Welcome to day 28 of 30 Days to a Food Revolution. Our guest blogger today is Heather. Heather, author and editor of CeliacFamily.com, is a military wife and mother of two young kids. She was introduced to the gluten-free diet after her son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease over five years ago. Although the tests for herself and her husband were inconclusive for Celiac Disease, they embarked on the gluten-free diet along with their son and daughter, too. After discovering that they all felt much better without gluten in their lives, they never turned back. Instead, they enjoy trying new and healthier foods.
Heather’s Recipe: Time-Saving Chicken Kabobs
Heather’s Tip: Finding time for making a healthy meal.
When Diane first sent me an email asking me if I would participate in the 30-Day Food Revolution, I immediately said yes. Then, I had to figure out what to write about.
I thought about my own challenges in continuing to make healthy food choices. I don’t have any problems choosing gluten-free foods. I don’t waver on that decision. However, like most families, we have a busy life. Even as a stay-at-home mom, finding time for the shopping and cooking is one of my biggest challenges. We all have days when we’re tired, stressed, and pressed for time. If I don’t have a good plan for preparing and eating healthy meals, I’ll turn to those comforting sweet and fatty, yet convenient, foods that I know should only be eaten in moderation, if at all.
Menu planning has been one of the best time-savers for me. A little time spent during the weekend saves me hours of time and energy at the grocery store and during the week when I’m cooking.
That being said, you don’t have to spend hours every week planning your meals. And if menu planning isn’t for you, try something else. Our lives change, and so do our needs, but don’t give up. Find what works for you.
Keep a list of quick recipes handy in the kitchen, and make sure you keep the basic ingredients stocked in your pantry or refrigerator, so you always have a quick meal to prepare.
Cook your meals on the weekend when you have a little more time. Weekends don’t work for you? Choose any night during the week when you can spend a couple hours cooking. Maybe you do this on the night you eat leftovers for dinner.
Cook double portions and freeze the second portion for the following week.
Get your kids in the kitchen. It may take some extra time when you start doing this, until you have a system that works for you and the kids. But, eventually, they should be able to save you time by helping with some of the prep work. Depending on their ages, they might be able to help with chopping, stirring, setting the table, or just getting foods out of the refrigerator and pantry for you. Make them your assistants.
Do your meal preparation in advance. My kids both have activities that take place right around the dinner hour. I’ve been able to get around this problem by doing most of the prep work before we walk out the door to go to soccer, dance, etc. Sometimes that means marinating the meat the night before. Sometimes it means using breakfast or lunchtime to chop up vegetables, put together a casserole, or fill up the slow-cooker. Sometimes, I simply set out the recipe, pans, appliances, and whatever utensils I need to get the meal started, so that it’s ready to go as soon as we get home. It seems like a simple thing to do, but I find that saving even 15 minutes can make dinner seem to run more smoothly.
Making shish kabobs is a great time-saving meal. You can cut up the meat and marinate it overnight, or even an hour before cooking if you forget. Many vegetables are very tolerant of being chopped and cooked later, so chop them up in advance, too. Use your time wisely. Find that needed 15 minutes of prep time whenever it works for you to get these ready. Then when you come home, pull them out of the refrigerator and cook them on the grill. Don’t have the option to grill outside? No problem. Cook them on a grill pan on the stove, a Panini grill, or large George Foreman grill. Any of these will work. And the best part is that these will cook up in 10-15 minutes!
Time-Saving Chicken Kabobs
2.5 lbs. Chicken Breasts – skinless, boneless, and cut into small cubes or strips
2 Sweet Peppers – core and seeds removed, cut into large chunks
Fresh Pineapple – core and skin removed, cut into large chunks
Marinade for chicken:
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp prepared mustard
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp pineapple juice or orange juice
1 Tbsp of soy sauce
You’ll also need skewers. If you’re using wooden skewers over a flame, be sure to soak the skewers for at least 30 minutes before placing on the grill. That will reduce the possibility of burning the sticks.
- Cut the chicken into small cubes or long strips and place into a large bowl or zip-style plastic bag.
- Mix the ingredients for the marinade and pour over the chicken. Stir or massage it in to make sure the marinade has covered all the chicken pieces. Cover or seal tight and place in the refrigerator for a couple hours or even overnight.
- Prepare the peppers and pineapple and cut into large chunks.
- Once the chicken has marinated, carefully slide the chicken onto the skewers, alternating with pineapple and pepper chunks. Continue until all the food is skewered.
- Place the skewers on a moderately hot grill. Watch it carefully and turn every 3-4 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. It should finish cooking in 10-15 minutes.
- Using 10” bamboo skewers, I was able to get 8 skewers filled with this recipe.
- Serve two skewers to each person over a bed of rice.
- Another option is to skewer the chicken separate from the pineapple and peppers so that you have skewers with only chicken. Then you can place the chicken (skewer and all) in the marinade. But I wouldn’t recommend this method for wooden skewers over an open flame!
- If you make the marinade with fresh pineapple juice, you don’t need to marinate it for very long. The acid in fresh pineapple works quickly at tenderizing the chicken.
- For another idea on kabobs, check out my Beef Kabobs at Celiac Family.
These posts had some time-saving meals and ideas, too:
Make your own instant food. – gluten free easily
Get organized and plan. – The Gluten-Free Homemaker
Breakfast can be quick and nutritious. – Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen
Eat a healthy lunch even when pressed for time. – Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried
In order to be entered to win one of 7 cookbooks, here’s what you need to do to gather entries into the drawing. The more you do, the more chances you have to win!
- Leave a comment on this blog on as many of the 30 guest food bloggers as you like. Each comment is an entry.
- Sign up for The W.H.O.L.E. Gang newsletter.
- Visit that guest blogger’s site and leave a comment there too.
- Tweet about this project using both of these in your tweet so I’ll find you #30days2 #foodrevolution
When the initial 30 days of guest posts are over on June 4th, we’ll pick the winners.
YUM! Those look so good!
Great tips. I do like the idea of doing prep before the kids weekday activities, only to come back and whip up dinner later. I'm also a big fan of the slow cooker! I definitely need to try your kebobs – our kids love kebobs, and I don't make them nearly often enough.
my son was asking for kebobs last night. I'll have to give these a try. great tips!
Look great! I too have found that menu planning is my best time-saving and sanity-saving tool. I usually write down two extra meals that we can make with all pantry ingredients in case something goes awry with my other meals.
I just recently discovered kebabs…don't know why it took me so long to realize that they're a great candida-friendly meal! Great ideas; thanks for sharing!
Kabobs are always a favorite and, frankly, I can't remember the last time I made them. Shame on me! I find with kabobs you don't need as much meat and can get in lots of fruits and veggies, too, as you've shown, Heather. I love roasted veggies, but Mr. GFE usually passes on them. Yet he'll eat them on kabobs. It's clear I need to make some kabobs again. I'll use your recipe. 🙂
And, you're so right about taking 15 minutes to do something ahead of time on those busy evenings. Makes a huge difference. I find that browning a pound of ground beef/turkey (or venison, which is what we mostly use) ahead of time and having it in the refrigerator or freezer can be a big time saver. I can pull it out for tacos, chili, meat sauce, etc. and dinner comes together very quickly.
It's so nice to see the sweet photo of you and your daughter after following your blog for quite some time now!
Thanks for this very helpful post, Heather!
Thanks. Glad I could remind you of an easy healthy and fun meal.
Christa, thanks for the note about it being a candida-friendly meal.
Shirley, thanks for the tip about browning ground beef ahead of time.
Yeah, it’s good, very useful, thanks 🙂
I have loved each one of our '30 days' so far…and this is another great addition, esp. in grilling season. Sweet picture of you and your daughter!
These look delicious . We'll be bbqing soon, so I'm glad to have another new recipe to try.
Thank you for posting TIME SAVING healthy recipes!
Thanks for this recipe; my son is all of the sudden very into kabobs, although we can't do chicken, we can sub it with other protein. I was actually thinking of making some fruit kabobs for my son's birthday party next week- it seems like if I 'spice' up their food just a bit they'll devour even more 🙂
You are so right. Whenever I menu plan, I eat more healthfully and I save money. Two great reasons to do so.
Great tips! I notice that I falter when I don't plan ahead. It's a good system to have! The kabobs looks tasty too; I never thought to do them on an pan! (I don't have a grill.) Thanks!
This write-up is definitely truly helpful and timely as I happen to be trying to do a revamp of all the food selection for my family to help my kids develop healthy eating habits. Need to have all the tips and aid I can secure. Cheers!