Q: I'd like to get the New Year off to a healthy start. What are some nutritious meals that my whole family will enjoy?
A: The key to getting your family to eat healthy is eating nutritious meals you cook at home and sharing time sitting down at the dinner table -- together. This means that you serve everyone the same meal, no phones, no TV, just family time.
Create a new weekend tradition and let the kids pick one or two meals to have during a weeknight. If you can get your kids to cook with you, all the better, even if they contribute in a small way. Kids eat what they cook -- I’ve seen it many times!
What if your kids are picky and only like certain foods? When I used to work as a private chef for families in New York City with two or more kids, I would hear this all the time. Sure, it takes a while for pickier kids to warm to new foods, but you can also serve what they love, cooked the healthy way. Foods like burgers and fries, nuggets, pizza, and tacos can all be very nutritionally sound if you use good-quality ingredients. Kids also love soups like chicken noodle or a vegetarian chili; simple salads like a crispy Romaine salad with cherry tomatoes or a salad with carrot ginger dressing; and casseroles like a broccoli and noodle casserole.
When planning your meals, be sure to include lots of nutrient-dense superfoods that contain three to four times the nutrition of other foods. Focus on items like beans and greens like collards, kale and spinach; cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts; root veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, and yams; and a wide range of whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, or millet.
Once you’ve decided on the main course, add one healthy, “grown-up” side dish to expose your kids to veggies they have never tried. Eating lots of veggies at the family dinner table yourself is the best way to ingrain healthy eating habits in your kids and take care of your body at the same time.
Jennifer Iserloh, aka the “Skinny Chef”, is a leader in promoting healthy, vibrant lifestyles though a diet of delicious and nutritious easy-to-prepare meals. A classically trained chef, certified yoga teacher and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Iserloh is the best-selling author of 50 Shades of Kale and Healthy Cheats, among other books.