Healthy Dinners you can make in advance

Everyone I know (okay, online anyway) is in love with their Instapot, and while I have not yet succumbed, we do have a few time-saving kitchen devices. There’s an older pressure cooker that I pull out only rarely – just one bad experience with a chicken soup spill/semi-explosion (entirely operator error, btw) stays with you for a while, and a newish Crock-Pot which I use at least once a week because I do like an easy dinner prep.

Our favorite, and possibly over-served but maybe not because I never get push back, dish is Smitten Kitchen’s Black Bean Ragout. Served over garlick-y toast, rice or pasta or sweet potatoes (we do love our starches), with avocado and quick pickled red onions. The leftovers (if there are any) go into another favorite – and super easy – dish also from Smitten Kitchen –  Spaghetti Squash tacos (shhh, I even microwave the spaghetti squash – it’s so fast and easy).

These lovely Parmesan crackers are another favorite.  Serve them alone, or with almost anything – hummus, chutney, more cheese, and it will look as if you know more than you do about baking.

We’ve been eating more plant-based foods around here, it’s healthier, more eco-friendly and kinder, too. And the Minimalist Baker is wonderful go-to resource. I made the One Pot Red Lentil Chili for that freezing cold Marathon Monday and it was delicious! Start it on the stove and move to the slow-cooker.

We also love the wonderfully flavorful and hearty Abundance Kale Salad. Prep this on Sunday and you have meals for a few days. I also prep grain bowls for lunches. Make your favorite grains in advance and put them in the fridge, do the same with roasted veggies. In the morning, pack a bowl with whatever strikes your fancy. Fast dressing? A chef friend told me to slightly water down hummus for a quick tahini dressing. Yummy and easy.

Minimalist Baker knows sweets – and appreciates you don’t have all day – try these One Bowl Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes, and the Two Ingredient Dark Chocolate Truffles




All veggie all the time

Making dinners that my whole family will eat has always been challenging – so many preferences! So, yes, I have always had picky eaters and, yes, I have often made more than one meal. Don’t judge. Now, with a newly minted vegetarian in the family, I have been hard-pressed to come up with creative, not-so-very-time consuming meals that pack the necessary nutritional punch.

For lunches, I make grain bowls with quinoa and brown rice as a base and add pretty much anything – roasted chickpeas, roasted peppers, hummus, tabouli and baked tofu. Add crunchy chickpeas or sesame seeds on top for a bit of crunch. Drizzle with tahini dressing. Still in search of the perfect recipe so chime in if you have one!

Inspiration provided by Whole Heart Provisions (our new favorite vegetarian/vegan go to place) and recipes from The Boston Globe’s Kara Baskin here.


Vine Brook Tavern’s Secret Menu

Vine Brook Tavern is one of those charming old buildings that you walk by, and make note of, because it is so quintessentially New England. The real surprise happens when you walk inside. The incredible care taken to make this restaurant welcoming and understated is outstanding. The decor feels comfortable and luxe at the same time – not an easy effect. And the food! Well, the food is painstakingly planned and prepared for by a dedicated staff. And delicious.

I attended a blogger lunch and we ordered off the lunch menu and it was lovely. One of the bloggers is a vegan and she let me take a pic of her lunch (see above with the avocado in the skillet). It is a wonderful creative and versatile kitchen that is vegetarian friendly.

I tried a beautifully presented and delicious flatbread with Serrano ham, caramelized onions, eggs and pea shoots.



I had the highly recommended, and rightly so, steak sandwich. I had to take half of it home (and that never happens).




I also tasted the delicious chopped salad, too. IMG_1365



What is the secret menu? Well, Vine Brook Tavern has a pizza to go menu that is well-known to the locals (and now to you). Check out the menu and order ahead. If it’s not ready (there’s only one pizza oven – and it’s worth the wait), grab a drink at the comfortable bar until they call your name. IMG_1371

We were seated downstairs and it was lovely and lively. There is a lovely upstairs (the flags in the windows) with a private room available. This would be a great, centrally located place to have a family get together.

I tell you, I travel for food. This was a quick jaunt to neighboring Lexington and I’ll be heading back there with my family in tow very soon. Need more info?

Vine Brook Tavern




I was treated to lunch at the Vine Brook Tavern as part of a Blogger Blunch (yes, that’s really a word) and I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are, as always, my own.

Hip to Be Square – Simple Squares


Sometimes I get to review things and sometimes it’s even food. Sometimes I share (the food, I mean, I always share my opinion). So when I received a lovely box of treats from Simple Squares, and happily, my children weren’t interested in trying them, “Good” I said, “more for me”. The packaging is pretty and they travel well (I had one in my massive tote bag for a day or so), and they are tasty, healthy, gluten-free, raw treats that work for snack, breakfast bar or dessert. Each square has only five ingredients and no preservatives.

Am I going all Paleo on you? No, but I am focusing on eating a more healthy and plant based diet (Not to worry, donuts are still on the list – just perhaps not the best choice). Each Simple Square has only five ingredients – the coconut was my favorite for breakfast with the coffee a close second, and would be nice for dessert either plain or with a scoop of vanilla yogurt (with a nice cup of green tea). Each square is made so the flavors balance nicely, and are all-natural and organic, too. I confess to eating substandard granola bars when crunched for time and I’m happy to switch out the usual pantry fare for these anytime. You don’t have to be into Paelo, raw food, vegetarian or vegan or even into healthy foods to like these bars, squares, you just have to like good food.

You can order online or there is even a square finding tool on the website for local stores that carry these delicious treats. I’m off to Cardullo’s for mine!

Flavor Options:

*CINNA-CLOVE Ingredients

Organic Cashews, Organic Almonds, Organic Honey, Organic Unsweetened Coconut, Organic Vanilla, Sea Salt, Organic Cloves.

*COCONUT Ingredients

Organic Cashews, Organic Almonds, Organic Honey, Organic Unsweetened Coconut, Organic Vanilla, Sea Salt.

*COFFEE Ingredients

Organic Cashews, Organic Almonds, Organic Honey, Organic Unsweetened Coconut, Organic Vanilla, Sea Salt, Organic Coffee Beans.

*ROSEMARY Ingredients

Organic Cashews, Organic Almonds, Organic Honey, Organic Unsweetened Coconut, Organic Vanilla, Sea Salt, Organic Rosemary.

*SAGE Ingredients

Organic Cashews, Organic Almonds, Organic Honey, Organic Unsweetened Coconut, Organic Vanilla, Sea Salt, Organic Sage.

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