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Family dinner suggestions?

I'm eating a lot healthier but my kids still want mac and cheese and chicken tenders. I've been making 2 dinners. Any helpful things? Anyone have a good dinner for the whole family that is still healthy?

Tue. Apr 15, 5:30pm

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Stop making two dinners. Serve them small portions of your healthful dinner and surround it with healthy sides they LIKE. You may be starting out with fruit cups and carrot sticks and ranch dip. Ease into it. Over time they will adjust to the way it is and try more things…IF you serve it and you expect it of them.

Every meal my kids get fruit and a vegetable - could be a roasted vegetable or a salad. But there is something green on their plate almost every dinner. And they have to finish it to get more of the stuff that is more desirable to them. We started out small and over time the portions have gotten bigger and bigger. Now I often serve two vegetables along with fruit and the main. I still occasionally serve them the junk they like, but it's in smaller portions and it's surrounded by a lot more healthful stuff and to get seconds of anything, they have to eat their vegetables. The biggest thing is expectation, honestly. If they always get their desired meal as a fallback there's absolutely no incentive to try anything new or healthful!!

Another tip - stop buying unhealthy options. Don't make any declarations about it - just when they ask - simply say, "Oh, we're out of that right now."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 11:18 PM

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p.s.., also consider…you're doing great for yourself by changing your eating habits and eating healthfully, too. Don't they deserve good nutrition, too?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 11:21 PM

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When grocery shopping, I let my 8 year old pick out the specified produce on my shopping list. It secretly kills me to do this, she doesn't inspect the items close enough in my opinion... but she is more invested and ALWAYS eats the vegetables she picks out... especially if she assists with preparing the meal.

Our 8 year old likes fresh baby spinach, carrots, steamed broccoli, steamed cauliflower, tomato, avocado, fresh steamed green beans, peas, mushrooms cooked in sauces and cooked in main dishes.

Sometimes I buy the frozen packages of vegetable medley mixes, and she usually likes those (my husband is more of a picky eater, and won't eat the frozen stuff, so I have to disguise it and add lots of spices, fresh herbs, etc. ha!) She won't eat cooked spinach though. She won't touch the stronger greens either. But I'm not too worried about it, as her palate is still developing. She eats things today that should won't eat 6 months ago. Just keep trying. Make your kids take at least one bite of the regular vegetables every time you serve it, and after the 15th or 50th time, they eventually come around.

Another trick, I arrange the food artistically on the plate. It sounds silly, but she gets super excited when she sees the food arranged gorgeously on the plate, and loves a set table with candles, fancy plates, glasses, the works! We don't always go all out for dinner, but I try to make it a pleasant experience if I'm introducing her to new foods. I hate making two dinners too, and sometimes I just make a smaller version with less spices for our 8 year old.

I still make our 8 year old the mac and cheese and all that other kid food on Monday nights. We call it "Kiddie Gourmet" Night and I will make foods from scratch, using recipes, nothing from boxes. Sure, it's still considered junk food, but it is cleaner because I opt for organic and natural ingredients. And it's only one night a week. My daughter decides the main dish on Kiddie Gourmet nights.

For ideas, I like to check out Pinterest, but most of my stuff tends to come from the Food Network. Once I print out the recipe, I always tweak it a little to suit our tastes and preferences. We love us some garlic and onions!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 12:07 AM

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You don't have to do anything fancy. You can put out carrots (even with no dip) or cucumbers or whatever you have available. I always find if I make anything with cheese on top, it will be eaten.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 3:30 PM

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