Rustic Roasted Brussels Sprouts – for Trisca

I didn’t think it was possible to get a 7 year old to fall in love with Brussels sprouts

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I didn’t think it was possible to get a 7 year old to fall in love with Brussels sprouts

I always enjoy a challenge, especially when it comes to finding ways to “sneak” vegetables into a child’s diet so that they eventually grow to love them. Brussels sprouts are tricky to hide though, so I decided to do something daring and opted to instead dress them up with the hopes that two 5 year olds and a 7 year old wouldn’t turn their noses up at them during dinner.

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Although I’d taken courses on Child Nutrition & Cooking at Stamford University, I didn’t have much experience with cooking for children before I moved to Australia to become an Au Pair.  My approach coming into the family was simple though: prepare my regular go-to meals, but  gradually introduce new flavours and spices to their palates by upping the intensity of herbs each time I cooked the dish. When I first arrived, the kids were accustomed to simple steamed vegetables, a starch (steamed potato, rice or pasta) and a baked or pan-fried protein for their dinner every night. A well-rounded nutritious meal, but a little mild in comparison to what I was used to cooking.

The oldest child, Max, was the trickiest to please. His favourite foods included pizza from the restaurant down the street, and “pasta pockets” (pre-packaged cheese tortellinis). When testing out new recipes and presenting them to the kids and getting their opinion on the meal, he was my toughest critic…so when I convinced him to try my Rustic Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and he gave me a thumbs up with a huge smile as he shovelled more into his mouth, I was proud.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 300 g Baby Brussels sprouts
  • 4 Fresh or thawed sausage links (pork, chicken, lamb, or meat-free)
  • 3 Cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ½ Medium Spanish onion, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ Lemon, juiced
  • Herbal salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon herb & garlic seasoning
  • Thyme

 

DIRECTIONS

Steam the Brussels sprouts for 10 minutes, or until tender (you should be able to pierce with a fork all the way through). Remove from heat, and once cooled, slice in half.

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While the Brussels sprouts are cooking, slice the sausages lengthwise, and remove casings. Break into small pieces and roast in a large skillet on stove top. Once browned, add the Brussels sprouts and sauté in the sausage drippings for 2 minutes on medium heat.

Rustic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Sauté the Brussels sprouts with the sausage

Next, add a drizzle of olive oil, diced onions, crushed garlic, lemon juice and a generous splash of balsamic vinegar. Be sure to thoroughly mix everything together in the skillet pan. Add remaining seasonings to desired taste, and reduce heat to a low simmer. Continue cooking until onions are transparent, and Brussels sprouts are browned and slightly charred.

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Rustic Roasted Brussels Sprouts – the end result

Serve with mixed grains salad or roasted potatoes.

SERVES: 6

PREP TIME: 5 minutes

TOTAL COOKING TIME:  20 minutes

Eating Healthy While On the Go

healthyEatingOnTheGo

Life can be hectic. Gone are the days where the men were the primary bread-winners of the home and the women stayed back to spend their days cooking, cleaning, and looking after their army of kids. Statistics are now showing a sharp rise in families with children having both parents working too (60%), which is more than double what it was only a generation ago. It’s become the norm for couples to start (much) smaller families later in life, and along with the crummy economy, it means women have become accustomed to also bringing home their own share of the bacon. 

This of course means busier lifestyles for everyone. Mornings generally are a race against the clock as everyone rushes to get out the door for work or school, and it can be quite the struggle to pack a healthy lunch in a hurry. 

The office I work in currently is full of people who scoff at my homemade snacks and lunches, and would much prefer to spend their hard-earned cash at pubs or at a drive-thru. Their thin wallets and expanding waistlines reflect their poor eating habits though, so I don’t take offence when they laugh at my jumbo salads or breakfast shakes! 

Commuters and those with more demanding jobs may even turn to food to help them cope with their higher stress levels, which combined with a lack of exercise can further wreak havoc on their health. It doesn’t help that so many companies are banking on these people by shelling out “on-the-go” snacks and “minute meals” that are ready after a quick pop in the microwave but are laden with preservatives, chemicals, artificial nutrients and next to no nutritional value. The convenience is exchanged for poorer quality of food. 

The simplest solution is to go back to our roots. Only a few decades ago, ready-made snacks weren’t available, and the only thing that existed were homemade meals, or fruits & veg for snacks! Not only will home-prepared meals help you save a bundle of money, but you’ll be eating foods that you know are good for your body. The more nutrient-dense your foods are, the more your body will benefit from those energy sources. It’s as simple as that. 

I like to always have a variety of fruits and vegetables readily available for those moments where I’m running out the door and know I’ll get hungry later in the day. As soon as you return from the farmer’s market, orchard, garden or grocery store, wash and cut up your fruits and vegetables (if necessary). Put each serving in individual containers and then place in the fridge so that you can easily grab-and-go. 5 minutes of prep time can result in stress-free mornings and a happier digestive system and body. 

Here are a few of my favourite fruits & veggies to ALWAYS have on hand:

  • Apples
  • grapes
  • bananas
  • pears (seasonal)
  • peaches (seasonal)
  • cherry tomatoes
  • cauliflower & broccoli
  • carrots
  • cucumbers

Fruits are sweet enough on their own, but if you need some extra flavour with your veggies, I like to add a homemade guacamole dip or homemade hummus. 

Along with the typical snacks from mother nature, there are lots of other options you can quickly whip together when you’re strapped for time:

  • fruity yogurt parfait
  • hearty superfoods oatmeal
  • whole grain toast topped with avocado & spices, or rice cake with nut butter & sliced bananas 
  • granola with homemade almond milk (packed separately to avoid sogginess)
  • trail mix
  • homemade musli bars
  • Ants & Birds on a log (celery topped with nut butter, almonds & raisins)
  • leftovers from last night’s dinner
  • Homemade Superfood Breakfast Cookies
  • deviled egg or hard-boiled egg
  • Homemade Crispy Kale Chips
  • super smoothie
  • chia pudding
  • Mediterranean Grains Salad
  • sandwich
  • salad

There are tonnes of other great snack ideas too, you just have to be creative. Meal prepping helps immensely, but remember that if you always keep good, healthy food in your kitchen, that’s what you’re forced to eat. 

In a pinch? Refuel with clean energy!

Keep it healthy!