Deliciously Healthy Family Meals

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I’ve got to hand it to the folks at NHLBI again — that’s the National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a division of the government’s Department of Health and Human Services.  I previously wrote about their first Keep the Beat cookbook, which I thought was fantastic.  Now they’ve done it again – but this time the focus is on families. The new “Deliciously Healthy Family Meals” is a terrific cookbook that is chock-full of kid-friendly recipes to help busy parents get healthy meals on the table.

I’m a firm believer that the best way to get people to eat healthier is to get them comfortable in the kitchen.  It’s not enough to tell people what they need to do to raise healthy kids — what to eat, what to avoid.  That doesn’t work.  Families need to know what to cook.  They need help putting healthy meals together.  That’s why a cookbook like this may be the best nutrition education approach of all.


I love how the book provides tips for involving children in meal prep, and there are good lessons on cooking techniques throughout the book.  Each recipe features complete nutrition information. Like the first book, the recipes were developed by father-of-two David Kamen, a chef/instructor at the Culinary Institute of America.   The book was developed in partnership with the NIH’s We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) program — a national education program to help children stay at a healthy weight.

Best of all, you can get the cookbook for free.  Go to the Healthy Eating website and find a link to the digital cookbook that you can download.  Here’s a sampling of the entree recipes:

Huli_ChickenHawaiian Huli Huli Chicken

12 ounces (about 2 large breasts) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes (24 cubes)
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced (24 pieces), or canned pineapple chunks in juice
8 6-inch skewers

Sauce:
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons lite soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons orange juice
1 teaspoon garlic, mined (about 1 clove)
1 teaspoon ginger, minced

Preheat a broiler or grill on medium-high heat.  Thread three chicken cubes and three pineapple chunks alternately on each skewer. Combine ingredients for sauce and mix well; separate into two bowls and set one aside for later.  Grill skewers for 3-5 minutes on each side.  Brush or spoon sauce (from the bowl that wasn’t set aside) onto chicken and pineapple about every other minute.  Discard the sauce when done with this step.  To prevent chicken from drying out, finish cooking skewers in a 350 F over immediately after grilling (to a minimum internal temperature of 165 F).  Using a clean brush or spoon, coat with sauce from the set-aside bowl before serving.

calories: 156, fat 2 g (1 g sat), carbs 16 g, protein 18 g, sodium 320 mg, fiber 0 g

Buttons and Bows PastaButtons_and_Bows

2 cups (8 ounces) dry whole-wheat bowtie pasta (farfalle)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about 1 clove)
1 bag (16 ounces) frozen peas and carrots
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, rinsed, dried and chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 medium lemon, rinsed, for 1 teaspoon zest (use a grater to take a thin layer of skin off the lemon)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat.  Add pasta, and cook according to package directions.  Drain.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat in a large saute pan.  Cook until soft, but not browned.  Add peas and carrots.  Cook gently until the vegetables are heated through.  In a bowl, combine chicken broth and cornstarch.  Mix well.  Add to pan with vegetables, and bring to a boil.  simmer gently for 1 minute.  Add parsley, pasta, lemon, zest and pepper.  Toss gently, and cook until the pasta is hot.  Serve 2 cups of pasta and vegetables per portion.

calories: 329, fat 6 g (1 g sat), carbs 59 g, protein 13 g, sodium 127 mg, fiber 9 g

Asian-Style Chicken Wraps

Sauce:
1 small jalapeno chili pepper, rinsed and split lengthwise – remove seeds and white membrane, and mince (about 1 tablespoon); for less spice, use green bell pepper
1 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 2-3 cloves)
3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
1/2 tablespoon waterasian_chicken_wrap
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice (or about 2 limes)

Chicken:
1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 2-3 cloves)
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon lite soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil (optional)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

Wrap:
1 small head red leaf lettuce, rinsed, dried and separated into single leaves large enough to create wrap
8 fresh basil leaves, whole, rinsed and dried
2 cups bok choy or Asian cabbage, rinsed and shredded

To prepare the sauce, add all ingredients to a saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Remove form heat, and let sit in hot saucepan for 3-5 minutes. Chill in refrigerator for about 15 minutes, or until cold. Prepare the chicken by heating oil in a large wok or saute pan. Add ginger and garlic, and stir fry briefly until cooked, but not browned, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Add chicken, and continue to stir fry for 5-8 minutes.  Add soy sauce, sesame oil (optional) and sesame seeds (optional), and return to a boil.  Remove from the heat, and cover with lid to hold warm in a hot saute pan. Assemble each wrap:  Place one red lettuce leaf on a plate, then add 1/2 cup chicken stir-fry, 1 basil leaf, and 1/4 cup shredded cabbage and fold together.  Serve two wraps with 1/4 cup sauce.

calories: 242, fat 10 g (2 g sat), carbs 17 g, protein 21 g, sodium 393 mg, fiber 3 g

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  • LBC

    I like that this is download-able. I really didn’t like the Deliciously Healthy Dinners book as it involved too many things–edamame, anchovy paste–that I can’t use often enough to make buying them economical, and it had too many sweet or fruity dressings on meat.

  • Haven’t had a chance to check out Keep the Beat, but I bet there’s some great family fun meals in there. The Hawaiin Huli Huli Chicken sounds delicious. I agree with LBC though, it’s also hard to get kids to east things like anchovy-paster and sweet meat marinades.

  • And the best thing from these is that the ingredients are fairly simple and the instructions are straight forward. I’m anxious to try the buttons and bows pasta recipe.

  • What a great resource! I recommend the Mom’s Meal Makeover cookbooks to a lot of families. Now I have another fun (free!) cookbook to add. It was also fun to see my pediatric dietetic internship advisor, Beverly Henry, listed as one of the cookbook advisors! Thanks for sharing!

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