Healthy Family Dinners
Southern families instinctively know that having a meal together every day is a good thing. Recent studies show that children who dine with the family are healthier, happier and more successful in school; and that the more regularly a family eats together, the less likely the kids are to engage in risky behaviors.
Family dinners don't need to be elaborate affairs. In fact, they can be quite simple and prepared in minutes. Try these healthy, affordable recipes – created by Executive Chef Michael Deihl – at your next family dinner, and let us know how it went on our Facebook page.
Yield: 4-6 people
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
In a small bowl, combine sugar, vinegar, mustard and salt until well blended. On a non-reactive pan or plate, place salmon, skin side down. Spread with 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture; cover and let stand at room temperature not more than 30 minutes, or refrigerate for several hours. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Roast until salmon flakes when tested with fork tines, 10 to 15 minutes.
Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
3 large ripe tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt, approximately
2 large cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/4 cup green onions, chopped fine
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Cut the tomatoes in half, seed, and press out the juices, but do not mash. Sprinkle the halves with salt, then turn upside down on a wire cooling rack and let them drain for 10 minutes.
2. Combine the rest of the ingredients, except the oil, to make the stuffing. Fill the tomato halves with stuffing, and sprinkle with olive oil. Place in a prepared baking dish.
3. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until crumbs are a little brown, but tomatoes are not too soft.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 large zucchini, sliced 3/4 inch thick
1 large yellow squash, sliced 3/4 inch thick
1 medium eggplant, sliced 3/4 inch thick
1 large red onion, sliced 3/4 inch thick
Combine all ingredients for marinade and pour over sliced vegetables, marinate for 30 minutes. Cook on a hot grill for 2-3 minutes on each side.
1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (8-ounce) container lemon-flavored fat-free yogurt, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup granola
Combine pineapple with half of the yogurt. In four small wine or juice glasses, spoon alternate layers of pineapple mixture, blueberries and granola, repeating twice. Top each with a dollop of yogurt.
Here are a few tips to making family meals successful:
Start the pattern of family dinners when children are young. Establish a routine to start and end each meal. Before dinner, you might light candles or tell a story. Afterwards, play a board game or serve a healthy dessert to encourage the family to continue the conversation.
Encourage your children to create menu ideas and participate in meal preparation. This is a great way to teach them about nutrition and meal planning.
If your goal is to show that the family dinner is special, you might wish to make it an “unplugged” event and avoid watching television or using phones or computers.
Talk about what happened in everyone's day: school, work, extracurricular activities or current events.
Though the family dinner table is the place where children learn table manners, these must be gentle lessons, taught more by example than lectures. The dinner hour is a time for pleasant conversation, not for arguments and scolding. Make it enjoyable and it will become a cherished family tradition.
Michael Deihl is the Executive Chef of the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. He has been in the food and beverage industry for 40 years and overseen kitchens at some of the finer country clubs, hotels, restaurants and catering facilities along the East Coast. Deihl has taught culinary arts as an adjunct professor for 10 years and helped coach numerous Atlanta Junior Hot Food Teams and High School Pro Start Culinary Teams. He is a Certified Executive Chef and Culinary Administrator and holds many other certifications, including one of three American Culinary Federation chefs in the nation who were invited to the White House in 2011 for his charitable work with the Chefs Move program. Deihl serves as chairman of the culinary advisory committee of the Hospitality Education Foundation of Georgia and is the co-founder of Operation Chefs Unite, which, in conjunction with the USO, has fed over a million soldiers passing through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport.
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