Healthy Meals for the Busy Family
Try these healthy recipes for your family.
When you cook and eat your meals at home, you’re in control. And family meals may promote healthy eating, communication skills and emotional health. Children can benefit as well by given simple tasks to help with meal preparation and cleanup, which also promotes lifelong healthy eating habits.
Balsamic-Glazed Roasted Root Vegetables
Slow cooking releases the sweet undertones in root vegetables. Cooking vegetables in batches will give you enough to enjoy for multiple meals during the week.
Portion: 1/2 cup
Yields: 10 Servings
- 10 ounce carrots, diced
- 10 ounce parsnips, cubed about 1"
- 6 ounce fennel, chopped
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 tsp black ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
- 6 ounce red beets,
- 5 ounce red onion
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- Pre-heat oven to 400F degrees.
- Cut beets and onions into ¼-inch wedges.
- Place carrots, parsnips, fennel, beets and red onion into a bowl and toss with olive oil and salt.
- Place vegetables on a sheet pan and roast for about 25-30 minutes, stirring to ensure even cooking.
- Remove sheet pan from oven, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, toss to mix and return to oven for 10 more minutes until vegetables are tender.
- Remove from oven and toss with freshly ground black pepper and fresh chopped parsley.
Vegetable-Filled Taco Bowl
Portion: 1 bowl
Yields: 4 servings
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 cups cauliflower, finely chopped into “rice”. (It can be bought pre-chopped in most stores.) If you want to add more flavor, add different spices like cumin, cayenne, and paprika.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed if canned
- 1 avocado, divided into quarters, then chopped
- 2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 cup shredded low-fat Mexican blend cheese (Diet tip: try an almond or cashew milk-based cheese to decrease saturated fat and calories.)
- 1 cup salsa
- Heat large skillet with the olive oil on medium heat and add the garlic.
- Once the garlic begins to brown, add the cauliflower rice. Stir occasionally until cooked through. Cauliflower will become less white and slightly browned. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- While cauliflower rice is cooking, heat the black beans on low heat until warm.
- Once all is ready, assemble the bowls. Into each bowl, add 1 cup cauliflower rice, ½ cup black beans, ¼ cup shredded cheese, ½ cup chopped lettuce, ¼ cup salsa and ¼ of avocado.
Calories per serving: 366
Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms and Tomatoes
An alternative to pasta, spaghetti squash is a great side dish. Add cooked chicken or shrimp for a main dish.
Portion: 1 cup
Yield: Serves 8
- 2 pounds spaghetti squash, fresh (2 lb. raw = 24 oz. cooked)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces fresh, sliced crimini mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions: Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place cut side down onto roasting pan and roast at 350°F degrees until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and gently break up strands. Set aside.
Heat oil in a pan and sauté mushrooms. Add garlic and sauté lightly. Add halved tomatoes and cooked spaghetti squash. Add chopped basil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss gently to combine and heat through. May be served hot or at room temperature.
Make the chili on the weekend and eat it during your busy week. This dish includes protein, healthy carbohydrates and vegetables to make it a complete meal!
Portion: 1 cup
Yield: Serves 8
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups water, divided
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add 3 cups water and next 8 ingredients (sugar through cannellini beans), stirring to combine.
Combine remaining cup of water and tomato paste in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended. Stir tomato paste mixture into bean mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Ladle chili into bowls. Top with cheese, if desired.
- Chili made ahead of time can be frozen for an easy reheat when needed.
- This recipe is vegetarian, but you can add ground chicken or turkey as options.
Vegetable Two-Bean Chili
- 1 green bell pepper, finely diced,
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, diced, 1/4"
- 15.5 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 15.5 ounce can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 serrano pepper, minced (add the seeds for more heat)
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes, no salt added
- 3/8 cup bulgur wheat (optional)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Preparation time = 10 minutes Cook time = 20 minutes
In a large pot over high heat, add canola oil; swirl pan to coat. Add the onions, garlic and red and green peppers. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the onions become translucent. Add the beans, tomatoes, serrano pepper, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer.
Optional: In a separate pot, add water and bulgur to pan. Bring to a boil. Cover; simmer 7-10 minutes or until water is absorbed. Once cooked, add the bulgur to the chili. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Divide equally into four serving bowls. Top with 1 tablespoon of shredded cheddar and cilantro. Serve immediately.
Calories 458, Fat 12g, Saturated Fat 3g, Carbohydrate 69g, Protein 24g, Fiber 21g, Sodium 729mg
Simple Chicken Quesadillas
Quesadillas are easy to prepare and can be an exciting and healthy dinner. The spices add flavor and the chicken adds protein.
Portion: 2 wedges with 1 tablespoon sour cream
Yield: Serves 4
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
- 1 small orange bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
- Cooking spray
- 3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
- 4 (6-inch) flour tortillas
- 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
For Chicken and Vegetables: Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Combine paprika, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Rub paprika mixture evenly over chicken; let stand 10 minutes.
Arrange chicken, onion and bell pepper on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Cook vegetables 4 minutes on each side or until tender. Cook chicken 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken and vegetables from grill; coarsely chop vegetables. Let chicken stand 5 minutes; thinly slice chicken.
For the Quesadillas: Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons cheese over half of each tortilla; divide vegetables and chicken evenly over cheese. Fold each tortilla in half over the filling; lightly coat tortillas with cooking spray.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 quesadillas in pan; cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until cheese melts and tortillas are lightly browned. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 2 wedges; serve with sour cream.
- Prepare the chicken and vegetables ahead of time, so when you are ready to eat, the quesadillas only need to be assembled heated.
- This recipes uses peppers and onions, but use any of your favorite vegetables.
- Baking the chicken ahead of time or using a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken is another way to save time.
- If you are short on time or don’t have all of the spices, simply use pepper and a little salt.
Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas
- 1 banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter
- 1 slice of whole wheat toast with almond butter and fresh strawberries
- 1 whole wheat English muffin “sandwich” with 2 egg whites and spinach
- A low-sugar granola bar and an apple
- A small cup of yogurt with fresh fruit and ¼ cup granola