This post was originally sponsored by Annie’s, makers of bunny crackers and frozen pizza!
On any given weeknight, I am working against the clock to get a healthy meal on the table during the span of a 25-minute block of television (sometimes I have only 12 minutes, but those nights are crazy!). I am a huge fan of two strategies to get the fresh fruits and veggies on our plates: raw and roasted.
Roasted vegetables are the best side dish ever
I adore roasting vegetables because the technique is hands-off and delicious. I will often chop them before picking up my kids to streamline the dinner hour and eliminate the need to chase small people with a sharp knife. Veggie cutting can be done hours or even days in advance.
Armed with little more than kosher salt and olive oil, I will pretty much roast any vegetable during my allocated TV show-prep-time then taste-test a handful of them straight from the pan before they hit the table. My children are expected to take a “no thank you bite” of everything I make. If applicable, I will voraciously inhale the leftovers.
I always plan to set aside a small portion for Sawyer’s next day lunch, in which case, I am better off putting the little vegetable bites directly in a container before I serve dinner (see voracious inhalation confession above). He likes to eat pizza anytime so pizza night means his lunchbox is halfway-packed.
Here’s how to make delicious vegetables the Heather way:
- Vegetable to roast: my current faves are broccoli, cauliflower, or asparagus. I also like the butternut squash that has been pre-chopped.
- Olive oil; can also used infused-oil for easy flavor boost
- Kosher salt
Steps to prepare roasted veggies
- Wash, chop, and dry your vegetable of choice. (If asparagus, I snap off the woody ends) Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 425.
Pro tip 1: Do this in advance to make your meal prep super speedy.
Pro tip 2: No time to dry? Leave them uncovered in the fridge for an hour.
Pro tip 3: No time to spare an hour? Use a clean dish towel.
- Toss the vegetables with a glob or two of olive oil and the salt. The vegetables will be shiny but not swimming. Put into a baking dish or on a cookie sheet. I find the glass dish is easier for checking and mixing around.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, stirring half-way through cooking time (or whenever you think of it). Asparagus takes about half the time (and the skinny mini ones are even less so watch carefully).
Raw fruits and veggies are a side dish
This is not so much a recipe as a reminder that raw food = easiest side dish ever. I also like the bright colors of fruit on the dinner plate.
Look around the kitchen for whatever you have on hand. Wash and slice as needed, then serve.
Usually, we eat sliced apples or carrots with hummus. Other current favorites: strawberries, kiwi, pineapple chunks, sliced bell peppers, raspberries (always 10 per child, one for each finger) or bananas.
I have also been known to pass fresh fruit off as dessert.
What are your go-to healthy side dishes for a weeknight?
This post was sponsored by Annie’s Pizza, which can be found in the freezer section of many grocery stores around the country!
[Photos: all photos by me of real food in my kitchen. All rights reserved.]