Tag Archives: Recipes

5 Stress-Free Family Meals

September is National Family Meals Month.  It’s no wonder why there’s an entire 30 days devoted to encouraging families to eat together more often. Experts frequently tout the benefits of family meals, including better nutrition, and improved school performance and higher self-esteem in children. In a perfect world, spouses, partners, and kids would be home at the same time, nobody would be cranky, tired, or hormonal, and nobody would complain about the food.  I’m a big fan of family meals, but I also know that making them happen on a regular basis can be overwhelming. Here’s why you should try anyway.

eat-1583954_1920

Why Family Meals Matter

As the mother of three, I think that sitting down together over a meal helps kids in a number of ways, no matter how often your three year-old wanders off in search of something more interesting, or your teen turns up her nose at what’s for dinner.

family-eating-at-the-table-619142

Family meals help kids develop a sense of regularity and routine that could carry into later life. A study of college students suggests eating at the same time promotes better nutrition. And, eating together allows you to teach kids good table manners and expose them to new foods.

Yet, it may not be necessary to create a soothing, nurturing environment around the table on a daily basis. Some experts and others (including comedian Ana Gasteyer, a mother of two) think the benefits of family meals are exaggerated. Her post is hilarious!

If you can’t make family meals happen as often as you like, take comfort in this: A large study that examined the effects of family dinners on children found that spending time with your kids and taking an interest in their daily lives matters most for their well-being, whether that happens during at meal times, or not.

5 No-Fuss Dinners

Interested in more family meals with less stress?  I highly recommend lowering your standards.

Keep dinner as simple as possible. Cook at home more often. Don’t worry about dining out or ordering in every so often, but try to make healthier choices.

Here are five healthy dinners you can have on the table in 20 minutes or less:

  • Stir-fry 8 to 12 ounces of lean ground beef or 100% ground skinless, boneless turkey breast with a large chopped onion, cumin, and salt and ground black pepper. Combine with 1 cup canned, drained black beans. Spoon the cooked meat/bean mixture onto 4 whole wheat tortillas. Top with shredded cheese, chopped tomato, lettuce, and low-fat sour cream. Or make this chili, and pair it with fruit.

dsc_0522

  • Store-bought rotisserie chicken; salad of prewashed greens, cherry tomatoes, and olives; quick-cooking grain such as whole wheat couscous, and milk.
  • Grilled cheese or tuna melt with sliced tomato; cup of lentil soup (beans are vegetables!); fruit, and a cup of yogurt.
  • Serve Brinner (breakfast for dinner): French toast made with whole grain bread, fruit, milk; pancakes made with whole wheat flour served with fruit and milk; or an omelet prepared with cheese and leftover vegetables, with fruit, milk, whole grain toast or roll.

pancake-2604822

  • Pizza prepared with whole grain tortillas or whole wheat Naan bread and store-bought shredded cheddar cheese; green salad; fruit.

Here are some additional family-friendly meals:

 

 

Why I Eat (White) Pasta and Other Refined Grains

Apparently, today is World Pasta Day, but I don’t need an international celebration to put pasta on my plate. Yes, I eat pasta, and not the whole grain kind. Pasta, and other refined grains, have been demonized in the last few years, often unfairly.  Certain refined grains have more to offer than you may realize, and refined grains can be part of a balanced eating plan.  Here’s why it’s OK to indulge your passion for pasta, and how to do it better.

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Disclosure: Last month, Barilla invited me to their Good for You, Good for the Planet gathering of registered dietitian nutritionists. They paid for my travel and lodgings, but not for my time, and are not compensating me for this blog.

Why It’s OK to Eat Refined Grains

You may have heard that you should make at least half of the grains you eat whole grains. For people following a 2,000-calorie eating plan, that amounts to a minimum of three servings of whole grains daily. Whole grains contain more fiber and higher levels of some other nutrients than refined grains, and they are a wise choice. But you don’t need to make all of your grains whole.

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Enriched refined grains are a good alternative to whole grains. Most refined grains sold in the U.S. are made from enriched flour, which means they have added iron and four B vitamins, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid. (Whole grains and gluten-free products may not be enriched.)  Folic acid is particularly important for helping to prevent birth defects that occur early in pregnancy, and iron helps to head off anemia. About half of the iron that we consume comes from enriched grains.

How to Improve your Pasta Meals

Cook pasta right: Barilla’s Chef Lorenzo Boni schooled us about how to put together a balanced pasta meal in minutes. While watching him cook and listening to him talk, I realized that, like most people, I overcook pasta.  He recommends undercooking it by a minute or even more, and reserving some of the pasta cooking water to finish off your pasta dish. (See below for how to put together a pasta meal.) img_5441

Balance your plate: No single food will make you overweight, unless you eat too much of it, of course! It’s possible to overeat pasta because it’s so delicious, but I’ve also found that when a meal is too high in carbohydrate (read: pasta), it’s even more likely that you will overdo it. Adding protein-rich foods such as seafood, meat, chicken, and beans, and practicing portion control are key for better-for-you pasta dishes.

Barilla has put together a Pasta Recipe Builder to help you create balanced meals in minutes. You can build any type of meal you like from an array of ingredients, including whole grain pasta if that’s what you prefer.  img_4684

Personally, I like to include at least four ounces of seafood, meat, or poultry at mealtimes, and I think the rest of my cooking buddies agreed they wanted more protein than the pasta recipe builder suggests. When we got our chance to cook in the Barilla kitchen, our group took it up a notch with lots of extra shrimp!

 

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My cooking companions, Victoria Shanta Retelny, Chris Mohr, and Jenna Braddock.

 

One of the best parts of the meeting was feasting on our own creation as well the other groups’. Ours didn’t take top honors (yes, it was a competition!), but we certainly had passion for our pasta dish!

 

Delicious, Nutritious Holiday Recipes

None of us will get through the holidays with a “perfect” eating record, and trying is pointless, anyway. While indulgence is the name of the game during December, preparing one or two better-for-you dishes to have at parties means you’re never completely at the mercy of high-calorie holiday fare. Here are 20 holiday dishes that we nutrition experts depend on to stay healthy and energized during this hectic season. Enjoy!

Mango and Black Bean Salsa

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Mango and Black Bean Salsa is festive and nutritious.  Mangos are bursting with more than 20 vitamins and minerals and, along with the black beans, they lend the salsa a hefty amount of fiber, which is often in short supply during the holiday feeding frenzy.

Tote Mango and Black Bean Salsa to a holiday party to serve with toasted whole grain Naan or pita triangles, serve as a side dish with roasted or grilled meat, chicken, or fish, or have on hand as a healthy snack.

Mango and Black Bean Salsa

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

2 cups fresh mango, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped, seeded jalapeño pepper (optional)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium serving bowl, combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve with toasted whole wheat Naan or pita bread cut into triangles.

Per serving (1/4 cup without bread):

69 calories

0 grams fat

199 milligrams sodium

14 grams carbohydrate

4 grams fiber

3 grams protein

10 milligrams calcium

More on the Menu

Here are 19 better-for-you foods for a healthier holiday season.

Appetizers and Dips

Healthy Creamy Corn & Avocado Dip from Abbey Sharp, RD.

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Eggplant Pecan Pate from Sharon Palmer, RD.

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Abalone Cocktail from Christy Wilson, RD.

Coctel+de+Abulón

Sweet Potato Polenta Bites with Thyme-Marinated Mushrooms from Kara Lydon, RD, LDN.

Sweet-Potato-Polenta-Bites-with-Thyme-Marinated-Mushrooms

Quick and Easy Lentil Feta Bruschetta from The Spicy RD.

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Main Dishes

Savory Spinach and Feta Pie from Katie Morford, MS, RD.

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Roasted Turkey Breast from Jennifer Lynn-Pullman, MA, RDN, LDN.

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Smoked Firehouse Chili from Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD.

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Bacon Mushroom Cauliflower Risotto from Danielle Cushing, RD.

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Salads and Side Dishes

Carrots, Dates and Mint Salad from ‪Dixya Bhattarai‪, RDN.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Katie Mora, MS, RD.

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Golden Beet Salad from Amy Bruursema Getman, RD.

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Warm Spelt Berry with Cinnamon Balsamic Vinaigrette from Steph McKercher, MS, RDN.

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Curried Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Pepitas from Katie Cavuto, MS, RD.

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Desserts

Apple Quinoa Bake from Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN.

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Cherry Pecan Baked Pears by Allison Stevens, RD.

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Orange Cranberry Tart from Judy Barbe, MS, RD.

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Vegan Cannoli Dip from Emily Cope, MS, RDN.

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5 Stress-Free Family Meals

September is National Family Meals Month.  It’s no wonder why there’s an entire 30 days devoted to encouraging families to eat together more often. Experts frequently tout the benefits of family meals, including better nutrition, and improved school performance and higher self-esteem in children. In a perfect world, spouses, partners, and kids would be home at the same time, nobody would be cranky, tired, or hormonal, and nobody would complain about the food.  I’m a big fan of family meals, but I also know that making them happen on a regular basis can be overwhelming. Here’s why you should try anyway.

eat-1583954_1920

 

Why Family Meals Matter

As the mother of three, I think that sitting down together over a meal helps kids in a number of ways, no matter how often your three year-old wanders off in search of something more interesting, or your teen turns up her nose at what’s for dinner.

family-eating-at-the-table-619142

Family meals help kids develop a sense of regularity and routine that could carry into later life. A study of college students suggests eating at the same time promotes better nutrition. And, eating together allows you to teach kids good table manners and expose them to new foods.

Yet, it may not be necessary to create a soothing, nurturing environment around the table on a daily basis. Some experts and others (including comedian Ana Gasteyer, a mother of two) think the benefits of family meals are exaggerated. Her post is hilarious!

If you can’t make family meals happen as often as you like, take comfort in this: A large study that examined the effects of family dinners on children found that spending time with your kids and taking an interest in their daily lives matters most for their well-being, whether that happens during at meal times, or not.

5 No-Fuss Dinners

Interested in more family meals with less stress?  I highly recommend lowering your standards. Keep dinner as simple as possible. Cook at home as often as you can, and don’t worry about dining out or ordering in every so often, but do make healthier choices.

Here are five healthy dinners you can have on the table in 20 minutes or less:

  • Stir-fry 8 to 12 ounces of lean ground beef or 100% ground skinless, boneless turkey breast with a large chopped onion, cumin, and salt and ground black pepper. Combine with 1 cup canned, drained black beans. Spoon the cooked meat/bean mixture onto 4 whole wheat tortillas. Top with shredded cheese, chopped tomato, lettuce, and low-fat sour cream. Or make this chili, and pair it with fruit.

dsc_0522

  • Store-bought rotisserie chicken; salad of prewashed greens, cherry tomatoes, and olives; quick-cooking grain such as whole wheat couscous, and milk.
  • Grilled cheese or tuna melt with sliced tomato; cup of lentil soup (beans are vegetables!); fruit, and a cup of yogurt.
  • Serve Brinner (breakfast for dinner): French toast made with whole grain bread, fruit, milk; pancakes made with whole wheat flour served with fruit and milk; or an omelet prepared with cheese and leftover vegetables, with fruit, milk, whole grain toast or roll.

pancake-2604822

  • Pizza prepared with whole grain tortillas or whole wheat Naan bread and store-bought shredded cheddar cheese; green salad; fruit.

Here are some additional family-friendly meals:

 

 

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