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Reap the Benefits of Family Mealtime

By Jennifer Benedetto MS, RD, LC CNSC
Clinical Dietitian at LMC

Along with the start of the school year, come homework and extra curricular activities. Helping your child with nightly assignments and carting them to their next practice leave little time for actually preparing and eating an evening meal together. But the benefits of family mealtimes are well known.

Family eatingBesides being a great opportunity to provide a healthy, well-balanced meal, family dinners improve adolescent well being by decreasing the incidence of disordered eating. Family meals also decrease the chance that your child will become overweight. Children and adolescents who partake in a family meal have less depressive symptoms, greater academic achievement and more positive family interactions. The most positive benefits are seen when 3 or more meals are eaten together. But with a busy schedule, how is this feasible?

Keep it simple. Family meals need not be complicated. Forgo recipes with long lists of ingredients and stick to basic staples. A favorite in my house is “taco” night using lots of fresh veggies, grilled chicken, black beans and cheese made with 2% milk.
Double up. When preparing meat, rice or pasta, cook double. Grilled chicken breasts can be used for salads, pasta or stir fries, so load up the grill. Browned ground turkey can also go the extra mile in tacos, burritos, or casseroles. Pasta can be served warm with sauce or cold as a pasta salad.
Prep ahead. Use the weekend to wash and prepare vegetables for weekday meals. Seeing the brightly colored vegetables in your refrigerator will encourage you to grab them and go. Serve them raw, stir fried, sautéed or grilled. Your family will love the fresh flavor!
Enlist help. Children that assist with menu planning are more likely to eat what is served. When it comes to meal preparation, have everyone strap on their aprons and pitch in by doing age appropriate activities. Young children can assist with washing vegetables. Elementary age children can set the table or stir sauces or stews.
Shop early in the week and avoid multiple trips. Organize the week’s menu early and make a shopping list. Keep staples like brown rice and whole wheat pasta on hand. Last minute trips to the grocery store are wasteful and time consuming.

With teamwork and advanced planning, your family can soon reap the benefits of shared meals!

    Sources

: thefamilydinnerproject.org; “Do family meals make a difference?” by Eliza Cook and Rachel Dunifon of Cornell University

Celebrate National Blueberry Month

By: Morgan Robbins, RD, LD at LMC

July is National Blueberry Month – which means blueberry season is quickly approaching. Blueberries are generally ready to be picked late July to mid August. Don’t let their small size fool you; blueberries are packed with a nutritional punch that can benefit everyone’s diet.

blueberries2Phytonutrients in blueberries are called polyphenols which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory properties of polyphenols help reduce the inflammatory process associated with chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Along with being delicious, blueberries have tons of health benefits too:
• 80 calories per cup- great for snacking
• Low in fat
• Almost four grams of fiber
• 25% of your daily Vitamin C- supports the immune system
• Great source of manganese- important for bone development and converting food into energy

This summer, try adding blueberries to your salads, oatmeal, pancakes, desserts, yogurts, smoothies and cereals. Try this blueberry smoothie recipe to beat the heat, a healthy treat that everyone is sure to enjoy!

Blueberry Smoothie
1 fresh or frozen banana, peeled and cut into pieces
6 oz plain, non-fat yogurt
¾ cup skim milk or milk alternative
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
½ cup ice cubs (optional)
Blend until smooth! This smoothie provides approximately 200 calories, 4.5 grams fat (0gm saturated fat), 10 gm protein, 36 gm carbohydrates and 10 gm protein.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/blueberry-banana-smoothie

http://www.blueberrycouncil.org/

Rethinking a Summer Staple for July 4th

As the weather heats up, outdoor grills come out of hiding. July 4th gatherings often center around cooking in the great outdoors. And what holiday party would be complete without a hot, perfectly grilled burger. Consider these modifications to build a better, healthier burger.US_Flag

Choose your meat wisely. If ground beef is a must, choose a leaner variety such as ground sirloin. Ground sirloin or, even better, 93%/7% lean beef deliver great beef flavor but with less total and saturated fats. Ground turkey breast or even buffalo are other good options but will require some tricks to ensure a juicy burger. Try adding some slow cooked onions to the meat prior to making your patties. Or add cooked spinach (squeezed dry) and feta for a Mediterranean style burger.

Burgers
Go fishing. Fish burgers will provide even less saturated fat and more of the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Roughly chop a cooked skinned salmon filet or sushi grade tuna steak and gently mix with scallions and other desired seasonings. Don’t over handle the fish however or you’ll end up with a mushy burger. If you have time, allow the patties to chill in the refrigerator before cooking so that they hold their shape. Or add an egg and breadcrumbs to bind the patty. Brush the grill grates with olive oil to prevent the burger from sticking.

Veg out. Frozen veggie burgers can be a great alternative if chosen wisely. Look for burgers with less than 500 mg of sodium per serving. Read the ingredient list and be sure you can identify most of the ingredients listed. “Textured vegetable protein” refers to the soy protein often used in veggie burgers. Veggie burgers should provide 5 g protein per serving if they are to be the only protein source at your meal. Another healthy and delicious vegetarian option is a grilled portabella mushroom cap. Combine garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, brush over the portabella cap and let sit for 30 minutes prior to grilling for a meaty taste.

tomatos green bowlPile on the veggies. The skies the limit when adding veggies to top off your burger. Tomato season perfectly coincides with grilling season. Romaine lettuce adds the perfect crunch. And grilled or raw, pile on the onion of your choice.

Banish the bun. Why not serve your burger wrapped in a lettuce leaf or on top of fresh salad greens. If using the basic bun, serve our burger open faced or choose whole wheat buns with > 2 g fiber per serving.