With the busy lives we all lead, most of us have little time left to cook a healthy and nutritious meal for the whole family. After a long days work, we go home tired and hungry and the last thing we want to be doing is to spend hours in the kitchen. Luckily, you don’t have to! With these easy options you won’t have to slave away behind a hot stove after work to make your family that nutritious meal they deserve.
Presentation is Everything
Man does not live by pizza and burgers alone and neither should your family. So take the time to study how you want your meal presentations to look. There are several factors that make food more appealing. These include:
. Color arrangement of plating
. Irresistible aroma
. Portion sizes
. Most appealing flavors
Easy and Nutritious Meals
Variety is the spice of life as the saying goes. Variety in menu planning goes a long way to keeping the whole family’s interest at the table whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or even an outside patio picnic.
Start by creating menus and shopping for the freshest, highest quality ingredients. It is possible to purchase fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables that maintain freshness and keep well for a day or more in the refrigerator. These include:
. Leafy greens
Shopping for these items daily is the ideal for easy and nutritious meals. If shopping on a daily basis is not feasible, consider items that store and remain fresh longest.
Quick, Nutritious Do Ahead Breakfast Muffins
For grab and go mornings, there is nothing more delicious than do ahead muffins. These can be prepared up to two days and stored in freezer or refrigerator.
You can use prepared whole wheat biscuits from the refrigerated section of your grocery.
- Place the dough in muffin cups.
- In a separate bowl, beat six eggs until smooth. Add in a half cup of finely chopped scallions, a quarter cup shredded cheese (your family’s favorite kind) and one quarter cup Canadian bacon minced.
- Add to beaten eggs.
- Pour into dough lined muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees about 12 to 15 minutes depending on the oven.
- Test with a cake tester. The centers should be firm.
Lunches should be light enough to allow for optimal work productivity without causing mid afternoon sleepiness.
Salads are always a good choice. Instead of the same old leafy greens and tomatoes, why not make salads more artistic?
- For do ahead ingredients, choose Portabello mushroom caps. Portabellos are powerfully nutritious and full of flavor.
- Saute caps and stems in a light butter, lemon juice and pepper broth until they soften. (Reserve the broth to make a light dressing.)
- Store in the refrigerator.
- The next day, mince the stems and add to a small bowl with a half cup of chopped cilantro, a clove of finely minced garlic, one hard boiled egg chopped, a half cup of bread crumbs, one quarter cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese and enough milk to hold the ingredients together.
- Spoon atop mushroom caps set on a bed of shredded kale or radicchio.
- Add a tablespoon of virgin olive oil to reserved lemon broth and a scant dash of balsamic vinegar.
- Pour over mushroom caps and kale or radiccio. This an be heated slightly in the microwave if preferred.
Nutritious Dinners the Family Will Love
When it comes to making dinners that are easy and nutritious the focus should be on the factors that make food appealing.
Choose two vegetables of different colors that can be steamed in less than five minutes so they have a bit of crunch.
White, brown or wild rice can be prepared ahead and stored in the freezer for side dishes. If potatoes are a favorite, these can also be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a variety of uses in layered casseroles like Shepard’s Pie.
Casseroles take less time to make and store well in the freezer. Make these meals more nutritious by substituting different ingredients. For example, eggplant peeled and thinly sliced long-wise is ideal for an Italian style casserole. Here’s how to make one:
- Brush the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil.
- Place a layer of eggplant on the bottom.
- Top eggplant with thinly sliced tomatoes and fresh basil. Eggplant has exceptional nutritional value and stores well.
- Add thinly sliced cooked chicken and sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese.
- Alternate layers until the baking dish is three quarters full.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.
In addition to casseroles for dinners, thick and hearty soups like vegetable, corn chowder and fish and shellfish soups can made in a slow cooker. These are ready to eat and full of vitamins and minerals. And the best thing about it: it’s quick and easy to make!