By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA
May 11th, 2018
If you’re like most families, preparing weeknight meals may seem like a dream. And while I do admit, it is tough to come home from a long day at work and cook, family meals really should be a priority, here’s why…
Research indicates that families who eat together have a stronger bond, and children have higher self-confidence, enhanced vocabulary skills and score higher on academic tests. With all of these benefits, make family meal time a necessary part of your day.
Plan ahead – Planning meals in advance saves you time and allows you the opportunity to pack your meal with an extra nutritional punch. There is nothing worse than roaming around the grocery store not knowing what you’re going to purchase. With a plan, you’re in and you’re out!
Take inventory – What do you already have on hand? Are there left-overs in the fridge that can turn into a second meal? Left over veggies for instance can turn into a veggie omelet or pasta primavera. Consider making double tonight for a ready-made meal tomorrow.
Get the kids involved – Kids are more likely to eat foods they took part in selecting. Ask your child to help you plan weekly meals; this will give them something to look forward to, especially if it is a favorite dish.
Cook together – Cooking a meal together gets everyone involved and can also entice kids to try new foods, bolster their self-esteem, and promote healthy habits. Even in a rush, adults can take charge of the entrée, older kids can prepare the salad and little ones can set the table.
Don’t forget the conversation! – Reduce distractions by turning off the TV; cell phones should be put down away from the table. Dinner conversation is one of the easiest and best ways to hear about your child’s day and foster a connection between the two of you.
Speedy supper tip: Cook brown rice on the weekend, place in a freezer bag and freeze. During the week, defrost a portion of what you will use for dinner – this way your rice is ready to go when you are!
Zucchini & Garbanzo Beans over Quinoa
Total time: 30 minutes
- 1/2 cup organic vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste 2
- (15 1/2-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1 cup julienne-cut zucchini
- 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups warm cooked Quinoa (about 2 cups dry)
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- Lemon wedges (optional)
1. Combine the first 4 ingredients, stirring with a whisk.
2. Dry chickpeas thoroughly in a single layer on paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat, and swirl to coat.
3. Add chickpeas to pan, and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove chickpeas from pan with a slotted spoon; wipe pan clean with a paper towel.
4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, along with the bell pepper, zucchini, and jalapeño. Stir-fry for 2 minutes or until vegetables are slightly tender.
5. Add cumin seeds and the next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to pan, and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
6. Add reserved broth mixture and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, and remove from heat. Serve over quinoa, and top with cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.