Parents and adult figures are in a unique position to educate children about a healthy lifestyle. This includes modeling what a nutritious diet entails, which may be as simple as swapping fried chicken with grilled at the dinner table.
Enjoying regular family meals also helps kids make healthier choices in the now. It can likewise lead to numerous other benefits for years to come.
Discover the importance of family dinner and how to prepare healthy dinner recipes sure to please the entire family!
Why Eating Dinner Together Is Important
Though dinner is as important as any other meal, sitting down together to a healthy meal with family is often overlooked.
After-school activities, late workdays, and long commutes greatly impact a family's ability to come together for dinner. Yet, numerous studies show they are extremely beneficial. The American College of Pediatricians recognizes some of the benefits of the family dinner table include:
• Spending time and making memories with family memories
• Enhancing problem-solving skills
• Improving academics
• Producing healthier eating patterns.
When younger kids frequently eat family dinners, they are less likely to be overweight as well. This is extremely valuable considering today’s childhood obesity rates and the health concerns that come with them.
Fortunately, one can effectively organize family dinners using these tips:
• Set a goal to eat meals together more often, such as aiming for family meals 4 times each week.
• Keep dinners simple to help alleviate any stress that may emerge during busy school and work weeks.
• Have some or all ingredients prepared to ease the process following a long day.
• Get all family members involved and cook healthy dinner recipes together, including the tasty ideas provided below!
• Have the kids assist in setting the table and washing the dishes.
• Cut out television, cellphones, and other technology during dinnertime. Truly, family dinners should be about nurturing and connecting with one another as a family.
• Make it truly enjoyable by creating a peaceful, nonjudgmental environment.
• Use ongoing ideas and advice from The Family Dinner Project.
Healthy Dinner Recipes for Your Family
Rather than overcomplicating family dinners, give these healthy family dinner recipes a try!
1. Beef Stir Fry Recipe With Avocado Salad
This beef stir fry recipe is not only simple to make but sure to satisfy the entire family. It is paired with one of the best avocado salad recipes to offer a depth of freshness and extra nutrients.
• 12 ounces beef tenderloin, cut into thin strips
• 2 Tbsp lime juice, divided
• 1 Tbsp chili powder, divided
• 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
• 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
• 1 small poblano, thinly sliced (optional for extra heat)
• 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 avocado, diced
• ¼ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
• 1/8 cup cilantro, chopped
1. In a bowl, combine beef tenderloin with half of the lime juice and chili powder. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet and add sweet onion, red bell pepper, and poblano slices. Sauté for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the beef to the vegetable mixture and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. In another bowl, combine black beans, diced avocado, Cotija cheese crumbles, cilantro, and remaining lime juice and chili powder.
5. Garnish beef and vegetables with any remaining cilantro. Serve aside the avocado salad. Also feel free to serve with steamed broccoli, warm tortillas, quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, etc.
2. Chicken BLT Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
This chicken BLT salad recipe boasts with added protein and nutrients for a truly filling dinner. And not to mention, preparing the buttermilk dressing homemade avoids unnecessary and unwanted ingredients often found in most commercial dressings.
• 4, 1-inch-thick slices of ciabatta bread
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves
• 4 cups tightly packed, chopped romaine lettuce
• 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
• 2 cups grilled chicken breast, skinless and roughly torn
• ¼ cup dried cranberries
• 4 slices lean turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
Ingredients for the buttermilk dressing:
• 1/3 cup buttermilk, well-shaken
• 2 Tbsp light mayonnaise
• 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
• 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
• ¼ tsp of minced garlic
• ¼ tsp of salt
• 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush ciabatta bread with olive oil and grill until just toasted, about two minutes per side.
2. Lightly rub garlic clove halves over the surface of each slice. Let the bread cool then cut into 1-inch cubes.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients for buttermilk dressing until smooth.
4. To the buttermilk dressing bowl, add ciabatta bread cubes, lettuce, tomatoes, chicken, cranberries, and half the bacon crumbles. Toss well.
5. Transfer chicken salad to plates then top each serving with some of the remaining bacon for a delicious, nutrient-rich meal.
3. Protein-Packed Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is one kid-friendly food, though it can fall short of nutrients such as protein and fiber. Rev up the overall protein and nutrient content of that childhood favorite with a few tips and tricks!
• 1, 8-ounce box chickpea pasta
• 1 cup low-fat milk
• ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
• 1 ½ cups reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
• ¼ cup parmesan cheese
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta, return to a boil, and cook until al dente or about 10 minutes. Drain.
2. In the same pot, warm the milk, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Slowly mix in the cheeses, combining until melted and incorporated.
3. Add drained pasta to the cheese mixture and gently stir until noodles are coated.
• Feel free to add veggies to the mac and cheese, including steamed broccoli or baby spinach.
• Bulk with chicken, tuna, and other protein sources as desired.
• Elevate flavor with favorite spices such as garlic and onion powders.