Family Dinner Fallbacks

Black Bean Pizza.

The physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals are substantial and in an ideal scenario they would take priority in our family calendars over other activities. However, with conflicting schedules it can be challenging to fit in family meal time. For busy nights, home cooks need family dinner fallback meals that are guaranteed to please and require minimal time and effort. Keeping some basic ingredients on hand will help you whip up a simple, but nutritious meal and avoid the drive thru, takeout or eating at restaurants. This is a win for your family’s health and budget. For this month’s Nutritious Nudge, let’s discuss some fallback recipes that you can call on to consistently and quickly get dinner on the table. 

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Get Ahead of Midday Meltdowns

Two kids snacking on fruit

Whether you’re feeding a toddler, a school-age kid who isn’t going back to in-person instruction yet, or yourself as you work from home, lunchtime can be sticky. Literally, perhaps, in the case of the kids. Even for adults, getting a regular midday meal during a disrupted routine can be harder than it seems. A small amount of structure and intention, however, can help you defeat the hunger grumps before they derail your day.

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Local Fruits & Vegetables

Blueberries and other berries at a farmers market

It’s summertime and locavore living is easy. Just like in years past, an abundance of locally grown and produced food can be found at Farmer’s Markets, food co-ops, or through membership in a CSA. What’s new is that traditional supermarkets are sourcing an increasing amount of local fruits and vegetables and proudly installing farm stands in their produce departments. This appeals to shoppers who want to shop local, but value convenience most. Shoppers, farmers, and supermarkets all benefit from this budding relationship.  

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Fun Ways to Get Kids into the Kitchen

Dad and son cooking together

Cooking with kids is an effective way to encourage lifelong healthy eating habits. When kids help prepare nutritious foods, they are more likely to taste and eat them. Learning how to cook safely also builds their confidence. Cooking is a source of pride for children when they can do it for themselves, their family or friends. Through cooking with kids, we can teach them many lessons and have a lot of fun along the way. Here are some ways to get kids into the kitchen this summer.

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Nutritional Gatekeepers

Roasted Gnocchi & Vegetables

With Mother’s Day approaching, we want to celebrate all moms and recognize their hard but incredibly rewarding work in raising children. For this month’s Nutritious Nudge, let’s focus on moms and the role they often play as “nutritional gatekeeper.” This term refers to the person that purchases and prepares most of the food in a household. Thus, they control most of what their family eats. Right now, these gatekeepers are also navigating challenging and sometimes high-risk food-shopping situations, facing shortages of foods they may be used to leaning on, and in many cases, having to make creative adjustments while both working from home and caring for children without access to daycare or schools or even grandparents.

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Choose Dark Chocolate

Cherry Chunk Overnight Oats

Choose 70% dark chocolate or higher to get the most flavanols. I will caution that chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa solids are more bitter and less sweet. You can add sweetness to your snack or treat with natural sugars from fresh or dried fruit. Add nuts to your chocolate and fruit for a satisfying crunch and a source of healthy fat and protein.

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Mix in Whole Grains

Herbed Chicken Nuggets

It’s January, which means it is New Year’s resolution season. You probably have heard coworkers, friends, and family talk about which foods they are cutting out of their diet in order to get back on track after the holiday season. I want to give a gentle nudge during this time of increased attention on what and how we choose to eat: let’s try to focus on eating more nutritious foods rather than trying to stop eating foods or entire good groups altogether, like grains. It may sound better to phrase a goal as trying to eat more of something rather than eat less, but I promise it’s not just semantics. Smaller, incremental change is more feasible and supports long-term success. 

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