs and reserve on a cutting board to cool before slicing into strips.
Add more oil as needed and stir fry the rice until heated and slightly crispy - about 3-8 minutes.
Add in the frozen peas and continue to stir fry until thawed and cooked through.
Remove from heat.
Add reserved cooked eggs,
Add the coleslaw mix.
Season with the liquid aminos to taste.
Stir to mix and until the coleslaw softens slightly.
Serve and enjoy.
If you walk away from this post with anything, let it be this. Let’s be real, just feeding the troops is considered a success, allow yourself grace and remember a meal doesn't have to be complicated or fancy to be wholesome or bring the family together around the table