Holiday Meal Planning 101 - "Eat Right Even When Time is Short"

There are many healthy ways to prepare family meals, even when time is not on your side. Nutritionist Gayle Reichler is here with four solid tricks to keep your family and your waistline intact throughout the holidays.


The holidays are here and we are spending more time thinking of others, going to parties, family gatherings and experiencing more late nights out.  It's all fun, but we often don’t make enough time for ourselves. This week, I am going to give you some tips on easy, tasty meals that will help you take care of yourself and your family while you are busy making your holiday lists, shopping, and running around.

 

What’s for dinner? When our focus is elsewhere, it is difficult to decide what to make for dinner.  When thinking of dinner, I often make sure to have a protein main course, a grain side and a vegetable side. When you combine your food groups this way, you get plenty of serotonin to the brain which helps you  sleep. Remember to go light on the protein (no more than 3-5 ounces at a meal), so that your body is not too stimulated. Tofu is a great substitute.  Not considered often enough while meal-planning, its side benefit is that it will help you sleep better and because it is a plant-based protein, it aids in the promotion of serotonin which helps our brain/body relax.

 

  1. Save time on dinner preparation by purchasing prepared vegetables that are precut. You can buy these in a bag or at the salad bar or frozen food sections at your local supermarket.  Since frozen vegetables are flash frozen, they maintain most of their nutrients during processing and are a great option when times are especially busy. If you insist on fresh vegetables, those that will keep fresh for a few days include: carrots, celery, peas, corn, beets.
  2. Use sauces. There are many types of prepared sauces that can be easily used to dress up and add flavor to a piece of fish, chicken or firm tofu. Most sauces are healthy but you do want to be mindful of the sodium content. Some that I like to try are basil pesto, barbeque, teriyaki, lemon, etc. Take a look at the supermarket shelf and try to discover a few new sauces. If you want to freshen a prepared sauce, one trick I like to do is to add a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Simply bake a piece of fish or chicken and use the sauce as a glaze. It is an easy way to add flavor.
  3. Keep grains on hand to make a tasty side dish. These days, it is easy to buy boxes of grains that are pre-seasoned.  All you need to do is add water. Some brands to look for are Near East, Goya or even your local store brand.
  4. Have breakfast for dinner. An easy way to promote sleep at night is to think breakfast food, which is always easy and somewhat quick to prepare… eggs and toast, oatmeal with milk, pancakes with syrup.  The kids love this and it's a comfort to everyone.

Enjoy and Be Well!

Gayle