Healthy eating requires balance (and resilience)

broccoli-basil mac n cheese

Sneaking vegetables into comfort food fails to fool the teens, but this mac n cheese is a winner

“Mom, don’t put this in your blog.”  Son #1 was earnest and I was amazed.  I had just labored, much longer than usual for a weeknight meal, over an extraordinary (IMHO) broccoli-basil mac ‘n cheese casserole.  Cheddar and swiss cheeses blended with a bit of sour cream and cherry tomatoes.  Mixed into hot whole wheat pasta shells with pureed butternut squash and topped with a blend of broccoli, basil and bread crumbs before a turn in the oven.

I should have known. The dish was touted as a healthy alternative to traditional mac n cheese, thanks to the sneaky squash and green crumb topping. The boys didn’t fall for it but it didn’t bother me (thus, the blog post). I had caved in the previous night with a dinner featuring pork tenderloin, noting it was only the third or so time for pork since we started the anti-inflammatory eating plan back in June. “Yeah, I noticed!” pipes up Son #1 again.  He doesn’t miss much in the kitchen.

I figure there are trade-offs if we’re going to stick with our A-I eating plan. Last week my husband was away so the boys got three nights of traditional eats:  chili, spaghetti, boiled sausage dinner.  Then hubbie reappeared and we returned to a favorite recipe from our still-new adventures in anti-inflammatory eating.  It’s a quick dish of chicken with tomatoes, roasted red peppers and almond butter. What makes it special is the spice step: Cumin seed, fennel seed, and coriander are sauteed in oil before rest of the ingredients. That simple step gives the meal a flavor boost that earns a thumbs-up even with my teen sons.

Now that we’re heading into the deadly holiday feasting season, I’ll be looking for ways to sustain our commitment to our new eating plan without sacrificing flavor.  Time to create a “best of” list with the dinners we all agreed are tasty. And time to stock up on healthy  snacks so I won’t munch on the cookies and candy that inevitably land on our doorstep this time of year.

It’s a balancing act for sure.

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