In this ongoing blog series, Christine, a budget-minded mom and Whole Foods Market® team member, explores ways to create healthy, organic foods that appeal to both toddler and husband. Read the other posts in her ongoing series.
We spent a good part of our day at the zoo, which didn’t leave me with much time to cook. That’s why I love grilling — it brings out the flavor of the food, so Mommy doesn’t have to spend all day slaving in the kitchen.
I chose a simple dinner that would be fun to eat outdoors: chicken on a stick, vegetable skewers and grilled peaches for desert. The twist here is using popsicle sticks for my son’s chicken and vegetables.
¼ cup soy sauce
juice from one organic lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon light agave nectar
1 ½ pounds organic boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 organic zucchini
1 organic yellow squash
½ organic red onion
½ organic red pepper
1 cup cubed organic pineapple
2 organic peaches
1 cup of vanilla yogurt
Additional extra-virgin olive oil for grilling
For the marinade, place the soy sauce in a mixing bowl, add the lime juice, olive oil, chopped garlic (I used pre-chopped garlic) and agave nectar and whisk until well blended. Set aside.
For the chicken, cut off any visible fat. Then, cut two chunks of chicken approximately 3-inches by 1-inch by ¾-inch deep —these two pieces were for my son. If you have more young ones, cut more of this size. Take a sharp knife and make a slit in the base of each chicken strip. Insert the popsicle sticks into the slit in the chicken.
Cut the rest of the chicken into approximately 1-inch cubes and skewer it for the adults. Place all of the chicken in the marinade, flipping the pieces of chicken to ensure it’s well coated. Put the chicken in the fridge and marinate from 20 minutes up to overnight –whatever works for you.
Now for the vegetables. (As a baby, my son loved zucchini. He loved it so much that I was always trying to create new ways to take his homemade pureed zucchini and turn it into a meal for the rest of the family, like this zucchini pesto pasta dish.) Cut the zucchini, pineapple and squash into little cubes about 1-inch in diameter. Then cut the red onion and pepper into pieces about 1-inch wide. The flavor combination of red onion and pineapple adds a nice zing to the plate.
I took another popsicle stick and made one vegetable and fruit skewer for my son. In order for the vegetables to easily slide onto the stick, I used the same technique as above and made slits in each piece of fruit and vegetable before placing it on the stick. Use the remaining fruits and vegetables to create skewers for the adults. Then, brush the vegetables with extra-virgin olive oil.
Finally, slice the peaches in half and remove the core. Brush both sides of the peaches with olive oil and place them on a plate.
We have a gas grill and it usually takes about 10 minutes to pre-heat, but times may vary. Before grilling, brush and oil the grill grate. Then, place the chicken and vegetables on top using medium heat.
The total cooking time for the chicken breasts and vegetable skewers was about 12 minutes (6 minutes on each side for the chicken). We continued to turn the vegetables, so that they would cook evenly. My son’s popsicle stick delights cooked quicker (about 10 minutes in total). We placed his meal aside to cool before serving. I wanted to be absolutely certain that the popsicle stick was cooled off before I handed it to my two-year old.
Our little family sat outside and enjoyed a lovely meal! We cooked the peaches, while eating our main courses. The cooking process was easy — grilling the peaches for 3-5 minutes on each side until then were softened and brown. Serve the peaches with the yogurt.
Grillin’ can be so much fun and, with a bit of creativity, it’s easy to make a healthy meal pleasing to both children and adults. My son loved the chicken on a popsicle stick! He also enjoyed the vegetables, especially the zucchini. But overall, the peaches were the crowd pleaser! My son liked them so much that he wanted to share them with his toy tigers.
For me and my family, there’s nothing better than grilling on a sunny afternoon. What do you like to grill?