Today, is the first official day of school for all of the children here in the Atlanta, Georgia area. A lot of the schools are now making changes with the school lunch and breakfast program to a healthier ones but what about the meals that children are eating at home? Are they healthy and nutritious? There is a way that parents can give their child a healthy meal ?
The first thing parents should do is to plan healthy meals for the week. If you do not plan your meals than you may end up eating foods that you really should not eat. How do you plan your meals? First you should find out what your family likes to eat and see if you can stretch out those meals for a week or months time. Use a calendar and document what meals would be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are the tech-savvy kind of person then, there are plenty of computer meal planning software to assist you. I like the free ones such as – www.choosemyplate.gov (USDA) and www.healthyeating.org (Dairy Council of California) . Preparation is the key in order to create a fast healthy meal. After you have decided on what meals that you would like to prepare then review the items that is needed to prepare the meals. You may want to ask yourself – Is this dish for this meal healthy? How can I make changes to this dish in order to make it a healthy meal? What do we have in the pantry? Is the foods that I have are in season? Do you have foods from all healthy food groups (milk,
fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, fish, beans and fats ( the healthy ones)) as part of you meals for the day? Once you have answered these questions then create a food shopping list.
When you have decided what dish you would like to prepare it is important to see what substitutions you can make in order to create a healthy dish.
- Instead of frying, why not have broil, grill, boil, sautéed, steamed or baked
- Instead of white flour products, why not have whole grains such as buckwheat, flaxseed or oatmeal.
- Instead of whole milk, why not have almond, coconut or rice milk that is calcium and Vitamin D Fortified.
- Instead of Crisco, why not have olive oil, avocados, or flaxseed oil.
- Instead of cookies, why not have fresh in season fruits, raw cut up veggies, yogurt with low-fat granola or whole grain pretzels
- Instead of sodas, why not have water with cut up fruit for flavor and low-fat milk
Make sure you add non-starchy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, squash, zucchini to name a few) to your lunch and dinner meals in order for your family to get the fiber, vitamins and minerals that they need. Use fresh whole fruits as snacks and/or with meals. Do not over cook your food. If you do this you will lose a lot of the important nutrient that you will need from the foods you eat. Make sure you add your whole grains foods with your meals. Remember that smaller children to eat smaller portions. Do not give your child the same portion size of food that you eat. For further information about portion control check the website – www.choosemyplate.gov. Also, get other family members involved with the cooking and preparation of meals. Make this is a great teaching tool for your children!
Another thing that parents can do is start to get the family to eat at the table instead of in front of the television. Here are some further suggestions below:
- Set a regular family mealtime. Pick a time together.
- Enjoy more table time, less cooking time. Make quick, simple meals (even a sandwich, fruit and milk) to give more table time together.
- Turn off the TV. Turn on the phone answering machine. Focus mealtime on family talk.
- Keep table talk positive. Everyone gets to talk and to listen. Sitting around a table, not side-by-side at a the counter, helps. (Information quoted from the website: kidseatright.org)
All of these great ideas can assist you with cooking healthy meals for you family. If you want so quick and healthy recipes, please check out Kids Eat Right website: www.eatright.org/kids
Remember that in order to start Living Healthy you will need to start cooking healthy meals. So start planning your healthy meals for the week today!! Next week I will discuss about how to Eat Right!