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Healthy Family Meals

  • Tina Rupp

    The truth is we could all use guidance in choosing the right foods and preparing meals that don't take ten hours. Oh, and options would be good, too. But the most nutritious eats in the world won't help in the slightest if you or your kids won't actually eat them. Here are three picks for each meal of the day from Missy Chase Lapine, author of The Sneaky Chef book series—ranging from good to better to shoot-for-the-dietary-moon best.

    Make sure the snacks in-between are just as nutient-filled by looking at our 32 Healthy Kids Snacks Recipes.

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    Breakfast: Good

    Make breakfast “ice cream” by blending fat-free Greek yogurt with frozen bananas, honey (omit for kids under 1), wheat germ and a handful of semisweet chocolate chips (don't worry—that's less sugar than your standard bowl of frosted cereal).

    Bananas can also be used as a healthy option for lunches and dinners.

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    Breakfast: Good

    Whole-grain bagel spread with part-skim ricotta, drizzled with honey (for children over 1), and topped with banana slices. “Ricotta's creamy and mild like cream cheese but has more calcium and protein and less fat than even the reduced-fat kind,” says Lapine.

    Bagels can also be used for a delicious, healthy lunch or dinner.

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    Breakfast: Better

    Quick-cooking oatmeal made with skim milk, raspberries and peanut butter stirred in at the end. It's less processed and lower in sugar than the flavored kind and has loads more protein, fiber and antioxidants from the berries.

    Raspberries can also be used for a delicious, healthy lunch or dinner.

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    Breakfast: Better

    Breakfast sandwich made with a toasted whole-grain English muffin, an egg and a slice each of ham and low-fat cheese. It's got the sustaining fiber and protein you need in the morning and is also low in sugar. Hint: Choose eggs with omega-3's.

    Eggs can also be used for a delicious, healthy lunch or dinner.

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    Breakfast: Best

    Scrambled eggs (use the ones fortified with omega-3's) with chopped veggies (tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, etc.) and a little low-fat cheese wrapped in a soft, whole-grain flour tortilla. “Eggs have great protein,” says Lapine.

    Broccoli can also be used for a delicious, healthy lunch or dinner

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    Breakfast: Best

    Power hash: Make it with frozen hash browns or sweet-potato fries sautéed in olive oil; then toss in spinach, onion and mushrooms. Crack an egg over the top during the last few minutes of cooking, then sprinkle with salsa. You'll get multiple veggie servings in one dish.

    Spinach can also be used for a delicious, healthy lunch or dinner

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    Lunch: Good

    Quesadilla made with a whole-grain flour tortilla, reduced-fat cheddar cheese, cooked chicken breast and salsa. You get the satiating combo of fiber, protein and a bit of fat. The salsa adds a hit of lycopene—an antioxidant that may help prevent some forms of cancer.

    Tomatoes can also be used for a delicious, healthy breakfast or dinner

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    Lunch: Good

    Tomato soup with a gooey grilled-cheese “hat.” Put cheese on a slice of whole-wheat bread, and broil. Ladle tomato soup (made from scratch or the low-sodium boxed kind) into a bowl and float the grilled cheese on top, à la French onion soup. This gives you protein and fiber from the cheesy bread.

    Tomato soup can also be used for a delicious, healthy dinner

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    Lunch: Better

    Pizza made with an English muffin, “doctored-up” sauce, reduced-fat mozzarella, chopped deli ham and canned diced pineapple. To doctor the sauce—which increases the nutrient factor—grate carrots and add to the sauce; cook for a few minutes before assembling the pizzas.

    Tomatoes can also be used for a delicious, healthy breakfast or dinner

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    Lunch: Better

    Mini-whole-wheat pitas stuffed with two-minute homemade hummus, cucumbers, carrots and bell peppers. Whiz a can of rinsed chickpeas with a few tablespoons of peanut butter and a little honey for kids over age 1 (you may need a shot of water to thin it out).

    Cucumber can also be used for a delicious, healthy breakfast or dinner

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    Lunch: Best

    Fish fingers with sweet-potato fries. Slice a piece of salmon into strips and cover in plain yogurt mixed with lemon juice and dill. Shake in a bag with whole-grain bread crumbs, then bake in the oven. For the fries, cut the potatoes into wedges, toss with olive oil and bake until crisp.

    Sweet potatoes can also be used for a delicious, healthy breakfast or dinner

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    Lunch: Best

    Vegged-out tuna-salad wrap made with chunk-light tuna, low-fat mayo, diced celery and carrots and fresh lemon juice. Roll it in a whole-grain wrap with baby spinach. For an even greater health boost, mash in a sardine or two, a well-known super-food high in calcium, iron and protein.

    Celery can also be used for a delicious, healthy dinner

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    Dinner: Good

    Whole-grain pasta tossed with a tomato-based meat sauce (made with lean ground turkey or beef). Make this one-dish meal even better by grating carrots and zucchini into the sauce. Throw in a little wheat germ or ground flaxseed to boost the vitamin and mineral quotient.

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    Dinner: Good

    BBQ-chicken pizza made with grilled, sliced chicken breast tossed with BBQ sauce, red onion and reduced-fat cheese on a whole-wheat pizza crust. Nutrition boost: Add even more vitamins and minerals to the dish by stirring a jar of baby-food carrots into the BBQ sauce.

    Chicken can also be used for a delicious, healthy lunch

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    Dinner: Better

    White-meat turkey chili loaded with veggies (onions, peppers, carrots or anything you like) and red kidney beans; serve over whole-grain rice. “This is like comfort food at its best. It also has a ton of vegetables, and kidney beans are actually the number one food for antioxidants,” says Lapine.

    Peppers can also be used for a delicious, healthy lunch

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    Dinner: Better

    Chicken sausage, white bean and spinach rigatoni. Slice fully cooked chicken-sausage links into bite-size pieces and sauté in olive oil; add the cooked pasta and stir in canned, rinsed white beans, baby spinach (loaded with iron and fiber) and a splash of chicken broth or pasta water to moisten.

    Rigatoni pasta can also be used for a delicious, healthy lunch

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    Dinner: Best

    Stir-fry made with grass-fed beef, sliced bok choy, red peppers, broccoli and onions (cooked with ginger, garlic, reduced-sodium soy sauce and a little sesame oil) and served over brown rice. This mix of veggies is arguably the most nutritious thing you can eat.

    Bok choy can also be used for a delicious, healthy lunch

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    Dinner: Best

    “Crazy rice” bowls made with sautéed red, orange and yellow peppers, broccoli, onions and corn—all tossed together with cooked shrimp and brown rice. The shrimp is a good source of omega-3's—and the veggies add a whole alphabet's worth of vitamins (A, C, D, E, K).

    Shrimp can also be used for healthy lunches.

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