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What's for Dinner?!

The challenges of cooking, prepping and cleaning up after a meal can feel overwhelming. It is that much harder when you have gone to the effort of preparing a pinterest worthy meal only to be met with “oh, I forgot to tell you, I made dinner plans” from the teen or “chicken, again!” from the preteen or a chorus of “I don’t like that” from the youngest of the bunch.

Sometimes the peanut gallery of family is the least of the problem when faced with the daily dilemma of what to cook. Let’s start at reading recipes. How do we “deem” a recipe healthy. When reading recipes, it is important to consider health conditions of family members and family history too! Being mindful of cholesterol and sugar will help especially if there is a history of diabetes and heart disease. The foods we prepare at home can make a lifetime impact on the tastes of your family as they grow and start making their own food choices outside your home. Here are some general ideas of what to look for when reading recipes and menu items!

Does this recipe have a protein, carbohydrate and vegetable? What sauce or marinade is listed? How is the protein cooked? Can I make substitutions that won’t change the taste but reduce saturated fat?

I like to pick recipes that “feel” approachable and familiar to my family while still changing flavor profiles so no one gets too bored! Sheet pan meals are often the best way we get that done here! A sheet pan meal is one that is cooked on one sheet pan, all at once and includes a protein, starch and vegetable. The marinade, protein, vegetables and starch can be easily changed. When reading recipes, thing about the source of fat-oil or butter. Can you cut the amount of fat in the marinade in half? Switching from a saturated fat like butter, coconut oil or lard to an unsaturated fat like avocado oil or olive oil can be helpful in reducing cholesterol. Sugar is snuck into so many of our foods! Can you cut the sugar in the recipe in half? I find that making changes to a new recipe is easier to do than to try to change a family favorite. Here are some of my favorite recipes:

-Emily Lepow, RD, LD, CDE

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