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Making Traditional Meals Healthy

Dear Debi,
How can I take some of my family's favorite meals, like spaghetti, and make them healthier for my growing 3-year-old?
Leticia Verduzco-Tom
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Modify favorite family meals
  • Prepare meals with less fat
  • Encourage kids to participate in food preparation
Expert Advice
Cathy Martinez
Cathy Martinez
Traditional meals – foods such as meatloaf, casseroles, spaghetti, fried chicken, meat & potatoes – typically consist of a lot of red meat and are cooked using oils. There are ways you can make these meals healthier. For dishes that call for red meat, you can substitute ingredients such as turkey or chicken. Try using whole wheat products instead of ones that use bleached white flour.

For example, if your dish calls for rice, use brown rice instead of white rice; use whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta; use whole wheat bread instead of white bread. If you need to use oil for cooking, try to use olive oil, since is the best one, or any other pure oil, like canola, sunflower seed, etc. – these are better than a mixed oil, like vegetable oil.

You can eliminate fats from the foods your family likes and still have them taste good. Using things like chicken broth and lots of spices will add a ton of flavor without adding a lot of fat.

We all learn how to eat from our families and usually carry those habits on throughout our lives. If from the time children are very young they’re exposed to healthy foods and are taught to make healthy choices, it’s more likely that they’ll carry on these healthy eating habits for the rest of their lives and will learn to make healthy choices as they grow.

Lunch & Dinner Alternatives Featured Activity:
Lunch & Dinner Alternatives
Making Traditional Meals Healthy Featured Video:
Making Traditional Meals Healthy
Topic: Health & Safety
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