Liz Weiss: Hi! I am Liz Weiss, registered dietitian, cookbook author and family nutrition expert.
Planning delicious and healthy meals for your family can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially when you're juggling busy schedules and perhaps picky eaters, but getting a tasty dinner on the table doesn't have to be a challenge. Today I'll reveal the most common types of whole grains, give tips for meal planning and provide fun ideas for incorporating whole-grains into easy meals the whole family will love.
Many everyday foods are considered whole grains. Some of my favorites are whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole grain tortillas, whole grain cereal and whole oats.
As you approach meal planning with whole grains, keep in mind the expression, cook once, eat twice. Think about how you can use ingredients more than once over the course of the week.
If you are making brown rice for a side dish one night, cook extra to toss with stir fries or stuff into burritos the next night. Likewise one of the easiest ways to save time in the kitchen is to cook large batches of food all at once, for example, I like to make one or two pans of lasagna made with whole wheat noodles or course, have dinner that night, then portion and freeze the leftovers for later. This is a great way I can get meals on the table during busy weeknights when I tend to frost as must as I need and then round out the meal with a simple green salad and a whole grain dinner roll.
Family dinners don't have to be fancy affairs. Something as simple as a sandwich, maybe with whole wheat bread is all it takes to bring your family together at the table.
Here are a few more dinner ideas to get you thinking more about whole grains. Prepare your family's favorite soup and round it out with whole grain bread and a glass of low-fat milk. The next time you make whole wheat pasta, experiment with different shapes and toss with tomato based pasta sauce, low-fat shredded cheese and the vegetables of your choice.
Use leftover roast chicken for sandwiches, made with whole wheat bread, layer with tomatoes, spinach leaves and a few slices of avocado and serve it up with fruit on the side, well for desert.
Try a brown rice stir fry; mix the rice with cooked chicken or shrimp, bell peppers, onions and ginger. Add low sodium soy sauce for extra flavor, desired. Get the entire family involved. Making dinner is always more fun with some helping hands. So set up a whole-grain taco bar with your family's favorite fillings such as lean ground turkey or beef, beans, chopped vegetables, shredded low-fat cheese and salsa.
The next time you're feeling stuck in a mealtime rut; remember that whole-grains can provide endless dinner possibilities.