I know for many families it is extremely hard to please everyone when it comes to meal times. It gets even harder when the favourite family meals are ones that you know are not overly great when it comes to healthy eating. So I have put together some things Melinda and do to make some of our everyday favourite family meals a little more healthy.
A family staple for many families is fish and chips. I know that I grew up on crumbed fish and deep fried chips and when my kids were little they also loved fish and chips. So I thought this is the first one to talk about.
A great idea that we love is crumbing fresh fish in wholegrain breadcrumbs and then baking in the oven. To make the crumbs we use stale wholegrain bread and blitz it in the food processor. To make it even tastier try adding some herbs, finely ground nuts or Parmesan into the crumb mixture. Once the fish is crumbed lay it on a tray lined with baking paper, spray with olive oil and bake in the oven. At the same time you can slice up sweet potato and again spray with olive oil and bake to make your own crunchy chips. Serve with a salad or steamed veggies for a meal that the entire family will love. So much healthier than deep fried fish and chips. For a special treat, you can even wrap the fish and chips up in paper to serve just like it is takeaway.
Another great idea for fish is foil parcels. Lay the fish onto some aluminium foil that has been lightly sprayed with oil, add some herbs, fresh ground pepper and some thinly sliced veggies, give it a good squeeze of lemon juice, wrap up tightly and either bake or barbecue. Again, a quick and easy way to cook fish. Serve with salad or steamed veggies for a delicious meal.
Another family favourite is often pasta. In the supermarket there are a myriad of pasta sauces already made ready to just add to the pasta and voila you have a meal that any child will eat. These sauces are often really high in sugar, salt and lots of preservatives. Why not try making your own sauce. I promise it is quick and tastes so much better than those in a jar. Here's how to make a quick pasta sauce. Chop up an onion and saute the onion together with some garlic in a pan, add a tin of salt reduced tomatoes, herbs plus if you want some chopped up mushrooms, capsicum or other veggies of your choice. Let simmer for 15- 20 minutes while you cook the pasta and then serve.
For pasta dishes such as Spaghetti Bolognese, try using half mince and half kidney beans or lentils. Plus you can add any other veggies you like, just grate or finely chop and add. Don't forget that instead of pasta you can try thinly slicing vegetables such as zucchini and carrot (try using a wide vegetable peeler) and then just steam slightly and serve instead of pasta.
If making lasagna, swap your creamy cheese sauce for ricotta or cottage cheese. This makes making lasagna very quick and easy and no messy saucepans to clean afterwards. If you do not want to use pasta in your lasagna try using layers of eggplant, zucchini, pumpkin or sweet potato. Delicious!
If you enjoy soup, rather than heading to the supermarket for a packet or canned soup try making your own. Chop up whatever veggies you have on hand, pop into a soup pot with salt reduced stock. Add whatever herbs you like and then to make a heartier soup add some legumes or lentils. Cook until veggies are tender. At this stage you can either blend to make a smooth soup or leave as is if you prefer a chunky style soup.
I hope that you enjoy trying a few of these easy ways to make your family meals healthier. Most importantly, have fun creating meals that are nutritious and a hit with everyone in the family.
We also have put together a recipe book Everyday Meals Made Healthy. This book has some of our favourite meals that we have adapted to make them healthier. So if you need extra help, check it out.