Day 3 of 7 Days of Healthy Meal Planning for Children by Dr. Robin Russell
Dinner: Dinner is usually the one meal that the entire family gets to sit down and eat together. This is the meal that you get to talk to your children about how their day was. This is also the meal that many moms dread as they get home from a long day at work or get through a long day at home with the kids and they now... have to spend the next 1-2 hours preparing dinner. I have learned over the years to reserve the complicated recipes for the weekend and prepare the simpler recipes during the work week. This allows me the time to spend helping my daughter with her homework and keeping my son engaged in an activity while I tend to cooking dinner for the evening until my husband gets home.
When reviewing dinners with parents in the office, I have found families to do a pretty good job with this meal as far as nutrition is concerned. This may be an area where I do not make too many suggestions for my patients. Occasionally I will see families routinely eating a pretty carbohydrate heavy dinner (macaroni and cheese, pasta with marinara, French toast, pancakes, chicken nuggets, pizza, cheese quesadillas) and this is where I usually counsel families on making a change from a carbohydrate and dairy heavy dinner to a protein, vegetable and whole grain rich one. Heavy carbohydrate meals are fine once in a while as a treat but not every night. As far as carbohydrates are concerned, whole grains (whole wheat, steel-cut oats, barley, brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth, sprouted grains) are superior to refined grains because whole grains still retain some of the nutrients where as the refined grains (white flour, white rice, white bread, pasta) have been stripped clean of most of their nutrition. The following are some protein rich, vegetable and whole grain dinner ideas that you may consider cooking for your family.
Wild Caught Baked salmon with white wine, capers, onion and olive oil or butter and sautéed asparagus and brown rice
Turkey meatballs in tomato sauce with whole grain pasta and salad (create a salad bar in your kitchen and let kids pick the ingredients to make their own salad this gives them independence yet they still get fresh, raw vegetables)
Grilled chicken breasts (Dad’s night) marinated in Annie’s Goddess Dressing (so good!) with some extra to dip on their plate and steamed green beans (add sautéed garlic in olive oil, fresh lemon juice and Dijon mustard for flavor) and quinoa
Boneless, thin cut pork chops sautéed in olive oil with a little sea salt, pepper and paprika with mashed sautéed cauliflower (works great as a potato replacement) and applesauce
Meatloaf (any ground meat will do) with sweet potatoes and fresh sautéed spinach, kale or swiss chard in olive oil, sea salt and fresh garlic
Chicken and white bean chili with “salad bar” of chili toppings the kids get to put on (cheese, avocado chunks, olive slices, sour cream or guacamole, cilantro, etc.)
Black bean veggie burgers with fixins on the side once again the kids get to choose their toppings (lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, organic ketchup, mustard, guacamole, etc.) and corn on the cob
CROCK POT RECIPES (This has been a huge time saver for me AND it’s so gratifying knowing on my way home from work dinner is made!! Crock pot dinners can be partially prepped the night before for morning time saver. Salad is an easy healthy side to do with these recipes.
Chicken tortilla soup with toppings on the side (avocado chunks, cheese, etc.)
Lentil soup (lentils, carrots, celery, onions, fresh spinach, etc.)
Sausage, peppers and onions (I add a small amount of olive oil and chicken broth for liquid)
Stuffed cabbages (ground meat and brown rice rolled in steamed cabbage leaves covered in tomato soup)
Minestrone (vegetables, broth, white beans)
Stuffed peppers (ground meat/tofu, brown rice, taco seasoning, onions and celery covered in tomato soup)
Dinner Beverage Ideas:
Milk OR Alternative Milks (Hemp, Oat, Coconut, Almond, Rice, Soy)
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Dessert blog with Dr. Robin Russell