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Eat. Train. Race. Travel.

Welcome to Athlete Food - our continuous adventure to seek out healthy food around the globe and at our own dinner tables. Hope you are inspired to get on a plane or get out the plates and cook a healthy dinner tonight!

Dumplings with Crisp Broccoli, Sesame and Soy

Melissa is back to bring us another Athlete Moms dinner plan. This time she strays from the homemade and reaches into the freezer. All for a good cause: to spend more time playing with the kids. 


One of my New Year’s resolutions is to spend less time on chores and more time hanging out with my kids. Making good on this promise demands compromise: I must occasionally let our morning eggs dry on the breakfast plates, permit fire trucks to migrate into my bed, and refuse to wash the kids’ favorite pajamas every other day. And I need to streamline dinner. A lot.

Immediately after each of the kids arrived, I relied on a combination of frozen foods, meal delivery services, and super fast vegetable preparations. Now that they’re 4 and 2 years old, I depend on Dora to minimize the kids’ mischief while I cook. Dinner prep cannot exceed 24 minutes, the length of one Dora video, or I’ll have to start a second one. 

Some nights I compromise with frozen foods. My favorite freezer option is the chicken and vegetable dumplings made by Ling Ling. They include enough salt to make a nutritionist wince, plus even more in the dipping sauce. But I don’t serve them every day, or even every week. To compensate, I serve the dumplings alongside a vegetable and fruit. Frequently this means frozen green peas seasoned with just a little pinch of salt, with a plate of peeled tangerines or sliced mango. Lately though my son has started eating broccoli, his only green vegetable other than snap peas, so I’ve been experimenting with flavorings.


On New Year’s Day I lightly steamed two heads of broccoli florets and then steamed the dumplings. While the dumplings cooked, I tossed the still crisp, bright green florets with sesame oil and soy sauce. I set a little bowl of toasted sesame seeds on the table.

My older one filled his plate with dumplings and broccoli, and proclaimed, “Sesame seeds are only good on bagels.” My younger child pushed the broccoli and dumplings off her plate, ate a spoon full of sesame seeds, one by one, and said, “All done.”  Still, victory was mine: I’d prepared a quick, healthy, one-pot, one-Dora dinner, and built a Magna-Tile fire station castle with the kids while we waited for the dumplings to cool.

When I sent this recipe idea to Bec and Laurel, Laurel asked if she could cook the broccoli in the microwave. Sure. Put the florets in a microwave save bowl, sprinkle with water, and microwave until the broccoli is just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.            



Crisp Broccoli with Sesame and Soy

Serves: 2 adults and 2 kids

Time: 15 minutes

¼ teaspoon vegetable oil or vegetable oil spray (optional) 

2 to 3 heads broccoli (1.5 pounds including stems)

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

If you plan to steam dumplings after the broccoli, lightly grease a steamer basket with the oil or a coating of vegetable oil spray. If you’re just making the broccoli, skip the greasing.

Fill a pot with an inch or two of water, top with a steamer basket and lid, and bring the water to a boil.

Cut broccoli florets into bite size pieces. For kids, they must be tiny to make them truly bite-size.

When you see steam coming out of the pot, drop the trimmed broccoli in the steamer basket and cover. Cook until just tender but still bright green and crisp, about 3 minutes. 

Transfer cooked broccoli to a serving bowl, and toss with the sesame oil and soy sauce. Pour sesame seeds into a small bowl and place on the table, so each eater can customize.

Steamed Dumplings

Serves: 2 adults and 2 kids

2 bags of frozen Ling Ling chicken and vegetable dumplings, sauce included 

Drop the dumplings from one bag in a greased steamer basket and cook until the wrappers turn from white to completely golden. Repeat with the dumplings from the second bag.

While the dumplings cook, pour the dipping sauce into a microwavable bowl and warm for a few seconds in the microwave. Give each eater a little bowl of sauce for dipping. 

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