Quick Meals for New Moms
Now You're Cookin'
As most new moms know, keeping up with a hungry newborn can be exhausting, especially when the rest of your family is looking for something healthy and tasty at mealtime too.
Here are some lunch and dinner options you can make without any heavy lifting, difficult prepping, or long cook times—you'll have them on the table and devoured before takeout even has the chance to make it to your door.
Chicken Salad with Apple and Pomegranate
This easy chicken salad works for lunch or dinner and can be served with whole grain bread as a sandwich or over a simple salad of lettuce, tomato, and cucumbers.
Two cups of chopped cooked chicken from the freezer or, if you're really pressed for time, pre-cooked chicken breast makes four hearty sandwiches. Adding in apple, pomegranate seeds, and low fat plain yogurt instead of mayo keep this recipe light and crunchy with a bit of sweetness.
Prep: 10 mins / Start to Finish: 10 mins
- 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
- 1 small crisp apple, cored and chopped
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 - 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, (or substitute low-fat plain yogurt for up to 1 tablespoon of mayo)
- 1/4 shallot, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 1 - 2 teaspoons cider vinegar, to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, toss all the ingredients together until well combined. Serve over tender salad greens or on toasted multi-grain bread.
Depending on how much olive oil you add, have this chickpea salad as a side on its own or over a bed of baby spinach for a heartier meal.
Ten minutes of prep time plus a few hours of marinating makes this an easy option for preparing in the morning before your day gets too hectic, putting in the fridge for a few hours and eating as soon as you're ready for it. Use whatever fresh herbs you have at hand for a bit of extra seasoning and leave the onion out if it upsets baby's tummy during feedings.
Prep: 10 mins / Cook: 2 mins to 3 mins / Start to Finish: 12 mins
Ingredients for dressing:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 garlic clove, minced
Ingredients for salad:
- 12 large leaves butter lettuce
- Cooking spray
- 2 large whole-wheat pitas, cut into small wedges
- 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 20 kalamata olives
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
1. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside. Next, line four shallow salad bowls with butter lettuce leaves.
2. Coat a large cast iron or nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over high heat. Add pita wedges and toast, turning with tongs until golden, about 2-3 minutes. Reserve for tossing.
3. Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing until well coated. Add toasted pita wedges and toss lightly. Divide equally among salad bowls. Serve immediately.
Butternut Squash Bruschetta
Make the most of seasonal winter ingredients with butternut squash bruschetta and a mixed green garnish.
Mix a few tablespoons of ricotta, fresh lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and minced scallion into the squash and spread over whole grain toast for a hearty snack or lunch that takes 15 minutes from start to finish.
Prep: 15 mins / Start to Finish: 15 mins
- 1/4 cup pureed butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons fresh ricotta
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon minced scallion white
- Salt and black pepper
- 6 slices whole wheat baguette toast brushed with olive oil and rubbed with garlic
- Small handful baby arugula leaves, for garnish
- Minced scallion green, for garnish
In a bowl, combine the squash, ricotta, lemon, parmesan, and scallion white. Season with salt and pepper and spread the mixture on the toasts. Scatter with arugula leaves and garnish with the scallion green.
Nutty Asian Noodles
These Asian-style noodles will feed a crowd or give you a week's worth of leftovers in minutes. They beg to be topped with a variety of your favorite ingredients including cucumber sticks, beansprouts, and cilantro – or, for a heartier meal, cooked chicken or pork.
While your spaghetti or ramen-style noodles cook, puree light soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and almond or peanut butter for a nutty, sweet sauce to mix into the cooked noodles.
Prep: 5 mins / Cook: 10 mins / Start to Finish: 15 mins
- 1 pound spaghetti or thin ramen-style noodles
- 1/4 cup almond or peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 small garlic clove, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish
- 1 scallion, chopped, for garnish
1. Cook the noodles in salted water until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain well and transfer to a large serving bowl. Top with veggies, meat and cilantro as desired.
2. Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the nut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, sesame oil, ginger and garlic until thoroughly smooth. This sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Mix well before pouring over freshly cooked noodles.
3. Pour the sauce over the center of the noodles and toppings, sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions, toss and serve right away.
Cucumber sticks, carrot matchsticks, beansprouts, cooked chopped chicken or pork, cilantro leaves, chile-garlic sauce
Speedy Marinara Sauce
Make an extra-large batch of this sauce to have on hand for pizzas, meatball subs, or baked pasta at any time.
Blend canned plum tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, and your favorite blend of Italian seasonings and simmer over the stove until it begins to thicken. Serve over whole wheat ravioli immediately or let it cool and freeze in a large plastic container future dinners in a cinch.
Prep: 5 mins / Cook: 10 mins / Start to Finish: 15 mins
- 2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano leaves
- Pinch crushed red chili
- 1 28 ounce can plum tomatoes, crushed or pulsed in a blender
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1. In a heavy saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, oregano, and chili and cook until fragrant, 45 seconds. Add the tomatoes and salt and bring to a simmer.
2. Simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn this dish into a heartier meal by serving over chicken or pork, or keep it vegetarian and serve as a side or easy lunch.
Fry long-grain white rice with olive oil in a large pot and add onion, carrot, and garlic over higher heat until the onion softens. Stir in chicken stock, tomato sauce, and green beans, peas, or corn and simmer until the rice is tender and the veggies are warm.
Prep: 10 mins / Cook: 20 mins / Start to Finish: 30 mins
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or lard if you have it)
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 1/2 cups chicken stock (or equivalent water and chicken bouillon)
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup chopped green beans (or frozen peas added with corn)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup corn kernels
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Hot sauce, for serving (optional)
1. In a large, heavy pot, warm the oil. Add the rice and fry until the grains begin to color. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic and continue frying until the onion begins to soften, 4 minutes.
2. Stir in the stock, tomato sauce, green beans, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the rice is just tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in the corn and continue to cook, covered, until the corn is warm and the rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with hot sauce if desired.
Ground Turkey Stir-Fry with Black Bean–Garlic Sauce
It's easy to assume stir fry is a 30 minute-plus meal to make, but this dinner takes under 15 minutes from start to finish—perfect for busy nights.
Cook red onion, red pepper, green beans, and ground turkey for 8 minutes and add in the black bean garlic sauce. Keep it simple and serve over rice or kick it up a notch and mix fried chilies into the final product.
Prep: 5 mins / Cook: 8 mins / Start to Finish: 13 mins
- 2 tablespoons black bean-garlic sauce (for example, Lee Kum Kee brand - reduce to 1 tablespoon for a lower-sodium dish)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 red onion, slivered
- 1/2 red bell pepper, slivered
- 1 large handful green beans, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound ground turkey or beef
- Steamed rice (such as a mix of brown and jasmine), for serving
- Sriracha hot sauce and/or fried chili pepper slices, for serving (optional)
1. In a small bowl, mix together the black bean sauce, rice wine, honey, and sesame oil.
2. Heat a large, heavy pan over high heat for 1 minute. Add the vegetable oil, followed by the red onion, red pepper, and green beans. Stir-fry the vegetables for 2 minutes. Add the ground turkey to the pan and stir-fry until cooked through and browned in places, 4 to 6 more minutes.
3. Scrape the sauce into the pan and stir-fry until the sauce is absorbed, about 1 minute. Serve over rice, with sriracha or fried chilies to spice it up if desired.