When you are eating healthy, family dinners are not always the easiest in terms of meal planning. You may be hoping for a hearty salad, but that doesn’t work for the rest of the family. Having dinner as a family has been proven, in numerous studies, to benefit kids in a variety of ways. Lines of communication stay open: kids know that their parents care to be aware of what goes on in their day, and are able to trust that their parents are there for them. Studies show that kids who dine with their parents are less likely to be involved with drugs and alcohol, and girls are even less likely to develop eating disorders and unhealthy eating habits. Here are four healthy family dinner ideas
1. Chicken Parmigiana
Place 2 chicken breasts in a pan (or your crock pot) with 1 jar of pasta sauce. Go for an organic, low-sodium, no-sugar variety. Add 1 cup of red wine, water or chicken stock and 1 tsp. oregano. Grate 1-2 peeled carrots into the sauce for some extra vitamins. Stir until everything is combined in the pan. Braise the chicken in the pan for 20 minutes (10 hours on low in the crock pot) or until done. Cut into bite-size chunks and serve over 1/2 cup whole-wheat pasta. Top with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese, alongside a huge pile of steamed broccoli. Kids don’t like broccoli? Top it with a bit of the sauce and some more cheese and it takes on a whole new flavor!
2. Taco Night
Corn tortillas or low-calorie flour tortillas are a great way to serve up a big pile of veggies and lean protein. Combine 1 tbsp. cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and 1 tsp. salt. Sprinkle the spice combo on shrimp, fish, chicken, or tofu and grill. In the meantime, chop tomatoes and lettuce, and mince 1/4 red onion. Top your grilled meat with the veggies and even some black beans for added iron and protein. Your kids may even help you chop the veggies!
3. Turkey Chili
Chili is a hearty dinner that pleases everyone. Replace beef with extra-lean ground turkey breast. Just 1 pound of turkey, 1 chopped onion, a few cloves of garlic along with a chopped bell pepper and 2 cans each of beans and diced tomatoes (large cans) and this one pot wonder makes dinner for the family and leftovers for lunch the next day. Tons of protein and fiber keeps you full in just 1 cup. Toss in a little pasta or brown rice for the kids for some extra complex carbs.
4. Soup’s On
Kids love soup, and it’s an easy way to hide in some veggies. For you, it’s filling, yet low in calories. Boil a large can of chicken or vegetable stock and add in some chicken. Add in some veggies like carrots, onion, zucchini and celery and even 1/4 cup rice or pasta. Stir in a little spinach at the end of cooking and serve steaming bowls of homemade soup with a crunchy salad.