Just another Manic Monday.

11 Oct

Have I used that headline before? I’m sure I have. It seems like every Monday is manic! My list today is insanely long and the evening activities go well past 9 p.m. Just as football practices are winding down, other kinds of evening activities are beginning. Cub Scouts meetings start tomorrow, with me as the Den Leader of Logan’s den and Jason as the Den Leader of Brady’s den. And last week, my daughter Madison auditioned for a role in the Monroe Community Players theater production of A Christmas Story. She did a fantastic job and landed herself the part of Helen, one of Ralphie’s school friends. I’m so proud of her, even though I know rehearsals will consume many evenings through October and November.

Dinner during all these evening activities has been a challenge — sometimes eating at 7:30 p.m. so we can all eat together, and sometimes eating in two shifts because different people have to be different places at different times. Planning the week’s menu ahead of time has become crucial to my survival! A look at the week’s schedule and planning meals accordingly are the only way I’m getting a healthy dinner on the table these days. I have people ask me all the time about menu planning and what kinds of things I make each week. I try to choose easier meals, or ones that can be made ahead, on the busy nights and more time-consuming meals on the weekends. Plus, I make a lot of family favorites such as tacos, pasta and anything on the grill.

Here’s what this week looks like:
Monday — panini (on the beer bread), buttered noodles, steamed green beans
Tuesday — take-out pizza (school fundraiser night)
Wednesday — vegan lasagna, salad, bread
Thursday — chicken fajitas (vegan chicken for me), Spanish rice, fresh fruit
Friday — steak on the grill (portobello mushroom for me), baked potatoes, steamed mixed vegetables

Since we bought the sustainably-raised, local beef and I’m stocking up on sustainably-raised chicken when I go to Ann Arbor, planning meals is a little easier. I know there’s always something in the freezer that I can turn into a healthy dinner for Jason and the kids, and feel good about it.

This crazy football schedule has Jason and Brady at practice weeknights from 5 to 7 p.m. Since Brady doesn’t want to eat a big meal right before practice, we’ve been holding off on dinner until they get home at 7:15 or so. That means everyone is having an afternoon snack — even the adults! The kids usually choose cheese and crackers, fruit, yogurt, or peanut butter and pretzels. Jason and I usually have carrots or celery with hummus or some other kind of dip. Here’s one that’s along the lines of store-bought cheese spreads, although there isn’t any cheese in it. Raw cashews become very creamy and somewhat cheesy when pureed and seasoned. Serve this with fresh vegetables or spread it on crackers. It’s a whole lot more “heart smart” than cheese!

Garlic & Rosemary “Cheese” Spread
makes about 1 cup

1-1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight*
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1-1/2 tablespoons water
1-1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth, stopping several times to scrape down the sides. Chill before serving. Enjoy!

*Place raw cashews in a medium bowl and cover with 3 cups water. Soak overnight, then drain and proceed with recipe.

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