Your plan of attack for healthier eating
Putting healthy meals on the table requires more forethought than good intentions
Working, keeping up with your children and managing your home is a constant balancing act.
Unfortunately, it’s possible to drop the spinning plate when it comes keeping your children well nourished.
Given everything you have to do, you may opt for higher-calorie takeout meals rather than grocery shopping and cooking wholesome dishes from scratch. That’s the conclusion of a new report from a Cornell University health economist.
However, you can serve healthful snacks and meals without making your life more frenzied if you’re organized and you make good nutrition a priority.
Having a plan is essential.
“If you don’t plan ahead, it’s not going to happen because of the time crunch,” says Brooke Schantz, registered dietitian, Loyola University Health System, Maywood, Ill.
Resolve is also important, especially when it seems easier to pick up a bucket of fried chicken than fix dinner.
“You have to make the commitment to good health for yourself and your family,” says David A. Levitsky, professor of nutrition and psychology at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
Your time- and energy-saving strategies start with grocery shopping.
Stock your kitchen with frozen microwavable vegetables, canned vegetables without salt, extra chicken breasts for the freezer and fast-cooking whole grains, such as precooked packaged brown rice, to keep in the cupboard.
Cook in advance and in large amounts.
You’ll have the satisfaction knowing dinner is in the refrigerator or freezer.
Levitsky and his wife, who also works at Cornell, do much of their meal preparation on weekends.
“We can cook on the weekend and have more than enough meals for the week,
says the Cornell professor (who was not connected with the report on working mothers).
Create a repertoire of quick, easy recipes for when you’re short on time, says Schantz, Loyola’s outpatient dietitian.
You may think your only option is to go to the drive through, but you can actually save time having a meal at home, says the dietitian.
For Levitsky, fast means a stir-fry dinner.
“I’m a big advocate of stir-frying. It takes me about 30 minutes,” he says.
Even a jar of pasta sauce over spaghetti can be a shortcut to nutrition when you’re short on time.
“I start with a commercial sauce and add vegetables. It’s a way to get vegetables into my kids,” Levitsky says.
Meals don’t have to be fancy to be nourishing and enjoyable.
The following kale and sausage soup uses ingredients you can keep on hand. It takes about an hour to fix and makes eight servings, enough for additional meals. It’s hearty, filling and tastes even better if made a day ahead.
Kale and Sausage Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 (12-ounce) package chicken Italian sausage links, sliced ¼-inch thick
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 pound small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
3 cups frozen chopped kale (about half a ½ 16-ounce bag)
1 (14.5ounce) can no-salt added diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon pepper
Heat oil in large pot. Add onion and carrot. Saute over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Add sausage and brown for 1 minute. Add broth and scrape up browned bits in pot. Add potatoes, kale, tomatoes, chile powder, salt, cumin and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 45 minutes or until potatoes and carrot are tender.
Makes 8 servings (about 11/3 cups each). Leftovers can be frozen.
Each serving has: 150 calories; 5 grams total fat; 12 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 35.5 milligrams cholesterol; 535 milligrams sodium and 2 grams dietary fiber.
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