Family meal time is one of the few moments you can spend together to catch up and enjoy each other’s company – the last thing you want to be doing is stressing over whipping up a nutritious meal. That's why we're sharing our top 3 tips to help you nail your family meal.
Whether it’s a brekkie you share together before going your separate ways for the day, or a comforting dinner where you spill all the stressful happenings of the day, family meal time is an important time for bonding and nourishing your bodies. Here are the key essentials to ensuring it’s a success.
Get all your elements on the plate
Nutrient-dense ingredients are essential for a nourishing family meal, and these are just a few of the elements you’ll want to include:
Protein: Whether you’re a meat-lover or a vegetarian, there are boundless protein sources to give your dish a nutrient-boost. This is essential for satiety, energy levels and maintaining sleep cycles.
- Tofu, tempeh or seitan
- Legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans
- Eggs, yoghurt and cheese
- Seeds and nuts
Iron & B12: Low energy, afternoon slumps and irritable moods can all bring down a family meal, and iron and vitamin B12 happen to be integral elements of preventing these issues. Vitamin B12 is plentiful in meat, eggs, cheese and nutritional yeast. Check out a few of the sources of iron you’ll want to include in your meal:
- Seeds like hemp and flax
- Leafy greens
Other vitamins and minerals: Loading up on veggies, fermented foods and herbs all play a role in ensuring you’re getting all those much-needed nutrients many of us are skimping on, like calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Don’t forget, you can enjoy some fruit with savoury meals too, after all, avocado and tomatoes are technically fruits! Strawberries can also make an antioxidant addition to your salads, along with providing an element of surprise. Healthy fats are also important for helping us absorb vitamins A, E and D, so don’t forget to include foods like avocado, nuts, eggs and olive oil.
If you plan a meal ahead of time, you’ll have an easier road than if you try to whip up a nutritious meal on the day – when you’re likely already tired and ready to crash. That’s where meal planning comes in. Have your ingredients ready, or you can even take the extra step and prep your meals ahead of time. So, come family meal time, all you have to do is heat it up and go! Here are a few of the essentials for meal prepping:
Collect your ingredients and plan your meals: You’ll want to include nutritious foods that are a little hardier to ensure they stay fresh through the week.
- Whole grains
- Raw and cooked veggies
- Whole fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Hard cheeses
- Tofu, meat and egg
Understand proper storage techniques: While nuts and seeds tend to survive without refrigeration, meats, cheeses and fruits tend to go off a little quicker. This is where storage techniques come in – opt for whole fruit over chopped fruit, this way they’ll stay fresher. Apples and bananas are a safe bet. Meats, dairy and cooked grains will need to be refrigerated in containers. It can help to prep for smaller periods of time, such as every 3 days instead of 7, and you can easily freeze any excess ingredients so they don’t go to waste. Simply defrost and heat up any frozen produce or spare prepped meals when you’re ready to chow down on them!
Just because it’s healthy, doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Let’s do away with outdated attitudes to healthy foods – eating whole, nutritious foods can also be flavour-packed, aromatic, exciting affairs. From adults to kids, the whole family can enjoy a nourishing meal that will have everyone gathered around the table before the food’s even ready. Here’s a delicious example of a family meal that is healthy, tasty and so easy to make, and it comes straight from the Healthy Family Meals eBook.
Lemon Ricotta Pasta
- 250 grams gluten-free or regular pasta
- 4 cups spinach or silverbeet
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Zest and juice from ½ lemon
- ½ cup full-fat ricotta
- Grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
- 1 large handful fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 cups steamed greens, to serve
- Cook pasta according to packet direction. Set aside.
- In a medium fry pan heat coconut oil. Add onion and garlic, cook until softened.
- Add cooked pasta to the fry pan. Stir through ricotta, lemon juice and zest, basil, spinach or silverbeet, salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
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