August is Family Meals Month
This August, take time to eat meals as a family. Spending time eating around the kitchen table gives your family time to discuss the day's events, share fun stories, and rewind after a hectic day. Cooking meals at home does not have to be time-consuming and stressful. The USDA shares some tips to make your weekday meals run smoothly in their newsletter "Family Meals - FAST, Healthful!"
Here are a few of those tips to get you started:
- Save time by shopping for partially prepared foods-chopped chicken, pre-washed veggies, and grated cheese, to name a few.
- Make no-cook meals, such as salads and cold sandwiches. This is especially helpful during hot summer months!
- Use your family as kitchen helpers. Setting the table, pouring the drinks, and chopping veggies, can all be done while you are doing the cooking.
Top 10 Tips for Making Take-Out Healthier
With today’s busy lifestyles, there is not always time to cook for your family. If you are having take-out night, consider the following tips to cut the calories and fat and make a healthier meal.
- Chicken Night: Choose grilled chicken or chicken salad instead of a fried chicken sandwich. If you’re going for fast food, skip the order of fries and order low-fat or fat-free milk (instead of soda) for the kids.
- Mexican Foods: Get vegetarian refried or plain black beans. Opt for soft tortillas (such as a burrito) instead of fried taco shells. Replace the cheese or sour cream with salsa or guacamole.
- Pizza: Opt for a thin crust and double the vegetables instead of doubling the cheese. Before you eat, grab a few paper napkins and blot the excess oil off your pizza. This saves you a few grams of fat right off the bat.
- Indian Foods: Order the yogurt-based salads, tandoori chicken and fish, lentil or dal dishes. Go for the pappadams instead of thick naan bread. Watch out for food cooked in coconut milk, cream or ghee (which is clarified butter) and try to stay away from the fried Samosas and thick creamy Korma dishes.
- Italian Foods: Try to avoid creamy sauces and pesto on pasta that can add a lot of fat and calories. Instead, try a marinara sauce, pasta primavera or a clam sauce. Consider sharing a pasta entrée and a salad with someone else.
- Chinese Foods: Ask for wonton or sweet-and-sour soup. Order steamed rice, boiled, steamed, broiled or lightly stir-fried dishes. Pile on the vegetables such as broccoli and bok choy. Try to avoid deep fried dishes, fried rice, egg dishes and salty sauces.
- Deli Foods: Cut the fat on sandwiches by omitting bacon, mayonnaise, cheese and special sauces. Ask for mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles instead. Try out lean meats (such as turkey breast) on your sandwiches and go for the wheat roll.
- Japanese Foods: Opt for miso soup and steamed vegetables such as edamame and omega-3- containing fish, such as salmon. Avoid anything “tempura” which indicates “fried.” Sneak in some avocado in your rolls, they add richness and contain unsaturated fats.
- Burger Night: Opt for the regular or kid-size portion. Load on the lettuce and tomato and try to skip the cheese. Try a side salad instead of fries or onion rings. Go for a low-fat milkshake instead of a soda for an extra calcium boost.
- On-the-Go Breakfasts: Opt for a whole-wheat high-fiber muffin, bagel or toast (and be size wise about the portion). Go for the low-fat yogurt or fruit instead of the home fries. Replace the bacon or sausage with ham. Watch out for sugar-loaded fruit juices.