I attended a great presentation at my childrens' school last night. It was part of the school's "Food 4 Thought" series which aims to educate middle- and high-school aged children and their parents about nutrition and body image.
Did you know the average family meal lasts barely 20 minutes, but few other settings in family life have such potential to influence children’s behavior and development? Sharing a meal regularly, research suggests, can boost children’s health and well-being, reducing the likelihood that they’ll become obese or use drugs, and increase the chances that they’ll do well in school.
Last night's presenter, licensed dietitian Jody Fleshman, spoke about the importance of the family meal time as well as the importance of nourishing foods. She demonstrated how quick and easy putting together a family meal can be... you don't even need to cook! I walked away with some great new ideas for helping my family eat more healthfully.
Some of Fleshman's ideas for quick, healthy dinners include:
- a big salad: get out greens, a variety of vegetables, nuts, shredded cheese and a cooked protein (hard-boiled eggs, chicken strips, etc.) and let everyone make their own
- uncooked quesadillas: same as above; place all the fixin's (whole wheat tortillas, black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, low-fat sour cream) on the table and let each family member make his or her own
- turkey roll up with turkey, cheese, light mayo and a side of grapes
- baked potato topped with vegetables, cheese or chili
- tuna fish with light mayo on crackers or wheat bread
- English muffin pizza
- scrambled eggs in a wheat tortilla with cheese and salsa, served with melon
I was so motivated that I made an "oatmeal bar" for the kids for breakfast this morning: I cooked oatmeal and let them help themselves to a variety of toppings, including berries, brown sugar, granola, ground flaxseed, soy milk and milk. TS ate breakfast for the first time in days! DD's eyes went wide when she found out she could have as many of the toppings as she wanted. Then she surprised us all by sprinkling flaxseed on her oatmeal!
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