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  • Writer's pictureBobby Banahan

Healthy Family Dinners

It’s no secret that eating well has serious health benefits, among them a longer lifespan and a lower risk of developing an illness or disease. Proper nutrition also strengthens your bones and eyes and helps your digestive system run at optimal levels, to name just a new notable advantages.

Conversely, poor nutrition has the potential to increase your chances of becoming obese, experiencing cardiovascular disease or developing many types of cancer, among other health risks. While you may find it hard to eat well during the mornings or afternoons, when you might be rushing through your daily routine, evenings present a prime opportunity to get back many of the nutrients you might have missed out on earlier in the day.

Meal-planning can go a long way in terms of helping you maximize your nutrient intake, especially if you take the time to include offerings from all five food groups in your weekly plan.


5 Food Groups for Healthy Eating

It’s important to enjoy foods from each food group, regardless of your age. Introducing your kids to a wide range of healthy, nutritious foods also helps them establish – and stick to – lifelong healthy eating habits. Be sure your diet, and those of your children, include a variety of foods from the following five food groups.

Fruits

Low in fat and high in flavor, fruits deliver a healthy dose of many of the essential vitamins and minerals you need to keep your body performing at its peak. Different varieties deliver different amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, folate and other good stuff that can lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and bone loss.

Vegetables

Consuming a variety of fresh veggies also offers notable health benefits. Different types of vegetables contain elements that help lower blood sugar, decrease your risk of vision or digestive issues, and reduce your odds of stroke, heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Grains

Many whole grains contain iron, fiber, folate, magnesium and selenium. A diet high in whole grains helps you maintain an ideal weight, and it can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, too.

Protein

Protein fuels your cells and energy levels, and it also plays a key role in keeping your bones, muscles, skin and cartilage healthy and strong.

Dairy

A diet rich in dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, helps ensure your body maintains adequate levels of calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous. Dairy products also strengthen your bones and teeth and help alleviate high blood pressure.

Now that you have a better idea of the health benefits of each food group, here are some tasty ways to maximize your intake of them during dinnertime.


Healthy, Delicious Dinner Ideas

Have hungry mouths to feed, but not sure what to make? Consider whipping up one of the following quick, easy and healthy dinner options.

Black Bean Chicken & Rice

Featuring proteins, whole grains and vegetables, this Black Bean Chicken & Rice takes about 20 minutes to prepare and packs a serious punch in terms of nutrition.

Air Fryer Squash Soup

If you’ve yet to try an air fryer, here’s a great first recipe! Made with butternut squash and carrots, both of which offer serious health benefits, this soup gives you a tasty, aromatic way to maximize nutrient intake while making your kitchen smell fragrant and feel cozy.

Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich

Picky eaters are often big fans of peanut butter sandwiches, and you can make yours that much healthier by adding bananas and opting for natural peanut butter and whole-wheat bread.

Asian Salmon Tacos

Not all tacos have to be high in calories or fat. Next time you have a hankering, consider swapping out the ground beef or fried fish for Asian-marinated salmon in this healthy new take on the traditional Mexican standby.

Vegetarian Summer Rolls

Great for a hot summer evening, vegetarian summer rolls can feature any number of different healthy ingredients, from peanuts and cabbage to peppers and peanut butter. Give everyone a chance to assemble their own summer rolls by lining up all the ingredients buffet-style.

Most of these dinner ideas are not only healthy, but quick and easy to assemble, too. That way, you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time making memories with the people you know and love.

Make Mealtime a Special Occasion

Getting dinner on the table each night can feel repetitive, and even a bit dull. Here are just a few ideas for how to make the dinner meal more memorable and fun!


Celebrate Something

There’s always something worth celebrating, whether it’s a great score on a test or a personal best on a morning run. Finding something to rejoice about at dinnertime gives you a chance to recognize milestones that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Follow a Theme

Make dinnertime extra-special by focusing on a specific theme. That theme can be geographic in nature (think Italian night, Asian night, etc.), or it can focus on a particular theme, i.e. “Meatless Monday.”

Plan a Potluck

There’s a reason potlucks have remained popular for generations – they give everyone a chance to enjoy what they want, and no one gets stuck doing all the prep work and cooking.

You might have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but you may not always have time to give your morning meal proper attention. By devoting time to dinner-planning, maximizing your intake from all five food groups, and making your evening meal a celebratory occasion, you can diversify your diet, reduce your risk of developing dangerous conditions, and, ultimately, end your day on a healthy, high note.

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