Now that Laurel is back into full-time training mode and I'm in full-time mom mode, the idea of taking the time to cook a healthy meal seems as unlikely as running a four minute mile. That's where our Athlete Food editor Melissa steps in. She's assured us that we can still prepare quick, easy, and nutritious meals on our limited time budgets. Melissa suggests preparing simple foods with just a few ingredients and throwing in a some shortcuts that we otherwise wouldn't normally take (think simmer sauces, frozen items, pre-cut veggies).
We brainstormed ideas over email and came up with a bunch of fast, easy recipes. Over the next couple of weeks we'll be sharing them with you. We're starting off the recipe that got Melissa through the first few weeks of life with a newborn. Laurel and I think this makes a perfect salty snack for athletes and are hoping it wins over some chips & salsa fans when we serve it during the Super Bowl.
When Bec emailed me to chat about how to stock her freezer with healthy meals for when the baby arrives, we bounced around ideas including butternut squash soups, bison chili, and turkey meatballs. Bec immediately set to work developing new recipes, while I got in the car and drove across town to collect my kids from school.
On the drive, I remembered the grim meals my husband and I ate after the birth of our first kid. We huddled on the sofa, night after night, with the lights dim. We took turns. One of us ate frozen mac and cheese, lasagna, or a burrito, while the other held our shrieking, colicky son. Exhausted and eating poorly, we felt terrible.
When our second child was born, we were luckier and smarter. Our daughter slept! And we ordered dinner three or four nights a week from a meal delivery service. At this point we had found our beloved CSA. Since our CSA allows me to choose what produce we get each week, I could select vegetables that we like raw or could cook with minimal effort.
We ate roasted broccoli twice a week that fall and winter, because it was such a nutritional and flavorful bang-for-the-buck. I prepared the broccoli during the day while the kids napped, trimming the florets, tossing them with the oil and seasonings, and arranging them on the sheet pan. I stored the whole tray in the fridge. Just before the bedtime routine, I’d slide the pan into the oven. And then whoever got a kid to sleep first would pull the broccoli out, hopefully before it overcooked.
Later that afternoon I emailed Bec, sharing this favorite post-baby dish. She made it that night and—ever endearingly competitive—improved it by adding a quick, three-ingredient Tahini Dipping Sauce. A few days later Bec made another batch. She ate much of it right off the sheet pan, and sent the rest with her sister to eat on the train ride home. That night she sent an email, clearly looking forward to post-baby spring training: “This will make the perfect salty snack for after a workout.”
Note to overachievers: Peel the broccoli stalks. Cut them into coins. Toss with the florets, olive oil, and seasonings and roast on a separate pan until golden.
Roasted Broccoli with Tahini Dipping Sauce
Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 2 as a side dish, 4 as a snack
2 to 3 heads broccoli (1.5 pounds including stems)
2 teaspoons olive oil
big pinch salt
2-3 grinds black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Grease a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.
Cut off the broccoli stems. Use a pairing knife to separate the florets and leaves. Cut the large florets in half to create a flat side to increase the area that will touch the pan. This helps maximize browning. Drying the broccoli helps with browning, too. To do this, I spread the washed florets and leaves on a kitchen towel, roll it up, and let the roll sit for a few minutes while the oven heats.
Put the dried broccoli florets and leaves on the greased pan and drizzle with the other teaspoon of olive oil. Add the salt, pepper, and two or three shakes of garlic powder. Use your hands to coat the broccoli in the oil and seasonings.
Spread the broccoli on the pan, moving the larger pieces to the outside, the smaller ones inside for more even cooking. Make sure the flat sides touch the pan.
Roast for 15 minutes and then check to see if the tips of the florets have browned and crisped and whether the side of the florets touching the pan has browned. If you don’t see browning, roast for 1 or 2 more minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the broccoli to a bowl.
Tahini Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Whisk the ingredients together until completely blended.