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Build a healthy eating style for your family

May 12, 2018

Build a healthy eating style for your family

By Angie Sutton, www.momsapronstrings.com


Every family is unique and finding a healthy eating solution that fits your family’s needs can be challenging. With hectic schedules, picky eaters and budgets, finding a good mix can be a work in progress. Using some basic guidelines and real-life tips, you can experiment to find what works well for you.


I encourage you to visit U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, www.choosemyplate.gov. March is National Nutrition Month® and the perfect time to get your family on track to form healthy eating habits. Create a chart and make it a challenge for the kids to map what you’re eating. Make it a point to eat one meal together around the table each day or at least five times each week. You are the best examples for your kids and grandkids.


Practical changes to the meals you commonly eat is an easy first step. Challenge yourself to try one new recipe every week. Don’t give up if you have one day that goes awry. The goal is to establish healthy eating style and build it throughout your lifetime. Here are a few tips to get you and your family started! Visit the ChooseMyPlate website for more tips, recipes and to personalize your family’s plan.


Meal Planning Made Easy

Planning ahead for healthy meals can help you stick to a healthy eating style instead of last minute fast-food drive-through stops.

  1. Map out your healthy meals – Outline meals you plan to eat for the week based on the MYPLATE guide for your family’s needs. Choose meals you can prepare easily on your busiest days. Be sure to include some family favorites along with a few new recipes. Stews, casseroles and stir-fries can satisfy your family and stretch ingredients.

  2. Find balance – Cover all five food groups and amounts throughout the day. Drink water, low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice with your meals.

  3. Vary protein foods – Vary your protein food choices throughout the week. Plan lean beef one day and then seafood, eggs and pork on another day.

  4. Make a grocery list game plan – Make a note of what you currently have on hand and what you need to buy for the week. You can easily become distracted at the grocery store by displays and deals on less healthy choices. Make a list organized by your usual store layout and stick to it.

  5. Plan for leftovers – Utilize leftovers for lunch the next day. Prepare extra of lean beef, chicken and pork and freeze for another meal.


Build a Healthy Meal:

Map out your meals for the week to support a healthy eating style. Include all the food groups throughout the day. The right mix of foods your meals and snacks can fuel your healthy lifestyle.

  1. Make half your plate vegetables and fruits. Choose a variety of vegetables that are red, orange and dark-green like tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli. Make it kid friendly with smoothie creations, veggie dippers, fruit kabobs and homemade trail mixes.

  2. Include whole grains. Your goal is to make at least half your grains whole grains. Whole grains provide more nutrients such as fiber. Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain products. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, and tortillas are examples. Daily recommendations vary from three ounces for a child to eight ounces for a teenage boy.

  3. Dairy is important. Dairy is the key to the calcium your body needs as well as other key nutrients. Add milk, cheese and yogurt to your list.

  4. Add lean protein. Recipes abound for protein foods including lean beef, pork, turkey and eggs. Try adding seafood a couple times each week. Most people, ages nine and older, should eat five to seven ounces of protein each day (1 ounce of meat, 1 egg, 1/4 cup beans, 1 tablespoon peanut butter or 1/2 ounce nuts.)

  5. Avoid extra fat. Skip the gravy on your meat and potatoes. Oils are not a food group but they do provide essential nutrients, however, only small amounts are recommended.

  6. Involve dessert. No need to give up dessert after the meal. Focus on naturally sweet dishes like a fresh fruit salad, yogurt parfait, baked apples with cinnamon or a small scoop of low-fat vanilla ice cream.


Salmon Couscous Plate

Making a salmon dish can be intimidating but many grocery stores have salmon in stock right now so give it a shot!


20 ounces skinless salmon fillets

2 Tbsp. butter

1 c. fresh broccoli florets

1 c. fresh carrots, sliced thin

1 c. fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 c. prepared couscous

6 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce


1. In a large skillet heat butter over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is golden; gently turn fillets. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook for 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Set aside and keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, fill a saucepan with one inch of water and bring to a boil. Place carrots and broccoli in a steamer basket and drop into the pan and cover. Steam for 8 minutes or until crisp-tender.

3. In the large skillet lightly coated with cooking spray, saute mushrooms and garlic over medium heat for two minutes. Add broccoli and carrots and saute for 2 minutes more.

3. Gently stir in salmon and couscous and heat through.


Simple Salmon and Spicy Snow Peas for Two

The ingredients and steps in these recipes are simple and quick to the table for a meal-for-two to enjoy. Add a rice pilaf on the side and finish off the meal with a fresh fruit salad.



2 salmon fillets (4-to-5 oz. each)

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced

1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice


1. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. On a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, place fillets skin side down. In a small bowl, melt butter and then stir in basil and lemon juice. Spoon 2 teaspoons on each fillet, reserve remainder, and seal foil tightly.

2. Grill over medium heat for 10-to-12 minutes. Fish will flake easily with a fork when done. Remove from heat and pour remaining butter mixture over salmon.

Apron Strings Tip: I’ve also made the salmon in a skillet but remove the skin first. In a large skillet heat 1 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is golden; gently turn fillets and add the butter, basil, lemon juice mixture. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook for 6 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.)

Spicy Snow Peas:


1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp. butter

1 1/2 c. snow peas (fresh or frozen, thawed)

2 Tbsp. fresh basil, minced

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes


1. In a small skillet, melt butter and saute onion and garlic for two minutes or until crisp-tender. Toss in snow peas, basil and red pepper flakes. Cook, tossing often, for three additional minutes.

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