My little guy, Evan likes to leave me notes. He will go through an entire stack of copy paper in a week if you don’t watch him. He sneaks into my room and tapes things to the back of my bedroom door so that when I close the door his letter to me is in my face. I’m tall, so he must have to stand on his tippy-toes to get his little scrawlings up to eye level. Sometimes the note says “Wake Me Up Early” (Evan is the only kid on earth that wants to get out of bed earlier than he has to; he’s afraid he’s gonna miss something). Sometimes the note says “I don’t want lettuce on my ham sandwich for lunch”. If there is a field trip permission slip he’s particularly excited about, it gets taped on the window above the kitchen sink (does my kid KNOW ME or what?) with a note that says “Mommy sign this please”.
But my very favorite notes ever are like this:
I love love love my love notes. (Am I the whale? Are we in Sponge Bob’s house?)
I will save these forever and ever (I have a whole box!!!) because “even though [I] am mean… [I am] nice and sweet.”
I write my kids little love notes on holidays– that’s when I think to buy a card or write a note full of affection and appreciation for my two growing cuties– but mostly I write them love notes with food. Sometimes it’s warm brownies after school. Or pancakes on a Sunday morning. More often than not though, I pen the best love notes to my boys at the dinner table (even if they don’t realize it now). I heap their plates full of vegetables and challenge them to try new things. Mine are children that will eat fresh green beans as fast as most kids eat french fries. They like Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette, always ask for seconds of a tossed mixed green salad, and want sushi when we go out to eat.
Truth be told, if left to their own devices, they’d probably eat a pile of fried chicken and biscuits with a side of chocolate chip cookies… doused in hot fudge with a donut milkshake and a Coke. But I like to think that writing them dinner time love notes full of healthy choices since they were very small is the reason they will sit down at the table with me and gobble up a plate of whole wheat penne with chicken and asparagus.
Trim the woody ends off of the asparagus and then cut each length into 2-3 inch pieces. Remember when picking asparagus that the slimmer the stalks, the more tender they are– and the taste is better, too!
Finely chop 3 cloves of garlic, add a little olive oil to a skillet, and cook over medium heat for about a minute.
Add the asparagus to the skillet and saute until tender, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove the asparagus and set it aside. Put a dab more oil in the skillet and brown your boneless skinless chicken breast pieces.
Once the chicken is browned, you’ll need to pour in one can of diced tomatoes. You can use the seasoned variety if you prefer, but I like to season things myself. In this dish, I usually just let the garlic do the talking and enjoy the taste of the asparagus and tomatoes. When they’re in season, fresh peeled and diced tomatoes take this to a whole new level. Stir and simmer over medium heat until the tomatoes are heated through and then put the asparagus back in the skillet. Toss all of it with a whole pound of cooked whole wheat penne and serve with fresh grated parmesan cheese. A little goat cheese crumbled over this gives it some extra love.
Whole Wheat Penne with Chicken & Asparagus
1 bunch fresh asparagus with ends trimmed off, cut into 2-3 inch lengths
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1- 1.5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes OR 3 large tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 box (1 pound) whole wheat penne pasta
parmesan cheese to taste OR soft crumbled goat cheese to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet. Saute the garlic in the oil for about a minute. Add the asparagus and cook until tender (4-5 minutes). Remove the garlic and asparagus and set aside. Boil a large pot of water and prepare penne according to package instructions. Heat the second tablespoon of oil in the skillet and then add the chicken. Cook until browned on all sides. Pour in the can of tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer. Put the asparagus back into the skillet and stir to incorporate. Toss the entire contents of the skillet with the cooked penne and top with the cheese to taste.
Heart healthy love.