Week Three recording HERE
Wow – week three already! Hopefully by now you have a pretty good grasp on what is considered healthy food and where you can purchase it. Once you’ve decided to go down the path of eating better, it can be a real challenge to get the rest of your family on board. Especially if they are used to eating less than healthy food! We’re going to cover a lot of ways to make it easier on you this week, but I want to suggest right up front to take it slow and easy. There is no point in creating an impossible situation for yourself. Focus on small, simple steps one at a time and celebrate your successes. If you can keep on the slow and steady path, eventually you’ll find yourself in a successful situation – and you’ll have gotten there without stressing yourself or your loved ones out!
That being said, here are my tried and true tips for creating healthy eaters:
Serve Your Meals in Parts – This is probably my favorite (and most frequently used) tip. Thanks to this tip, you’ll find yourself preparing one meal (versus several) most nights. Plus, it’s really not much additional work for you – which is a big win for a busy mom! So what do I mean by this? It’s pretty darn easy really. Just don’t combine your final dishes until the end of the meal. This is great for picky eaters who only like a portion of what you are serving, or kids who don’t like their food mixed. You can serve almost any meal in this fashion – it just takes a new mindset! A few examples: Pasta – probably the simplest: Take any pasta dish and simply serve the pasta separately for some diners (maybe with some butter and cheese). Serve the veggies and meat on the side. Rice dishes are just like pasta. Here is an example of how I serve my hubby and I’s favorite peanut Thai chicken dish: For us: For the kids: See, same food, I just pulled some of it out before combining for the “final” dish.
Make Your Own – even just a topping bar! This is another fun one for kids – they ENJOY putting their own meals together – and it’s amazing how much more willing they are to create new flavor combinations if they get to pick it themselves. Think baked potatoes, pizza, even spaghetti can be make your own – once you break out of the “normal” menu plans you’ll find the options are limitless here. Some of our favorites: Mexican Night Grilled Pizza Greek Inspired Oatmeal Topping Bar
Dipping Dinners – this one is my son’s favorite. All I have to do is tell him we are having a dipping dinner and he is ready to eat – what’s provided is truly unimportant. I’ll simply put a plate of veggies and meat on a plate, and provide a variety of dips – of course you can include ketchup, ranch dressing and mustard, but also consider bruschetta, guacamole, tapenade, etc. The sky’s the limit. This is a fantastic dinner to serve late in the week when you just have bits and pieces of veggies and meats left in the fridge. Fondue is a great choice here!
Aside from WHAT you serve, HOW you serve it can also go a long way towards encouraging healthier eaters.
1. Require everyone to TRY everything. They don’t have to like it, but they do have to try it.
2. Serve something you’d like them to eat over and over. Don’t give up. I think many parents assume if the child won’t eat something by the third time they never will. This is simply not true. I served spinach twenty times to my son before he decided he liked it – and now it’s one of his favorites. Try different combinations too – what finally worked with him was putting some sautéed spinach on my pizza. For my daughter to like kale, it took serving it with a delicious dressing – she loves this dressing so much that she’ll happily eat a whole plateful of kale IF it has this particular dressing on it.
3. Involve the family. Let THEM pick out a new food to try, or look through your cookbooks to decide upon a new recipe. If they are invested in the meal, they are much more likely to at least try it.
4. Make it fun. You’ll notice that the dipping dinner and the make your own are both “fun” dinners – it’s not a typical sit around the table and have mom serve you dinner – it’s fun, everyone is involved.
5. Find out what they like to eat and then “healthify” it. Just as you went step by step replacing foods when shopping do the same with dinners. A few examples: kids like fried rice? start by adding more veggies, then next time go half brown rice, finally all brown rice. Pizza a favorite? Start by making your own. Then change the crust to whole wheat. Then load up some extra veggies (let them add them to their section). You can take almost any recipe and make it healthier with a few small tweaks. This week you’ll have a little bit of fun making your families meals healthier. Get them involved in your homework – you’ll all benefit from it.
Assignment #1: Make a list of your families ten favorite meals. Then think about how you can make each one a little bit healthier. Write down the meals and the changes in your journal.
Example – How to make a recipe healthier: 1. Find a recipe. For this example I’m going to use the Parmesan Chicken recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook. It’s actually a pretty decent (health-wise) recipe, but we’ll bump it up a bit!
6 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 t. sea salt (Real Salt is my favorite brand)
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 extra-large organic, pasture-raised egg
1 cup dry bread crumbs (here you can really bump up the nutrition and cut down the cost – instead of buying pre-made bread crumbs, save the heels from your healthier bread – remember my 5 ingredient bread from the local bakery – give it a quick whirl in the food processor and store it in the freezer until needed)
1/3 cup freshly grated organic parmesan
extra virgin olive oil
3 cups massaged and chopped kale, 2 cups spinach, 1 cup romaine – all washed and spun dry
Lemon vinaigrette (see recipe below)
- Pound the chicken breasts until they are 1/4 inch thick.
- Combine the flour, salt, and pepper on a dinner plate. On a second plate, beat the egg with 1 T. water. On a third plate, combine the bread crumbs and parmesan. Coat the chicken with flour, then dredge in egg and finally in bread crumbs.
- Heat 1 T butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a large saute (or cast iron is even better) pan and cook chicken on medium low for 3-4 minutes on each side until cooked through. You’ll probably have to do this in two batches.
- Toss the greens with the vinaigrette. Place a mound of salad on each chicken breast (or beside it if you have picky eaters).
Vinaigrette – 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice; 1/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil; 1/2 t. sea salt; few turns of freshly cracked black pepper.
This recipe would also be great with chicken tenders (instead of frozen chicken nuggets for your kids), or even with pork tenderloin – yum! Got a super picky eater? Cut one of the chicken breasts into nugget size and serve that eater chicken nuggets with organic ketchup on the side while the rest of you enjoy the full meal. I’d also have to substitute ranch dressing for the vinaigrette for one of my eaters – still a pretty easy substitution.
See how simple that was? I didn’t change much, just pulled out anything processed (bread crumbs, salt and all-purpose flour) and replaced it with a healthier version. I also reduced the quantities of fats (butter and olive oil), and used a better version of the protein (organic chicken and eggs).
Assignment #2: Take those cookbooks you gathered at the beginning of the program and give one to each family member. Let everyone pick out one meal to try. Review the recipe and make it as healthy as you can. Write these meals down in your notebook too (make sure and write down the cookbook name and page number). Look at you – you just created a two-week menu plan!
Later this week, I’ll be sending you a copy of my menu planning e-course which will really delve into how to plan weekly menus – which is the BEST way to ensure you eat healthier without breaking the bank!