Four Steps To Healthy Family Meals

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Pumpkin Pie Muffins

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Family Features Photo

South of the Border Fritatta

With busy family schedules and limited time, it seems harder than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But according to a new book, there are ways to help your family develop the healthy habits they need — even when you don’t have much time.

“Weight Watchers Eat! Move! Play! A Parent’s Guide for Raising Healthy, Happy Kids,” (Wiley Publishing, March 2010), is designed to help the whole family develop a positive relationship with their own bodies, a taste for wholesome, nutritious foods, and a love of physical movement. In addition to over 75 kid-friendly recipes, the book offers plenty of practical advice based on research and expert opinions.

According to the authors, these four meal planning steps can help you and your family develop healthier eating habits that can last a lifetime.

Step 1: Establish a regular schedule for eating. Plan on having three meals each day, and one or two snacks, depending on the age of your children. If you can set approximate times for regular meals, that’s great, but be flexible so you can adjust to other activities that come up.

Step 2: Stick with the nutrition basics: whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and lean meats. Think about how to conceptualize a healthy plate. Divide a lunch or dinner plate into thirds: one-third should contain lean protein, one-third might have a nonstarchy vegetable, and the last third can contain either a whole-grain food, a starchy veggie or fruit.

Step 3: Become a savvy shopper. Don’t shop when you or your kids are hungry. Make a list of items you need and stick to it. Spend the most time along the perimeter of the store where you’ll find the major food groups.

Step 4: Stock the fridge, pantry and cabinets with mostly healthy staples and snacks, and limit the junk foods you keep on hand.

Kick-start your family’s day — and their healthy eating habits — with this delicious pumpkin muffin recipe.

Pumpkin Pie Muffins

Preparation time: 15 minutes; baking time: 20 minutes; makes 12 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

1-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt (half)

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (half)

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (half)

1/2 cup raisins (half)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup water

2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.

Sift flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves into a large bowl.

Stir in raisins. Beat eggs, pumpkin puree, oil and water together in another bowl. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and stir until just blended.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Bake until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes; remove muffins from pan and serve warm, or cool completely on rack.

For more about the book, visit wiley.com.

Big flavor on a budget

Stretching food dollars to put healthy, delicious food on the table can be tricky. Registered dietician, nutritionist and author Elizabeth Somer has created these tips and budget-friendly recipes to help you add a healthy spin and big flavor to your meals without taking a big toll on your budget.

• Compare unit price. Often buying in bulk or larger sizes is more economical, but not always.

• Plan your meals in advance and keep a copy on the fridge and with you when you head to the grocery store so you’re not trying to figure out what’s for dinner while you shop.

• Make one evening a week the “no-cook night” where the entire family can join in to make wraps, pinwheels or another cold favorite.

• Take an inventory of what you have on hand. Keeping track of staples will keep you from buying food you don’t need.

• Check the circulars. Seeing what’s on sale will help you see what to stock up on and help with meal planning.

These valued-focused recipes, created to serve five for around $10 or less, are easy to make and use simple ingredients for quick and satisfying family meals.

South of the Border Frittata

Serves: 5

8 large eggs

1/3 cup low fat milk

3 small Mission flour tortillas, chopped into 1-inch squares

1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

5 brown and serve low-fat fully cooked sausage links (50% less fat), diced

2 cups potato (1 medium), peeled and diced

1 cup sweet onion (1 medium), diced

1/2 cup green or red pepper, diced (half)

1/2 cup Mission salsa (half)

1 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, chopped tortilla squares and chipotle pepper. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat oil in 12-inch heavy, oven-safe, non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add diced sausage, potatoes, onions and peppers. Sauté mixture until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spray skillet with vegetable cooking spray. Pour egg mixture into skillet; stir to cover potatoes, vegetables and sausage. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until the frittata is set (the eggs should be just firm and starting to puff up), 10 to 15 minutes. Remove skillet from oven, spread salsa evenly on top, and then sprinkle with cheese. Preheat broiler, return frittata to the top rack, about 6 inches from the heat, and cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

Allow frittata to sit for about 3 to 5 minutes to firm up. Run a spatula along sides and bottom to loosen. Slide to a cutting board or large flat plate. Cut into 8 wedges, sprinkle with sliced green onions. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Total cost: $8.73; cost per serving: $1.75

Visit missionmenus.com to get additional recipes and tips.

Source: Mission Foods

From Family Features

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