5 Starter Tips for Easing the Entire Family into Healthier Eating


Getting the entire family on-board for healthier eating is not normally an easy task. In fact, it can be tough. About two weeks ago, I met with the two Spotlight Families for the NC Fit Family Challenge and here is what we came up with, as a starting point.

1. Keep it simple, always. This goes for meal planning, grocery shopping and stocking the kitchen. Simple foods and drink are almost always the healthiest way to go.

2. Ask for input. Every family member deserves a voice when it comes to what goes on the family meal table and what to buy at the grocery store.

3. Make time for planning. A healthier eating plan doesn't plan itself, unfortunately. So, make time to get out your resources and write down a plan for the week, or half the week at a time. Add it to your family calendar/schedule if this helps you remember.

4. Make time for grocery shopping. Plan one hour to shop. Slow down at the grocery store and refer to your list, which matches your meal plan. If you see a special price, think carefully about whether it supports your healthier eating goals. If it does, then check your budget and make a smart decision to purchase or not.

5. Learn and use your resources. Helpful resources include a weekly grocery store ad (paper copy or online) as well as a cookbook, magazine, and/or a favorite website or social media site with lighter recipes. At Lowes Foods, we offer an order-ahead shopping service called Lowes Foods To Go (lowesfoodstogo.com) and I'm available 24/7 at our Lowes Foods' Nutrition Hotline (cindynutrition@lowesfoods.com).

Both Brittney and Heather, the two Spotlight Family moms, are excited about trying to get their families into a routine of planning ahead with simple and healthy meals, writing an organized shopping list to match their plan and then shopping slowly and thoughtfully within their individual family budgets. Specifically, Brittney's teenage daughter and Heather are planning to try easy fruit-yogurt smoothies for the family. Heather's also trying a super simple homemade Macaroni and Cheese recipe which is included below. Maybe you'll want to try it, too!

Super Duper Easy Mac & Cheese

This family-favorite recipe is all-natural and easier to make than a box of mac & cheese. Kids can help by measuring the ingredients and shredding the cheese, with supervision. This recipe makes eight (8) servings.

2 Tbsp Butter or margarine
2-1/2 Cups Macaroni, uncooked
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Cups Cheese, shredded — see cooking tip
3-1/2 Cups Milk, low fat 1%

How To:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Melt butter on very low power in microwave, about 30-45 seconds. Or, melt it in a 2-quart baking dish in the heated oven. You can also use a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
3. Combine uncooked macaroni with melted butter in the pan & stir macaroni to coat it.
4. Add salt and cheese. Stir gently.
5. Pour milk over everything. Stir gently.
6. Bake for about one hour, uncovered, in oven. Do not stir!
7. Check to see that top is getting golden and poke with a fork to make sure macaroni is tender.
8. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 min. Enjoy!

Nutrition per serving, using half cheddar and half feta cheese: 280 calories; 13 gm fat; 8 gm saturated fat; 0 trans fat; 45 mg cholesterol; 410 mg sodium; 27 gm carbohydrates; 1 gm fiber; 14 gm protein; 10% DV vitamin A; 0 vitamin C; 35% DV calcium; 6% DV iron

Cooking Tips:

Try using 2 different kinds of cheese. For example, use, Cheddar cheese and Feta cheese.

Try using a different shape of pasta, like small shells or bowties.

Copyright 2015. Cindy Silver, Registered Dietitian, LLC. www.marketbasketnutrition.com.

Cindy Silver, a registered dietitian, is a member of the Piedmont Parent's 2015 Fit Family Challenge Panel of Experts.

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About this Blog

Nibbles of Nutrition

About This Blog

Cindy Silver is a licensed, registered dietitian. She is the owner of Market Basket Nutrition, a nutrition education business, and is a Nutrition Services Provider for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. She has a master’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition. 

She works with families to help them master the skills of good nutrition for healthier and happier lives. She believes that everyone can improve their nutrition and feel better by taking time to write tasty and healthy menus, get more organized in the grocery store and then cook simple and delicious meals at home. 

She also enjoys fresh air exercise, cooking, gardening, traveling and kids. She lives in Winston-Salem with her husband and their son is a senior at Appalachian State University in beautiful Boone, NC. Visit her website at marketbasketnutrition.com.

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