Top Ten Gluten-Free Dinners for a Busy Family

Did you know that eating dinner as a family is one of the most important things you can do for your kids? Here are some statistics:

  • Compared to teens that have frequent family dinners, those who rarely have family dinners are three-and-a-half times more likely to have abused prescription drugs or an illegal drug other than marijuana.
  • Girls who have five or more meals a week with their families are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits, which can range from skipping meals to full-fledged anorexia or abusing diet pills.
  • Parental influence and involvement is an important tool in preventing substance abuse. Regularly sitting down for a meal with your children is one way to connect with them and be involved with what is happening in their lives.
  • Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using marijuana; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and with better grades in 11- to 18-year-olds.

I love having dinner with my family. I also realize that in this day and age, it is not always easy. With both parents working, and after school activities that often run late in the evenings, it seems impossible to have a meal together. Even if you can just set aside three nights a week to make an effort to sit down as a family, I think you and your kids will benefit from it.

Dinner, however, can be a chore sometimes when you are cooking gluten-free. One of the things I like to do is have the ingredients of at least ten sure thing dinner items that I know my family will eat in a pinch. Most of my dinners are pretty simple, easy to prepare and healthy. I usually do not freeze anything, because gluten-free noodles and pies do not really freeze well. Here is a list of our Top Ten Gluten-Free Easy Dinner Items to Eat as a Family, as well as a list of ingredients to have on hand.

Okay, but YOU have to make it….I can’t do everything for you!*

  1. Tacos: Gluten-free tortillas or corn tortillas, ground meat or just beans, rice, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.
  2. Chili: Chicken or Turkey, a variety of canned beans, salsa, and chilies.
  3. Mrs. Leepers Hamburger Helper: Can be made with meat or beans. Make with a salad.
  4. Hamburgers: Gluten-free hamburger buns, turkey, beef or vegetarian burger, lettuce, tomatoes and onions.
  5. Pizza: A gluten-free pizza crust (many ready-made ones in the freezer section), sauce, cheese and veggies.
  6. Falafel: There is a gluten-free mix by Orgran. Serve with spinach, yogurt and white rice in gluten-free tortillas.
  7. Spaghetti: I love making pasta because I can put sauce and parmesan cheese on top, or actually any left over meat or vegetables I find in the fridge.
  8. Chicken Taquitos:  Just need chicken, corn tortillas, cheese, cilantro and onion.
  9. Salmon: I buy the Wild Atlantic Salmon, marinade, serve with quinoa and frozen broccoli. Full of color and nutrients.
  10. Nachos: Remember Nacho Friday? Quick and easy, you just need chips, salsa, rice, beans, lettuce, tomato and anything else you dare.

When you do have the time to be in your kitchen to prepare a nice meal for your family, I would highly recommend this lasagna. Lasagna is a great winter meal on a cold day. It is full of nutrients from all the vegetables and it is easy to pack up for lunches the next day or have for leftovers later in the week. Do not freeze this recipe to use at a later date. The rice noodles do not freeze well.

Gluten-Free Veggie Lasagna

1 package Gluten-Free Tinkyada Lasagna noodles
2 jars Bertolli Organic Olive Oil, Basil & Garlic sauce
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
4 T olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
½ cup chopped onions
1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 yellow pepper, cubbed
3 cups fresh spinach
1 egg
1 lb ricotta cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 T fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Boil 10 qt. water and cook noodles according to package.
Drain noodles. Add 2 T olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
In a skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent.
Add the tomatoes, zucchini and pepper and continue to cook. Add the spinach and cook for 2 more minutes.
Set aside veggies.
In a small bowl, beat egg, ricotta cheese, ½ of the parmesan, and basil.
In a large 9 X 13 well oiled baking dish, begin making your lasagna layers.
Take ½ cup of sauce to line the bottom of your baking dish.
Add 3 lasagna noodles to the bottom.
Spread ½ of ricotta mixture evenly on the noodles. Top with ½ of the veggies. Add 1 cup of sauce on top of the veggies.
Repeat; starting with the noodles.
Finally, add 1 more layer of noodles and top with remaining sauce and parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

* Recipes can be made kosher-style by substituting the appropriate alternatives (dairy-free cheese alternative for meat dishes, or meat-free alternative for dairy dishes).

About Lisa Velick

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